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Umberto's War
Written by Pacifico Cofrancesco   
Thursday, 18 September 2008
Article Index
Umberto's War
And the story starts
The war of Ethiopia
The "Libbretta"
Umberto in Libya
The "starving life"
"Prisoner of War" in India
The correspondence with family
Australia
Back home
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The correspondence with family

Despite the difficulties of imprisonment and slowness of communication, Umberto was able to keep in touch with his family in Italy and his other brothers who, like him, were at war. Correspondence between Umberto and his family from the period of his imprisonment in India is still kept by his daughter.

The first postcard is of 4 December 1942 and is addressed to his parents.
"Dear father and dear mother, with my letter
I assure you that I have good health, and so
I would like to be ensured of you too.
I received several letters, including even one from
Alfonso, and one from Antonio. I recommend when
you write me always keep me informed of the brothers, and where
they are. Kiss to all family. Your son Umberto."
In total, seven lines. He could not write more. Under sender information, the following was clearly printed in Italian: "Only seven lines must be written below." And it took about four or five months to deliver the postcard and to receive a response from Italy.

Postcard to the family
The postcard by Umberto dated December 4, 1942

The next postcard from Umberto to his family was sent on 3 May 1943 in response to the letter his parents sent on 23 January 1943.

"Dear father and dear mother just at this
Moment I received your letter dated 23 -
-1-43, so much desired by me. From
Your letter I learn with pleasure that you all are well,
and the same I assure you about me, I
understood where Alfonso is, keep me informed if Antonio
goes back to the same place. I kiss you all. Your son Umberto"
Seven more lines; several more months before an answer; a few lines anxiously awaited by Umberto’s parents. And Umberto replied immediately, as soon as he received the much-desired letter from his parents. He did not tell them about his illnesses. He didn’t want to make his parents worry more, so he wrote that he was in good health. He wanted to be constantly kept informed about his brothers; where they were and what they did. His bond with his family was very intense.

We have found one letter by his brother Alfonso, dated 6 April 1943. He could write much more than seven lines. His love for the family is stated strongly, along with their sense of duty that leads them to try to accomplish their "task".
"Dear Brother
Days, months and years, will pass, and
we will go on with our task. All the time
we think of our brothers in the distant lands.
In our family we are all well,
but who knows about you? Our brother
Antonio is doing passably.
I’m doing all right. Often I go
to our parents and I spend some hours with them.
We go on working our land.
Our brother Silvio handle that a little,
and the newly planted vineyard has
already produced fruits."
Alfonso was probably living in Italy, not far from home if he could go and visit his parents so often. Even his brother Silvio was at home, perhaps repatriated for health reasons, and was busy with the vineyard. Despite the war, they tried to live a normal life at home. They planted a new vineyard. They went on cultivating their land. And then they kept thinking of the brothers in distant lands. They thought of Umberto, who was so far from home, but who would return sooner or later.

Umberto spent his last year in India at the Bairagarh camp, near Bopal.
"Day 10 May 1942. Moved from RAMGARH to have residence at BAIRAGARH"
There is nothing more about his stay in this camp until he is sent to Australia on 1 November 1943.



Last Updated ( Thursday, 18 September 2008 )
 
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