Italian PoW Church in Orkneys

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by Trackpen, Jul 20, 2006.

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  1. While out shopping this morning, Mrs T met an elderly Italian who spoke excellent English. He told her he had been a PoW in WWII, had been caged in a number of places but had finished up in the Orkneys. There , he said, he had made many friends with whom he still communicates. He went on to say that the PoWs had built a church there and erected a statue of St George & the Dragon outside the church. The statue was built of concrete with barbed wire reinforcement and that 'to this day, not even a single finger has fallen off. Somebody must be looking out for St George.'
    I have a vague memory of hearing about this church somewhere, but had not heard the story of St George.
    Does anybody have any further info?
  2. Yep, I've been there. It's an old Nissan Hut that was converted into a church by the Italian PoWs. It's located next to the first churchill barrier on the island of Ronaldsay (I think).

    I'll dig out some photos and put them in this post

    Loads of photos that aren't mine here;
  3. There are some interesting memorials to Italian PWs in the West country - where many of them were deployed as agricultural workers during their period of detention. The church at Sherston, conveniently located for a pint in the Rattlebones, has an interesting one.
  4. A very nice job too - a freinds father had half of their family farm built by WW1 German POW's - the quality is simply fab.
  5. Crabby, Thanks for the pics and the link. Looks liek a very interesting place to visit. I'll do some more research.
  6. Armchair Jihad,I take it you mean Jerry built?(like my house)
  7. ps----My dad kept in regular contact with an ex German pow,(Karl)who he had guarded.letters/xmas cards etc(always said,--there were nazis,and there germans)---seemingly,(and expectantly,Hitler Youth were right cnuts).Another one (normal pow) who settled in jockland,used to sing "Go home ya Hun!" at rangers/celtic matches.(a song of the 70's,at jock games)
  8. Hopefully, it was a Nissen hut rather than a Nissan hut!!!
  9. Pedantic git...
  10. FWIW, another story of Italian POW goings on. Speaking several languages quite fluently, my old man (Queens West Surrey) was seconded in N. Africa to a programme sorting Italians from fascists with a view to the Italians serving in the Allied Forces. To relieve boredom in the camp the Italians did quite a bit of work. The CO, (on a rare visit form the nearest town where he usually was), admired some stone work being done and asked the men to sculpt him a couple of lions. The men were proper stone masons and suggested, as this was nothing to do with the military, he should pay them for the commission. Apparently he made a few concessions but essentially wanted them for nix. The men made the lions, which my old man said were impressive, but gave each the face of Mussolini. :mrgreen:

  11. What's pedantic about pointing out that Nissen - a British company - is not Nissan -a Japanese company?
  12. Visited the chapel as a child, it is beautiful, tiny but a moving and loving tribute to their homeland by POWs far from their country. Upon entering I was struck by the calm and peace, a contrast to the wild bleakness of the countryside around. Also remember scrambling over the Churchill barriers and climbing onto a German ship at Scapa Flow. The Orkney Islands are wonderful to visit.

    There is a little known film by Michael Radford called Another Time, Another Place (1983) which is set on the Black Isle in the North of Scotland about Italian POWs in 1943 and the effect on the local farming community. If you can't get hold of the film then read the book by Jessie Kesson (if still in print).
  13. On the subject of chapels built by Italian POW's, does anybody on this forum know the one built beside Lake Kyle, as it used to be called.
  14. Dunno that one. Any more info? Some years ago there was a TV prog on the chapel in the Orkneys on Remembrance Sunday. Anyone remember it?
  15. Wasn't there one at Catterick that had been decorated by the Italians?