news

Italian family seeks relatives of Chester soldier

Damiani family hid 16 Allied soldiers in Lucignana

Modesto Damiani helped hide a Chester solider during the Second World War

An Italian family is seeking relatives of a Chester solider they helped during the Second World War.

The son of an Italian who hid the Chester soldier, who was on the run from the Germans, is searching for the man’s relatives – 72 years after the event.

Modesto Damiani was just 11-years old-in 1944, when his father, also named Modesto, hid 16 Allied soldiers in the village of Lucignana, high in the mountains of north Tuscany, after they had escaped from Prisoner of War camps.

Among these was ETH Reith Forgan (Service No.140058) of The Cheshire Regiment, who gave his address as Wervin Hall, near Chester.

The Damiani family were betrayed, however, and Modesto only just managed to warn the soldiers in time, pulling on his coat over his nightclothes to race to tell them to leave.

The house in Lucignana where the POWs were hidden

The younger Modesto, who after the war worked in the UK for a time together with his father, recently contacted the Monte San Martino Trust, a British charity set up to honour the Italian peasant farmers who sheltered Allied soldiers who had escaped from the Germans and Italian Fascists at the risk of life and home.

Andrew Adams, a member of the Trust, said: “The bonds forged all those years ago are still very much alive. We have succeeded in putting a number of British families in touch with the descendants of Italians who rescued their fathers, or grandfathers. On the other side of the coin, the Damiani family are keen to make contact with relatives of the soldiers whom Modesto helped.”

In gratitude for the bravery shown by Italian country people, the Monte San Martino Trust (www.msmtrust.org.uk) pays for young Italians to study at language schools in England.

Relatives of ETH Reith Forgan, or anyone who knows the family, are asked to contact the trust by email at info@msmtrust.org.uk.

View full mobile page