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I am looking for any stories or information at all that may help me in my research to discover my 79 year old Mothers biological father (BF). She recently let me send her DNA in to be tested to help me with my family research! To our shock we have discovered her (BF) is more than likely full Italian. We have a very strong Italian ethnicity coming from her fathers side. Mum was born in Sheffield in June of 1943 which would mean that my Nan conceived around August of 1942. Of course this means she was a war baby and with what I have read and facts that I have I am thinking she was fathered by an Italian internee. We have also found a half sister who was born in 1944 in Bradford at a mother and baby home, the half sisters mother was living in Hemsworth when she fell pregnant. I really feel that my Mums father befriended my Nan during this time which is how mum came to be. Any help would be so much appreciated. The surname of my Nan is Wood. She lived at Arbourthorne at the time of conceiving. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org
When Musoliny declared war on UK there were around 73000 People in UK of Italian birth who had been here for less than 20 yrs. All were processed and only 569 were interned in camps. 6700 had some restrictions placed on their movements but were not interned. So around 66000 were completely free of restriction. Of these the vast majority (55000) were Jewish refugees who had fled Mussolini's regime.
There could be another answer to part of your question.
Italian Prisoners of War were held at Lodgemoor?. They were given day parole to help with farming etc. My father was a bricklayer/stone mason and was allocated an Italian prisoner of war to act as his labourer.
I think what you have found out already is probably as far as you can go.
Elaine in Ottawa.
Very interesting facts. Thank you for your reply, that opens up what I was thinking and not restricting it to thinking he must have been an internee.
Thank you Elaine. The interesting thing is that people can tell stories or give facts that can then turn your thinking around and make you see the other possibilities there may be.
It was announced on Sept 29 1943 that Italy had surrendered unconditionally.
Up to that date any Italian PoW would need to wear a uniform clearly identifying his status, even when working in the community. After that date he would be free to move around, without condition, to wherever he could find employment.
Many Italians lived around West Bar area of Sheffield attending St Vincents Church & School from the 1850s including my Italian family many joined the British Army in WW1 & WW2(my own Great Grandfather was too old so he was interred for the duration of WW1 as an Alien even though he lived most of his life here) They moved to the newly built Arbourthorne & Whybourne disticts when the back to back houses were demolished as part of a slum clearance project
Many buried at St Michael and All Saints at Rivelin which is still St Vincents burial ground their new church is at Crookes The old Church has been converted by the university a Plaque in remembrance is still on display
The Italians brought music ice cream & Terraza to Sheffield still evidence of this today
There is a very good book on this web site The History of St Vincent’s in Sheffield© ~ An original story written by Ted Cummings Both books were given to me by Vincent Hale who assisted Ted Cummings in the writing of this
It tells how St Vincents Roman Catholic Church was built & fund raised by the Irish & Italians with the help of the Duke of Norfolk and how the Vincentian Priests arrived to a very poor and impoverished community
There was an Italian POW camp at Swraithewood Parson Cross they helped to build the estate at Parson Cross
Good luck with your search
In the 1960s I worked on Copper street and used to go to Pizzutis corner shop just round the corner. Toni Dali lived around there at one time.
I have found a very interesting message on Sheffield History forum on the subject of Italian Internees. I will post it here, but sounds very like my story. My Nan lived at East Bank Road in the 1939 Census and then Edward Street Flats at some point afterwards. I’m not too sure where she was living in 1943 when my Mum was born. Any help on that information would be most helpful. My Nan was Mary Wood nee Goodwin born 1914. My Grandad was Clifford Wood born 1913.
The post I’m referring to is:
My daughter and I are desperate to help find some information on my dads father, below is a post my father placed on an Italian Genealogy website. How can I find the POW camp at Treeton? Is this the same as Lodge Moore?
Praying somebody can point in me in some direction.
