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.

 

 

13 Comments

  1. Tom Robertson

    Hello, I was in contact with a lady in Italy and she gave me an email with all the information on my father’s Transportation from Stalag ? to the train that was bombed on the Allerona Bridge on 28th January 1944. I was wondering if you can help me to get in touch with her again as I have lost all that information due to my PC crashing on me. I believe she has an input of the Commemoration Day at the Bridge, I would like to get back in contact with her to see if she can find that info again for me. My father’s name was Thomas Swinton Robertson, Regiment was the Gordon Highlanders, he was on the train that was bombed on Allerona Bridge on 28th January 19144. Many thanks in anticipation for your assistance. Tom

    Reply
  2. Frank de Planta

    Tom.

    Pte Robertson’s exact Regiment was in fact 1st Battalion London Scottish. They were affiliated to the Gordon Highlanders for their Regular Army Instructors but they were not Gordon Highlanders.

    The person to contact is Harry Shindler.

    Regards

    Frank

    Reply
    1. Robin HollambyRobin Hollamby (Post author)

      Frank,
      I have already replied to Tom on this matter and am sending Harry all the relevant information t5hat Tom has sent direct to me.

      Robin

      Reply
  3. Lorraine Leonard

    Hello
    I was wondering if there will be a special service at the monument in January 2019 to make the 75th anniversary of this incident. My father was on this train, escaped and evaded recapture. Some of his evidence is in the book “The train at Allerona”. He was in the 2nd Bat Inniskilling Fusiliers. Some members of our family would like to visit the monument on behalf of our late father.
    thanks
    Lorraine

    Reply
    1. Karen Dunn

      Hello Frank thankyou for the info ref the Allerona bridge tour in may. I have found out that there is a memorial service being held on mon 28th jan 2019. I see that a lady Lorraine Leonard is interested. It is being organised by a lady called janet Kinrade dethick- the author of a book written about it. I know it may be taking business away from you Frank but is there any way you could pass this information on please?
      Regards karen

      Reply
      1. Frank de Planta

        Karen.

        Track me down through http://www.cassinobattlefioelds.co.uk and I will give you Janet’s contact details.

        Regards

        Frank

        Reply
  4. Frank de Planta

    Lorraine.

    I am guiding a group to Cassino on 11-14 May 19 and then, once everyone is safely on their way home, I am taking two of the group up to Allerona Bridge on 15 May 19 so that they can visit the site where their father and grandfather – Pte Robertson of 1 London Scottish, was killed on that fateful day. We will be tipping our hats to all those involved. You are welcome to join the whole trip or just the 15 May 19 if that suits.

    Whilst your late father was not there, 2 INNIS FUS fought at Cassino in May 44.

    Do you know your late father’s date of capture?

    Reach me through http://www.cassinobattlefields.co.uk

    Regards

    Frank

    Reply
  5. Lorraine Leonard

    Hi Frank
    Thank you for the information, I will check with the family and see if they want to wait until May. If that suits we would have to join you in Italy as we are based in Dublin.
    Regarding my dad, he was captured at Garigliano on 17 January 1944 on the first wave on Cassino, was in Fara Sabina POW camp and on the train that got bombed. We always knew the story of him escaping from a train but only found the full story through the book I mentioned before.
    I will let you know directly if the trip is going ahead from our end, it would be an honour to walk in his footsteps.
    Regards
    Lorraine

    Reply
  6. Frank de Planta

    Lorraine.

    Sorry I got my INNIS FUS battalions mixed up. 2 INNIS FUS were part of 13 Infantry Brigade for the 5 Infantry Division crossing of the Garigliano on 17-18 Jan 44. He was captured just below the town of Minturno which is perched on Minturno Ridge.

    I cover that battle when I do Anzio because 5 Infantry Division were rushed to Anzio once they had secured Minturno Ridge and Tufo Ridge.

    More than happy for you to join the 11-14 May 19 trip so that we can go to Allerona Bridge together. If you get the Dublin-Rome Ciampino Ryanair flight, that will do the trick. Out on 0630 11 May, back on 1630 15 May flights. We whizz up to Allerona on 14 May once we have dropped others in the group at Ciampino. Spend day up on site then return to Rome for night of 14 May then fly home on 15 May. You can reach me through http://www.cassinobattlefields.co.uk

    Regards

    Frank

    Reply
  7. Lorraine Leonard

    Hi Frank
    Thank you very much for the details of your tour. I will pass on to the family and see what they want to do.
    Thanks also for filling in the details of where he was taken, we didn’t know the actual area, I’ve been trying to put the pieces together since he passed away in 2009 and this is great to know.
    Regards
    Lorraine

    Reply
  8. Caroline Blackburn

    My father was taken prisoner on 18th jan 1944, also in camp 54, and on the train bombed at allerona, Please tell me more of this trip as would love to join you

    Reply
  9. karen dunn

    Hi how do find out more info about a trip to Allerona please?
    Thanks Karen Dunn

    Reply
  10. Frank de Planta

    Karen and Caroline.

    Get in touch with me through http://www.cassinobattlefields.co.uk and I will happily give you more information. Go to the Contacts page and you will find an email address.

    Caroline. If your father was taken prisoner on 18 Jan 44, it would be good to know Inf which Regiment he was serving at the time. The British launched a massive attack across the River Garigliano on the night of 17 Jan 44 and got across onto Minturno-Tudor Ridge and Monte Damiano. It would be good to know if he was involved in this impressive operation.

    Regards

    Reply

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