The poignant mystery of my grandfather's death in WWII

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ddevirgilio
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The poignant mystery of my grandfather's death in WWII

Postby ddevirgilio » 29 Jan 2010, 18:04

First of all, the members of this community have been extraordinarily helpful and kind to me, and I am eternally grateful. I hate to impose further, but I am hoping that someone here might be able to help me add details to the poignant and controversial context of my grandfather death during WWII.

I am named after my paternal grandfather, Damiano De Virgilio, who was killed by Germans in Rhodes shortly after the armistice of September 8, 1943. Throughout my life, I've been hoping to attain additional details regarding his final days. My goal is to help my own father gain a connection with his father whom he never knew.

Through the gracious guidance of members of this community, I was recently able to attain a copy of his military records. Although I speak and read Italian, I have a very difficult time reading Italian handwriting. Therefore, I am hoping that someone might be able to help me. Attached is a screengrab of the last few entries in his records. I'm able to decipher words like "Tedeschi" and "Rodi", but I'm unable to make out much more. Any assitance would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance!

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Re: The poignant mystery of my grandfather's death in W

Postby liviomoreno » 29 Jan 2010, 18:18

Captured and made prisoner by the Germans i Rodi Egeo on Sep 11 1943.
Nothing to object about his capture and behavior during the imprisonment.

According to the document you posted he was considered "missing". There's nothing saying that he was killed.

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Re: The poignant mystery of my grandfather's death in W

Postby ddevirgilio » 29 Jan 2010, 18:23

Thank you so much Livio! Yes, no remains were ever identified. It has simply been assumed amongst my family that he was one of the Italian soldiers placed in boats and sailed out into mine fields in the Aegean.

Once I'm able to attain better scans, I would greatly appreciate help in reading more if its not an imposition.

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Re: The poignant mystery of my grandfather's death in W

Postby liviomoreno » 29 Jan 2010, 18:35

The January 27, 1944 entry states:
Disperso in seguito ad eventi della guerra 1940-1943 a Rodi.
The next entry (1 marzo 1947) staes:
Rilasciato verbale irreperibilità dal distretto militare
Rxxxx ...

The entry related to the Sept 11 1943 imprisonment was made on 18 1 1949.

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Re: The poignant mystery of my grandfather's death in W

Postby suanj » 29 Jan 2010, 20:23

I found:
Nome: DAMIANO
Cognome: DE VIRGILIO
Data di Nascita: 4/5/1912
(birthdate)


Luogo di Nascita: -


Luogo Sepoltura: GRECIA ( Greece)
Data Decesso: -
Luogo Decesso: -

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Re: The poignant mystery of my grandfather's death in W

Postby ddevirgilio » 29 Jan 2010, 21:57

liviomoreno wrote:The January 27, 1944 entry states:
Disperso in seguito ad eventi della guerra 1940-1943 a Rodi.
The next entry (1 marzo 1947) staes:
Rilasciato verbale irreperibilità dal distretto militare
Rxxxx ...

The entry related to the Sept 11 1943 imprisonment was made on 18 1 1949.


Grazie tanto, Livio. E difficile a leggere la scrittura e sono molto grato per il vostro aiuto.

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Re: The poignant mystery of my grandfather's death in W

Postby ddevirgilio » 29 Jan 2010, 22:09

suanj wrote:I found:
Nome: DAMIANO
Cognome: DE VIRGILIO
Data di Nascita: 4/5/1912
(birthdate)


Luogo di Nascita: -


Luogo Sepoltura: GRECIA ( Greece)
Data Decesso: -
Luogo Decesso: -

suanj


Thanks suanj. I've seen this entry on the Italian Ministry of Defense site. This is one of the reasons I decided to seek out his records.

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Re: The poignant mystery of my grandfather's death in W

Postby ddevirgilio » 22 Feb 2010, 16:20

It seems that I may never attain a clear understanding of the circumstances of my grandfather's disappearance during World War II. However, before I give up, I am going to try a few additional tactics, and I'd really appreciate any feedback or suggestions.

1. Contacting the International Committee of the Red Cross - I recently completed the online form on the ICRC website for those seeking information on an individual affected by a twentieth-century conflict. Has anyone else ever tried this before?

2. Seeking info on Italian POWs who died on transports sunk in the Aegean - I believe that my grandfather may have been one of the many Italian POWs who died as a result of being on one of the POW ships sunk in the Aegean after the fall of Rhodes. I've seen POW death figures for ships like the Oria, Donizetti, Sinfra, and Ardena, but I've never been able to determine the availability of any lists of names. I doubt there are any lists, but I hope I'm wrong.

Thanks,
Damian

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Re: The poignant mystery of my grandfather's death in W

Postby PeterTimber » 22 Feb 2010, 19:21

I do remember reading something about Italian POW's onRhodes who died in a ship just off Island of Rhodes on September 23, 1944 consisting of 2100+pows and later they discovered that there were about 2600 Italian POW's on the ship that was sunk off the Island of Rhodes. I missed an opportunity to copy the webpage that came from but if I find it I will surely make a copy. The name of the ship escapes me but I recall the date. =Peter=
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Re: The poignant mystery of my grandfather's death in W

Postby ddevirgilio » 22 Feb 2010, 19:28

Good memory, Peter. I think you're thinking of the Donizetti which was sunk on September 23, 1943.

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Re: The poignant mystery of my grandfather's death in W

Postby PeterTimber » 22 Feb 2010, 20:36

Your right at the last moment I uncovered a relating website to the Donizetti which took place as you say on September 23, 1943.
www.shipwreckregistry.com/index6.htm

But what perplexes me is the number of deceased Italian POWs hovered around 2600 with 500 added at the last moment and the sinking off Rhodes.? =Peter=
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Re: The poignant mystery of my grandfather's death in W

Postby ddevirgilio » 26 Feb 2010, 19:53

It amazes me that there are all these numbers and yet no names. I suppose they are merely estimates.

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Re: The poignant mystery of my grandfather's death in W

Postby lilbees » 27 Feb 2010, 13:27

Prisoners all had numbers not names. With all the record keeping that was done by the Germans during WW II, wouldn't there be a listing of those placed on that ship by number?

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Re: The poignant mystery of my grandfather's death in W

Postby ddevirgilio » 27 Feb 2010, 14:13

I think I had a breakthrough. The date February 11, 1944 has always lingered in my mind because I recalled seeing it in one of my grandmother's documents when I was a child. I had almost given up finding it, but yesterday I finally found that document.

It appears to be a letter from il Registro di Molfetta from some time after 1969 regarding my grandmother's pension. It acknowledges my grandfather's date of death as February 11, 1944 near "l'Isola di Goidano". "L'Isola di Goidano" is actually the island of Patroklos in Greece. This date and location match the tragedy of the ship Oria though the document makes no mention to that specific event.

I've also found a thread on an Italian naval forum where someone is claiming to have a list of the Italian soldiers on the Oria. I'm trying to contact that person though the forum has very tight membership restrictions.

I'm also planning to reach out to "Archivio di Stato di Bari" which I believe houses the archives of the Registro di Molfetta. It's possible that new information surfaced after 1969, but his military records in Barletta were never updated.

Thanks again to the group for your guidance and encouragement. I'll update this thread if anything new comes up.


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