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Campo 57 Gruppignano

 

Most men arriving to Italian prisoner of war camp Campo 57 , were captured in North Africa. Below shows a map of the passage from North Africa and the routes by which prisoners of war arrived in Italy , and some of the main allied prisoner of war camps in Italy.

Prisoner of War Camps and Hospitals

Italy

CAMP              POSTE MILITARE           LOCALITY                                COMMENTS

P.G. 5                 3100                           SERRAVILLE

P.G.10                3300

P.G. 12               3200                            Vincigliata                           Located near Florence

P.G. 17               3200                            Rezzanello

PG 21                 3300                            chieti                                  located on the east coast

PG 27                 3200                             San Romano, Pisa
P.G. 29               3200                            Veano Piacenza
P.G. 32                                                   Bogliaco                             Garda lake near Salò, Brescia  
P.G. 35               3400                            Certosa di Padula              Monastery, near Salerno 
P.G. 38               3200                            Poppi                                  Monastery near Arezzo 
P.G. 41               3200                            Montalbo  
P.G. 43               3100                            Garessio Cuneo
P.G. 47               3200                            Modena                               Officers, mainly from New Zealand 
P.G. 49                3200                           Fontanellato                        Orphanage near Parma.
P.G. 50                                                   Caserna Genova                  Cavalleria - storage centre Rome 
P.G. 51                3450                           Altamura Villa Serena          Bari - Transit camp 
P.G. 52                3100                           Chiavari
P.G. 53                3300                           Sforzacosta Macerata.         Over 10,000 prisoners 
P.G. 54                3300                          Passo Corese
P.G. 55                3200                          Busseto                                Near Piacenza. 4 satellite labour camps. 
P.G. 57                3200                          Grupignano                         Near Udine,  Mostly Australian and New Zealand other ranks. 
P.G. 59                3300                          Servigliano                          Ascoli Piceno (Greeks, Maltese, Cypriots, British, Americans, French, Slavs) 
P.G. 60                                                  Colle Compito Lucca 
P.G. 62                3200                          Grumello del Piano               Near Bergamo. Mostly Indians and Cypriots. Seven satellite work camps,
P.G. 63                3400                          Marinaro Aversa                   Near Arezzo. Mostly Indians. 
P.G. 65                3450                          Gravina-Altamura  Bari 
P.G. 66                 3400                         Capua                                  Transit camp.
P.G. 68                                                   Vetralla  
P.G. 70                 3300                          Monteurano                         Near Fermo Ascoli Piceno 
P.G. 71                                                  Aversa                                  Near Naples 
P.G. 73                 3200                          Fossoli di Carpi                    Near Modena. 
P.G. 75                 3450                           Torre Tresca,                       Bari Transit camp. One work camp. 
P.G. 77                 3300                          Pissignano, Campello          Tent camp  Foligno
P.G. 78                  3300                         Sulmona
P.G. 78/1                                                Aquafredda                         Work camp Many New Zealanders. 
P.G. 80                                                   Villa Marina                          Near Rome 
P.G. 81                  3200

P.G. 82                  3200                         Laterina                               Near Arezzo.
P.G. 83                                                   Fiume  
P.G. 85                   3450                        Tuturano                             Transit camp.
P.G. 87                                                    Stalia                                   6000 in camp 
P.G. 89                                                    Gonars                                 Udine
P.G. 91                   3300                          Avezzano  
P.G. 97                                                    Renicci di Anghiari                Arezzo 
P.G. 98                                                   San Giuseppe Jato Sicily 
P.G. 102                  3300                         Near Aquila                          Transit camp 
P.G. 103                  3200                        Monigo Treviso
P.G. 103/6                                               Ampezzo Udine 
P.G. 103/7                                               La Maina                              near Ampezzo, at Sauris. 
P.G. 106                   3100                        Vercelli                                 25 work camps, mostly Australians and New Zealanders
P.G. 106/20                                            Arro Salussola 
P.G. 107                   3200                       Torviscosa Udine                   5 work camps, Prati, San Donà di Piave, Torre di Confine, La Salute.   
P.G. 107/2                                              Prati  
P.G. 107/4                                              San Donà di Piave 
P.G. 107/5                                               Torre di Confine  
P.G. 107/6 ?  
P.G. 107/7                                               La Salute di Livenza  
P.G. 110                    50                          Carbonia  
P.G. 112                   3100                       Turin  
P.G. 113                   3200                       Avio (Trento)                               Near Marsciano, Rovereto 
P.G. 115                   3300                      Marciano Near Perugia 
P.G. 118                   3200                      Prato all'Isarco                            Near Bolzano 
P.G. 120                   3200                      Chiesanuova Padova -                  work camps at Fattoria Bianco, Cetona, Abano, Fogolana.
P.G. 120/4 ?  
P.G. 120/5                                               Abano  
P.G. 120/8                                              Fogolana  
P.G. 122                    3300                   Cinecittà Near Rome                    several work camps 
P.G. 127                                                 Locano Canavese Aosta 
P.G. 129                    3300                     Montelupone Macerata 
P.G. 132                                                Foggia  
P.G. 133                     3100                   Novara  
P.G. 136                     3200                  C.A.R.E Bologna  
P.G. 145                     3300                 Campotosto,                                   Montorio al Vomano     (Province of Teramo) 
P.G. 146                     3100                  Mortara Pavia
P.G. 148                     3200                  Bussolengo                                    Near Verona. Labour camp for 250 prisoners,
P.G. 201                     3200                  Bergamo hospital                           in an almshouse 
P.G. 202                     3200                 Lucca hospital                                 in a monastery in Bergamo district. 
P.G. 203                      3200                 Bologna hospital                             in Castel S Pietro 
P.G. 204                      3450                 Altamura hospital                            in a school 
P.G. 206                      3400                Nocera hospital                              near Rovello 
P.G. 207                                               Milan hospital
P.G. 339                                               Pisa
Dulag 339                                            Mantua
Stalag 339                                           Trieste Distinct (German)
P.G. 454                                               Brindisi                                         Mainly Indians (German)

