As many of you know, I wrote a book about my granddad’s WWII experiences. In fact, I worked on it since 2008. There were many reasons why it took me so long–the main reason being life. However, I did not quit. I kept working on it and researching and discovering. I tracked his steps from his landing in Fedala, Morocco, as he passed through Algeria into Tunisia, as he made a second amphibious landing into Sicily, his capture in Sicily just 6 days after landing, going from POW camp to POW camp and ending up in Camp 59 near Servigliano, Italy, and his escape into the nearby mountains where he lived near Monte San Martino for over nine months. Nine months may not seem like a long time, but when you’re in the open mountains during the wintertime with little food and people are out to kill you, it most certainly becomes an eternity.
On my journey of research, I found and connected with several people who answered questions and helped fill in the blanks. It is interesting how these people I had never met in person began to feel like long time friends. Here is one such story.
As my granddad was still surviving in the beautiful Italian mountains, he wasn’t able to enjoy the scenery as spring approached. Having just made it through the cold winter, starvation had become a very close neighbor. Not far from where he stayed, there was a young man who had become a partisan for Italy after being injured in the Italian Army and sent home. His name was Riccardo Funari. In short, Riccardo was discovered by the Germans and they went and shot him in front of his mother, father, and younger brother, Umberto. My granddad heard the commotion and saw the murder take place. There was absolutely nothing he could do about it, and the image was permanently burned in his memory.
Seventy years later, as I researched the story and put facts together, I found Umberto’s son, Ricardo. Umberto had moved to Argentina after the war and raised his family there. However, because Riccardo died for his country, he was listed as a hero of the people and not forgotten. Although Umberto had passed, Ricardo and his daughter, Vanesa, were most helpful. Ricardo was still living in Argentina, but Vanesa had moved to Italy and lived close to the area where my granddad had spent those nine long months. They were happy to hear from me and gave me some wonderful information that added to my story. They were proud of their family history in Italy and Vanesa shared stories and pictures. They also helped connect me to other knowledgeable people in the area who could help me fit missing pieces together and recreate such a fascinating story. I have enjoyed the friendships I gained, and I hope to meet them some day. This is the fun part of the many hours spent on research, and it was worth every minute.
This is just a very small part of what will be found in the book, Captured by the Enemy. I have lots of great stories to carry the book along and although it is a true story with lots of history, I promise you that it will not be a boring read.
I can’t wait for you to get to read it.