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Spalding People And Italian Prisoners (Lincs Free Press)

From the Lincolnshire Free Press, January 1st 1945:




To the Editor of the “Free Press”

Sir – We know that many English people have feelings towards Italian Prisoners of War; we also know that many English people believe Italians are an inferior race and that the Italian Army have lost the war for the “strong and big English Army.” No. Expressions like these are fired at us every day: Have you any trains in Italy? Are there onions in Italy?

I ask them: Do you know Italy? Many people say: Italians have combatted against the English Army; my brother was wounded or killed in Italy. Then I say: We can say the same. Italian civilians and Italian soldiers have found death in combat. They combat against the German Army, arm-in-arm with the allies. In England thousands and thousands of Italians help the people to work on the land.

In the Geneva Convention it is written: “All sub-officers (non-commissioned officers) are not obliged to work.” In Italian Army, the sergeant, the sergeant major, and mareseiallo are sub-officers.

In Spalding Camp are Italian N.C.O’s and they go to work on the land thus showing they don’t hate English people, and that they are “co-operators.”

Moreover, Italian N.C.O’s in India, Kenya, and South Africa have signed a declaration to co-operate with Allied Forces until the end of the war.

I am very sorry to tell you that Italians are very grieved at Spalding people’s attitude. Italian people are very kind and polite, and in Spalding the intelligent ones show us a certain amount of respect, but some English soldiers when they pass through the country on the lorries and see Italians on the road use bad words or whistle. One day a soldier spat on the face of an Italian and ran away. This is neither politeness nor kindness.

We were soldiers and did our duty, and it is not a good thing to show feeling against Italians or to use unkind words.

For the Spalding girls I say nothing; we know they don’t like Italians.

I hope after this letter people will like a little more the Italian prisoners. I wish all a very happy New Year and hope the war will soon finish so that English soldiers can come back home — Yours & c,


Italian Sergeant,

Spalding, December 28th, 1944.


From the Lincolnshire Free Press, January 8th 1945:



”Must remain our enemies for present”

To the Editor of the “Free Press”

Sir, re letter in your last issue with reference to the Italian prisoners. It should be remembered that the Italian government declared war on England at a time when they thought the decadent English were beaten and that is why all Italians for the present must remain our enemies. Have they forgotten how their leaders begged of their Nazi boss the honour to bomb our towns? Have they even thought of the untold suffering that was caused to our civil population? To the aged, the infirm, and to tiny innocent children who were killed in their beds. The children we now see playing so happily might also have been killed by Italians had it not been for our airmen who shot the pitiful Italian Air Force from the skies.

Admitted, they have done some work, but often the Italian prisoners are taken in buses while our own men, doing, in some cases, three times the amount of work, have to get there the best way they can.

The hostility which Italians notice is very very small, compared with what we would have shown had they and the Nazis ever dated to invade our shores.

May victory over all aggressors soon come, and with it the speedy departure of the Italians. — Yours, &c,


Hereward-Road, Spalding

What might have happened

To the Editor of the Free Press

Sir – I was surprised to read in last week’s issue the letter by the Italian prisoner of war. Has the dastardly attack of 1940 been forgotten and should we have received the consideration if that attack had succeeded these Italian prisoners have received?

The Prime Minister asserts that one man only led them into that attack, but that man had a goodly following of understrappers who were ready to enjoy the fruits of success had it come. Your correspondent among them.

It was these men who would have killed our lads had they been able, and no amount of slobber will alter the fact. — Yours &c,


150, Park-road, Spalding, Jan 1.



To the Editor of the “Free Press”

Sir – perhaps it would make it easier for the Sergeant if my position was explained. I, like him, was compelled to come to Spalding through enemy action, and a more friendly, generous and hospitable people it would be difficult to find.

It was in 1940 when I arrived in Spalding. Do you remember the date Sgt? Perhaps not. Well it was the time when Mussolini begged and prayed to Hitler that he should be allowed to send his Italian Air Force to bomb London. For the Sgt’s information, it only did about two trips to England when he had had enough. This was after Mussolini had stabbed France in the back and was going to do some grabbing. This was also after Mussolini and the Italian nation had rejoiced in the terrible slaughter of the defenceless Abyssinians by bombing.

Why does the Sgt want the Spalding people to admire them?

The only way for the Italian people to retrieve their awful and terrible mistake is for Sgt and his comrades to do “something” in the way of stopping Mussolini from strutting about encouraging his followers from helping this beastly “National Socialism.”

May the New Year bring better luck, Sgt, and may you soon return to your own country, and perhaps now you have seen what a happy nation (and you have seen us after five years of war) we are, you will work hard for democracy and against a “dictator” which means submission in every way. – Yours &c,


Spalding, Jan 5.



To the Editor of the “Free Press”

Sir – the people in the district have not as a rule, bad feeling toward Italians here — only our thoughts on the Abyssinian war, and we wonder how much nearer this war would have been to its end if Italy had not gone to war with us at the time of the fall of France. We have a certain feeling of loyalty to our men who are still fighting for us. This may be mistaken by you for bad feeling.

Regarding the spitting incident described by you, may there not have been odd cases of Italians doing similar things to British prisoners of war? There are “throw-outs” of decent humanity in every race. We believe the majority of you are kindly men, but you puzzle us as to your real political intentions when you go back.

We are impressed by your deep devotion to your Christian faith — and therein lies our hope that you will cooperate with us in later years for the Peace of the World.

Cheer up, Sergeant. After all, you may imagine more slights than there are intended. — Yours, &c,


Spalding, January 4.


A Comparison in manners 

To the Editor of the Free Press

Sir – I have a son and relations in this war — one in Italy. Did they ask us to go to war? No, they had to go. Do we mothers (English or Italians) bear children just to go and fight? No, I did not at any rate.

I do not work among these men, but I have friends who do, and they say that the prisoners do appreciate any small kindness you do for them, even if it’s just a small tablet of soap you give them.

I know that they are better mannered than most of our own young men in this town alone, and they use their manners too. On one occasion when sitting next to a prisoner of war in the pictures, he thought he would like a smoke, but on seeing the smoke come to my face he immediately put it out, and so did his friend. Would our girls or boys have done it? No, they don’t think of others, only themselves. — Yours &c,


Jan 1.


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