Further Reading

There are number of books, internet resources and official files available with information about PG 54 Fara Sabina which have been listed below. If you are aware of any more sources please contact me so that they can be added to the list.


Go Right, Young Man by Eric Bull 
ISBN: 0953030709 - available to order from Blackwell’s (now seems to be out of print) 

The story of Gunner Eric Bull in World War 2 which tells of his time in Italy as a Prisoner of War at PG 54 Fara Sabina and later as an escapee. 

A brief prologue tells how he was in Africa fighting Rommel when in April 1942 he was captured by the Germans. The rest of the book is divided in two halves covering his time in an Italian POW Camp (206 pages) and his period on the loose in the local countryside (180 pages). 

Bull was sent to Prisoner of War Camp, PG 54 near Fara Sabina, just north east of Rome. He describes his experiences in this camp, the poor conditions, the lack of food and attempts at making it go further, the bartering amongst the POW's and with Italians, camp entertainment etc. 

In September 1943 with the Italian armistice, the Italian guards disappeared and most of the POWs walked out of the camp into the countryside. Here Bull survived, initially living off the land but eventually with the help of the locals. He survived a few searches, and even occasional capture, by Germans which eventually rounded up most of his colleagues, and contributed in a small way to some partisan activity before the area was liberated in June 1944. 

Highly recommended.

From Jo'Burg to Dresden - A World War II Diary by EB "Dick" Dickinson
ISBN: 9780620486248 - available from Cape Commando Series

Private Dick Dickinson's diary captures the drama of joining the 2nd Transvaal Scottish in 1940 and going up north. After a year's campaigning in North Africa he was taken prisoner at Tobruk along with thousands of other South African and British troops.  

Held as a POW at PG 54 Fara Sabina in Italy, he walked out into the mountains when Italy surrendered and was recaptured by the Germans. Then for eighteen months he worked in a post office in Dresden before the war ended. Travelling to work daily from the Stalag, it gradually dawned on him that thousands of German civilians were taking shelter in Dresden because they believed they would never be bombed. He was sure it was a tragic myth.

20 pages about life in PG 54 Fara Sabina, an excellent and interesting read.

Gap in the Wire by John Brent Mills
ISBN: 0646366963 - second-hand copies sometimes available

Four tales of escape and survival by South African POW’s, Ronald Butcher, Denis Parsons, John Brent Mills and Basil Moore, from PG 54 Fara Sabina. 

Not much about life in the camp, but plenty about their escape and the help they received from the local Italians.

After the war John Brent Mills went on to become the South African Ambassador to Italy and was instrumental in arranging for the commemorative stained-glass window and plaque to be installed in the chapel of the six hundred year old Franciscan monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie at Ponticelli Sabina to thank the Italians who sheltered and protected the escaped South African POW's.    

I Was Not Alone by Robert Dick
ISBN: 1840170069 - available from Scottish Cultural Press

Robert Dick was born in the north east of Scotland in 1920, and became a Boy Soldier in 1935 when he was not quite 15 years old. Within 3 months he had been posted abroad to serve with the Cameron Highlanders. 

Captured on 21st June 1942 whilst defending Tobruk and quickly moved to Benghazi before being transferred by sea to Brindisi on 13th July and on to Bari Transit Camp, before final transfer on to PG 54 Fara Sabina on 27th July.  

9 pages about life in PG 54 Fara Sabina, before moving to a working party in Northern Italy in February 1943.

An excellent read.

Name, Rank and Number by Robert W. Calvey
ISBN: 185776207X

Robert Calvey was captured at Salerno as part of the Allied Landings in September 1943. Initially taken to Frosinone he was later moved to Campo PG54 which was being used as a collection and transit camp. After three weeks the entire camp was marched to the Fara Sabina Station where they were loaded onto trains for transportation to Germany. Robert escaped from the train but was recaptured and eventually moved to Stalag IVB.
One chapter about his three weeks in Campo PG54, but still an excellent read.

A Soldier’s Tale by Bill Ridgeway 
ISBN: 9780748790043 - available to read on line at Google Books

The story of Lawrence Oakes, called up in 1939 and captured at Tobruk in June 1942, POW at PG 54 Fara Sabina and Stalag VIIA. Written for children and only 45 pages but none the less a fascinating read. 


