Partisan group of Nicola Prospero.

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

  1. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    I have been puzzling over the reply I posted above from the ICRC Archives regarding Donald Russell for two reasons:

    - His surname is mis-spelt

    - His rank does not coincide with that in his regiment's missing men report.

    They state that the Sources of information are:
    1 list issued by the Italian authorities
    1 list issued by the German authorities

    Both WO 392/21 (POWS held in Italy) and WO 392/1 (POWs hrld in Germany and German-occupied Territories) give the name and rank correctly.

    WO 392/21

    Extract from  WO 392 21.png

    WO 392/1

    Extract from  WO 392 1.png

    A clue as to why I was sent what is clearly erroneous information may be here:


    By 1940, the Agency had persuaded almost all the parties to the conflict to use Red Cross capture cards. The cards did not replace the official lists sent by the detaining powers, but since the prisoners themselves filled the cards in, they contained fewer errors than the lists written by people who did not know the prisoners' language.

    Suppose that the erroneous spelling of the surname and the incorrect rank were on the card filled in by 'Donald Russell' in Germany. Why would he not have written down the correct information? I shall now ask ICRC for clarification.

    I believe the real Donald Russell may be in Section 5 Row A Plot 15 in Milan War Cemetery and have made a submission to CWGC to that effect.

    Thanks for having had the patience to read this - I needed to run my thoughts past somebody!!

  2. ArmyBoyandMan

    ArmyBoyandMan Active Member

    The Russell my father John Grasby witnessed being shot by the Germans was Donald Russell or Royal Northumberland Fusiliers

    A Germans Colum of 2000 men Arrived on the 7th December 1943 at Forno Cavanese on the 9th December 1943 my Father saw 18 Dead bodies lying on an open space in the Village
  3. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Amended see below
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2020
  4. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Your father got his unit wrong, MIchael.

    See the affidavit of JOHN PARRY p.1 of this thread and Guy Hudson's post above.


    PS Moderator - shouldn't this thread be in the POW Section?

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Aug 25, 2020
  5. ArmyBoyandMan

    ArmyBoyandMan Active Member

    These Document mentions Donald Russell and the Germans

    Attached Files:

  6. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    They are from War Crimes File WO 235/290 and are the testimony of the town clerk of Forno Canavese, Serafino Boggia.

    Papiermaché posted them on this thread on 19 September 2016.

    At this point I would like to say that I have made a Submission to CWGC for the soldier buried in Milan War Cemetery in Section 5. Row A. Plot 15 to be recognised as 2935292 PRIVATE DONALD RUSSELL 2 CAMERON HIGHLANDERS.

    I have also set up a website in the hope that some of his relatives might come forward:

    It is up and running but you may need to put it in the address bar to see it as it is waiting to be 'trawled' br Google.

    JohnH, davidbfpo and JimHerriot like this.
  7. ArmyBoyandMan

    ArmyBoyandMan Active Member

    Great work Vitellino the site looks Amazing
    JohnH and JimHerriot like this.
  8. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Thank you !!
    JimHerriot likes this.
  9. ArmyBoyandMan

    ArmyBoyandMan Active Member

    When a Forces number is the same bar one number it could quite easily be human error, my Fathers Citation Document was a mix up his Army number was printed on the card as 4978694 when it should have been 4798694

    I remember asking my Father why he hadn’t pointed it out to the officer who handed or posted it to him my Father answered it’s only a sheet of paper and that’s the last time a saw his Citation while he was alive
  10. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    No more posts on this theme from me until there's a reply to the submission.

    If my past experience is anything to go by that will be in three or four years' time.


    EDITED: this has just come in from IRCR:

    Our Ref.: AAG-018638 (fkh)
    Concern: Mr. RUSSELL Donald

    Dear Madam,.

    I thank you for your message.
    I've double checked the datas found in our archives.

    Concerning the family name, one document mentions his name as RUSSELL (the German list) and another document with RUSSEL (the Italian document). I should have mentioned both (RUSSEL and RUSSELL) in the document I sent you. The document from the German source is a list written by the authorities, which was not filled by the detainee himself.
    Concerning his rank, you are right, sorry for this mistake. His rank is "Private".

