Mrs. L Stretton

After speaking to Mrs L Stretton of 25 Curzon Avenue, Carlton Hill, Nottingham, she sent me the following letter which I received on 24 February 2009.

After ringing me again, I have added a bit more she told me:

A Colwick Woods Story

During the Second World War my father was a foreman platelayer on the railway and, due to the shortage of men, a group of Italian Prisoners of War were allocated to him. The PoW camp was situated on the top of Colwick Woods.

Over the course of weeks, my dad found the men very hard workers and pleasant. They were very young. Three of these men, Pietro, Pappa and Martino became great friends and used to come once a month for tea. Then every so often the officer of the camp invited us up for tea to thank us.

Pietro and my sister fell in love. His mum and dad both died while he was a prisoner which was very sad. Pietro was repatriated along with the others. We said a tearful farewell and Pietro said he would return as soon as possible. They all kept in touch with mum and dad and wrote saying thank you for looking after us. Pappa and Martino got married back in Italy but kept in touch with them over the years sending letters telling them about their families and enclosing photos. There were such a lot of letters but unfortunately, after mum and dad died, they all got thrown away.

However, a year later, Pietro turned up back in England and a year later my sister and Pietro were married. The PoW camp had been turned into emergency housing so my sister and her husband spent 18 months there. The eldest son, Tom, was born at the camp. Tom was brother to Anna and Catherine. Tom and family now live in Australia but visit the UK to see his mum and sisters.

Pietro was a wonderful husband and devoted father who died the day after his 65th birthday, partly of a heart attack. He was born in the village of Alberobello, Puglia. He used to live there – they were round and spacious. It is now a Unesco world heritage site.

My mum, dad, sister, Pietro and family often visited his brothers and sisters in Italy and they have been over here. Pietro was captured in the desert. He was an ambulance driver – so there the story began. The War was an awful time but Pietro was a shining light to us all.