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Italian POW's in Kenya

Alpini

New Member
Here's a very interesting site that details the lives, conditions and escapes of Italian prisoners in Kenya, captured after the defeat of the AOI in 1941. They were held in several locations in the country, and there were also camp's in British Somaliland, Tanganyika (Tanzania) and Uganda. The only successful escape was from Eldoret camp and involved Prince Vanni Corsini, with Captain Amedeo Marsaglia and Lieutenants Franco Tonelli, Mario Bonioli and Girolamo Nucci in 1943. Impersonating British soldiers, they commandeered a truck and after many adventures reached Portuguese East Africa (Mozambique), after travelling a distance of 1,740 miles.
Foto-del-gruppo-1-1.jpg

Italian prisoners in Kenya 1943
 

jwsleser

Administrator
Staff member
That is a very interesting site. I visited the Mount Kenya Safari Club near Nanyuki several times in the 1990s. I visited the military camp there, but didn't realize it was the site of the POW camp.

Thank you for sharing.
 

1089maul

Member
Agreed, a very good site, as a result of which I have purchased the book African Escape which is tale of escape from Kenyan POW camps.
Regards,
Bob
 

muzza

New Member
I'm new to this forum, and would like some help. I have an uncle who was a POW (or maybe a civiilian internee?) in "Africa". My question is how do I find an official record of where he was captured, where her was held and when released. Uncle Luciano has been dead now ten years, I only have brief memories of his words, stories. He may have been an Italian colonist in EA - so a civilian when the Brits took over. I know Luciano was born in Fuime Veneto in 1910 - would have made him 30 yrs old in 1940. Too old for a conscript to be sent to Italian Africa ?
 

FrancoTer

New Member
But sure not too old for a colonist to be called to serve, one my father Uncle, 1905 class, was called meanwhile he lived in italian east africa
 

jwsleser

Administrator
Staff member
muzza

Welcome to the forum.

I would recommended that you contact the site at the beginning of this thread and share all the details you have. Their contact email is in the introduction. Even if your zio wasn't held in Kenya, they likely know the various organizations/websites that could help in your search. If he was held in Kenya, then they likely have the records.

If you discover that he was in the military, this thread will tell you how to request his military records. https://comandosupremo.com/forums/index.php?threads/how-to-obtain-italian-personnel-records.910/

Pista! Jeff
 

muzza

New Member
But sure not too old for a colonist to be called to serve, one my father Uncle, 1905 class, was called meanwhile he lived in italian east africa
Thanks for your comment Franco. I now think he was a colonist.. I have since found out he left Italy in 1938, and went to Asmara (Eritrea) where he drove trucks. But that's all I know. My conclusion is he was probably a colonist, but I cannot rule out completely that he may have been in the military when war broke out.
 

muzza

New Member
muzza

Welcome to the forum.

I would recommended that you contact the site at the beginning of this thread and share all the details you have. Their contact email is in the introduction. Even if your zio wasn't held in Kenya, they likely know the various organizations/websites that could help in your search. If he was held in Kenya, then they likely have the records.

If you discover that he was in the military, this thread will tell you how to request his military records. https://comandosupremo.com/forums/index.php?threads/how-to-obtain-italian-personnel-records.910/

Pista! Jeff
Hi Jeff. Many thanks for this tip. I have emailed the site you recommended. I will also go to the forums/threads link you provided.
 

DrG

Member
I'm new to this forum, and would like some help. I have an uncle who was a POW (or maybe a civiilian internee?) in "Africa". My question is how do I find an official record of where he was captured, where her was held and when released. Uncle Luciano has been dead now ten years, I only have brief memories of his words, stories. He may have been an Italian colonist in EA - so a civilian when the Brits took over. I know Luciano was born in Fuime Veneto in 1910 - would have made him 30 yrs old in 1940. Too old for a conscript to be sent to Italian Africa ?
In Italian East Africa the British regarded as POWs all the Italian males from the age of 16. Therefore the fact that he was a militar or a civilian is irrilevant, since he was interned in a POW camp anyway.
 

muzza

New Member
In Italian East Africa the British regarded as POWs all the Italian males from the age of 16. Therefore the fact that he was a militar or a civilian is irrilevant, since he was interned in a POW camp anyway.
Thanks Doc. Yes, your comment clarifies this question for me. It's irrelevant what status he was - so I have to find official documentation as to where he was held and for how long.
A comment his daughter made to me
- as far as I know Luciano never served in any military capacity anywhere. He departed for Libya on 15.10.38 (as recorded in a book sent to me in 2001, “Per le Strade del Mondo” – 100 years of emigration from Fiume Veneto).
- dad ended up in Abyssinia, working as a truck driver doing deliveries from the port (?) to various locations (?) He often mentioned the steep and winding roads up the hills/mountains. They were narrow and tricky to negotiate and care was needed so as not to go over the edge or risk crashing down the ravines!
- he loved the work and his time in Abyssinia and Africa ....and yes, he named his first son after the river Nile (Nilo was born on 2/5/1950). He spoke highly of the local (Abyssinian) population, often saying they were “intelligent people”.
- I do recall him saying that he lost everything (his truck, money & possessions) when the British invaded Abyssinia and he was captured and spent the war years as a POW/civilian interne


It would be useful to find an official record of his internment. Were the Italians released in 1943 when Badoglio took over in Italy? Family lore says he returned to Italy after 1945. BTW Luciano died in Sydney Australia in 1987.
 

Alpini

New Member
Thanks Doc. Yes, your comment clarifies this question for me. It's irrelevant what status he was - so I have to find official documentation as to where he was held and for how long.
A comment his daughter made to me
- as far as I know Luciano never served in any military capacity anywhere. He departed for Libya on 15.10.38 (as recorded in a book sent to me in 2001, “Per le Strade del Mondo” – 100 years of emigration from Fiume Veneto).
- dad ended up in Abyssinia, working as a truck driver doing deliveries from the port (?) to various locations (?) He often mentioned the steep and winding roads up the hills/mountains. They were narrow and tricky to negotiate and care was needed so as not to go over the edge or risk crashing down the ravines!
- he loved the work and his time in Abyssinia and Africa ....and yes, he named his first son after the river Nile (Nilo was born on 2/5/1950). He spoke highly of the local (Abyssinian) population, often saying they were “intelligent people”.
- I do recall him saying that he lost everything (his truck, money & possessions) when the British invaded Abyssinia and he was captured and spent the war years as a POW/civilian interne


It would be useful to find an official record of his internment. Were the Italians released in 1943 when Badoglio took over in Italy? Family lore says he returned to Italy after 1945. BTW Luciano died in Sydney Australia in 1987.
I think that, like Italian POW's elsewhere, the regimen for those that declared for the Badoglio Government and the King was relaxed, but due to the situation in Italy, not released. Those that still supported Mussolini and the Fascists were held with the same confinement as before. In East Africa, most (about three-quarters) held allegiance with the new co-belligerent government, while the rest still supported Il Duce.
 
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DrG

Member
Did this include males from Asmara?
Yes, this rule was applied to all the Italian males in East Africa, unless they were necessary for the management and operation of certain infrastructures (electric plants, idric systems, etc.).
 
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