- An exploration of the unspoken heroism and empathy of the British who helped Italian citizens – abandoned by their king to face the wrath of a betrayed German ally and the chaos of a civil war – while another equally terrifying war was being fought around them
- Testimonies from the British Special Investigation Branch inquiry of 1944, memories recorded by survivors in 1994, unpublished war diaries and archive material are woven together in a compelling narrative
- For those interested in Italy and how a community in Tuscany suffered great losses during the war, but was able to rebuild itself and eventually came to terms with its horrific past
The massacre and destruction of Civitella on 29 June 1944 by the 1st Fallschirm Panzer Division ‘Herman Göring’ as reprisal for the shooting of three German soldiers left women widows and children fatherless. The Road to Civitella 1944: The Captain, the Chaplain and the Massacre describes the journey of Captain John Percival Morgan and Father Clement O’Shea with the Eighth Army in Italy to the hilltop village in Tuscany. Even though they had seen much death and bloodshed in North Africa and Italy, they were moved by the plight of this small community.
The two British officers adopted the village and over a five-month period, regularly brought life-saving supplies and comfort to the women and children. The village organised a farewell Christmas party that survivors still remember today, treasuring gifts they received from their ‘Santa in a truck’. In 2001, the village commemorated the work of Morgan and O’Shea and their friends of the British 8th Army, in the naming of a street Costa Capitano John Percival Morgan.
Dee La Vardera is an author living in Wiltshire with an interest in social and military history, and a love of Italy. A member of the Society of Authors and the Society of Women Writers and Journalists (SWWJ), she has written features for national and regional magazines and newspapers, as well as writing a series of local history books. She co-wrote Survivor of the Long March: Five Years as a POW, 1940-1945 with Charles Waite, who died aged 92 in 2012, shortly after its publication.
Dimensions: 234 x 156 mm
Extent: 224 pages
Illustrations: 67 black-and-white photographs and 3 maps