Partisan group of Nicola Prospero.

Discussion in 'Italy' started by Giacomo Vieta, Dec 11, 2014.

  1. Giacomo Vieta

    Giacomo Vieta New Member

    Hello everybody. I would like to know, for a more complete historical reconstruction of my village (Forno Canavese, near Turin, Italy) in the period from September 8, 1943 to April 25, 1945, if you have in your archives informations about Nicola Prospero called “Funso", commander of the group of resistant soldiers (against Germans) "Monte Soglio", then called group "Carlo Monzani" until April 13, 1944, where also militated several British soldiers, ex-prisoners of war. One of them, Donald Russell, was shot in Forno on December 9, 1943, after the first battle of Monte Soglio. I would like to know about both of them. Thanks for your help,

    Giacomo Vieta
     
  2. papiermache

    papiermache Well-Known Member

    Giacomo,

    Welcome to the forum. Search for " Forno Canavese" in "Discovery" at The National Archives and you will see references to only two files, both of which may be of interest to you. These are WO310/134 and WO311/357. I'll have a look at them next time I go and see if they contain information about Donald Russell.

    John
     
  3. papiermache

    papiermache Well-Known Member

    I had a look at three files today. There was a War Crimes trial, file reference WO235/290, which involved incidents in December 1943 at Forno Canavese and in August 1944 at a different village. The defendant was found not guilty on both charges.

    The statement of Giuseppe Rossetto does not now have the exhibit attached to it.

    I cannot find a Private Donald Russell in Commonwealth War Graves.

    Attached are two statements found on WO235/290 which gives an account of what happened in December 1943:




    " TURIN,

    5 Jan 46.

    STATEMENT OF: ROSSETTO Giuseppe, Via Alpignano No.14, TURIN. Male, Age 24 years, Leather Merchant

    Who saith,

    During Sep 43 I was living at FORNO CANAVESE, and was a member of the local Partisan band.

    On the 13 Sep 43, ten British soldiers came to the house which was being occupied as the Headquarters of the Partisans. They were provided with food and clothing and took an active part in the operation of the Partisans.

    During their stay with us, one of these soldiers told me that his name was Donald RUSSELL, he then wrote his name and home address on the back of an old photograph which I provided, and gave it to me. This photograph with the name and address written on the back and now marked “Exhibit A” I now produce.

    On the 11 Dec 43 I learned that DONALD RUSSELL had been shot by for the Germans, together with seventeen civilians who were Partisans, at FORNO CANAVESE on the 9 Dec 43.

    A few days later, together with other civilians I went to the cemetery at FORNO CANAVESE for the purpose of exhuming all eighteen bodies which had been shot by the Germans. One of the bodies which I helped to exhume I immediately recognised as that of DONALD RUSSELL. The body was easily recognisable by his features and also the clothes which he had been provided with when he first joined the Partisans. The body of RUSSELL and the other seventeen bodies all bore signs of bullet wounds about the head and chest. All the bodies were then placed in separate coffins and re-interred in the cemetery at FORNO CANAVESE.

    I have read over the above statement. It is true and correct. I herewith append my signature.

    ( signed ) ROSSETTO Giuseppe

    I certify that the above statement was taken by me, through the medium of WIRTH Wolf, Official Interpreter, on 5 Jan 46, at TURIN.

    (signed) 14256309 Sgt CAMFIELD J.M. 78 Section SIB CMP.

    I certify that the above translation from Italian is correct and true to the best of my ability.

    (signed) WIRTH, Wolf. Interpreter."


    Here follows the second statement:

    "AFFIDAVIT

    I, John Ronald PARRY, of the 3rd Battalion Coldstream Guards stationed at TEDDINGTON, Glos ( Service No. 2662193 ) with permanent home address at 13 Bowens Terrace, TREDEGAR, Monmouthshire, make oath and say as follows:-

    On the 21st June 1942, whilst I was serving with my Regiment at TOBRUK, I was taken Prisoner and sent to ITALY arriving in that Country on the 6th August 1942. I was taken to a camp at LUCCA, where I first met Donald RUSSELL, a Private in, I believe, the Cameron Highlanders. If it was not the Camerons, I am quite sure it was a Scottish Regiment.

