"Yol, Criminal Camp 25: Fascist Republic of the Himalayas"

(To Michele Baroncini)
29/10/17

Yol Reservoir, Kangra District, Himalayan Pradesh Region. Hours 05: 00 PM of 30 June 1941.

The "desert" green truck with the deconstructed swords emblem of the Brigade dei Royal Gurkha Rifles on the side he proceeded at a steady speed on the stony hill slope, jostling the men sitting in his back of the tent.

Three closely similar vehicles were kept behind her at close range, but without the rear awning. The rear floor of each of the escort trucks was in fact discovered and on it stood, in two rows faced by four and on rudimentary and long wooden seats, eight soldiers Gurkha.

The impenetrable hazel-colored faces marked by the war, they sat like statues of salt, mute and insensitive to the oppressive moist heat exactly as they were in the most pungent cold. They wore a musket and, hanging from the side, the Kukri, the ancient, great, deadly Nepali knife with a curved blade that, just as a thousand years ago, well before the firearms, constituted the armament of their people in the daily struggle for existence on the Himalayas whose peaks were now standing ever clearer on the backdrop of a remote mountainous, snowy landscape.

When every other department has the moral to pieces, when to face a situation seems impossible, then they are called i Gurkha, a mixture of human qualities and warlike virtues (they are legendary in the guerrilla, just as legendary their aim of rifles).

From the Bombay uprising to the African Front i "Small and proud Eastern" of Queen Victoria had stained the earth with the relentless carnivores of the white weapon that dispersed and plagued even the granite German soldier.

That deadly warlike aristocracy of the British Empire had now been devoted to guarding the truck, which proceeded to the head of the column and its cargo hidden from the dark green tarpaulin.

In the dark compartment of the first vehicle's oblong shutter, closed on the back of leather corrected in steel studs, and in a space that perhaps could have held at least eight were pressed twelve men.

They sat on the worn-out linen of undefined color that lined the bottom of the vehicle. Intermittently, a sliver of twilight filtered through the flaps of the tarpaulin, where the corrects were not particularly tight.

From those openings, depending on the movements of the vehicle, fresh air folks gave the occupants an ephemeral relief from the terrible Indian hot-munching vice.

They were all officers: one colonel, three major, four captains, and four other lieutenants and subordinates. In his lap or footstool he carried the colonial helmet of alpine artillery or mountain helmets stationed in Africa. Some were trying to get windy as they threw sweat over the long stay in that ingenious space. The journey lasted for six good hours and their physical endurance, already proven by the long and hard move from East Africa, where they fought a few days ago by free men, India, through which they were now free of freedom and freedom. arms, he began to surrender.

The artillery captain Antonio B., a lawyer from Trentino who was called to arms at the outbreak of the Libyan war, glanced at the steel chronometer that had fortunately managed to save from the constant searches. It was five o'clock in the afternoon. He communicated his schedule to his colleagues. An apathetic silence welcomed the news. By now they had lost count of the hours and days of travel, the cramps were made to feel the impossibility to stretch and move the legs for long hours.

But above all ... they did not eat anything in substance - except for the bread mold often smeared with mustard - for several days; since when they reached the port of Bombay, they had descended from one of the nineteenth-century caravels flying the Dutch or Portuguese flag of which the English used to transport prisoners of war to India, thus having to stop "sifting" the mountains of onions that the English had destined them as a prince food (it would be better to say "unique") of a very virtuous diet.

A mocking destiny had wanted moreover that on board the ancient ship that followed them, the prisoners, in a moment of laxity of the guards Sikh that escorted them, they managed to throw the jailers into the sea and take control of the boat by entrusting it to three officers of the Navy director who were part of the "cargo", sailing towards Japan and freedom.

The last ration of water, then, went back to the evening before, when the convoy stopped shortly to allow the prisoners to perform their physiological needs and they had been thrown by a British officer a couple of cans of gasoline, still impregnated from the fuel, filled with rainwater.

