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15 October 2014
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by Peter - WW2 Site Helper

Contributed by 
Peter - WW2 Site Helper
People in story: 
Peter Ghiringhelli
Location of story: 
Northern Italy 1940-1946
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
11 January 2005

I originally submitted my story "A Childhood in Nazi Occupied Italy" in early November 2003. I relied almost entirely on my memory of those sad days, checking only the dates of the sinking of the Monarch of Bermuda and the Conte Rosso, British and Italian troopships which took my family to Italy in mine-infested water in late June 1940.

I should have know better than to rely on memories of events sixty years previously. Some events I had described were out of chronological order, the worst case was the Battle of San Martino which I was convinced had taken place late in 1944, in fact it was probably the first major battle in the Italian Civil War and took place in November 1943.

Because of this, and some email correspondence I have now recast my story adjusting dates, I have also transposed some paragraphs to accord with changed dates. The German armoured division I saw heading south by rail was probably the 'Herman Göring' Division, formed in Brittany from paratroop regiments and on the move to the Naples area at that time.

I have also now identified the Italian infantry troops who were stationed in Porto Valtravaglia, which I originally remembered as Bersaglieri.

I have also now added a copy of my 1946 travel document. The shirt I am wearing, several sizes too large, was originally my father's. I don't remember who lent me the jacket

Anyone wishing to read the amended version will find it here A1993403 (links do not work from a main story, so to find this link go below to "Link to my story")


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These messages were added to this story by site members between June 2003 and January 2006. It is no longer possible to leave messages here. Find out more about the site contributors.

Message 1 - Link to my story

Posted on: 11 January 2005 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper

Access it from here A1993403



Message 2 - Link to my story

Posted on: 11 January 2005 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Peter -
When I read your ammended story of your childhood I was surprised to learn of YOUR Battle of San Martino - as this was not the battle in which I was wounded on September 17th 1944 at Coriano Ridge, but another in a long list of places named Sam Martino - so which one did you mean ???

Also the movement of the Herman Georing Panzer div - at that time was heading south from around the Florence area - untroubled by the AirForces at the time, to give Mark Clark a bloody nose when he came out of Anzio and instead of heading straight for Valmontone - he turned left to be first in Rome against agreed orders ! ... and butted into the Herman Goering mob !
At least - my memory says so !


Message 3 - Link to my story

Posted on: 11 January 2005 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper


San Martino is just a small chapel in the mountains behind Musadino, not far from the Swiss border. This is a map of the area links

Battles between partisans and SS troops were vicious affairs with neither side taking prisoners, captured partisans, in this case six, were subjected to interrogation under torture then either hanged publicly or shot. The partisans who escaped to Switzerland after this battle, later filtered back in to Italy. Only a very few survived, the rest all died in later battles and skirmishes including their leader, Carlo Croce.

You can just see the last 3 letters ..rto and ..lia of 'Porto Valtravaglia' near Muceno.

The Herman Göring Division was only formed in 1942 France, from the Brigade 'Herman Göring' and parachute regiment remnants from Crete. The bulk of the division went to Tunisia in February/March 1943. Most of these were lost and the new Division was again worked up in France from scattered elements in France, Holland, and Germany and it was these troops that were moved by train from Brittany to the naples area and which were later rushed to Sicily in June 1943. Becauses I am not certain, I have not said that it was the Herman Goring Division which I saw, but from the dates there is a strong possibility that it was part of this division (of course it could have been another division, for example the 15. Panzergrenadier-Division).

The Herman Göring Division was extricated from Sicily, almost intact, and was able to regroup in the Florence area, mainly due to Patton's obsession with entering Messina before the British.




Message 4 - Link to my story

Posted on: 11 January 2005 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Peter -
now I know where YOUR San Martino is - close to Varese - tell me - didn't he play for A.C. Milan and Italy in the 1990 world Cup as left back ???? or was that Baresi ???
The Herman Goering Panzers were involved at Salerno then moved back to the Florence area and came down again as the US V1 corps broke out from Anzio ! They were never the best
the 21st and 26th had it all over them but they were as good as the Xth and 15th ! Good enough to scare the hell out of the Americans !



Message 5 - Link to my story

Posted on: 12 January 2005 by ODYSSEY

Jan. 12-'055.

Hello Peter, Josephine again :yesterday I re-read your
story and saw your picture.Both:fascinating.

In Holland we followed the battles in Italy: and it is amazing to read what really happened from a person who was there.

My other reason for dropping you a line is::Did you manage to undo the problem of me having to sign in each day??
All of a sudden I got on my Personal Page without having to sign in 3 or 4 times before I was finally admitted after I put in my place of birth.
I followed your advice of going to "bookmarks" It worked only a few times.No ide why?
I also got DSL; after several problems:one person with 2 working braincells decided to kick me off internet. I spent a 2hrs. on the phone to undo that problem.

