About us

The Association was founded in 1987 by the late brothers, Eric and Maurice Cheadle, veterans of the North African and Italian campaigns of World War ll. The stated aims and objectives, as set out in its constitution, have been to give a true history of the Italian campaign, hold an annual reunion and parade, promote visits to war cemeteries and, above all, to keep alive that special bond of comradeship which existed during the campaign, and to further support the descendants of fallen comrades.

Brothers and co-founders of the Association, Eric (on the left) and Maurice Cheadle, taken during 1989 Italy pilgrimage

Brothers and co-founders of the Association, Eric (on the left) and Maurice Cheadle, taken during 1989 Italy pilgrimage

At its height over 1100 members worldwide have acknowledged that its veterans were the first Allied forces to land in Europe since the Second World War began. Currently there are now only five branches in the UK, plus one in New Zealand and we have a resident veteran representative in Italy, Mr Harry Shindler, MBE. Harry was awarded the MBE for his services in promoting public awareness of the part our veterans played in the Italian campaigns.
The Association continues now in a much smaller form. It has been active at events throughout each year of its existence. Every May saw its annual reunion weekend in Sussex. The weekend included its Annual General Meeting, then on Sunday a service of remembrance and thanksgiving was held in Chichester cathedral followed by a parade through its city centre. The weekend was rounded off with a special dinner attended by civic and military guests, representing allied forces from as far afield as Poland, Canada and New Zealand. The Association continues as the only one nationally active in events throughout the year.
Each year on 10th July, a service of dedication and remembrance has been held at the Association’s national memorial in Westgate Gardens, Canterbury, Kent. That date specifically commemorates the anniversary of Allied troops landing in Sicily.
Association representatives attend the annual Field of Remembrance service outside Westminster Abbey, as well as the Remembrance Sunday service and parade at the Cenotaph. The Association has also been privileged on several occasions to have been invited to parade its National standard at the Royal British Legion’s Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall, in the presence of members of the Royal family. This takes place on the evening before the Cenotaph parade.
Members currently receive a quarterly magazine which keeps them informed of the various key events the Association is involved in, as well as trips that are arranged from time to time. The magazine also contains accounts of campaign experiences and recollections from veteran members, in addition to photographs and humorous anecdotes.
There is a sizeable plot within the National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas in Staffordshire, which was dedicated to the Association in 2001; it is delineated as the outline of Sicily and mainland Italy, and populated throughout with pine trees, amongst which markers pinpoint the many battle sites of the campaign, so familiar to veterans. Overlooking this maturing plot, being re-dedicated in September 2016, is a beautifully engraved polished granite memorial, together with commemorative benches nearby. Together these are visible reminders of the geographical scope and human cost of the Allies’ gargantuan struggle, from Sicily and Salerno to Trieste.
When the Association reaches a point where it is no longer financially viable to continue, our website www.italystarassociation.org.uk will continue into the future. We are uploading as much factual history to enable future generations to read the truths behind our veterans’ hard-fought battles and journeys through Italy.
The Association’s epitaph – “Let us remember our comrades in the air, on the seas, in those valleys and on those mountains. When you walk in peaceful lanes so green, remember us and think what might have been” is powerfully emotive for surviving veterans and families. It is very fitting therefore, that we should seek to take the Association forward as far into the future as we can, never forgetting the reasons why we enjoy the freedoms we have today.

 

 

 

6 Comments

  1. Robert Carruthers

    First of all I would like to offer my profound gratitude to those who fought for freedom and democracy in Europe in World War Two. As someone born over 20 years later (1967), I am one of the generations that has benefited from the sacrifices made then.

    However, there is one aspect that saddens and angers me about the liberation of Italy by British troops and those of other nations: namely that the Italians themselves seem to have written it out of their history. Specifically, on Liberation Day (25 April), little or no mention is made on TV or in newspapers of the role of the allies in returning their country to freedom and democracy. Instead, all the credit is given to the Italian resistance movement or partisans.

    This has happened for political reasons: because the right in Italy still harbours many with neo-fascist sympathies and because the left finds the fact that Italy was liberated by the British, US and other allies unpalatable to its basically anglophobic viewpoint. However, as someone who has lived in Italy and come to know its culture and politics, I find it at once both striking and utterly scandalous.

    This apparent lack of recognition has to change and I hope that the veterans of the Italian Campaign are able to be given the prominence in future commemorations of Italy’s liberation that these brave soldiers (and their fallen comrades) deserve.

    Reply
  2. Frank de Planta

    Robert.

    I think that it is important to remember that, especially in the period before the fall of Rome, the Allies considered the Italians to be co-belligerents rather than allies. They were very distrustful of most Italians and were angry about Mussolini’s decision to side with the Germans. We treated the Italians very badly in the early months.