    During May 1943, I was transferred, together with RUSSELL and 73 other British Prisoners of War, from LUCCA to a Working Camp at TURIN. The Camp number was 112/1 and it was in the charge of Italians.

    On the 8th September 1943, ITALY capitulated and on the 10th September 1943, every man in the Camp ( 75 of us ) escaped and three - Harry OVIATT, George EMMETT and I, went to a very small village named ALPETTIE, about 25 miles from TURIN. Harry OVIATT was a Private in the R.A.S.C., and his home address is 7 Rivett Street, Old Kent Road, LONDON. George EMMETT’s home address is at EDMONTON, but I am unable to supply any other details regarding him. I do not know the Regiment in which he was serving.

    Upon our arrival at ALPETTIE, we found that a Band of Partisans was being formed by an Italian, whose name I cannot remember. OVIATT, EMMETT and I joined the band of Partisans, but we were never engaged in any active resistance work at ALPETTIE.

    In November 1943, EMMETT and I left that Village and went to FORNO CANAVESE, about 5 miles away over the mountains, where we joined another band of Partisans led by an Italian named, I believe, ALFORSO. This band consisted at that time of 36 escaped British Prisoners of War and about 150 Italians. Donald RUSSELL was already a member of the Party. Other members whom I had previously known were John WILSON of the Durham Light Infantry, Pte George HIGGINS and Lance Corporal SLAY. WILSON’s home is at NEWCASTLE, but I don’t know the exact address. I am unable to give any details regarding HIGGINS and SLAY.

    The Party had about 8 machine guns, 120 rifles and a large number of grenades, so that the majority of the members were armed. Donald RUSSELL had a rifle and ammunition, but WILSON, EMMETT, HIGGINS, SLAY and myself were not armed in any way. RUSSELL was dressed in the trousers, boots and blue shirt of an Italian soldier and civilian jacket and cap.

    During the night of the 8th / 9th December 1943, a party of about 1,500 enemy soldiers comprised of Germans and Italian Fascists arrived at FORNO, with the intention, so we understood, to disperse or eliminate the Partisan band to which we belonged. I do not know the names of the enemy Units concerned and I can give no information regarding them

    Cont’d……….

    - 2 -

    which would assist in establishing their identity.

    During the morning of the 9th December 1943, the enemy force attacked our band in the hills outside FORNO where we had been hiding since their arrival in the district. They fired on us for two or three hours, and the Partisans who were armed returned their fire with rifles and machine guns. After about three hours under fire, WILSON, HIGGINS, SLAY and myself were instructed by the Deputy Commander of the Party ( an Italian Padre whose name I do not know ) to withdraw further back into the hills, as we were not armed. RUSSELL, who was armed with a rifle, remained with the Partisans, firing upon the enemy forces. None of the party had been killed so far and I and my unarmed comrades, as directed, withdrew about two miles to the top of the hill on which the fighting was taking place.

    We remained there under cover for about half an hour and then we saw a party of Partisans under the Deputy Commander withdrawing on our left towards a village called PAINO AUDI. We joined them, making altogether a party of about 50. My comrades and I were the only British soldiers in the band and although we made enquiries, we could find no trace of RUSSELL or of anyone who had seen him.

    On arrival at PAINO AUDI, the Deputy Commander told us that the band was breaking up and gave every man, including the Italians, 50 lire each.

    The next day, WILSON and I accompanied by a French soldier, who had been forced to join the Italian Army, left the village with the intention of returning to FORNO. I do not know the French soldier’s name.

    We did not return to FORNO immediately but stayed for several days in and around a small village about six miles from our destination.

    On either the 12th or 13th December 1943, the enemy column left the FORNO District, and I and my two companions, went to the hills outside FORNO where the fighting had taken place between the Partisans and the enemy forces. We went there to collect our kit which we had hidden amongst the rocks and boulders during the fighting. We found our kit was missing, so WILSON took us to a house at CARSA VIETTA, a small place on the outskirts of FORNO. WILSON knew the people living at the house - an Italian Farmer and his family - but I can give no details.

