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From El Alamein to Marconi

Bruno Porciani

Laura Porciani from Italy visited the Forest of Dean in 2008 to seek out the places that her father had known during his time as a prisoner of war at Wynols Hill near Coleford. Above is a leaflet for a book she produced about her father and her visit to the Forest.

The translations below refer the the sections on the leaflet. The translations have not been professionally done - but should give a good idea of what the Italian version says.

Laura hopes to take part in the 'Festival of the Word', next Summer.

PREFACE (top left section)

In a field of English imprisonment, situated in the region of Wales to the borders of a forest, the day of the Saint Christmas of the far 1944, a stately monument was inaugurated devoted to Guglielmo Marconi. The monument had been projected at the sergeant Bruno Porciani and they participated in its construction a thick number of Italian prisoners captured in the tragic battle of El-Alamein, where, unfortunately, five hundred young solders lost the life. The Italian were by now in proximity in Alexandria of Egypt when, from the Egyptian border, 500 Sherman tanks, come from America, entered action. The defeat showed him therefore inevitable. ………………..Building that monument to the inventor of the radio, the Italian they will felt proud to be the fellow citizens of Marconi perhaps feeling in smaller measure the humiliation provoked by the defeat and by the long forced imprisonment. That monument aroused, in fact, the sincere admiration of the winners for the ability and tenacity shown by the men that they knew how to build it. Today that monument doesn’t exist anymore………………………. This book wants to remember that facts and to make a rightful homage to the sacrifice of so many honest and generous young people. Marconi said that where a wish there is , an open street also exists. In period of marconian celebrations, to also remember the work of that Italian POW, that they devoted a monument to Marconi, would surely represent the best homage to the memory of the inventor of the Radio.
Lodovico Gualandi

PRESENTATION (top right section)

This is a true history narrated with feeling and spontaneity, with simple and direct words as a very intimate relative to the principal protagonist, as it was his daughter, she can do. The reader crosses the history, as it has happened, in three well separate parts. The environment of that period, the problems, the anxiety, the small and great wonder of the family nucleus, the emotions for the letters and the surprise for their content, are described for first. We are introduced in that war period lived by her father with a strong and total acceptance of that values and with the conviction of the necessity of the use of the weapons. The limit of that ideal manifest him, still before the boned thread, during his capture suffered to El Alamein. Its solder metamorphosis starts here. We suffer with him the imprisonment and his disappointments. Its ideal collapse and, laboriously, the looks for others of it, even though in the faith and in the job, up to the appointment for the realization of the monument devoted to Guglielmo Marconi. Just the involving historical search, on that monument and on the life of that imprisoned, it will conclude this first run with amazing results. The road to be done is still long but the hope of his daughter is to go over, even personality involving some reader personally party to the I deduce.

The following refer to extracts from pages in the book, seen in the leaflet above:

Pag. 66 Un urlo di esclamazione ci uscì a tutti e tre, per la sorpresa: “Eccolo! Eccolo! Oddio! È’ il Monumento di babbo, lo vedi ! Non è possibile!”
Pag. 66 A cry of exclamation went out us of the mouth in the same moment, for the surprise: “Here it is! Here it is! My God! It is the Monument of dad, see it! Don’t be possible!”

Pag. 78 …ormai sarei partito e solo di là ti avrei detto…… …direi che sono felice…basterebbe che tu mi vedessi, …..…il volto sorridente, lo sguardo limpido e lieto, un senso di fierezza e di sicurezza in ogni mio gesto……….
Pag 78 ……therefore I would have departed and only to my arrival I would have told you….. ……I would say that I am happy…. … would be enough that you say me,…. …..the smiling face, the clear and pleased look, a sense of boldness and safety in every gesture of mine…..

Pag. 93 …….oppure dovrei dirvi tante cose delle nostre travolgenti vittorie, ma allora che vi racconterei al mio ritorno? Perciò ti dico solo che da qui dove sono, vedo la terra d’EGITTO a occhio nudo, penso che non passerà molto che ci metteremo piede…..
Pag. 93 ……or should I tell you so many things of our overwhelming victories, but then that I would tell you to my return? Therefore I tell only you that from here where I am, I see the land of Egypt to naked eyes, I think that it won’t spend a lot of time before we will be there….

Pag. 120 .….ed io vi aggiungo,… .. ..di disfarvi di tutto ciò che vi è rimasto di me; pensate ai bimbi, pensate a sopravvivere voi……. Possa Iddio ricambiare in bene, per voi e per la Patria, la mia prigionia.
Pag. 120 ….and I add you,…. ….to get rid of all this that it remained of me to you; you think about the babies, you think about surviving you…… ……God can reciprocate in well, for you and for the Country, my imprisonment.

Pag. 208 Tutto intorno ci sono erbacce, una piscina di plastica vuota, un canile, un pollaio, rottami di macchine e merce varia…………. ……Avrei voluto dare un grido di gioia, o dire qualcosa, ma il loro aspetto di abbandono e di solitudine, non so dire perché, mi ha fatto pensare a dei poveri animali feriti e abbandonati…. la prima espressione che mi è saltata fuori dalla bocca è stata: “Che tristezza”. …. il primo impulso è stato quello di toccarli per capirne la consistenza, di accarezzarli, ma subito non lo ho fatto, non per vergogna o per pudore, ma per rispetto…….
Pag. 208 Everything there are around weeds, an empty plastic swimming pool, a kennel, a hen-house, wrecks of cars and various commodity…… …..I would have wanted to shout of joy, or to say something but their aspect of abandonment and loneliness, doesn’t know how to say because, it has made me think to the wounded and abandoned animal……. ….the first expression that is jumped out of my mouth has been: “That sadness”…… ……the first impulse has been that to touch them to understand their consistence, to caress them, but I have not immediately done it, not for shame or for modesty, but for respect…..

Annalisa Giola added (March 2010): "... my grandfather Torquato Cabras was an italian Prisoner of War in the Second World War. He was interned near of The Forest of Dean exactly in Wynols Hill, Coalway, Coleford, Camp no.61 Gloucestershire. Are there any photos of this camp and its prisoners?"

Graham Page added (July 2010): "... I have a little information on the Marconi Italian camp Wynols Hill Coleford. In 1957/ 58 I worked as a student for Carter's Ribina factory in Coleford during the summer months. Our accommodation was in the above camp which was completely intact then with all the huts plus the camp theatre and the Marconi memorial. The only difference between then and 1945 was the gates werent locked. There was a door in the base of the memorial where you could enter the central tower. I remember climbing to the top. As I recall there was no damage to the memorial or to the other areas in the camp".

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