ALLERONA RAILWAY BRIDGE
ALLERONA RAILWAY BRIDGE
On January 25th, 1944, an Allied bombing destroyed the Allerona railway bridge near Orvieto in Umbria. At the time of the bombing the bridge was occupied by a German train, carrying about 1500 Allied prisoners from the Fara Sabina prison camp to Germany. It was a massacre. The local elders still vividly remember that terrible day, but it seemed completely forgotten the larger history.
A year and a half ago, thanks to the lucky discovery of some photos taken just after the bombing by an Austrian soldier stationed in Orvieto in 1944, a new interest in the affair was rekindled, bringing it to the attention of national and international public opinion. The pictures show the bridge taken by a soldier an eye witness of the tragedy, and the accounts made at the time became very important.
Thanks to the initiative of the members of “Giugno 44″ Cultural Association, with the support of the Italian Army General Franco Stella, a British veteran of Anzio landings, Harry Shindler, representative in Italy of the Italy Star Association and Marco Patucchi, La Repubblica journalist and author of several books, have become interested in the story. They have done archival research in London to reconstruct the event, and this activity has produced a chapter of their book entitled “My War is Not Over”. Sue Finley is the daughter of an American soldier, Richard Morris, who was on the train and managed to escape during the bombing. She sent a manuscript giving many interesting details about the story. Meanwhile other researchers contributed further information on the event.
On January 28th, 2012, a monument was inaugurated to commemorate the 400 victims of the train. The monument is placed on the site of the massacre.
The Art Institute of Orvieto designed the monument, twenty-five students taking part.
The monument was built by skilled volunteers
Representatives from the British, American and South African Embassies were present at the ceremony, these were in fact the nationalities of the prisoners on the train. The location of the monument has an important symbolic meaning. From the archives of the British military engineers who also worked on the reconstruction of the bridge in August 1944 we learn that they found poor relics, and they preferred to leave them there, the relics were thus covered and the new pylon was built over them. 68 years later that pylon house the monument intended to preserve the memory of the sacrifice of those young lives.