Harry Shindler: a reflection by Pat White

(A personal reflection and appreciation, by Pat White (immediate past National Chairman and currently, Secretary of the Association’s Central London branch).

Harry first became involved with the Italy Star Association 1943-1945, when he met Maurice Cheadle – the Association’s co-founder – in Italy, and was invited to become our representative in Italy, which he recalls was early to mid-1990s. Harry visits London each year in May, and on one of these occasions he met Harold Tonks and became a member of the Central London branch.

You may have noticed the ‘CBII’ after Harry’s name; this stands for Companion of the British Institute of Innkeepers, of which he is the founder member, and is the reason for his visit each year to London for their annual meeting.

Harry met his wife whilst serving in Italy, and was married in Rome during that time, and has made Italy his home ever since. He has one son, three grand-sons and one great grand-son, all born in Italy and living in Rome.

Once Harry gets an idea into his head, he is not one to let grass grow under his feet. For many years, he badgered members of the Italian Government for a larger memorial to replace the small plaque to the Commonwealth Forces and the Partisans, for their service to the liberation of Italy. On 4th June 1944, Rome was the first European city to be liberated, two days before D-Day. Plenty is heard of the landings in Normandy, but little is said about Italy and Rome. Harry eventually got his wish, and the memorial was unveiled on 4th June 2003; but Harry did not sit back on his laurels.

With the discovery of some photos of the tragedy of Allerona railway bridge near Orvieto, this brought new interest to light. Harry started delving into the history of this terrible incident. A train, thought to be an ammunition train, was in fact transporting 1500 allied prisoners into Germany. Four hundred were killed and many injured. With the help of other associations, Harry helped to raise money for a memorial to be built, using part of the structure of the original bridge. It was unveiled on 28th January 2012, with many relatives of those killed or injured being present.

Harry is well worthy of his MBE recently awarded to him.

Pat White, March 2014.