The Italian Freedom Trail – Tenna Valley May 2015.
If you wish to attend this event please ensure that you have registered with Roger Stanton. Full details can be obtained by contacting ELMS via the website
This Annual WW2 Walking Memorial is organised as a commemorative international event dedicated to the people of the Italian countryside, the ‘contadini’, who gave shelter, food, clothing and medical aid to escapers and evaders heading south to the allied lines, or north to Switzerland during WW2.
In Italy there were no organised escape lines (as there were in other areas of Europe), and there are no recorded escapes from any Italian POW camp prior to the Italian Armistice in September 1943. Following the declaration of the Armistice thousands of Allied POWs fled from the camps into the local countryside. Each escaper organised his own route as best he could. Under a German proclamation, the same rule applied to Italians as applied to the rest of occupied Europe. If anyone was caught helping escapers or evaders, the men would be shot and the women sent to concentration camps. They forgot to add that they would also be harshly interrogated first; their homes would be burned down, and their livestock killed. An escaper or evader would be returned to his PoW camp. Despite the threats, the Italian people provided a great deal of assistance to allied escapers and evaders. Of the approximately 80,000 POWs held in camps in Italy it is estimated that some 55,000 were recaptured by the Germans and moved to camps in Germany or elsewhere. Of the remaining 25,00 some escaped south to the Allied lines, some went north towards Switzerland and others stayed with local families until picked up by the advancing Allied forces. It is hoped that the trail will live on as an annual ‘Walking Memorial’ event to educate and inspire future generations throughout Europe.
Set in the Marche region of Italy, the Tenna Valley Trail concentrates on the two POW camps situated there, Camp 59 at Servigliano and Camp 70 at Monte Urano. Those POWs at Camp 59 were encouraged to escape; those in Camp 70 were ordered to ‘stay put’ in keeping with the edict issued to all SBOs. The Germans soon took over Camp 70 and moved the majority of the prisoners to Germany. Some did escape, either by hiding in the camp or by escaping from the train on its journey north. Those POWs who did escape were soon in need of shelter and food so approached local farmers, or villagers to seek help. Despite the risks many Italian families put themselves at great risk by providing whatever help they could, over a sustained period of time. The trail visits a number of villages and farms where Allied POWs were hidden
This Year’s Event
Those planning to attend should aim to arrive on the 6th May and transport will meet walkers at Ancona/Pescara airports. There will be a set pick up time after the last flight from the UK has arrived on the 06 May 2015. Members will be collected and taken to the trail base location at Servigliano where they will be dropped off at their booked accommodation.
Arrangements are made to meet up with local people at the Casa Della Memoria WW2 Museum at 1800hrs. The museum is situated next to PG59, the old POW camp approx 400m from the main town square. Those attending will be shown around the old camp with briefings and visit the museum. An evening meal is arranged for all team members at the San Marco Hotel, Servigliano.
Thursday 7th May Walkers will start from PG59, the former POW camp at Servigliano at 0830hrs and walk to the main square at Servigliano for 0845. The official start time will be 0900hrs. Walkers will be started by the Mayor of Servigliano together with other dignitaries and former escapers after opening speeches and wreath laying. The days walk will be to the village of Monte San Martino. The final approach to the village is very steep! In the afternoon walkers return to Servigliano via a different route 24km. (15m).
Friday 08th May 2015. Walkers will start from PG59 at 0830hrs. From Servigliano, the route will head to the small church of Massa Fermana via Madonna di Gagliano. Here we will meet the Minicucci family who hid escapers and have midday lunch. We will also meet Elena Vita who assisted escaper Ray Ellis (RHA) and other helpers. Going is good easy country, morning is steep climb, open ground and wooded country. The late morning will be a steep descent to a small stream before a steep climb to Massa Fermana for midday lunch. The route back will pass through Montappone and Monte Vidon Corrado. Distance 24km. (15m).
Saturday 09th May 2015. Walkers will start from PG59 at 0830hrs. From Servigliano, the route will head to Montelparo and then to Contrada Santa Maria for a wreath laying on the memorial to Sig Sydney Smith (R Signals). He was hidden in the village but later murdered by the SS on capture. The walk continues on to Servigliano via Monteleone. Going is good easy country, morning is steep climb, open ground and wooded country. Tracks could be slippery if wet. Distance 24km. (15m)
Sunday 10th May 2015. Sunday is dedicated to memorial services and dedications to the people of the countryside who assisted Allied escapers and evaders. The locations to be visited depend on the time available but will usually include a visit to the former PG70 at Monte Urano, Fermo, the Brugnoni family farm which was a safe-house which hid many British escapers and possibly the Villa Salvadori (safe-house) which hid many escapers and evaders. The aim is to visit the sites and where possible hear from those involved in helping Allied POWs. In the evening there will be dinner for all walkers, guests and local people at the San Marco Hotel in Servigliano.
Monday 11th May 2014 . Transport to Ancona/Pescara airports. Return to home locations.