    Please find attached the document corrected.

    Best regards,

    Fania Khan

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Aug 27, 2020
    JimHerriot likes this.
  11. ArmyBoyandMan

    ArmyBoyandMan Active Member

    That's a heck of a long time lets hope it moves a bit faster
    JimHerriot likes this.
  12. travers1940

    travers1940 Well-Known Member

    Donald Russell features in two online trees on ancestry, both created by the same person. I am hopeful that he is a close relation as there is a photo of Donald's mother & maternal grandparents on the tree.

    I have sent a message via ancestry PM service to alert them to the search & hope to get a reply as he was on the site yesterday.

    Apologies if this duplicates contact already made.
    JimHerriot and vitellino like this.
  13. ArmyBoyandMan

    ArmyBoyandMan Active Member

    Thanks a lot, traver1940 that’s a great help Vitellino is doing all the hard work trying to find out the Real Donald Russell History he set up a great Website Dedicated to finding the true facts about him you may of spotted the link already but in case not I’ve posted it below

    Thank again

    What Happened To Private Donald Russell?
    JimHerriot likes this.
  14. travers1940

    travers1940 Well-Known Member

    Great news.

    Have heard back from the owner of the ancestry tree. He is very interested in Donald's case. His mother was Donald's first cousin, and he thinks he may have met Donald's sisters in the 1960's as one lived round the corner. He has no memory of Donald or his life & can't at the moment add anything to the info on him, though is going to check with his cousins.

    I will send him all the links, inc the dedicated website.

    Will PM Vitellino with the intention of getting them in contact with each other.

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  15. ArmyBoyandMan

    ArmyBoyandMan Active Member

    That's great to hear well done nice work travel1940
    JimHerriot likes this.
  16. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    I said I wouldn't post again until I heard something regarding ths submission but unfortunately it will have to be withdrawn as Donald Russell, 43 Cramond Terrace, registered the death of his father Daniel on 2 October 1960.
    D1960_Daniel Russell.jpg

    Hence I surmise that Donald was recaptured by the Germans at Forno Canavese and sent to Germany.

    Of the three POWs who testifed to his death, only John Grasby saw him shot. Parry and Hayden heard of his death from others. However Italian witness Giacomo Obert was present at the exhumation of the bodies and recognised the man who had described himself as Russell.

    I am now waiting for the marriage certificate of Elizabeth Russell and William Skinner in 1946.Widow? Divorcee?


    Edited: Elizabeth Russell was Donald's sister. No more information on Donald or his wife Elizabeth on Scotlands People.
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2020
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  17. ArmyBoyandMan

    ArmyBoyandMan Active Member

    What a turn up for the books it may be that the solder calling himself Donald Russell wasn’t in fact him at all, and the name of the Regiment he gave to my father was either his own or simply picked out of thin air who knows, will we get to the bottom of this quandary and will we ever find out the truth about Donald?
    JimHerriot likes this.
  18. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    I have decided to give up on this one.

    Edited to say that

    a) Travers found this today (15 September) :

    British Army Casualty List 1844 (W/O 417/96/2) for casualties reported to the War Office 28/29 August 1945.
    page 22
    4. Prisoners of War
    Previously reported Prisoner of War, now not Prisoner of War
    2nd Battalion Queens Own Cameron Highlanders
    2935392 RUSSELL Pte D.
    previously on List 962
    previous theatre of war Western Desert

    b) I have completely modified the website and translated it into Italian. We now know that the real Pte. Donald Russell wasn't shot at Forno Canavese but the Italians don't.
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2020
    travers1940 and Owen like this.
  19. ArmyBoyandMan

    ArmyBoyandMan Active Member

    What a shame Vitellino and when you’ve done so much in your search for answers may be something about him will turn up in the future fingers crossed; I hope you get your Answers

    JimHerriot likes this.
  20. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Two Italians are now proposing to write an article about the soldier who was known to the partisans as Donald Russell but may have assumed his identity.

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