I was born in Mar 1945, my mother is Marion Sheldon, sadly now deceased. From gathering family information my father was an Italian Soldier interned at a camp in Treeton, Nr Sheffield and Rotherham. Many years ago I obtained my birth certificate and under father the space only contained a single line, no name. I was legally adopted by my grandparents but the adoption court in Wakefield have been unable to locate the court records despite me trying to encourage a greater search. I have been told by my mothers two sisters many stories about other women who had been in relationships with the Italians from the camp and that they also had children. I traced one family where the Italian soldier had returned and married the girl and stayed in the UK, sadly he had passed away and the family did not have any information to pass on. My father was known as "johnny" English I understand for "Giovani?" It is now many years since this occurred, I am almost 67 but I have a daughter and granddaughter who want to know more and maybe get a name or trace some of mv Italian siblings! Where and what can be done to obtain Italian
POW Personnel Records or Camp Nominal Rolls from this period. Can you help, do you know of any other similar events, heard any stories, do you have a father or grandfather who was a POW in the UK. I would respect any family confidence and would not wish to stir or raise such an issue that would or maybe cause any embarrassment whatsoever.
Has anyone got any similar stories or know where I may get a list of internees for the Trenton camp please
Rotherham local studies library.
Have you tried a DNA search ?
Wendy, your mother's birth cert should show where your Nan was living in 1943.
Maybe try the National Archives website. If you browse the catalogue filtering on period 1939-45 and use search term Italian, several pages of records pop up including an index of internees. Images for that index are available on their partner website, Find My Past.
Yes I have done DNA. That’s how I found out in the first place lol. I will try Rotherham records
Oh yes her birth certificate. I didn’t think of that lol
Hi Heather. So there are lists of internees. Wow I didn’t know that. I will have a look thank you
A nugget of real life Sheffield Italian POW information I have might help, as so often these nuggets do help breakdown brick walls.
My mother and her female cousin (6 years older b 1921), and their families both moved from the Hollis Croft slum clearance to Boundary Road, new Wybourn Estate, and lived next door to each other. During WW11 there were Italian POWs working on Manor Lane.I know not what work it was, but there is a rear entrance to the cemetery on Manor Lane, which might have relevance for Council work in the cemetery grounds. My mother's cousin above, and other Wybourn and new Arbourthorne Estate girls of a similar 'courting age' used to go and flirt with these handsome Italians and take them treats, anything cheap they could find or make during rationing to enhance their various courtship chances.
My mother's cousin used to drag my 14 year old mother along with her, to look less obviously desperate to the Italians. The 'just out for a walk while looking after my cousin' routine. The Italians were considered prize catches, according to mymother,as they had the 'way' with the women, as lore goes, which wartime Sheffield men left behind did not, and their usual Sheffield men were so far away at war. Nature took its course, especially in the long grass of the cemetery grounds in the summer evenings, and some of these girls (and the odd married woman) became pregnant, as did my mother's cousin. (Usually a shy pious Irish Catholic girl, so these Italians certainly sweet-talked their way into her affections) Her illegitimate baby unfortunately died at around 15 mths old. This child was a family secret, as so many secret war babies were. These pregnancies were hard to pass off as their Sheffield men's offspring on their return, with their black hair and brown eyes, especially for the married women, and the unmarried Irish Catholic girls involved paid the price by being sent to Leeds and West Yorks mother and baby homes to have their babies, often adopted away, to hide them from relations and neighbours on the Wybourn and Arbourthorne Estates before they 'showed'. Sad such extreme measures had to be undertaken.
The Arbourthorne girls accessed Manor Lane easily,by walking along Eastern Avenue, then down City Road and through the Cemetery Main gate as a shortcut to Manor Lane. Arbourthorne was considered virtually next door to Wybourn in walking terms in those days, as everyone walked everywhere in those days. I know because we moved to Arbourthorne and walked to my gran's on Boundary Rd in the 1960s.
So very interesting. Thank you for sharing. Hope I can find the answer to my Grandfather soon
I meant to emphasise that the Italian work gang were working only, on Manor Lane, i.e. no knowledge of where they were camped, but they obviously had free time after working hours to go courting the local girls nearby and in cemetery grounds in summer,and up around Manor Top, which would then necessitate them getting back to their camp afterward. So my guess is their particular camp would not have been in Rotherham (Treeton).That was miles away. It would have been near enough to Manor Lane or City Road area to get back and forth to on a daily basis. There is (was?) a territorial army training camp near manor top I am told. Maybe they used that in WW11 as a POW camp ground?? Manor Top is at the top of City Road where several roads meet. East Bank Road ends there too at its top end. There was a small picture house (cinema) at Manor Top when I was a child, which might have been there in WW11, where young courting couples might have gone. If the POW camp was near there, they could have gone there with their Italian beaus during their early courtship period, before getting down to business later in the courtship in the cemetery grounds. My mother said that's where all the conceiving happened, as it was used as a bit of a wilderness recreation ground in the early years before the graves gradually claimed the grounds. She and her younger friends used to play in there, and would come across courting couples both before, during and after the war. I even have a photo of my mum and her friends in the wilder cemetery grounds.
