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- DescriptionThe Italian prisoner-of-war camp PG29 Vea was a converted seminary which stood on a slope overlooking the river Nure in Piacenza province. By late 1942, it housed some three hundred Allied personnel - mostly British, New Zealanders and South Africans - who had been captured in North Africa. A large contingent had arrived after the fall of Tobruk in June that year. One of them was a Scot, Captain 64178 Archibald Donald Donny Mackenzie. He was in his late twenties, though he looked younger. One of his fellow prisoners later described him as a big, solid man, clearly highly intelligent (he had read Classics at Oxford), but quiet, perhaps even taciturn and slightly dour. No doubt his capture was partly to blame for his quietness. Having spent several years on the staff in the Middle East, Donny had returned to his parent unit - 2nd Battalion, Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders - only a month before they had made a determined and heroic stand at Tobruk. When the Germans had made it clear that further resistance would result in annihilation, Donny and hundreds of others had slipped away into the desert night, but Donny had been captured within sight of Allied lines, and sent to Italy. Captivity irked him, and he longed to excape. But Italian camps were much harder to get out of than German ones, and so far Vea had proven - as its commandant boasted - almost escape-proof. The prisoners were always excited by the arrival of new inmates, who could bring news from the outside world. However, the six who arrived late that year were in some ways a disappointment. They had come t from the desert, but from ather camp, PG35 at Padula near Saler, much further south. Their papers bore the Italian endorsement pericoloso - troublemaker - because they had been caught trying to escape. One of their number, indeed, was a serial escaper: since being captured near Tobruk late in 1941, he had made two unsuccessful attempts whilst still in Libya, and two more since landing in Italy. This was a man after Donny's own heart. He was Captain 85707 Tresham Dames Gunner Gregg, of 3rd Battalion, Royal Tank Regiment (3RTR). A veteran of three major battles - Calais, Greece and Sidi Rezegh - he had seen his regiment decimated in each one. He had been wounded twice, by mortar-fire and by aerial bombing, and had survived three evacuations - from France, Greece and Crete - in a motor torpedo-boat, a destroyer, and a rusting tramp-steamer. He was, by his own admission, lucky to be alive. The two men would plot escape and fight side by side until death finally dissolved their partnership some two years later. By then, with the blessing and support of SOE, they had liberated the whole of the valley of the Nure from German and Fascist control and had become legendary figures still admired and celebrated by the Italians. This is their story.
- Author BiographyShaun Hullis is a Classicist and military historian who has spent the past decade researching the war dead of Winchester College, where he worked from 2002 to 2008. As well as leading bespoke tours to sites of Classical and military interest, he is Head of Classics at St Benedict's School in Ealing.
- Author(s)MR Shaun Hullis
- Date of Publication21/08/2014
- FormatPaperback / softback
- SubjectBiography: Historical, Political & Military
- Country of PublicationUnited States
- Content Noteblack & white illustrations
- Weight730 g
- Width216 mm
- Height279 mm
- Spine17 mm
- Format DetailsTrade paperback (US),Unsewn / adhesive bound
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