Did you pass through Roccamonfina ?



Did you pass through Roccamonfina ?

The Italian commune of Roccamonfina in the region of Campania and is approximately 60 kms north west of Naples. Today the commune has a population of 3500 – 4000.

Above: British troops on their war through Roccamonfina 1943.

Just 6km to the north is Mt Camino an area that many of you will have passed through on your journey north in late 1943 before you headed on the Monte Cassino.

The association “Una Storia da Raccontare” is a historical and cultural organisation whose goal is reconstructing the history of the commune during WW2 in their small museum. This is a not for profit project and the museum will be free to visitors, they also plan to produce a book and a DVD that combines verbal testimonies and the display material.

The area had suffered terribly at the hand of the Germans with many hundreds of men and boys from the surrounding areas being taken prisoner and sent to work camps in Germany. Some of those men were also sent to work in the death camps.

I know that we get many requests for help and some projects like this one with your support could help tell the story of this lovely area during those difficult days of 1943.

Below is some of the graffiti that troops left in the local cemetery.

 

They are seeking our help. In particular they are searching for photographs and documents including war diaries and other artefacts which would help them build a picture of life during those war torn days.

You can get in touch with their contact by emailing Valerio Buco who’s email address is valeriobuco@gmail.com or via me at info@italystarassociation.org.uk

If you can help please do so. I feel that it is important that we help in local projects like this and that the more information that the younger generations have about those days from the past will help them them to understand what was done on their behalf. I know that like many areas of Italy the local population suffered unbelievably at the hands of the German occupying troops. If you were there or passed through the area you can help paint the picture from a different angle. Only by knowing can the younger generations understand and hopefully avoid such things in the future.

Robin Hollamby. National Vice Chairman.

19 Comments

  1. Rob WOOD

    My late maternal Grandfather, Fred TALBOT, served in ITALY with the RA, firstly with 18 Bty, 56 Hvy Regt RA. I have inherited his Charles Letts’s diary for 1944. He was a Don R, but also drove a 15 CWT truck and was also a gun bunny at times. He didn’t arrive in theatre until late Dec 1943 (having travelled to ITALY via ALGERIA). Early on in his diary he talks about ROCKERMANFINO, which I think is a good old squaddy bastardisation of a place name. I think he means ROCCAMONFINA. Anyway I think his regiments B Echelon were in ROCCAMONFINA and he mentions meeting Q at the churchyard there.

    Reply
  2. Valerio Buco

    Hi everyone.
    I’m Valerio Buco from Roccamonfina, the little village mentioned by your grandfather in his diaries.
    Do you think it’s possible to get a scan of the diary? Have you got any pictures of your grandfather? It could be very important for my association (“Una storia da raccontare”).
    Thank you in advance for what you can kindly do for me and for my association.
    Best regards.
    Valerio Buco

    Reply
  3. Alexa

    My nonna and nonno lived through World War II in Filorsi and Cembali. They suffered greatly from poverty and starvation. There was one time my nonno heard early on of a bombing that would happen. He went and warned the people in the area and they went to hide in a cave like area.. the bomb was dropped shortly after. My nonno was also enlisted in the Italian Army, but he was not called to war.

    Reply
    1. Valerio Buco

      Hi Alexa…have you got any further information about the happenings? Could you tell me your grandparents’ surname?
      We will be glad to meet you and host you, maybe in conjunction with the opening of our museum…

      Reply
  4. Roy Erminio Cooper

    My fathers name was Arthur Douglas Cooper, born in Cambridgeshire, served in the 8th Army Artillery (RA), North Africa and even ended up in the Persia and Iraq Force.

    Landed at Avola Beach Sicily and returned to UK in 1946 after working the way up to Northern Italy.

    He mentioned many places in this tough at times journey, they returned to Salerno when the Vesuvius erupted in 1944. I think it was at this time he met a young lady who he contacted and visited some years later. They got married in Salerno in 1955 and I was born in Cambridgeshire in 1956.

    So, a kind, honest and brave man and a wonderful mother!