    The farmer told us that the German Forces had taken 18 prisoners during their attacks on the Partisan band and that these prisoners were made up of 17 Italians and one British Prisoner Of War, whose name was Donald RUSSELL. He also told us that these 18 prisoners had been taken to a small village nearby ( the name of which I cannot recall ), by their German captors and shot the same day in the Square there. The farmer said that he had not seen the shooting, but he was able to tell us that all the dead had been buried by civilians in the FORNO Cemetery. We were unable to visit the Cemetery at FORNO at that time as there were too many Fascist spies in the town.

    We stayed with the farmer for seven days and then

    Cont’d………


    - 3 -

    returned to PAINO AUDI, where we joined the Partisan band which was being re-formed there. I continued to serve with various Partisan bands in ITALY until the end of May 1945, but during the beginning of that month, as things had grown quiet, I returned to FORNO by myself.

    I went to the Cemetery there and saw, amongst other graves, a grave No.26 and which bore the inscription : “ DONALD RUSSELL - ENGLISH.” I also saw the graves of about 13 members of the Partisan band of FORNO.

    At the end of the month, I arrived at the Repatriation Centre at TURIN and I was eventually returned to this Country.

    I am at present stationed at the 88th Polish Repatriation Camp, TEDDINGTON, Glos., and my rank is a Guardsman.

    I solemnly and sincerely declare that the contents of this, my Affidavit, are true.

    Signed: J.R.Parry

    SWORN by the said John Ronald PARRY at CHELTENHAM in the County of Gloucester before me one of His Majesty’s Justices of the Peace in and for the said County of Gloucester, this 25th day of March 1946.

    Signed: C.Bloom. "
     
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2016
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  4. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Buona sera Giacomo,

    I suggest you contact the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in Rome on cwgc.org to find out if a British soldier was picked up by them from the cemetery at Forno and if so where he was taken.

    Good luck with your research,

    Vitellino
     
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  5. papiermache

    papiermache Well-Known Member

    Good Morning vitellino,

    There are no references to a Nicola Prospero in the files that I have seen.

    Both "Donald" and "Russell" are common Christian names in the UK, so the names could appear in either order, or may even not include the surname.

    It is quite usual in War Crimes trials that victims are not identified by service number or army unit.This would not be the case in a proper murder trial but war crimes trials proceeded under rather peculiar rules which were, fortunately, not in force at the Old Bailey in London concerning an ordinary domestic murder.

    In this case I have tried to find Donald Russell in the Commonwealth War Graves databases without success, but there are people who use this forum who have access to other records and who could add more detail to the names of British servicemen as stated in the affidavit of John Parry. In particular it might be that " Private Donald Russell" could be found on a list of POW's.

    The charges in the Military Court proceedings involved two separate incidents. There was a subsequent trial of a German and an Italian in Padua in October 1947 in which the German defendant apparently acknowledged responsibility for the second massacre at Borgo Ticino, but I do not know the result.

    In the trial of Willi Tensfeld tickets were issued to press and public so there should be newspaper reports.

    Here are my notes:

    Military Court Proceedings at Padua 14 to 18 April 1947


    Defendant: ( former Generalmajor der Polizei ) Willi Tensfeld, German National,

    1st Charge

    Committing a War Crime in that he at FORNO CAVANESE, Italy, on or about 9 December, 1943, in violation of the laws and usages of war, was concerned in the killing without trial of Private Donald RUSSELL and 17 Italian Nationals, partisans.

    Finding: Not Guilty

    2nd Charge

    Committing a War Crime in that he at BORGO TICINO, Italy, on or about 13 August, 1944, in violation of the laws and usages of war, was concerned in the killing as a reprisal of 12 Italian Nationals.

    Finding: Not Guilty


    Prosecution of Captain Kruman, German, and Ungarelli, Italian, in October 1947 at Padua concerning the killings at BORGO TICINO.


    Best wishes and good hunting,

    John
     
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  6. papiermache

    papiermache Well-Known Member

    Hans Schuh gave evidence in person at the Military Court held at Padua in April 1947. He made a statement which states that some Yugoslav soldiers, who were dressed in khaki uniforms, were found with the Italian nationals, and who were spared from being shot simply because they were soldiers.

    If Donald Russell had been recognised as an English POW he would have been treated in accordance with the Geneva Convention, according to Schuh.

    This may beg the question as to whether "Donald Russell" identified himself to his Italian friends only by his Christian names and home address.

