Re: World War II: Italian Prisoners of War (George Sassoon)

Randy Black reported about wartime Texas: As there was a severe shortage of American men to dance with the local girls, the Italian POWs, who more typically were used as cooks and kitchen workers at the dances, were invited into the dances and were perfect gentlemen, always polite and friendly and great dancers. She indicated that there was little or no military security present at the clubs during the dances. The POWs did their cooking jobs, danced, cleaned up the place and went back to their barracks without incident.

George Sassoon comments: This reminds me of a story told by my uncle Richard Gatty, who was an Intelligence officer during the war. After the Italians surrendered in north Africa, his CO sent him to their HQ to make arrangements. The place was guarded by a huge moustachioed Sardinian bandit, draped in bandoliers of ammunition. On seeing his surname on his pass, the Sardinian rushed to embrace him, shouting “Signor Gatti! Siamo fratelli!”. It seems that the British Gattys are a branch of the Sardinian Gatti or “cat” tribe, which in Roman times had terrorised the island by dropping stones onto passers-by in narrow mountain passes if they didn’t pay a tribute. Needless to say, the surrender went well after that encounter. My uncle also told a story about liaising with French forces, when he was sent a document about allocations in his area of BMC units. This, it seems, is the French abbreviation for “Bordel Militaire de la Campagne”, or “Mobile Field Brothel”. On the paper, a French officer had scrawled: “Pas assez – ce sont de fran+ais dans ce secteur!” I once asked my French master what the singular of Bordeaux was -he wouldn’t tell me, but now I know! Read the home page of the World Association of International Studies (WAIS) by simply double-clicking on: Please inform us of any change of e-mail address.

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