Staff Sergeant Demetri Hayidakis – South African Army 
The story of one mans journal, captured in North Africa and held as a POW at PG 54 Fara Sabina, available to download as a PDF from the Chicago Tribune.
Lance Corporal David Brokensha - South Afican Army
Brokiesway - tales of life as Dispatch Rider in North Africa, captured at Tobruk in June 1942 and a POW at PG 54 Fara Sabina and Gorbitz near Dresden. Plenty of information about PG 54 Fara Sabina.
Sergeant Lynn S Ongley – South African Army 
Collection of War Poems from Italian (PG 54 Fara Sabina) and German POW Camps and Sleepy Hollow his autobiography, including his time spent fighting in North Africa and as a POW at PG 54 Fara Sabina and in Germany.

Gunner Cliff Spencer – 107 Bty, 27th LAA Regt, Royal Artillery 
BBC WW2 People's War - Diaries submitted by his daughter, captured at Tobruk in June 1942 and POW at PG 54 Fara Sabina. Diary 3 onwards covers the period at PG 54.

Gunner John Mallen - 3rd Field Regt, Royal Artillery
BBC WW2 People's War - John Mallen Escaped POW in Italy, captured at El Adem in June 1942 and POW at PG 54 Fara Sabina.

Corporal Angus William Roy Watts - 2nd Bn, Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders
BBC WW2 People's War - Always Read The Small Print, captured at Tobruk in June 1942 and POW at PG 54 Fara Sabina. Chapter 3 covers the period at the camp.

Lance Sergeant Leslie Charles Drane - 67th Medium Regt, Royal Artillery
BBC WW2 People's War - Count your Blessings captured at Tobruk in June 1942 and POW at PG 54 Fara Sabina.

Sergeant William Robert Clark - RAOC
BBC WW2 People's War - Bill Clark's War, captured at Tobruk in June 1942 and POW at PG 54 Fara Sabina before transferring to a working party. Chapter 2 covers the period at PG 54. 

Corporal W John E Stark - 105 Corps Military Police
BBC WW2 People's War - Life Behind Wire, captured at Tobruk in June 1942 and POW at PG 54 Fara Sabina.

Sgt Major Philip Sydney Norton - HQ Supply Co, 4th Infantry Brigade
A Prisoner of War Remembers - captured at Tobruk in June 1942 and a POW at PG 54 Fara Sabina after a period of hospitalisation at Caserta. A tale of his escape from PG 54 after the Italian armistace and how he hid from the Axis Forces with help from an Italian family untill reached by the advancing Allies on 7 June 1944.

Bill Marsh
- 1st Battalion, South Wales Borderers
The Horrors of War - fascinating memoirs of a Second World War soldier. Captured near Gambut on 18 June 1942, POW at PG 54 Fara Sabina from March 1943, escaped in September 1943, recaptured and then escaped again from POW train bombed by Allied aircraft at Allerona.
Private Cyril Francis Morris - RAOC
From Warfare to Welfare - a collection of images and stories that document people's experiences of wartime, Cyril Morris was captured at Tobruk in June 1942 and a POW at PG 54 Fara Sabina. Available to View in a single page.

Sergeant A C Eason - South African Army
Smile, you Sinners, Smile - a poem published in PG 54's newspaper, "Glumpet 54" on the 25th April 1943.
Charlies War - 97th Field Regt, Royal Artillery
Charlies War - captured in North Africa in JUne 1942 and a POW at PG 54 Fara Sabina
That Day in 43 - South African Army
An article from the South African Weekly Journal - Sunday Times by Pte S George H Candy who was a POW at PG 54 Fara Sabina. The article tells the story of the mass escape after the Italian armistace of 8th Septmber 1943. The article has been translated into Italian and then back into English.

There are several files in The National Archives, London, relating to Camp PG 54 Fara Sabina:

WO 224/121 - Red Cross Reports: 54 Italian POW Camp Fara-in-Sabina, copy available to view

WO 32/18500 - POW Camp 54, Fara in Sabina, Italy: Reports on visits by International Red Cross, copy available to view

WO 311/1196 - Ill-Treatment of Allied POW's after recapture at Fara Sabina, Italy, June 1943 copy available to view

WO 311/1189 - UK charges against Italian war criminals: shooting of allied prisoners of war at Camp PG 54, Fara in Sabina, Italy, May 1943 and January 1944, and inhumane treatment of British prisoners of war there, August 1942 to September 1943

WO 311/1193 - Murder of Private Oliphant at Camp PG 54 

WO 311/1277 - Death of unknown POW at Camp 54, Monte Libretti, Italy, 22 September 1943

WO 310/18 - PG 54 Fara in Sabina, Italy: shooting of South African POW

TS 26/751 - Alleged Italian War Crimes: Charges: Fara Sabina: General