Sunday, July 18, 2010


TOP PHOTO: Luigi "Moro" Degli Esposti (standing center) and comrades in the Italian Cavalry, C. 1920. Photo courtesy of the Degli Esposti Family.

RIGHT PHOTO: Dante Dinelli, Italian Soldier WW I Photo courtesy of Norma Dinelli Wilson.
(For explaination of photos, please see Comments section.)

Ivano's new movie script,brought back to mind the true story of my Uncle. One that I think should be made into a movie. Here it is as I remembered it. (I'm sure some of you have a story like mine --lets hear them).

My Uncle from Rodeano Basso (Friuli) who was a CPA and a newly wed (married to my Aunt) was drafted into the Italian army in 1938. In 1940, with very little training, he and his fellow soldiers,were sent to the Russian front. (Yes, the Italians fought along side the Germans against Communist Russia). My Uncle was never seen or heard of again.

In 1946, my mother and I went to the American Red Cross on behalf of my Aunt to seek information about my missing Uncle. The answer we received was that the Russian's (at the time) were not responding to questions concerning MIA enemy soldiers.
Subsequently, the Russian's did start to release Italian prisoners of war. Problem was that they released them in the middle of Siberia, in the middle of winter -- with NO SUPPLIES of any kind. Among those released, were about 90, originally from our area in Friuli. Only six survived.

The story on how these six survived is incredible (and horrifying) in itself. Having no food to eat, the group decided to draw straws. The ones that drew the short straws,were cannibalized by the others. (Of course the 6 that finally made it back home suffered from severe depression and mental illness.)

In 1990, my cousin found out from the Italian government (after all those years), that the Russian government had finally turned over a list of prisoners and the location of their remains. Incredibly, and to our great relief, my uncle's name was on the list.

My cousin and her husband traveled to Russia in an attempt to find my Uncle's grave. The trip took about 6 hours by train from Moscow. My cousin described it as being in the middle of hell, ice cold with nothing but empty tundra before them . (The area was a mining area. The Italians prisoners worked the mines as slave labors. Of course, many died there.) My cousin did locate the grave site. Imagine the emotion she felt as she actually saw her Father's name (who she had never seen) on the grave. Truly a sad and poignant moment in her life.

AND here is the beautiful part of this story . The people of our part of Italy, sent a group back to Russia to the final resting place of my Uncle and his fellow fallen soldiers. As a memorial to these brave soldiers they built a school and church for the people who lived there. As far as I know, they still stand today as a memorial to these brave "FIGHTING FURLANS".

As incredible as this story might seem, EVERY BIT OF IT IS TRUE. ( Yes, a book has been written about this story. My Aunt sent my Mother a copy a few years ago.)

IVANO SAYS: Thanks, Reno and yes this story should be made into a movie. TURBULENT QUEST (my screenplay) does take us back to Italy during this time period. It offers a glimpse of what the Italians had to go through under Nazi ocupation.

BTW: FIGHTING FURLANS OF WW II - by Doriano Degano also appears on this Blog. to view, type in Fighting Furlans in the search block located at the upper left hand corner of the Blog and "clicca" on the spy glass. Sempre Avanti


Norma (Cantarutti)R said...

These true stories (I am sure) I was told to as a child. They have such 'effervescence'.
I wish we could all gather in a big barn and have storytime, and then sing the folk songs as celebration.
As always,

Ivano Franco Comelli said...

Thanks Norma: Quite possibly your wish may come true. I'm planning for a "LaNostraCosta Day" Revival at the Swanton Berry Farm come mid-October. I'm sure some of the stories will be told. I will let you know as soon as I firm up the date. Hope to see you there. ivn0

IVANO said...

A CLARIFICATION REGARDING THE PHOTO ASSOCIATED WITH THIS ARTICLE. The last couple of aticles (if you read the comments,etc.) have been discussing the Italian Army's Plight in North Africa,Greece and on the Russian Front during WW II. They also depict the Italian soldiers in a heroic vain, rather than in the manner some other articles have tended to described them. Reno did not send me any photos of "Furlan" Italian soldiers to go with his article. So I searched my photo library and found the photo that I used for the very fine bio on Moro that his son Roberto sent me. To me (with the benefit of hindsight)this one photo shows in the faces of Moro and his comrades (although not "Furlans") more of the plight and heroism that is about to face the Italian soldier than any words that I might come up with.
Luigi "Moro" Degli Esposti
did serve in the Italian Army during WW II, thus the "Furlans' and the other Italian soldiers from other Regions of Italy, who fought and died on the Russian front were his comrades-in-arms.

