- Contributed by
- London Borough of Newham Public
- People in story:
- Isola Comparini
- Location of story:
- Roggio, Tuscany, Italy
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 28 November 2005
I was born in London to Italian parents but went back to Italy when I was a baby. When I was 16 I returned to England to work and at the outbreak of war, I was living and working as a home help in Harlsden.
My mother sent a telegram and asked my brother and I to return to Italy as she was afraid for our safety in London. As a UK citizen my brother was conscripted and had to go into the British army so I went back to Italy.
Within a short space of time, the Italian fascists under Mussolini had joined forces with the Germans and incorporated the Italian army (known as the “King’s Army”).
As a result, for Italian civilians like our family; there was little food available in the village and we had to live on what we could forage from the nearby fields and woods. One of our mainstays were chestnuts, some of which we made into flour for bread and cakes. We also made vegetable minestrone and yellow polenta from the sweetcorn grains.
We had a few chickens in the village but they were more value to us alive providing us with eggs. There were also some rabbits but these were often sold to get shoes.
Many German soldiers came to the village and searched and looted tour homes for jewellery, clothes and radios. This was very frightening for us and we also had to be careful that we did not appear to be collaborating with the enemy as the partisans (resistance) would punish us.
On one occasion German soldiers broke into the local school searching for valuables and took the radio that the children listened to. A girl tackled them about it and they grabbed hold of her and led her away. At around the same time some other soldiers stopped two boys who had been looking for wood and took them to their headquarters. They then took all three of them out and shot them. This was in reprisal for the killing of a soldier by partisans. For every German that died three Italians were killed.
Another time the Germans came to our house and we had an old jacket hanging on a hook and they assumed we were hiding someone and went all over the house searching.
After about two years, we were liberated by the American troops.
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