Tenna Valley Trail 2016

Christine English reports on the fourth annual Freedom Trail in the Marche, co-hosted by the Monte San Martino Trust and the WW2 Escape Lines Memorial Society

MSMT supporters were delighted to join members of the Escape Lines Memorial Society (ELMS) on the fourth annual Tenna Valley Freedom Trail in the Marche between 11th and 16th May, 2016. We were guided on the commemorative walks as we visited former safe houses and the former prisoner of war camp at Monte Urano. We heard dramatic stories about escapers and their local helpers as we walked through the glorious countryside.

Cristina Franca at the memorial to Signalman Sydney Smith

We are grateful to the families who fed and watered us at our stops, remembering their families’ connections to escapers. Ian McCarthy, our expert guide who is based in Servigliano, where the walks started and finished, provided excellent translation throughout.

A high point was meeting Cristina Franca at the memorial plaque to Signalman Sydney Smith near Montelparo. Her family has laid flowers every week for more than 70 years at the place where Smith was shot dead by the SS. Cristina was presented with a plaque by ELMS to thank her family for their faithfulness to an Allied soldier who died in their village.

Murdered escaping prisoners and Partisans are honoured in a ceremony at Comunanza

On Sunday May 15th a moving ceremony took place – unfortunately in the rain – in Comunanza, a village that the Trail had not previously visited. A plaque was installed to honour six escaping British and American prisoners who were shot dead by Fascists on May 2nd 1944. The plaque also commemorates three Partisans shot dead the following day and a further two English PoWs killed on June 14th.

The Monte San Martino Trust co-hosted the Trail but is extremely grateful to Roger Stanton and colleagues in ELMS who handled all the organisation.