As a nation state, Italy has emerged only in 1871. Until then the country was politically divided into a large number of independant cities, provinces and islands. The currently available evidences point out to a dominant Etruscan, Greek and Roman cultural influence on today's Italians.
On February 11, 1944, a German manned ship named Oria carrying approximately 4,000 Italian prisoners of war left the Island of Rhodes en route to Piraeus, Greece. The following day, the ship encountered a severe storm and shipwrecked near the Island of Patroklos. There were very few survivors, and this tragedy ranks as one of the greatest maritime disasters of all time.
In the days that followed, some bodies washed up on nearby beaches and were temporarily buried nearby until they were transferred to Italy years later. However, considerable remains of the shipwreck and its victims still lay off the Island of Patroklos. No formal memorial to the victims exists, and to this day, no official victim list has been made public.
I am the grandson and namesake of a possible victim of this event, and I participate in a Facebook group supporting efforts to erect a memorial, conduct further research, and attain a victim list if one does exist. Anyone interested in learning more is welcome to join us. Thanks for reading my post.
Thanks to all those who responded to my initial post. I have a significant update for those who might be interested.
In recent months, I've been working very closely with a group of dedicated individuals from Italy, Greece, and the US. The group consists of family members of the victims and historians who are passionate about honoring the shipwreck victims with a proper memorial and ensuring that the shipwreck's remains are properly researched and preserved.
As we've been petitioning appropriate government officials for support, we've been gathering whatever documentation we can. One of our most significant finds was a passenger list which was attained via the International Red Cross. It was through this document that I finally confirmed that my grandfather was in fact on the ship when it sank. This fact was hidden for almost 70 years simply because his name, Damiano De Virgilio, was misspelled on the list as Damiano Di Virginio. I still get chills when I think about it.
Although we're not close to complete in our goals, I have definitely learned several lessons from our efforts that I'll continue to apply to my genealogical and historical research. Be persistent in your research no matter how many roadblocks you encounter, and do all your can to team up with others with similar objectives.
If anyone whats to learn more, please feel free to reach out to me.
As an update to the thread, the Italian website Dodecaneso has dedicated a section of their site to the Oria shipwreck, including a list of victims. You can also subscribe to an email distribution list where information on the shipwreck and efforts to properly memorialize victims are shared.