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15 October 2014
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The Class of Marmalade

by Amelioconte

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Contributed by 
Amelioconte
People in story: 
Amelio Conte
Location of story: 
Southern Italy
Background to story: 
Army
Article ID: 
A3187127
Contributed on: 
27 October 2004

My dad was born in the province of Verona, Italy on the 17th February 1924. The story has it that work was scarse and my grandad was often working away in France and Germany to earn some money to raise his family. My dad was always hungry and when he grew up he became a baker. His life has revolve around the art of bread baking. When he was just 18 he was called up to join the war. He was sent to Barletta in southern Italy. He was then posted to Montecassino and was caught up in the bombing.
The class of 1924 was called the Class of Marmalade because up to 18 years of age, one was still considered a child, therefore entitled to a ration of marmalade.
Many memories and details have been lost in my memory and my dad cannot tell me anymore as he has suffered a stroke that robbed him of any quality of life, including speach.

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Message 1 - The Class of Marmalade

Posted on: 18 December 2004 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper

"La classe della marmellata", I remember this well! English speakers may find this confusing, so perhaps a short explanation will help.

First, 'classe' (pronounced class-ey) in Italian denotes the year of birth of a military contingent. It was the year of birth of an annual intake for compulsory military service. Compare this with the somewhat similar American usage of 'class', where it denotes a group of students who graduate in a specified year: the class of '53.

Next, 'marmellata' (pronounced mar-mel-la-tah). This is the Italian word for jam (not marmalade) which during WW2 was only allocated on ration to children up to the age of eighteen.

Hence, the jocular but cynical saying in 1942, as the call-up age for front line battle service was reduced to 18, i.e., those born in 1924: "Addesso chiamano la classe della marmellata" (Now they are calling up the jam contingent, meaning "Now they are calling up kids"); thus the 1924 military intake, the final intake before the fall of Mussolini, became known as "La classe della marmellata".

Peter

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