Two excerpts from ...

'ESCAPE FROM ITALY, 1943-45
Allied Escapers and Helpers in Fascist Italy'

by Malcolm Tudor
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ESCAPERS FROM PG 49 FONTANELLATO

Geoffrey Stavert and three companions reached Allied territory only 37 days after leaving the Fontanellato area. He related that in the village of Altedo, northeast of Bologna:

    'Half the populace turned out to cheer us through, pressing bread and fruit upon us till we had more than we could carry. On a very few occasions we had difficulty in finding a billet for the night, usually because the farmer himself was in fear of some reputed Fascist living nearby, but then it was commonly the mamma who would rescue us.'

TO THE RESCUE

Lieutenant Stavert acted on an escape plan drafted when he was still a prisoner in PG 66 Capua. It involved easy walking on the plain and bypassing the lines with an escape by sea. He related:

    'I was in a party of four who were given old clothes and taken to a farm a little to the north of Fontanellato. It was run by a family called Carrara. They were all friendliness and help personified. After lingering there for a week we started walking east. In ten days we got to the coast near Rimini, where our idea was to steal a small boat and sail it south. Nothing doing, however. So we carried on walking south over the foothills and had got nearly to Pescara when we made contact with a small force of parachutists from 2nd SAS who were hoping to gather escapers like ourselves.
    'We started walking on Saturday, 18 September and first met the SAS on Tuesday, 12 October at a small house in the country, a mile or two inland at Monterubbiano. The SAS were a party of three under a Captain Power. They had been dropped with hopes of rounding up as many as a hundred or so ex-POWs and evacuating them by sea. He named a quiet beach just below the mouth of the little River Menocco, and told us to get there by midnight on the Sunday week, 24 October. This was only a day’s walk away, and the following evening we encountered his reception party, another trio in the charge of Company Sergeant Major Marshall, a big cheerful Scot, billeted in a friendly cottage about a mile from the beach. Up above, to our left, on its hill, was the town of Ripatransone, reputed locally to be the home of several Fascist sympathisers.
    'This left us with over a week to wait, which we managed to pass without any major incident, and we duly got ourselves down to the beach with over an hour to spare. Unfortunately, there was a big scare at the last minute, and when the Infantry Landing Craft at last turned up, several hours late, only about a dozen ex-POWs including ourselves were there to be picked up.'

    The beach was near Grottamare. The prisoners of war were landed safely at Termoli next morning. Geoffrey Stavert recalled: 'We must indeed have been one of the earliest parties to get through and I was actually "Home by Christmas."

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