A belated Happy New Year:In Holland we can wish that to anyone during the month of January.


Message 6 - Link to my story

Posted on: 12 January 2005 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper

Hi Josephine

A happy new year to you too! If you create a Bookmark to the WW2 website then you mustn't log out, just close the window.

As to DSL, once you get broadband you'll never go back to modem dialling.

Best wishes,

Peter <magic>


Message 7 - Link to my story

Posted on: 12 January 2005 by ODYSSEY

Hello Peter,
Thanks for your note,quick as always.

I never log out.
I'll stick with DSL,cannot imagine I used dial up for such a long time. I was supposed to have had it in Dec. The appointment was cancelled:there were not enough connections.-don't these cie. do marketanalysis??-

Can't find an appropiate Smiley.


Message 8 - Link to my story

Posted on: 13 January 2005 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Josephine / Peter -
I can't find an appropriate smiley either as the Bank Statement has just arrived and I can now assess just how expensive Christmas was this year, plus the Asia crisis with that horrendous Tsunami.
Frank was on earlier giving me some stick for not writing to you so I thought I had better jump in here !
Hopefully signing in is the least of your problems and that your dog bites are healing as they should !Hopefully your Law Suit will be well underway for restitution, as it always puzzles me why people would do such an evil thing to another ! I trust your Lawyer will sue their boots off in the true American fashion !
No doubt living so near to me that you are also experiencing our version of a "cold wind" as it is just flowing out of the Arctic like there was no to-morrow - we are down to - 7 C just now with a 40KPH wind force which is bringing the wind chill factor away down, although not as low as Alberta with wind chills of - 44 C
... now THAT is cold !


Message 9 - Link to my story

Posted on: 14 January 2005 by ODYSSEY

14 Jan. Hello,Tom, happy to find your letter:thanks!
My signing in problem somehow evaporated: I asked Peter whether he waived his wand. No answer.

My dogbites have healed;This month iit's a year ago that the dog mauled me.I spent 4 days in the hospital on a painpump -with Morphine-. I don't remember much ,but I do remember starting to hallucinate, kind of funny. My sons said:"get off the dope mam";I did that gladly.I was moved to a Rehab centre for 5 weeks: my R. hand was in a cast up to my elbow for 5 weeks: try to eat soup with a left hand, messy.
I sent Frank a picture of my face with the 36 stitches over my L eye -the dog took a bite of my face first- and the hematoma's in my face; I am laughing since I slobbered my soup all over me.
I could use my R. Leg only( since my L leg had a femur Fx.(My R.leg got overworked and it causes problems but is inproving.)
I have an excellent lawyer who is going to bat for me. Just recently he threatened the ins. Co of that woman that he is going to haul the co. into court if they do not give an answer soon .(if you are intersted I'll let you know what happened.

Thanks for the cold weather we get from you through the Frazier Valley. This a.m was -5.5 .C+ a cold wind that brought the windchill to-24.We had 4" at least of snow last week:I love that and so does my Cairn Terrier.

Now you have a synopsis of what happened to me.
I don't know whether you wanted to know,but you can get rid of it I'msure.
Keep warm Tom and maybe till we write each other again. Josephine.
I don't know whether Peter is interested in this dogbite business either.In Holland we have a saying":weeds survive" i. e. me.The Greeks said:"Know thyself."

If you want my e-mail address ask Frank he has it.
I have DSL since a few days: great!


Message 10 - Link to my story

Posted on: 15 January 2005 by Trooper Tom Canning - WW2 Site Helper

Josephine -
glad to know that your mauling is subsiding and that you will be 100 % fit once more to relearn how to eat soup - try a large straw from A & W
here in the Fraser Valley we do try and heat up the wind before we export it to you - zand you will note - we do NOT charge for this service e.g - this a.m. we had atemp of -15C with the same force wind at 40KMH - so you see - we saved you -10 degrees !

I'm not too sure that it was the Greeks who came up with that saying of "know thyself - I always thought is was Shakespeare with his " To thine own self be true" Probably some American though !!!

Haven't heard from Frank for a day or two as he is pulling his daughter's house apart to lay some new carpeting... I think I can hear him swearing though !

Take great care,



Message 11 - Link to my story

Posted on: 15 January 2005 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper

Dear @->--Josephine@->--

I do apologise for having somehow overlooked your message to me.

What a dreadful experience you have had, I almost said 'accident' but such irresponsible behaviour on the owner's part doesn't deserve to be called that. At the very least the owner should support you in your claim to get adequate compensation from her insurers. There was a somewhat similar case in the USA a few years back where the owners of such a savage dog ended up with a hefty prison sentence, the dogs in that case being equated to uncontrolled killing machines.

Thank you for the offer of your email address, I shall get in touch with Frank about it as you suggest. A few days ago he did send me a photo of what appears to me to be a lovely young Hollywood starlet, dressed in a WW2 uniform complete with beret - which he claims is you! Do you know anything about this?

