Umberto Liberto was just 19 years old when he was taken prisoner of war on 7th February 1941 at Benghazi Libya.
These photos were taken in 1941 and 1943. The photos combined with Umberto’s letter to his mother, gives credence to his words “You will not recognise your son – five years has been a long time.” Umberto Liberto’s mother last saw her son when he was 18 years old. By the time he returned to Italy, he was almost 26 years old.
Umberto’s letter is shared in the article Cara Mamma
Listen to his letter:
Follow Berto’s journey as a soldier and prisoner of war: Berto Liberto
I am very grateful to Reinhard Krieger, a collector of military post, who has shared with me letters and postcards, written by Queensland Italian POWs to their families in Italy.
POW mail was censored but these letters to families still have much to tell us about the men who wrote them.
On 23.10.45, Umberto Liberto wrote a letter to his mother, from a farm in the Q1 Stanthorpe area. Umberto was one of the youngest POWs who made their way to Queensland. Born in 1922, he was 19 years old when captured in Libya in February 1941 and 23 years old when he wrote this letter. He had been working on a farm/farms in the Stanthorpe area since 27th October 1943.
Cowra, NSW. 16 September 1943. Group of Italian prisoners of war (POW) interned at No. 12 POW Group. Back row, left to right: 49731 A. Olivieri; 45651 A. Fazio; 49632 D. Mocchetti; 49373 U. Liberto; 46913 G. Villa; 49942 L. Volonteri. Front row: 45782 L. Gardini; 49884 I. Paniccia; 49436 L. Casinelli; 49792 A. Alessi. Note: The number is an assigned POW number.
(AWM, Lewecki, Image 030149/21)
Listen to Umberto’s Letter:
Thank you to Matteo Tettamanti for his reading of Umberto Liberto’s Letter.
A couple of lines so as to not leave you without any of my news that thanks to God is good, as I hope is the same for you. Last week my work employers sent you two packages. I hope that they arrive there. I have also sent you my photo and eight pounds Stirling but as yet have not receive a reply. Dear Mum, by now the worst has passed but there are still some months and then all will be finished. Your mail takes 5 to 6 months to arrive and not so often just now and then some letters. Anyway as for now it is not so important because all of this is coming to an end. You will not recognise your son – five years has been a long time. However, it could have been worse.
Finally hugs and kisses to share around.
Translation from Italian to English by Morwenna Arcidiacono, Stanthorpe
Letter from Umberto Liberto to his mother in Italy 23.10.45
Special thank you to Reinhard Krieger, Brisbane who graciously shared letters from his collection for this project.