    Unfortunately the full identity by service number and unit of "Donald Russell" was not established in the investigations and the home address has gone missing.

    Defence counsel, who was a German General, was there to pour doubt on Schuh's evidence because he was pointing the finger at his client.

    Schuh's statement is as follows:



    " TRANSLATION

    209 POW Camp, CMF.

    1 May 1946

    STATEMENT of :- Obersturmfuehrer SCHUH Hans

    AA 079956

    BdS Aussenkommado, TURIN

    who states: -

    I have been cautioned that I am not obliged to say anything unless I wish to do so, but whatever I do say will be taken down in writing and may be given in evidence. ( Sgd ) Hans Schuh

    I came to the BdS Aussenkommado TURIN at about 18 Sept. 1943 and I remained there until 30 June 1944. This office was under Hauptsturmfuehrer SCHMID and I was his deputy. When I left TURIN, I took over the Aussenposten ( outpost ) at BIELLA and I remained there until 24 April 1945.

    Towards November 1943 reports were received from German and Italian sources, to the effect that partisans were operating in the FORNO CANAVESE area. These reports also contained information about attacks on German troops, air observation posts and Carabinieri stations.

    As a result of these reports, I went personally to FORNO CANAVESE towards the middle of November, using a civilian car and civilian clothes, in order to get personal impressions. After my visit I was satisfied that in fact partisans were operating in that area.

    On 1 December 1943 I flew over the area to make air observations. Short time afterwards I made a detailed report and plan for the necessary action to the Schutzpolizei in TURIN and I believe to remember that I handed it to the Ia of No.15 SS and Police Regt., Capt. MUENCH.

    No.15 Police Regt. was under Lt. Col BUCH and was stationed in VERCELLI.

    Hauptsturmfuehrer SCHMID was always informed by me about the progress of the matter. 2 or 3 days later an order of action was received from No.15 Police Regt.

    On about 7 December 43, in accordance with this order, three Companies of Schutzpolizei under Capt. REINKE went to the FORNO CANAVESE area, reinforced by a small detachment of the Waffen SS. I remember that the following officers were present: Reinke’s adjutant Capt. GOSCH, Lt. LINHART, 2 further Company commanders, a medical officer ( 2nd Lt. ) and an Obersturmfuehrer of the Waffen SS.

    I was accompanied by the following members of my department Sturmscharfuehrer ALBRECHT, Sturmscharfuehrer SPICAR, Oberscharfuehrer JAUCH, Oberscharfuehrer BODE ( dead ), a civilian interpreter LERCH ( dead ) and four others, whose names I do not remember.

    As there were 2 heavy tanks in our column, we reached the FORNO CANAVESE area later than it was intended and this gave the partisans a chance to retreat.

    On the first day there was only isolated fighting on the mountain slopes and weapon and ammunition dumps were captured during searches. The civilians, who lived in these houses were arrested.

    On the next day an open battle developed between the Germans and the partisans, causing casualties on both sides.

    Already on the first day, two partisans were captured, who had been known by name. These were kept in a building at FORNO CANAVESE. During the action on the second day, a certain number of partisans were captured and they too were kept in the above mentioned building.

    On the third day, the 40 civilians, who had been arrested on the first day, were released. From interrogations carried out by ALBRECHT and other members of the BdS it resulted that 3 or 4 of the partisans were ex-Yugoslavian soldiers. The remainder of the interrogated partisans had all Italian identity documents or letters from their relatives and were all to the best of my knowledge and conscience Italian nationals.

    After the interrogation I examined their documents and called them up, name by name. Their total number was 19. Not one of these 19 persons mentioned that he was an

    / Englishman………………….

    - 2 -

    Englishman nor was this understood in any other way. Apart from the Yugoslavs, who wore khaki uniforms, none of the partisans wore uniforms or had any insignia.

    I handed REINKE the original of the list containing the partisans and asked whether they were to be taken to TURIN or what else was going to happen to them. REINKE was of the opinion that they were to be shot, in accordance with the OBSW order, but that he had to receive first the necessary authority.

    General TENSFIELD, who obviously had been in TURIN with the General of the Waffen SS, ZIMMERMANN, came to FORNO CANAVESE on the third day. He remained for about one hour. I spoke to him and I had the impression that he was satisfied with the results of the action so far. He then returned to TURIN.