    The difficulty for the Allies was that Italy was a complete economic basket case when the Allies invaded in Sep 43 and they, the Allies were compelled to divert enormous resources to feed and warm the population. Many Italians resented that dependence and the advantages that it gave to Allied interests. Changing the exchange rate on landing to make the Dollar able to buy four times the amount prior to invasion was one such resentment. It was no accident that in 1944, there were 98,000 prostitutes in Naples.

    To cap it all, Churchill in particular, was very reluctant to arm the partisans because most of the better organised bands were Communists.

    Regards

    Frank

    Reply
  3. Danila Bracaglia

    Dear Robert,
    If I may say my opinion as Italian and WW2 battlefield guide in Italy. I live not far from Cassino, one of the bloodiest battlefields of WW2 in Italy. It is true most of the Italians wanted to forget as did my family. The area were I live was devasted by bombing, not only Cassino but most of the towns along via Casilina, the only direct route from Naples to Rome. Many towns reduced to rubble, 10.000 civilians died. I was born 20 years after and I was not there. My father was 8 years old when his mom died and when its town was bombed over 50 times from sept 1943 to 1945. Finally we were liberated but there was nothing left and the Italians just wanted to forget those terrible years. For Political decision we were caught in the middle of the war. Between two fires is a book written by a local historian. The Italian Campaign was a side show a diversion and even in UK Anzio and Montecassino are just names as the famous song sung by the British Soldiers ..,”We are DDay dodgers fighting in Italy, always on the Vino always on the Spree…” I have a great respect for the Soldiers who liberated my country and in my little I try to tell people what happened here 72 years ago. There is still a lot to learn about the Italian campaign in Italy as in UK.

    Reply
    1. SHIRLEY TEECE

      D-Day dodgers is a bit of a joke. By the time D-Day arrived, the so-called D-Day dodgers like my dad had been in combat zones in North Africa (Tobruk & El Alamein) for 2 years before being shipped off for the invasion of Italy, landing in Salerno and fighting all he way through Italy….Nobody quite knows how term originated at one time if was attributed to Lady Astor a conservative politician of the time. But the war in Italy wasn’t a barrel of laughs.
      An uncle by marriage was very badly wounded at Cassino. he passed away about 20 years ago. He talked about it occasionally and said that he was so badly wounded he was left for dead. He was, however, rescued by a soldier whose uniform he didn’t recognise. He was taken to what he says was a German military hospital and treated for his horrific wounds. He was not taken as POW but somehow released back to British forces.
      It sounds a bit far-fetched but he always said he owed his life to the kindness of a German soldier who took him to hospital and the people there who treated him…
      I have a lot of stories about the war, I was 3 when it started living in London. I was only child, mum and i stayed in London all through the war, we were bombed out several times in air raids. In early 1945 a V2 rocket fell in the next street to us on a direct line to our house. All the windows were blown out and doors blown off, but somehow miraculously we survived. I was 8 then, school was in my road, it closed for a couple of days to replace windows etc. When it opened again it was very sad to see quite a lot of empty desks, children who had died in the V2 rocket. Have written a lot of my childhood memories and lodged them with Imperial War Museum. Last year at 70th anniversary of VE Day, I went to talk to the children at my little primary school on Eburne Road. Children were doing WW2 and they were fascinated by my story. They asked a lot of questions, one little girl (about 8) wanted to know what sort of clothes I had, and where we got them. At my suggestion the teacher had got together a small tray of what would be our monthly food ration. About 3-ounces of sweets per month – never saw a CRISP….Children couldn’t quite take it in that we could survive on such small amounts of food, couple of ounces of tea per week, couple of ounces of butter and cheese, small amounts of meat. Luxuries such as tinned fruit and biscuits were on POINTS. Those were the days, sorry i have digressed from the Italy front. Dad learned quite a bit of Italian during the war, I picked up some of it. He obviously has a good ear for languages which I inherited – I love Italy and go often. I speak Italian fluently with what Italians tell me is a very good accent!!!! Anyway onwards and upwards have been watching parade with a very large lump in my throat and a lot of tears….amazing spirit the British people had led by a wonderful orator of course – Winston Churchill….

      Reply
  4. Danila Bracaglia

    Sorry about typing mistakes written on my cellphone while on the train. I must correct the year my town Frosinone was bombed from 11th september 1943 to May 1944.
    Thanks
    Danila

    Reply
    1. Danila Bracaglia

      If you want to find out more my WWII tours from Salerno to Rome, including Cassino and Anzio, not only WW2 but also Cultural, Historical tours . I can personalize your tours. I am fully licensed Qualified Tour Guide. here is my contact details:
      Dr Danila Bracaglia
      Via Tiburtina, 58
      03100 Frosinone

      Email: danila.bracaglia@gmail.com
      Cell phone: +39 338 2458831

      http://www.montecassinotours.com
      http://www.anziotours.com
      http://www.viaromatour.com

      You are welcome to email me for information.

      Reply

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