However, the officials' attitude was admirable. Leaning against the metal side of the truck, they stood with a sort of mountainous, dignified fatalism as they did to them.

They belonged to various battalions of the Alpine Division "Pusteria", located in Cirenaica jointly with the "Sirte" division during the siege of Tobruk. The offensive wave of Axis forces invested Tobruk's formidable fortress for several months with alternate events, though the positions remained quite firmly in the hands of Australians and British.

**********

As soon as 15 days ago Captain Antonio B., Commander of the III Company of Alpine artillery, successfully cannoned one of the reinforced concrete bastions of the imposing fortress. The breakthrough of the third tactical line, held by a regiment of scottish guards he had succeeded satisfactorily. From that breach he made a daring Alpine battalion of the "Trento" division, launched at the assault of the second tactical line, vigorously battered by the captain's batteries.

What was quickly concretizing thanks to the courage and tenacity of all Alpine 800 "boys" of "Trento" and just a couple of hundred artillery of the "Pusteria" promised to be, as well as many others quite similar , a solid chance to break through the defensive lines of unbreakable cirenaic bastions.

But, just like many others, that chance fell in the blood of a mortifying nothingness

The Fox of the Desert did not have much overwhelming confidence in the Italian allied departments, which is why the Regie units were rarely supported by the Panzerdivisionen of Africa Korps, so that not only rarely achieved a strategically appreciable result, this was frustrated by the complete lack of collaboration and German coverage.

So it was that time. And every time in the face of the terrible affair of the Germans to the Italian fighters, perhaps poorly equiped, but certainly provided with a good dose of daring, the unnecessarily and unduly poured blood was poured under those cruel African foothills.

The ten Captain B.'s batteries were dull from dawn and it was noon past when the breeze intruded. Immediately the Alpine took advantage of the opportunity, advancing in the shadow of the rain of fire friend.

A liaison officer was sent with a relay at the nearest German grouping command to seek support. But in spite of the vague promise of the major commanding the industry, no German unit moved all day to support the Italian attack that soon changed into a mud.

Not to frustrate that effort and that sacrifice Captain B., after having succeeded in supporting the breach by some departments of the "Sirte" in transit, had played a desperate card. In the hope of taking time in the sea of ​​the arrival of a second battalion of "Trento" who, after intense negotiations with industry leadership, was coming from behind, gave the order to advance to the battery militias after having reduced the ' intensity of the shot focusing on the breach.

Il"Savoy!" then it sounded dry on the field and the attack, tragic and epic at the same time, was launched. The only result, militarily admirable even if totally useless, of that maneuver was to be able to remove the inevitable defeat of another hour and a half in view of the increasingly unlikely eventuality that the promised reinforcements would occur.

The losses of all Italian contingents employed in the brewing industry were two thirds. In attack Alì, the Captain's Libyan waitress, took a bullet in front to shield his officer. When what was left of the Alpine battalions and the artillery company was tightened by the counter-offensive action of the Scots, those good-looking soldiers were invited to lay down their weapons.

They surrendered to an elderly Colonel delle scottish guards who, not knowing a word of Italian, improvised in Latin to a second lieutenant: "Quis est dux inter vos? Gratulor vobis maxime pro virtue military vestra! ".

It was then that Antonio was still dirty of Alì's blood. He drove in front of the chief officer declaring his credentials (grade, name and department) in English (of which he was a good connoisseur) and giving him the barrel wounded by the cane.

The colonel answered the greeting of the Italian, bringing his open hand to the British-style visor: "My congratulations, sir ... very soldiers, you and your men!" he congratulated himself by returning the revolver to Antonio after he had discharged it. "Very soldiers" the Scotsman repeated again, this time holding out his hand to the captain, who thanked him. "I am afraid that now, Lord, begin the least pleasant part of our knowledge", had followed Colonel Mc Gould, alluding to their status as prisoners of war.