    REINKE stated that he needed authority from General TENSFELD for the execution and I believe to remember that he called TURIN by telephone. After 4 or 5 hours, I was called by REINKE, who told me that TENSFELD had given authority for the execution. I believe to remember having seen a message in REINKE’s hand, pointing to the OBSW order.

    The 19 partisans were then shot by a firing squad of the Schutzpolizei, in two groups of 9 and 10. The firing squad was under the command of a 2nd Lt. of the Schutzpolizei, whose names I do not remember. I describe him as follows:-

    30-35 years old, 1.70 high, robust build, oval face, pale complexion, dark hair, sickly appearance.

    I was present at the execution and so was the medical officer.

    The victims were then examined by the M.O., I was present and saw the officer, who had commanded the firing squad, giving the “ coup de grace” to a few of them, as indicated by the M.O. I have not taken part in the execution in any way.

    I know that the victims had not been tried in any way but were shot in accordance with the OBSW order.

    The Yugoslavs, who were considered as as soldiers protected by the Geneva Convention, were not shot and I know that they were taken to TURIN by REINKE and I presume that they were handed over to the Feldgendarmerie ( Military Police ).

    Had it been known that there was a British soldier amongst the 19 partisans, he certainly would have not been shot. Orders had already been given to take any precautions and in case of capture of British PsOW, to treat them in accordance with the Geneva Convention.

    (sgd) Hans Schuh.

    I have read the above statement. It is true and correct and I was given the opportunity to make any alterations.

    (sgd) Hans Schuh.

    Statement taken down by (sgd) N.E. Middleton Capt. DAPM (SIB) DJAG’s staff GHQ, CMF.

    through the medium of (Sgd) Hans Propper Official Interpreter, DJAG’s staff, GHQ, CMF. "
     
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  7. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Hello everyone interested in this topic.

    I will repeat what I posted earlier. When the Commonweath War Graves team recovered bodies of British and Commonwealth servicemen they used map references to indicate where they had been picked up. Escaped POWs often had no dog tag and when they were shot by the Germans and subsequently buried their temporary grave would have been marked as being that of 'an unknown British Serviceman' and recorded as such by the CWGC team upon collection.

    One such ex POW is buried in Staglieno War Cemetery in Genoa. By using their map reference the CWGC were able to inform me that he had been picked up on Monte Tobbio together with a South African POW who did have his dog tag.

    Another similar case is that of the British sailor buried at Cassino. By combining eye witness accounts in some War Crimes files with the CWGC map reference of his temporary burial place it has been possible to identify him and his headstone will be replaced in due course. So, It is worth asking the CWGC if they recovered anyone from the area in which Russell is believed to have been killed.

    Regards,

    Vitellino
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2016
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  8. papiermache

    papiermache Well-Known Member

    It appears that ex-POWs with partisan groups deliberately withheld their surnames or assumed aliases composed only of Christian names so it will still be difficult to positively identify those who fell.

    There appear to be two British soldiers commemorated at Forno Canavese who were known by shortened forms of their names: "Donald Russell", who was a Private from a Scottish Regiment probably the Cameron Highlanders and who was captured at Tobruk, and "Edward Arnold Peter", who is not mentioned in the files I have seen.

    I am assuming their own Christian names were used but they could have used the names of father's or other relatives, which would be well known to other family members.

    The following list of the fallen is from Forno Canavese via the internet by courtesy of Google Translate:



    " On the site of the massacre a plaque and a little monument to remember the names of known shot:

    Sergio Bottini,

    Francesco Canella,

    Cerisio Thomas Della Torre Ermanno,

    Di Nardi,

    Donald Russell,

    Grassa Bartholomew,

    Nicholas Marino,

    Milan Leopoldo,

    Morandini Camillo,

    Obert Domenico ,

    Tasic Timeus,

    Mario Toro,

    Crectoria Piero

    and another Slovak whose name is unknown.

    They had fallen in combat, on day 7,

    Edward Arnold Peter,

    Monzani Luciano, and

    Vironda Gambin Francis;

    Day 8,

    Appino Antonio,

    Savero Papandrea,

    and two Slovak partisans that you do not know the names.

