Sonia Ashmore, the daughter of author and former PoW Eric Newby, received a surprise gift at MSMT’s annual luncheon that she found extremely moving.
It came in the form of three glasses, one of which was used by her father while hiding after his escape from PG49 Fontanellato. They were a gift from Ambrogio Cislaghi, a family relative of Giovanni Agostini who sheltered Eric at Villa Ada in the village of Lalatta.
The presentation was made by Robert Tregay, who was entrusted with the glasses by Ambrogio and was asked to give them to Sonia. Robert met Ambrogio while pursuing his meticulous research into Eric’s famous book, Love and War in the Apennines. “I set out to tell the true story, who were the people, where were the places and what was true in the book,” Robert told supporters of the Monte San Martino Trust at the luncheon in November 2023.
In the book, Eric stayed just one night at “a medieval house”, which he does not name. He met a large man who stood at the head of an ancient table and whom he called “the chairman of the board”. Eric felt as if he were being interviewed by the six men around the table.
Robert has identified the house as Villa Ada and the man as Giovanni Agostini. Eric stayed at the house for far longer than he indicates in the book.
Sonia, a longstanding supporter of the Trust, just as Eric and his wife Wanda had been during their lifetime, had no idea what she would find in the tin with which she was presented. She said: “I find it extremely moving that this has come from someone who held my father’s life in his hands, and many of us are in that position here.”
The three glasses inside the tin were used by Eric, Giovanni and his son Giampiero. “Both those people risked their lives to keep Eric alive,” said Robert.