**********

Thus ended the war of Antonio and his other comrades. The war fought with arms and the bloodshed, just that, because at the same time another - all of them still unknown, but of which, despite them, they should have become first experienced fighters and finally consumed veterans - was beginning to do so precisely moment.

That war would be fought, without pity or exclusion of blows, though without revolvers and muskets, within ample ones wings (fences) of metal grid and between shabby shacks of rotten wood and red-hot plate, in a dark theater hundreds of thousands of miles away from the Motherland and the ruins of the Italian Empire of Africa, lost in the most oblique recesses of another Empire flourishing.

The weapons of that long conflict that would engage Antonio and the others in the British Indies for six very short years would be impalpable, but certainly lethal for not a few of the 130.000 officers, unskilled and soldiers interned in India, old and new friends, acquaintances , adversaries and strangers: threat, fear, blackmail, psychological subjection, restrictions on food, clothing, and even everyday and vital activities such as reading and conversation, temptation, manipulation of information, wisely knowledgeable hope ... and the many other pitfalls of a life lived by disarmed soldiers, "leather heads" of the soul and mind.

The enemy is an entity physically not well-defined but eye-catching and omnipresent. Not violent (most often), but bizantinely cruel: the "Holder", which everyone learned to hate, many to respect, few to mock, very little to challenge.

The involuntary and unpredictable antagonist: his own conscience of soldiers and Italians.

**********

Yol ... a cantonment board. A dark and peripheral branch of the British Administration of the Indies, specially adapted for "forced guests" who came from the Axis armies RoBerTo (Rome, Berlin, Tokyo).

An artificial circumscription baptized with an artifact named and eradicated from the territory: an acronym, nothing but a phonetic casing filled in the history of two different meanings.

In the 1849, in fact, the British Indian Army he had founded a small military town in the hilly area in view of the Himalayan massif, known as Yol.

Yol was at that time for "Young Officers Leave" and in that town it was provided for the education of the young officers of the British army of the Indies.

With the start of World War II hostilities, Yol had reinvented to remain at the heart of the story and its exotic sound had now become an expression of a different concept, veiled of fatalistic and lapalicist humor, for Italian prisoners of war who stayed there despite them: "Your Own Location".

Yol, the Prisoner's Town, as someone wanted to call it, became a scene of such anxious and singular episodes that nothing to envy a pirate saga. Until the beginning of '47, these enclosures were a theater of daily life of men who constantly measured their own honor and consciousness with alternatives and more or less remarkable results.

**********

The Italian officers marched neatly in front of the quartermaster (British non-commissioned officer in charge of prison fences; wing a quartermaster was in charge of watching the order) receiving a durable green jute backpack previously used by the British Army of the Indies as well as a few personal belongings.

Just accompanied by that indestructible backpack, many prisoners would return to Patria in the years from '45 to' 47.

This was the beginning for Antonio and others in "life in life," the stay at Yol, from which many would come alive, but irremediably different at the bottom of the soul, hardened by the scars of that "white war", immaterial and yet violent as the game of chess.

The long imprisonment was divided into two phases: the first saw all the officers united by the same fate and the same treatment determined by the Geneva conventions (sometimes applied rather "freely" by the Holder). Prison conditions were harsh, but egalitarian. From the 8 September 1943, however, things underwent a significant change.

Following the armistice, the Detainer became a controversial ally and sibilline, and he who chose to cooperate by supplying military information, while formally "POW", was entitled to a privileged treatment that gave a nearly full sponge shot the rigors of imprisonment: the right to leave the camp free and even home outside the perimeter of the same, better food, extra pay, etc.

All about the "word of honor" of not fleeing. A strange paradox, if not an advance, some had to think. How much could the so-called "honorable word" of those who agreed to give military information to a Detaine who until the day before embezzled the enemy, and who still held him prisoner at that time, even though calling him patronically patronizing " ally"?