To view Moro's bio (both in English and Italian) and other articles that include the Degli Esposti family name, type Degli Esposti in the search block located at the top left hand corner of the main page of the "Blagga" and then "clicca" on the spy glass. Sempre Avanti ivno


Thanks Reno for sharing your story with us. It reminded me how tragic the Italian Soldiers' story really was. No wonder the Italian People strung Mussolini and his bunch up by his heels after the War.
I also went to the article on Luigi Degli Esposti. What an amazing story. Thanks, Ivano, your "blagga" is amazing. SS

LaNORMA said...



Here is a “soldier” foto you are welcome to use if you need to anywhere. It is an
Italian soldier but it is World War One. It is Dante Dinelli(my father) circa l9l8 just before war ended.
He was on his way to fight in Africa but the war ended before he went.

Whatever circumstances – they were all Italian – whatever region they came from. Just like our Guys are all American regardless of state they are from.


I remember Vanda and Moro telling us stories about WW2 (after they came here in l949). They said
on several occasions when they heard the air raid and knew that planes were coming to bomb – they would put their boys (Roberto and Fabrizio) in a ditch and the parents would lay on top of them to protect them as much as possible. There was also a story about German soldiers coming to their house and asking If they had any chickens or something they could eat – they said “no” and on one occasion (they had hidden their chickens and rooster under the floor) one of the roosters crowed. They said luckily these Germans had a sense of humor and they all started to laugh. Whew!

Ivano Franco Comelli said...

Thanks LaNorma for your Dad's photo and your very appropriate comments. Whether they were "Fulans",Toscano, etc., they were all comrade in arms.

And thanks for the story about Roberto, Fabrizzio and Vanda. We tend to forget that they were War Vets Also. Sempre Avanti. ivn0


Bundi' Siôr Ivano,

Mi chiamo Monica di San Daniele del Friuli ma residente in Nord Virginia da tre anni.
Al rientro dopo otto settimane di vacanze nel mio amato Friûl, mi sono rimessa a cercare un Fogolâr Furlan nella zona. Senza troppa fortuna perché pare si trovino tutti in Canada.
Ho trovato il suo sito che ho letto con molto piacere perché mi pare rispecchi il vero Furlan: "salt, onest e lavoradôr..."

Mi puo' aiutare a incontrare altri Friulani in America? Ci sono Fogôlars Furlans?
Le sarei molto grata se mi puo' aiutare perché anche le mi bambine amano molto il Friuli, e vorrei consolidare la loro cultura friulana.



Ivano Franco Comelli said...

Monica di San Danielle (above) is seeking help to find a Fogolar Furlan in America. She is now living in North Virgina and has been unsuccessful to find any near her State. She requests help in finding them or any Furlan Friends, so she can share the Fulan Culture with them and her Children.

If any of you "blaggatori" out there can help, let me know via this 'Blagga' or contact me direct.
We'll get the info to 'LaMonica'

Sempre Avanti: ivn)


Caro Signor Ivano,

Grazie per avermi messa in contatto con Doriano Degano. Ho ottenuto la risposta che cercavo. mi auguro di poter visitare un giorno uno o piu' F. Furlans in Canada.
Ogni bene, coraggio e SA!



Hey Ivano,
Thanks to you I made telephone contact with Monica di San
Danieli . I can't tell you how much i enjoyed talking to her , but the greatest thing was to speak to her in our BELOVED Furlan langauge.

BTW: She lives in Virginia , because her husband works for a World Health Organization. Because of his job they have lived in Africa , Egypt , and Switerzland. She is a nurse , and has three small girls 10, 6, and 4 . She has visited California in the past and loved it very much . She has been in Amercia for three years.

She couldn't get over the fact that I spoke Furlan so well .
Anyway thanks to you I am sure we will be talking manny more times soon. RENO


Thanks Reno. Credit the "Blagga" for the 'Furlan' connection.
SA (Sempre Avanti) ivn0

Furlans de diaspore said...

Cemut no son Furlans in te aree di Washington DC? sigur che son!!!


What do you mean there aren't any Furlans in the DC metro area. There sure are.