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Wartime in Italy

In 1943 and 1944 in Italy there was a war. I pray to God every day “Please don’t let it happen again”. I couldn’t wish it on my worst enemy or anybody in the world. War is very sad for everyone.

Photograph of Rosa as a young woman living in Italy

Rosa as a young woman living in Italy

My mother gave birth to me in Sora General Hospital in April 1932.  Sora is a small town in Italy between Rome and Cassino.  I was brought up on a farm by my parents.  I was one of five children: three girls and two boys.  We were very poor and we were brought up very strict.

The farm was situated upon a hill which meant we couldn’t use any kind of machinery.  Everything was done by hand. It was very hard tiring work.  The farm had plenty of trees – fruit trees and olive trees.  We also grew vegetables such as sweetcorn, potatoes, beans, cabbage, wheat and so on.  Everything we grew had to be shared with the landlord equally.

In 1943 and 1944 in Italy there was a war.  There were a lot of different countries fighting against the Germans. There were American, Moroccans, Polish, Latvian, British, all fighting in Monte Casino. The front held there for nine months. In that period of time, many thousands of people lost their lives.  It was terrible. Every day the Germans were passing outside my house, some driving tanks and carrying lots of weapons. Some soldiers were so young they could not have been more than 17 or 18.  Some were crying, shouting, “Mam, Mam”. They were so frightened because they knew the fighting was face to face and they wouldn’t survive.

In November 1943 my dad had a job in Rome. He worked there 5 days a week coming home at weekends. One Friday night we were waiting for him to come home. He didn’t come home on time. My poor mother, she was very worried because there was a lot of German bombers. Rome was destroyed, and the railway station, so my mother was very worried – but she was very superstitious.  She came home from the station. There was an owl on her bedroom windowsill shouting, “Chachacha Chachacha”.  To her, it was the sound of happiness. My mother went back to meet my dad. Here he was coming off the train.

One morning I was working in the fields. I saw five or six German bombers; they were coming towards me. I said, “My God they are coming for me”. Before I turned round they dropped a bomb about 30 yards away from me. I was covered with dust. I never thought I would have been here today.

On the last night before the British came forward we were in bed. All German troops passed our house. There was no light; everywhere was dark. I heard from one German soldier. He said, “Oh dear me. Everybody is Kaputt”.  He meant that everyone was dead.

I pray to God every day “Please don t let it happen again”.  I couldn’t wish it on my worst enemy or anybody in the world. War is very sad for everyone.

Note: Rosa lived close to the monastery of Monte Cassino.  A monastery has existed there since the sixth century but during World War Two it was almost totally destroyed.  After the war, it was decided that the building was so important that it should be rebuilt, and you can see it today if you visit the area.

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