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Joan Tapiolas, the Australian who found captured Italian soldiers – Corriere.it

Grand Giovanbattista Esposito, Named Titta, was his country stylist, Oriolo, a small village in northern Calabria. In the summer of 1940 He volunteered and left for Libya, where he was fighting Africa campaign. The news of Tobruk’s defeat at home came late, and one day, in the summer of 41, his family received a postcard from Australia: it belonged to his grandfather. Tita reported that she was arrested in Tobruk He finds himself imprisoned on the other side of the world. From that moment silence.

More than four years had to pass Until the grandfather returns home and hugs his wife Amelia and children Giuseppe and Francesco again. But his health was not good, Stories time was short and in 1950 he passed away. His Australian life has been a hole in our family’s memory for more than 80 years. Until a few days ago. When, surprisingly, we were overwhelmed by a flood of information – documents, photographs, passenger lists … – that was sent to us from the other hemisphere. Valuable and exciting documents that made it possible to reconstruct this forgotten experience step-by-step, and return an important part of its history to my family.

Australian arm of this unusual operation is called Joan Tapiolas. Joan, With its website “Italian Prisoners of War”.Through the “Looking for a Grandfather” project and with the numerous publications he has signed on the subject, he is dedicated to recreating Australian memory of children, grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren of soldiers who have passed through the fields of the most distant continent. . Joan tracks what she calls the footsteps of Italian soldiers and rebuilds their path Thanks to the massive work of digitizing military and civilian archives that the Australian government has done. Indeed, to find in my grandfather’s footsteps, it was enough to send the name, place and date of birth of the prisoner (POW): information appeared together, like a gem that had been sealed for years in a coffin that my family did not know existed.

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“I often wonder what they should be thinking Italian soldiers find themselves in front of the Sydney Harbor Bridge after three weeks of navigation, ”Joan wrote to me a few days ago. Among the astonishment and bewilderment of 2016 Italians who arrived in Sydney on May 27, 1941, on the Queen Mary’s shipNow, I can see the eyes of my grandfather, who was captured in Tobruk on January 21 of the same year, then transferred to Geneva detention, Egypt, and from there I embarked on the ocean ship. The first shipment of Italian prisoners of war: It is number 300 on the passenger list. From Sydney I can follow him on a train to the Australian Outback to Hay Camp. Here I see him as they put him in the dark red outfit and give him the postcard that he will send to Oriolo.

And here begins his Australian life, made of ups and downsWork in the fields

Esposito “Look”

As a farmer’s aid, the wild animals he could freely capture and eat (in Hay the Italian Pows were running without chains, on the other hand it was really hard to escape), the magic of the vast and virgin land, but also the homesickness and PTSD that many experienced From the soldiers, which he also suffered from. In the year 44 the grandfather was transferred to another camp in the south in Murchison, Where he stayed until his repatriation in 1945. He was among the first 500 Italian prisoners of war to leave Australia, aboard the Andean ship that set sail in August 1945, where he was among the first to arrive. On September 8th, finally, Italy. During Grandpa Tita’s second voyage across the ocean, bombs struck Japan. His life and the lives of other soldiers (read the stories of those who said no to Salou) continued to cross over the most dramatic events of the twentieth century, and they remain closely related to them. But the war was coming to an end. The world will find peace again soon. And Tita was hugging her family again.

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March 16, 2021 (Change to March 16, 2021 | 10:44 PM)

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Earl Warner

"Devoted bacon guru. Award-winning explorer. Internet junkie. Web lover."

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