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.