Camp 66

'Capua is a very large camp used as a quarantine and transit camp and the strength varies from day to day. At the time of the visit there were 127 officers and 5,000 other ranks. It is situated in flat ground in a mild climate. A new officers' section is almost complete. It will consist of stone bungalows, with washroom, showers dining room and common room. At present the officers are housed in wooden huts.

'Six out of eight sections for other ranks are complete. The remaining two sections are still under canvas, but they should all be in huts by now. Sanitary installations are well constructed and there is an ample supply of water. Electricity is now satisfactory. Each section has its own kitchen and the POWs prepare their own food.

'Three Italian doctors and six Prisoner of War doctors work in the camp infirmary. There is an excellent de-lousing plant. There are two C of E chaplains and an Italian priest in the camp.

'Kitchen gardens extend between the barracks and also outside the camp. Pigs and rabbits are kept in the camp. A football ground and tennis courts are being made. Some clothing has been distributed by the Detaining Power, but stocks are needed as Prisoners of War arriving at the camp must be fitted out. There is a good stock of Red Cross parcels. (visited November)'

Official Red Cross Report on Camp 66, printed in the May 1943 issue of the British Red Cross magazine Prisoner of War

This section continues Pte Tom Tunney’s taped memories and follows on from his account in the Battle of Sedjenane Section of the website. The following account is somewhat sketchy. Much more detail can be found in his surviving letters from Camps 66 and 53

Pte Tunney was among a large number of of 16 DLI men who arrived at Camp 66 at Capua in March 1943. With him was Pte Syd Shutt, also of Thornley and Norman Cook of Wheatley Hill.

'Big parcels, they were English parcels we used to get in Italy. There was all sorts in them, they were all different, they used to have different towns on them.'

They were sponsored?

'Rolled meat, tea, sugar, I forget now what you used to get in them. Now Canadian parcels, they were the best, we used to get them in Germany. Great parcels them. We used to trade with the guards in 66. Tins of cocoa: you could get three loaves for a tin of cocoa. Then they started taking the cocoa out and filling it up with dust, any amount of dust. Everything was dried up. And then they'd put about half an inch of cocoa on top and seal it up again. They were clever, you know, Used to throw them over the top. They used to look at it and throw three loaves back. And then they started putting the dust in and that put a finish to it.’

To read the 1942 Red Cross circulars on parcel contents, POW mail and so on sent to to my grandparents in early 1943, click here.

'The main wire was like that, to about where the widow is there.' About six feet high. 'But there was a trip wire about that height off the ground.' Two feet. 'Between there and there.' About six feet. 'If you stepped in there, you were liable to be shot. That was all grass, but the other side of the trip wire there was people just walking about.

Camps PG 66 and PG 53, Italy, 1943

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16 DLI POW HOME
Les Rowly of the Royal Engineers and Wheatley Hill

My father's old school classmate and future brother-in-law Les Rowley of Wheatley Hill was the first familiar face he encountered in Camp 66 in March 1943. Les served in the Royal Engineers and was captured during the German Kasserine Pass offensive in February 1943. He later successfully escaped from Camp 53 in September 1943, with George Smith, also of Wheatley Hill, and, after hiding out in the mountains with a local farming family (where he almost died of influenza, without the family's help he would not have survived), he regained Allied lines in 1944.

Les Rowley married my father's younger sister Katie after the war. He is mentioned in my father's first and several other letters home from Camp 66. To read them in sequence click here Photograph courtesy of Philippa Rowley.

My father always kept the 1943 Two Lire Allied Military Currency banknote illustrated below (click the image to enlarge) in an old wallet with some of his other wartime papers. This was probably given to him by Les Rowley as a souvenir after the war. The reverse of the banknote is a perfect summary of Allied war aims.
Allied Military Currency 2 Lire Note