    To honor the memory of these fallen 25, every year takes place on December 8, a celebratory event.

    Some of them are also remembered in place names Fornese: Carlo Monzani, Saverio Papandrea (gold medal), Francesco Cannella (silver medal), so 'as other partisans: Bernardo Castagneri (gold medal), Osvaldo Franco (medal silver) fell in other fights. "
     
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  9. Giacomo Vieta

    Giacomo Vieta New Member

    Thanks to Vitellino, Papiermache and all the people which replied.
    The name of Donald may be Russ, New Zealand.
    I'm also looking for informations about other ex POWs militating in the partisan group of Nicola Prospero:

    Mr John Thomas SIMS, 69 Munce street, Derby
    Mr Stallord James GLOVER, Marn St Quen Berough, Near Leicester
    Mr Sidney DEMEINSKY, 172 Junction road London N 19
    Mr Ronald Parry, 96 Arden RD, Saltley, Birmenoham
    Mr P.W. OVIETT, 1 Rivet st. Londo S.E.1
    Mr George EMMETF, 1 Banotead Gelns, Edmenten, London
    Mr Albert SAVAGE, 12 Dock Rd. Works op Notts

    Thanks and merry Christmas.

    Giacomo
     
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  10. papiermache

    papiermache Well-Known Member

    Happy Christmas, Giacomo.

    " Russ" is a common shortening of "Russell", as "Don" is a shortening of Donald.

    The list of other names and addresses is interesting. Did the names come from a list made during 1943 ?


    John
     
  11. Guy Hudson

    Guy Hudson Looker-upper

    Giacomo, I have found some information on Sims:

    940670 SIMS John Thomas Royal Artillery
    born 11th May 1919 in Derby
    died 3Q 1996 Derby
    resided at 69 Nun's Street Derby
    Joined the Royal Artillery in October 1939 and was captured in Tobruk in 1942.
    Held in Italy for a year and escaped in September 1943 and joined the partisans
    After he was recaptured he was tranferred to Stalag VII A, Germany, POW no. 129941

    Regards
    Guy
     

    Attached Files:

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  12. Guy Hudson

    Guy Hudson Looker-upper

    856989 GLOVER Stafford James Royal Artillery
    born 28/12/1912 Barrow on Soar, Leicestershire
    died 1Q 1994 Leicester
    Joined the Royal Artillery in 1936
    POW Stalag VII A Pow no. 129870
     
  13. papiermache

    papiermache Well-Known Member

    Guy, well done with Sims and Glover, I do not have access to lists of servicemen, but got the newspaper reference without being able to see the full article. Thanks for posting.

    Mr. Sidney Demeinsky may be Sidney or Solly Dembinsky born Whitechapel 4th quarter 1917 Vol 1c p222: a surname which may be Polish, Jewish, Ukrainian or Belorussian or a combination of those definitions, but that is as far as I could get on a free interpretation of the name as listed by Giacomo, so it could easily be wrong.
     
  14. Giacomo Vieta

    Giacomo Vieta New Member

    Thanks to John papiermache and Guy Hudson for interesting informations. The list sent of names did come from a list made during 1943,44 by Walter Azzarelli officer in the partisan group of Nicola Prospero "Funso".
    Happy New year. Giacomo.
     
  15. Brian Demby

    Brian Demby New Member

    My late father was Sydney Dembinsky of 172 Junction Road, London N19.
    I would like to hear about any information anybody may have.
    Brian Demby
     
  16. Guy Hudson

    Guy Hudson Looker-upper

    Hello Brian, welcome to the forum.
    I have found two entries relating to your father, Fusilier Sidney Dembinsky 6916857 Northumberland Fusiliers.
    The second entry refers to his wounding during an escape attempt on the 13th September 1943.
    Guy
     

    Attached Files:

  17. papiermache

    papiermache Well-Known Member

    It's good to put a face to a name, Brian, and welcome to the forum. I seem to have guessed at the right name since "Demeinsky" seemed unlikely.

    I sent a personal message (PM) to Giacomo in May 2015 asking if he had found out any more about Donald Russell but had no reply.

    If you search for "Italy", "POW", and "Shooting" in the Kew search engine a few dozen file references appear, unfortunately, so similar events were not unheard of. It seems likely that your father survived the war despite efforts to the contrary.