It was then that, just like in Patria, the war also became a civil war and saw Italians opposed to other Italians. Those who chose the way of military dignity and honor on the one hand and, on the other hand, those who exchanged without a hint of some privilege and a better standard of living with their own patriotic spirit.

Once again Italian against Italians, albeit in a non-bloody and extreme contrast as in Patria; a diversity of choices whose reasons, on the one hand, must be looked at with greater indulgence and human understanding, despite the morale and the honor, in principle, leave no margin of doubt about what to do.

Indeed, the choice of many was not determined by political or moral reasons, but by eminently practical, human, and, say, self-conservative reasons.

The not easy imprisonment until September 8 had comprehensively weakened the minds and hearts of the fighters. The regime imposed by the British, although not providing, in accordance with the law of war, physical torture did not obstruct the moral maltreatment and the psychological harassment of all kinds.

Those who, after the armistice, came into the "25 Field", having decided not to cooperate with the Detaine, were, in varying circumstances, burdened by numerous and absurd prohibitions: the wearing of goggles and goggles, that of greetings militarily, to read without permission, to listen to music or to access the movie theater set in the field again without the permission.

Not a few of them were attacked by depression, nervousness or madness. The most tetragons resisted by simply controlling the nerves, others trying to escape with results most tragic times, others still suicide.

Antonio saved himself, as he repeatedly repeated to his family, as well as for his excellent knowledge of English (which often led him to perform translator functions in various fields) thanks to the "gift of sleep" . It was part of those who can sleep in every place and every circumstance. Thanks to this "dowry" he could slip through the endless and unreal hours of imprisonment, and most of the time, with a shaking of his shoulders, alternate prohibitions and authorizations of the Detaine who used the resistance of the prisoners with the old method of carrot and stick.

**********

9 September 1943 morning, Yol Fields Group.

The alarm sounded half an hour before the usual, at the 5 and 30 in the morning. The Italian prisoners of war pulled outside the barracks in the cold-humid nebula of Indian dawn, in platoons ordered, dressed as best they could, in a row for four, commanded by the highest officer in each cabin and preceded by its quartermasters.

Antonio was driving the group of his own cabin, made up of other lower grade 12 officers. He made the alt to the small platoon at the wing, alongside the previous unit. The English officers lined up at the entrance to the detention pens that morning were smiling, taken by a particular and unusual gaiety that was soon to be explained.

Antonio was stiffened on the watch before his platoon when some English soldiers, who were in charge of the camp, traveled carrying some of their belongings. One of them, a young fat, thin-haired, thin-haired woman, looked at Antonio, and with a laugh of laughter he called him: "Hey you ... coffee ... bring me coffee!".

With that he snapped his fingers under the captain's face, a gesture halfway between the provocation and the outspoken manner of calling a tavern waiter. Antonio, compassionate, pointed out to him that he was an officer, an Italian but nevertheless an officer. In response, the soldier shouted at him "You betrayed ... traitors ... you betrayed the Germans ... you lost! Italian traitors! "

Immediately the Italian officers' deployment was sparked and some came out of ranks advancing hostile to English boys. These, feeling threatened, punched the rifles against the Italians. Time stopped for a few seconds.

Providentially, the shrill sound of the quartermaster's whistle and some non-commissioned officers of the military police, rushing towards the blocks, came to restore order.

The blocks were re-framed by platoon commanders and now, in good order, each individual platoon stopped in front of a spartan table at the exit of the platoon. wing where a Maltese official placed a meager question in Italian: "Fascist pro Asse?". Officials were allowed to answer only yes or no. Nothing else.

Depending on the response, the prisoner was "deployed" to a homogeneous field. At the end of the deployment, non-collaborators were mostly included in the 25, 26 and 27 Quotations "Fascist Criminal Camp" (with this it became evident that the answer "Yes" given to the Maltese, made the Italian officers transit by status roughly protected by POW to the infamous one of "war criminal"). But the most convinced and compact were those of the 25 Camp, which was thus renamed "The Himalayan Fascist Republic" due to the high presence of republican and militia elements.