Also your family DNA, if done via Ancestry.co.uk, should match with any mainland Italian or Cicilian tree holders, or even Italian Americans in USA whose Italian families migrated there during or after the war. They are always very excited to meet new wider family members.
My DNA has matched me with my wider family in USA, Canada and Australia. Enabling me to make contact.
The Ancestry DNA facility also tells you whether it is a paternal or maternal match, and what degree of closeness to you...sibling, half sibling,1st 2nd 3rd 4th cousin etc, uncle, aunt the list goes on.
So if your DNA test was just a test from another testing company showing merely the nationalites in your family, then it might be worth your while doing it again via Ancestry.co.uk, as you get so much more along with the basics, which gets better over time, especially after lockdown when so many more people worldwide took the opportunity to do their family trees and submit DNA to Ancestry.co.uk.
Hi Ann. Yes it was an Ancestry test. I have contacted a lot of my matches but they are 4th or 5th cousins so too far away to make any headway. I have Italians, welsh Italians, Scottish Italians but no English at Mums paternal line. I am currently building a few trees of these Italian DNA matches but it is so hard to go back further than 2 x great grandfather and sometimes only to great grandfather. Bardi is the area in Italy that our ancestors were from and they have not released many if any genealogy from that area
Sheffield Local Studies Library should be able to tell you where the camps were.
I’ve emailed them thank you
Wendy, if you ever find out the area of Italy or Sicily your mother's father came from, and decide to bite the bullet and go there to investigate further, you will find that in Italy and Sicily, especially in the countryside areas, where the same families' descendants or their neigbours' descendant still live and work, having businesses etc, the locals know a lot about the old folk from the war era by name, and their stories. They can often tell you about people they remember, or have been told about, and who were prisoners of war, or who emigrated later, during the big emigration period.
This topic is close to my heart, as I researched my Italian American friend's family for him in Sicily, doing all the spade work for him beforehand, so in the end, with limited Italian resources online, to break down a brick wall, he went to Sicily for a week to get his grandfather's birth certificate in a village area. Whilst there he was chatting to a local cafe owner who told him all about his grandfather's family in the village, even though he'd never met him. It turns out that village life in Italy/Sicily, is much the same as in small villages in Ireland. Local ancestor knowledge is passed down by grandmothers,aunts,uncles and neighbours to younger members all through their lives. Call it gossip if you will, but it is very useful never the less.
My Irish descent mother passed on all her knowledge verbally to me about our wider family relations through time, throughout my life, which is how I was able to build our huge Irish family tree after she had died. These kinds of communities held family dear, and the family knowledge was very important to them, especially with not much else to talk about in remote villages. Not like today unfortunately.
Wendy, yes its a very good idea to build on the Italian trees you have started, however small and wide, because they will eventually act as a fishing net and will bring in more, wider matches to them. Eventually they could attract matches in the direction you need, closer to your grandfather's immediate family, which will then provide a solid surname. Without useful online Italian resources, the DNA numbers will help too, so keep your eye on the closeness scale numbers. Can't remember their technical name.
Meanwhile the connections you have to Bardi, which is in the Parma province, is exactly the kind of place where local knowledge will be abundant. Businesses like cafes, bakeries or ice cream parlours etc are often held and passed down through generations of the same family in Italy. So always start with asking those if you end up going once you have a solid surname for your grandfather. We passed by the top of Parma province, in Parma itself, on our foodie tour of Italy. Very easy area to travel through by car, lots of little roadside cafes have rooms to let above, no booking required. We just pointed the car and drove, and was never short of a place to stay, even at 9 pm at night. A lot easier than in France, and more affable natives, who ensure you go to bed full of Limoncello on the house, once they find out you are of Italian descent looking for your relatives!
Ahh thank you Ann, very interesting information. Thank you