I am pleased that your signing in problem has been resolved. You can, of course, 'bookmark' make any page on the website: Front Page, Personal Page, etc. Should you have any computer problems do let me know and I will try to sort them out. You might also take a look at the Computer, Freeware, and Internet sections on my website here links

Kindest regards,



Message 12 - Link to my story

Posted on: 15 January 2005 by ODYSSEY

15 Jan.Dear Tom, Thanks for warming up the temp
from Fraser Valey and without charge_obviosly you are not american-. No more soupspilling I learned how to do it poperly.
Frank thought that you had my e-mail address,but I wrote him ":No".I'd rather not give it on this site:too many nosy noses I was told.
I have an idea that you guys communicate with your own e-mail address i.o.via WW2.

About the Greek saying:I think Shakespeare probably borrowed it from the Greeks.Since there is no greek alphabet on my computer I could nort write it in greek. I would not have done so anyway;it might be considered "showing off".

I am glad to be in contact with you and Peter :a different sryle of communicating: Variatio.....etc.Fill in the author of that one.

Try not to freeze to death. I have a weakness for Canadians:they were in the city after it was liberated by a Welsh regiment. And through them by letting me use one of their staffcars I managed to go to the city where I signed up to go to Australia via the UK.:That is in one of my stories.

Another story is about a sgt. of your Secret Service who interviewed the Ceo of the hospital who spent an uncomfortable session with him. I enjoyed it immensely as I was the interpreter and I could not stand that weasel.

Stay warm Tom.Josephine.


Message 13 - Link to my story

Posted on: 15 January 2005 by ODYSSEY

Jan .15 . Dear Pater, thanks for answering my mail. I am sure you have more things to do than answering someone's e-mail.
Back to the dog:that creature was sicked on to me.The owner had another dog that was put down .I had a brief encounter with that one too when I was walking the dog of a friend of mine.
This woman took me to court and tried to prove that it was my own fault that I was attacked. She lost that one gloriously and my lawyer said:"she'll regret it to her dying days". that she took me to court.The judge had experience with a dogattack too. But he said this was the worst he had ever seen.He gasped when he saw the pictures. She has no voice in my lawsuit:it is in the hands of her ins. co.
Enough of this.

About this starlet: "sshhh", it is a secret. I am incognito. I wanted to do some thing else and I am having a great time doing it.

I asked Frank whether that picture could be used for my WW2 stories,but I do not know how to go about it.

I certainly will click on your website.I think I found your e-mail address:it has the same petergh + xxxxx.Frank said not to send an e-mail address through the WW2 site,so you can ask him to send mine if you want it.

I'll do my best not to bother you with my computer problems. I have an iMac OSX. I'll try to solve my problems first with the DSL people.
Yesterday I cpuld not get any e-maiI ;it turned out that I had acorrupted e-mail from whom??no idea. But it got straightened out.

I hope you have some time this weekend to read my mail.
Thanks for the help offered.
x<star>Josephine.I hope the Smiley works.


Message 14 - Link to my story

Posted on: 15 January 2005 by ODYSSEY

Dear PEter not Pater,sorry about that.
My fingers are coooold+ I just bang away on the keys; never had any lessons in typing.


Message 15 - Link to my story

Posted on: 16 January 2005 by ODYSSEY

Jan 15.Peter, what in the world does message #13 mean?

Am I or are we guilty of breaking Houserules.?
I clicked on" Housrules" but I cannot find that we broke any Rules. Am I wrong??


Message 16 - Link to my story

Posted on: 16 January 2005 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper


I too am mystified by the Moderators' decisions from time to time. The most obscene language is cheerfully permitted, providing you only use the initial letter replacing all the other letters with asterisks; an absurdity which fools no one and certainly not school kids. On the other hand, if you mention the price of any new published book you get blasted, as you do if you try to help by citing a second-hand book shop to someone searching a hard to get book.

Makes you want to <bleep> <bleep> dunnit.



Message 17 - Link to my story

Posted on: 17 January 2005 by WW2 People's War Team

Dear Josephine and Peter

The site is presently in 'post-moderation' ie the moderation team are being extra cautious. This meant that your message was temporarily hidden as a member of the moderation team wondered if asking for a confirmation of an email address was against the rules - but as your message was quite acceptable I have now passed it.

If you see other people asking about this sort of thing please point out that the messages are only hidden while they are under consideration, then if they do break the House Rules the contributor is sent an email explaining why the post has been removed.

Regards, Penelope


Message 18 - Link to my story

Posted on: 17 January 2005 by ODYSSEY

Jan. 17.
Dear Penelope,Thanks for clarifying the reason why
the site was removed.
I looked up the "Houserules" but I could not find whether I had broken any of those rules.
Thanks for your message,Josephine.

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