Castelrossa L’Egeo

Emanuele Nicosia gave me a challenge.  His record documents that he was captured on 25th February 1941. Place of capture: Libya (Castelrossa (egeo)). Emanuale served in the Italian navy.

Castelrossa, I think is Kastellorizo, a Greek Island lying off a southern tip of Turkey in the east Mediterranean Sea. ‘Egeo’ is the Aegean Sea – il mar Egeo or L’Egeo.

Kastellorizo has a complicated history but it had been occupied by the Italians since 1921. It was home to an Italian military garrison of 40-50 soldiers, Italian navy, custom officials and Carbinieri.

The British attack on Kastellorizo 25th – 28th February 1941 was strategic. The code name for the operation was ABSTENTION.  The British were assisted by the Australian naval forces of the HMAS Perth.

The newspapers reported the ‘Capture of Italian Seaplane Base’ describing the four hour bombardment by British destroyers before British troops landed and took possession of the island.

British forces consisting of 200 commandos landed before dawn on the 25th February 1941 and took control of  the Italian garrison in the castle and the Paliokastro fortress.

Its capture was welcomed news for Australia’s Dodecanese migrant community from the (migrants from the islands in the Aegean Sea and Sea of Crete in the Mediterranean).

Victory was short lived. Despite naval support, the British forces did not have air support.  The Italian forces counter attacked with aerial bombings and troop landings.  The British withdrew from the island on 28th February 1941.

The only source I can find for number of Italians taken prisoner is from Wikipedia: 12 Italian prisoners of war taken during Operation Abstention.  The reference given for this statistic is: Smith, Peter; Walker, Edwin (1974). War in the Aegean. London: Kimber. 

For more information: The Battle for Kastellorizo by Dr George Stabelos

I now wonder if Emanuele Nicosia was the only Castellorizo prisoner to be sent to Australia. He is photographed below at Cowra 16th September 1943.

Cowra, NSW. 16 September 1943. Group of Italian prisoners of war (POW) interned at No. 12 POW Group. Back row, left to right: 49937 R. Villani; 46151 G? Mauro; 49470 P. Fiore; 49469 S. Franco; 49474 P. Giaquinto; 48071 P. Falzarano. Front row: 45633 G. Falzarano; 49501 E. Nicosia; 45938 S. Lanni; 49425 R. De Masi. Note: The number is an assigned POW number.

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