The definition, though suggestive and sealed by History, was improper as there were numerous elements in the 25 Field, which, while not giving political adherence to the Région or the RSI, intended to preserve their military honor and their devotion to the Homeland by not being willing to to become a social part of the ancient enemy against whom they had poured blood into combat, all to respect for political determinants that had neglected their sacrifice.

When the sorting was finished, a quartermaster approached the large group of "non-collaborators": "Come with me, please." he said smiling. The first officers made to start, but immediately someone said: "Not so, not like animals grazing!"

There was approval and someone else asked "Who is the highest able?" . A white-haired colonel came out of the group and stood in front of the prisoners. "Gentlemen Officials ... framing for four!" Then: "Officer Officers ... forward marsch!"

The colonel gave the cadenza, preceding the quartermaster and the escorting English who adapted to the Italians step, keeping behind the department that was started to be divided among the various wings of fields for non-collaborators.

**********

That night at Campo 25 the order of silence was not respected and a chorus of stentorian voices declined unceasingly a satirical poem dedicated to the beloved Detained:

There is, Pierino, and a mild feeling of pity and compassion on the heart of my soul /

Or how nervous and rat like the wind you trot with your blond mustache /

Or with small eyes and playful show to those who suffers your satisfaction /

You look at the stalls for the filthy mud, our skinny faces and you're happy.

The British ruthless armed men sought to find out who was declaiming, but it was a very difficult task because, indeed, there were very few who had not joined the choir and those who had not joined, did not abstain because of lack of will, because engaged, the right to the mouth, to modulate sonic accompaniment pimples.

An English officer silenced silence with the megaphone. In response, a virile song rose to one voice:

"You will not see anything in the world more than Rome, most of Rome! "

The Hymn in Rome, the phrases of Orazio, played by Puccini, became so strong and resonant that even from the 26, 27 and 25 camps joined the song of XNUMX.

That evening, it seems, he even joined someone from the 28 Field, which then would have been very well known under the name "Elephant Cemetery " (afterwards he would only collect colonels or generals, he was said to be ignorant and inclined to the Detainer while maintaining the treatment that this reserved for them in return for strategic information that the High Degree had given them access).

The German camps began to sing "Lili Marlen" first and then a more engaged "Alte Kameraden".

The blockade of the Yol Fields overflowed with music that night, while the Collaboration Fields were silent.

They listened to the song repeatedly and repeatedly, rising to the sky, as they listened to the grenade bullet grenades reinventing the silence, dry. They listened, certainly laughed, maybe they were ashamed.

Two captains killed, twenty-four wounded subordinate officers. This was the newsletter of the September evening of 9. The next day in all fields (even non-collaborative) did not come out of protest from the barracks.

British retaliation did not delay: shut-off, water stopped, light turned off before the set time.

So, therefore, began the white war between an albionic holder and an Italian prisoner, perhaps defeated, probably divided, but certainly not malleable.

*********

Takegawa had arrived one evening in August. Thin and very tall, with straight, shiny black raven hair divided by a strict central parting, he moved between two Sikh guards who were mocking him in English. He smiled amiably as they teased him and laughed: he would have said he was amused. He did not seem to sweat and was impeccably dressed in his own blue uniform of officer of the Japanese Imperial Navy, still enviously martial though completely cleaned by the Keeper of degrees, badges and signs of belonging.

It was unusual for a Japanese prisoner to arrive at Yol, because the Japanese officers, rather than being taken prisoner, preferred to kill themselves by practicing the ancient samurai ritual of harakiri with sabers, thus preserving their person from the fear of being in awe. enemy. The reason why the 29 Camp, destined for the Japanese Prisoners detention, as well as the punishment and isolation of the particularly "problematic" Italian Prisoners, was always substantially deserted.