    You might find his name in the War Crimes card index at Kew. The same goes for the witness W.G. Callender ( is he a Fusilier ? ). Where there is a known accused person the name is usually given in the cards.

    John
     
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  18. papiermache

    papiermache Well-Known Member

    DR RNF.jpg Just to summarise what follows, an escaped PoW soldier known to Italian partisans in December 1943 as "Donald Russell", who was shot without trial along with 17 other "partisans" on or about 12th December 1943, does not appear to have been identified. British witnesses, ex-PoW's in Italy, thought he was in the Cameron Highlanders or other Scottish Regiment, but another thought he was in the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers.

    I have found another file at Kew which has a note of the address written on the back of a photograph, which was not of Donald Russell.

    It appears from the file cover that the MOD were considering destroying the file, now WO311/1262, on a "date to be advised (after) 19/8/86 ".

    The Judge Advocate General did not consider it necessary to establish the true name of the murdered British soldier "Donald Russell" but prosecuted using the alias. This is not at all unusual in Minor War Crimes trials.

    The CMP report suggests that Donald Russell's mates may have called him Jack Russell or Jock Russell.

    I have searched Commonwealth War Graves for any Royal Northumberland Fusiler who died in Italy in December 1943 but have not tried vitellino's sensible suggestion. In January 1946 the body of "Donald Russell" was still in Forno Canavese.

    I wrote a PM to Giacomo, as stated above, asking if he knew any more, but no reply as yet.

    Does an address in Glasgow help ? The address might have been of parents or other next of kin.

    Extracts from the file:

    WO311/1262

    Letter from GHQ Central Mediterranean Forces reference JAG/VW/16171/71 dated 22 Mar 46 to the Judge Advocate General, 6, Spring Gardens, Cockspur Street, London S.W.1

    ( signature unreadable )

    "There appears little doubt that the Jack Russell mentioned by Hayden and the Donald Russell of the SIB Report are the same man and I suggest that he was known to his friends as JOCK. He was a native of Scotland and the mistake of believing his christian name to have been Jack might easily have been made. I am in possession of the photograph given by Russell to OBERT Giacomo, on which he wrote his name as

    D. Russell
    43, Cramond Terrace,
    Springboig,
    Glasgow E.2
    Scotland

    OBERT was present at the exhumation of all 18 bodies on 18 Dec 43 and states that he immediately recognised one of the bodies as that of Donald RUSSELL."


    Extract from War Crimes Summary dated 14 Jan 46.
    " Investigated by CSM Cartwright W., 78 Section SIB CMP"

    ( signed) D.B. Pratt, Captain, DAPM 78 Special Investigation Section, Corps of Military Police

    " The bodies of the victims were eventually buried by the population in the cemetery of FORNO CANAVESE.

    The majority of the bodies have now been removed to the city cemetery of TURIN. The body of RUSSELL is still in the cemetery of FORNO CANAVESE. No. 12 GRU have been informed."
     
  19. Guy Hudson

    Guy Hudson Looker-upper

    John,
    Confirmation of Donald Russell, Cameron Highlanders reported missing 21st June 1942. His address is given as 43 Cramond Terrace. From the Daily Record 28th July 1942.

    Donald Russell was born on the 2nd May 1915 at 278 Main Street, Shettleston, Glasgow.

    He married Elizabeth Coats at Eastmuir, Glasgow on the 24th June 1938. His trade is butcher (journeyman)

    Guy
     

    Attached Files:

    papiermache likes this.
  20. papiermache

    papiermache Well-Known Member

    Guy,

    Thank you very much for finding the newspaper report.

    Gunner Thomas Hayden, 1115470, in an affidavit sworn 26th February 1946,

    " 1. I was taken prisoner of war on 6th June 1942 in Libya. In November 1942 I was transferred to Italy, to a camp near Naples from where I was sent to No 53 camp Maserata. From this camp 73 other ranks including Pte. Jack Russell and myself were sent to No. 112 camp at Turin."

    You may be able to read the rest from the photo. The original is on WO311/1265 ( that makes four files at Kew which contain some information. )

    T.Hayden 26:2:46.jpg
     

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