    Kind regards

    Roy Erminio Cooper

    Reply
  5. Frank de Planta

    Roy.

    The eruption was on 17 Mar 44 so that means that, unlike most of the units that fought in Sicily, he did not return to UK to prepare for Normandy.

    Do you which Artillery unit he was in?

    Regards

    Frank

    Reply
  6. Roy Cooper

    Frank,

    I will do my best to find out which Artillery unit he was in.

    We he used to talk to me he stated that they landed in Sicily (Avola Beach) and fought their way up to Northern Italy. Even with the end of the war in 1945 his unit was sent across to North Eastern Italy as further trouble was expected, finally sent home in 1946.

    The day when war broken out in 1939 he cycled into Cambridge to join up. Joined the Cambridgeshire Regiment but when they were sent to the Far East they told him he was too young so he was sent to North Africa, I remember he said the boat the went on from Liverpool was called “The Andes”, journey via South Africa.

    Regards

    Roy

    Reply
  7. Frank de Planta

    Roy.

    You would do well to apply to the MoD for his Service Record. That will tell you everything.

    Regards

    Frank

    Reply
    1. Roy Cooper

      Frank

      Thanks for the advice, I will apply as you suggest. Please see below some data that I have found:-

      ARTHUR DOUGLAS COOPER – Service Number 5933620

      Born: 19 November 1921
      Left School: 1935

      1: Enlisted in 2nd Battalion Cambridgeshire Regiment T.A. on 21-04-1939
      2: Called Up on 3-09-1939
      3: Embarked from Liverpool (Bootle Docks) 0n 18-05-1942 for overseas service
      4: Theaters served in:
      MEF – Middle East Forces
      PAI Force – Persia and Iraq Force
      CMF – Central Mediterranean Force
      5: Left leg injured in 1946 when lorry overturned near Udine in the disputed Province of Venetia Giulia
      6: Demobilized on 6-08-1946
      7: When discharged was serving in 51 HAA Regiment RA

      Died: 19 October 1995 Addenbrooke’s Hospital Cambridge

      Regards

      Roy

      Reply
  8. Frank de Planta

    Roy.

    That is a really good but frustrating start. It still does not tell you the RA units that he served in between enlistment and discharge.

    If you go to the http://www.gov.uk website and search for ‘Get a copy of military service records’ and follow the instructions. Do not worry if you do not have every piece of information that they are asking for.

    Regards

    Frank

    Reply
  9. JOHN NICOLLE

    Hi, I’ve just caught up with the posts regarding Roccamonfina on your excellent website.
    My father Sergeant Ray Nicolle was in the 8th batallion Royal Fusiliers City of London Regiment.
    Having crossed the Volturno they arrived at Pugliano and Tranzi on the 30/31 October 1943.
    According to the War Diaries they then advanced via Fontanelle, Ponte, Corigliano and Florisi ,all villages south of Roccamonfia, eventually arriving at Orchi on 14 november 1943 in preparation for the attack on Monte Camino. I see one of Valerio’s photos confirms the Royal Fusiliers presence at Roccamonfima. By September 1944 the battalion was disbanded with a Cadre of 6 officers and 60 Other ranks being all that remained from the 8th Battalion which had landed at Salerno the previous September 1943. During their year in Italy the Battalion suffered 16 officers and 186 other ranks killed. 39 officers and 686 ORs wounded.
    It’s good to keep the stories and memories of these brave men alive.
    Regards
    John Nicolle

    Reply
    1. Valerio Buco

      Hi John.
      We’re one step closer to opening our war museum, here in Roccamonfina, presumably on January.
      You could easily appreciate, if you want, some of our contents visiting our FB page.
      Is it possible to get a scan of your father’s war diaries? Those pages could be very important for our goals.
      Thanks in advance.
      Kind regards,
      Valerio

      Reply
  10. Frank de Planta

    John.

    I have a lot of information on 8 R FUSILIERS if that helps. They were in 167 Infantry Brigade in 56 Infantry Division and had quite a war.

    Regards

    Frank

    Reply

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