Takegawa had not gone since his capture had taken place when he was half-clad by a gunfight on a remote Pacific battlefield. Following unpredictable vicissitudes, the Japanese had come to Yol, a prisoner of the English.

Takegawa entered Yol's story as the first of the few, whose attempt to escape from detention camps was crowned with success.

Once entangled in the 29 Field (the "ghost camp", as it was called for being almost empty) was left relatively in peace with the only three other Japanese occupants of the fence, three officers, who also live only because their capture had taken place because of their inability to react physically.

The three, since joining Yol, had always been conducted with the silent discipline typical of that people and without giving any problems, for which reason they were not subjected to any particular restrictions or to an acute surveillance as that intended for Italians and Germans.

They repeatedly took Takegawa when he declined his own generality, manifesting a deference that went beyond the narrow hierarchical question and that it should have become clear only later.

Takegawa also entered, mute, in that framework of order and understatement Japanese. For many months the four lived in theirs wing humbly waiting for their occupations: the cultivation of a small vegetable garden and the salting of fish caught in a nearby lake on behalf of the English captors.

Takegawa was a Kaigun Daisa (Degree of the Navy equivalent to the Rear Admiral) as well as a member of an aristocratic lineage rather close to the Court of the Tenno. For this he was treated with great observance and ceremoniously concerning the other occupants of the wing Japanese.

It must have been for the thrill of renewed pride that the coming of such a prisoner so important to the other officers (also in force at the Imperial Navy) that the four finally agreed to ransom in front of the nation their common destiny of infamy have been caught. They decided to recover their honor by bringing it into a single person who would have been the vehicle in Patria.

So they decided that "Takegawa gift" (the three turned with great respect to the young man Kaigun Daisa with the preaching of honor due to a nobleman of high rank and more or less equivalent to our "don") should be free. "Takegawa gift" he had to flee and return to Japan to testify to Tenno that they, like the dead in the field, were not and would never have been considered dishonored.

They acted as one man, with oriental determination and spirit of sacrifice, leaving admired, when they knew it, the Italian allies, the Fascist Criminals of the nearby 25 Camp, little inclined to that kind of symbolic sacrifice, but able to appreciate the perfect military virtue that the Japanese showed at that time.

One winter evening, taking advantage of the fact that the darkness fell rather early on the heights, awaited the passage of the patrol of Sikh that controlled the fence before Silence. THE Sikh the garrison had constituted a flourishing racket of smuggled goods (cigarettes, beer, ice cream, etc.) that sold off at a high price, officially unknown to the English.

However anomalous it was the fact that, for the first time in over a year, the Japanese showed they wanted to buy something under the table, the greed of the Sikh he had the best on prudence. They approached the broad nods of the four and, as soon as they were near the opening of the grid to inspect the quartermaster, the thin and seemingly inoffensive spatulas that the Japanese sailors used to climb the fish caught were (thanks to a clandestine sharpening carried out with Certosa patience a few minutes every day for over a month) easily and quickly planted in the temples of the two Sikh that went limp in silence coming disarmed through the opening.

Then he jumped the diversion maneuver: the shack in the middle of the wing was soon set on fire by one of the three junior officers while the other two took to unload their weapons Sikh against the altars of the sentries.

Before being electrocuted by the massacre of military police rushed en masse, the three Japanese brought with them half a dozen sentries. Meanwhile Takegawa had misrepresented himself with one of the uniforms of the Campanian Peasants stolen a few days ago and in the turmoil that followed the blitz Japanese had managed to gain the exit from the reticulars without being recognized or stopped.

Nothing more was heard of him and this, the failure to find a body, suggested that his escape was successful. A success that was confirmed, years later, by the researches that an Italian colonel, interned at the 28 Camp (the so-called Elephant Cemetery), he wanted to do once returned to his homeland about the story that for over a month had galvanized and kept fermenting all the block camps and that had forced General Laird (commander block) to exacerbate the security measures in the city of the prisoner, without failing to succeed in avoiding the success of other attempts, this time artistically made in Italy.

