Libretto Personale : In their Own Words
The personal memories of the Italian soldiers were recorded in their libretto or diario. How many have survived the passage of time is anyone’s guess. These books are valuable as they have been written ‘at the time’ and so as a primary source reference they are precious.
Davide Dander in his journey to find out more about his grandfather’s time as a prisoner of war in Australia has ‘found’ two such books. His grandfather Antonio ARICI kept a number of books from his time as a POW but it is only now that their historical importance is being respected. Antonio’s ‘Libretto personale’ might be yellowed by age, but his words tell of his experiences and his reflections.
Additionally, is a notebook belonging to Giovanni AMBROSI. Written while in India, it appears that either Giovanni Ambrosi left his book behind in India or gave it to Antonio Arici. There is a record of a Giovanni D’Ambrosi coming from India to Australia. Whether this man is the owner of the notebook remains a puzzle! It is a register of notices received and sent.
Some other examples of diaries written by Italian POWs are:
Umberto Cofrancesco’s biography covers fighting in North Africa, capture and treatment, life in POW Camp India, transfer to Australia, working in Victoria and repatriation.
From Tobruk to Clare is the story of Luigi Bortolotti as recorded in this diary manuscript.
Il Diario del soldato Francesco D’Urbano records the life of an Italian soldier fighting in North Africa.