Monday, February 11, 2008

My Dad in Italy

A while back, I wrote about my Dad being stationed in North Africa during WWII. Reader Mary wondered if my Dad ever captured any Italian soldiers, because her Dad also served in North Africa as a soldier in the Italian Army, and was captured in Tobruk. I said that would certainly be ironic!

I talked to my Mom and Dad today, and in the course of the conversation, I told Dad about Mary's comment, and he got a kick out of being a topic of discussion! And it turns out that yes, he DID guard some Italian prisoners! But he wasn't in Tobruk, he was in Algiers and Oman, so I doubt that he and Mary's Dad crossed paths. Dad said that they all figured out pretty quickly that the Italians were really decent guys, and not fighters. I got the impression that Dad believed the Italian soldiers really didn't want that war and weren't thrilled to be fighting for the Fascist machine. He said that the prisoners did work details like cooking and cleaning, and that they were incredible cooks. No doubt! He also said that it was all pretty amicable, and he remembered one time when they were loading some of the prisoners into a truck, as Dad was hopping up into the back of the truck, he handed his rifle to one of the Italian prisoners so he (Dad) could get up into the truck!

If any of this sounds in any way prejudiced or biased, no no NO. That was not the impression I got from my Dad. Actually, he seemed happy to have encountered these guys, he had nothing bad to say, and he still speaks fondly of getting to spend some time in Italy after the war ended. It reminds me of the story of British and German soldiers in 1914 calling a temporary truce of their own during Christmas, meeting between the trenches to exchange gifts, sing Christmas carols, and play a little football (soccer to us Yanks). If that doesn't bring a tear to your eye, I don't know what will.

Speaking of soldiers, Mom said that my nephew Steve (a Marine), the one whose wife just had their little baby, Hunter, has deployed. He's been in Kuwait, and she also said Rwanda, but I'm not sure that we have troops in Rwanda, unless they are assisting the U.N. I'll try to get some clarification from my sister, but it seems that Steve's wife hasn't been able to talk to him for a couple of weeks, so he's out there somewhere. We'll hope and pray that he comes home safely.


buckoclown said...

Prayers to Steve and Che're.  A really interesting dynamic.  Marriage and a child have really casued them both to grow up into nice people.  It has been a wonderful transistion to witness. :o)

shrbrisc said...

I will keep him in our prayers ,

luvrte66 said...

Thank you, Sherry. That means a lot, and I know our entire family appreciates every prayer sent up for Steve.


frankandmary said...

I agree totally.  I have a copy of my Dad's 1928 Fascist manual (Dad was 7 in 1928; they gave them out young) & although later he was forced to read it, he never bought the concept. Even as a teen he & many Italians knew Hitler was "off" but Mussolini was scared to death Hitler would crush his country & ultimately force those left to fight for him anyway.
I cannot decry my Dad's capture, since they sent him as a prisoner of war to a "camp" in New Jersey; he met my Mom there while she was visiting another soldier with a friend. And to steal your word, it was very amicable indeed at the prison camp.  A guard that befriended my Dad gave him a change of clothes & a bike, allowing him to leave camp in the middle of the night to bike to my Mom's home a few towns  away for visits. The American guards saw the Germans as the enemy & the Italians as largely scape goats. ~Mary

luvrte66 said...

I love your story, Mary, about your Dad going out to visit the lady who became your Mom! I wouldn't normally say something like this, but since it's almost Valentine's Day, I WILL say it. I believe that love is always the most powerful of all emotions, and I think it's wonderful that your folks found each other even under such dire circumstances. THAT is some great, romantic stuff!


ziggy2315 said...

I heard many of those same sentiments from my dad who served in WWII in North Africa and in the Italian campaign as well. In fact I heard some stories much the same from my dad's friends who served in France and fought the Germans. There were some real human interest moments in there from all sides. As fate would have it, many Italians who had fought in that war, emmigrated to my home town soon thereafter and men who had fought against each other were now making a community together as friends. It worked out amazingly well.

luvrte66 said...

Also a great story, Ziggy. Don't you think, for the most part, that rational human beings really don't want to fight? Just like the Italians settling in your town, I think we're much more alike than we are different.


rdautumnsage said...

What a fascinating story between this one and Mary's comment. Back to what I was saying in an earlier comment. Small world indeed! (Hugs) Indigo

luvrte66 said...

Yes...and a reminder that The Greatest Generation is not limited to Americans. Others fought, and while they may have been our enemies at the time, they became our allies, our friends, and our countrymen. I think that is VERY COOL.