In 1944, to cite only the most famous, the X-MAS Lieutenant Elio Toschi managed to escape twice, disguising himself as an English soldier and an Indian servant respectively. The first time he was wounded by a bullet from the patrol Sikh just outside Yol, the second time he had more luck and, misrepresented as a clerk in the kitchens, he coupled a couple of jailers and reached Bombay from where he embarked for Goa, a Portuguese (and therefore neutral) Pacific possession. Finally, from there, he headed for Italy.

Another of these episodes was the captain Antonio B's 1944, along with the senior (degree colonel) of Militia Alfonso D., an Austrian cavalry officer, and two officers of German Navy.

All of the excellent English-speaking connoisseurs, the five, during the performance of their translators and interpreters in and out of the camps, had been able to know and organize turnaround, patience and prudence the theft of five uniforms complete by British medical officers .

On the day established for an inspection of the international red cross, of which they had fortuitously come to know by taking a few conversations from English officers, the five were quietly incorporated into the row of officers who followed the inspectors, succeeding at the right moment to cut the rope.

They came out outside the field block, but were reached by a team of British motorcycle riders launched after the discovery of the evasion. During a brief shootout between the rocks and the pits of the surrounding country a German was killed, Captain B. and the seniors were captured, while the Austrian and the other German were able to lose their tracks by later reaching Tibet.

When he was brought back and introduced to the presence of the commander of the 25 camp for the punishment of the case, Captain B. was surprised to find himself nothing less than before Colonel McGould, the officer of the Scottish guards who had captured her in Tobruk, who had taken over the days immediately preceding the old commander.

"Know, Captain, that I will consider a personal offense and our gentle friendship any new attempt to leave you. "

Antonio smiled at him, holding out his hand. "I'll see how much I can do not to displease a friend I did not know I have, Colonel Mc Gould" he said ironically "Provided, of course, that the pitch has improved", he immediately added, shaking the hand of Mc Gould chuckling under the reddish mustache.

**********

In the cold and snowy 1958 Christmas antiquing morning, Antonio B., general manager of the Province of Udine tourism department, carefully restored the elegant Venetian ceramic equipment and Murano glasses of the board. In place of honor, at one of the table leaders, he placed, instead of the normal dish, a massive silver tray with its lid.

A couple of hours later a dry, yet even shaky man on the ninety-eighths, with the lively and joyful emerald eyes, sat in honor, accompanied by the festive welcome of his hostess who turned to him in his mother tongue, English .

"Let's drink, old man ... let's get to ours! " Antonio said to Brigadier General Archiebald Mc Gould raising a flute of prosecco veneto.

After they had baked, McGould asked cheerfully to Antonio's wife what delightful things he had prepared for the occasion, but Rosa said, widening his arms and hugging his head with her husband: "Antonio wanted to take care of it personally".

So it was that the landlord lifted the large silver lid in front of the Scotsman, showing a huge and fuming one g surrounded by numerous whole onions and caramelized.

The guest and his wife sent an exclamation of admiring wonder while Antonio explained to Archiebald:

"I always told you that sooner or later I would have to repay your hospitality, Old Friend ... and with it, of course, all the onions that you did to Yol. Only, as you can see, I'm not being an old, damned Scottish spit, I'm not saving. "

McGould laughed out loud with his Italian friend. "Well, my dear ... I'm coming!" they laughed again, loudly and for a long time, emptying another goblet of Prosecco "Very well ... I'm really happy to be your prisoner, Tony!"

Michele Baroncini, 2013

Dedicated to the memory of my maternal grandfather, Antonio Boscarolli was Gaetano, a captain of alpine artillery, a non-collaborative war prisoner interned at Yol 25 Range from 1941 to 1946, with aggravated detention regime after 8 September 43.

A thank you to Mr. Marchese for having fortuitously offered me the opportunity to put on paper an idea that for too long it snaked in my mind without form.