Natsionne River Premariacco

Panorama of Brindisi

 Arrival

Most men arrived having been captured and made prisoners of war by the Germans or Italians in North Africa. Once captured these prisoners of war were transported by truck to Benghazi and or Tripoli and then endured a perilously dangerous aboard ships such as the Nino Brixo and SS Vittorio, and journeyed across the  Mediterranean to Italy landing at ports such as Naples,  Brindisi and Reggio Calabria.

Cividale Railway station. The last railway stop before being Marched to Gruppignano

reference http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarly/tei-GreLong-t1-body-d7.html

Location

Campo 57 was a WWII Prisoner of War camp that interned principally Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) non-commissioned soldiers with smaller numbers of British, Indian and South African men.  The camp was situated  close to the city of Udine, in the Province of Fruili in Northern Italy. Fruili itself lies in the foothills of the Alps and was close to the Yuogoslavian border.

Prisoners were transported to campo 57 by train with the last leg of transportation terminating at Cividale. The POWs were then marched through the hamlet of Premariacco to the site of the camp. The camp itself was set on flat terrain proximal to the river Natsionne. Surrounding the camp was predominantly farming land.

On the chosen site for campo 57 was a chapel known as San Mauro or Grupignano. The chapel was torn down to allow construction of the camp but was rebuilt by prisoners of war in 1943. The chapel still stands today and inside bears the signature of the POWs that rebuilt the chapel of Grupignano. Locating the site of campo 57 and its chapel can be achieved by setting your GPS to 46°4’36¨N 13°23’11¨or by following directions in this helpful newsletter http://www.second28th.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/TOBRUK-TO-BORNEO.pdf). More on the chapel of grupignano can be found here

On arrival onto the shores of Italy most prisoners of war were in a pitiful state. Many had endured many months with limited supplies on the North African front around Tobruk and El Alamein. Once captured POWs had little to eat and drink for over two weeks and nor had any man had an opportunity to wash. Their arrival into port was often met by a hostile local crowd jeering and throwing missiles (which occasionally was eagerly returned back into the crowd by an aggrieved ANZAC) 

Many POWs were held in several holding camps on their way north to the province of Fruili in Northern Italy; Capua PG 66, Sulmona PG78 being amongst those. It was a trend in these POW camps to group prisoners according to their national corps. Generally commissioned officers were detached from other ranks and detained in offlags. Campo 57 then contained POWs from Great Britain, with larger numbers from British colonies such as India and South Africa, with larger numbers mainly Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZACS),  who were not officers. In all Campo 57 held some 20 officers and 4570 other ranks.

Governance over the POW camps in Italy was by a special corps known as the Carabinieri who had both military and civil powers and acted as a type of military police. Campo 57 was commanded by Colonel Vittorio Calcaterra, who was a staunch fascist  described by one prisoner as “a sadist and a beast and an accessory to murder”. Calcaterra was enemy number one to POWs. He inspired his men to harsh treatment of the POWs with limited rations, regular and unwarranted incarnation in the "boob", and cruel punishments. Calcaterra was never brought to trial for his crimes. He was killed by Italian partisans in 1943.

On 8th September 1943, the Italian Defence Forces surrendered to the allied forces. The intent from British headquarters was that men detained in Italian camps would be liberated and repatriated by allied forces. To make this job easier an order was issued instructing POWs to remain in their camp. Whilst some obliged and obeyed this instruction, with their Italian guards now absent, many POWs took the opportunity to escape, and this was certainly the case with Campo 57.

The German high command were however quick to react to the Italian surrender and descended quickly into Italy and surrounded POW camps. Most of those who had escaped Campo 57 were quickly recaptured. POWs were then moved to various POW camps within Germany, Austria and eastern Europe. 

With the camp disbanded following the Italian surrender, the camp itself was dismantled completely and the materials recycled by locals. What remains today is evidence of the accommodation blocks foundations and the rebuilt chapel.

Meanwhile many men, having escaped immediately following the Italian Armistice, had to endure great hardships and perils  from the patrolling German army, and survive the cold and difficult conditions of a harsh North Italian environment. Survival was often dependent on the generosity and support of sympathetic Italian locals. Below is some beautiful footage of the Northern Italian regions, but perhaps it was not so greatly appreciated by the desperate escaping allied PG 57 soldiers.

For those who did not escape or were quickly recaptured by the German army, they were transported into northern Europe into a variety of POW camps including Stalags 18A, 18A/Z, 8B, 8A, 344,  4 A,B,C & D, and Stalag 11 being among the most common destinations

Campo 57

 

I've dedicated this website to my paternal grandfather NX 32639 Private Thomas Morley of the 2/3 Pioneers AIF. Whilst my father at  the age of 15 was fighting against the Japanese on the Kakoda trail, my grandfather fought against Rommel's Afrika Corps and was captured at the battle of El Alamein on 31.10.1942. He was transported via several POW camps to Campo 57 in Italy. When the Italians surrendered he was taken by the Germans to Stalag 18 A/Z in Spittal/Drau and then to Stalag 18A Wolfsberg in Austria where he remained until liberated by the allies in 1945. This brief story will no doubt resonate with many of you whose relatives had similar journeys.

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