5 May 2020
Our ‘Turin Men’ project has focused primarily on researching the stories and commemorating 16 soldiers who are buried in the town cemetery and who had died at what became the B section of the 29th Stationary Hospital in Turin. It is not known how many hundreds of men were treated there, but most would have recovered after their illness or surgery and continued their war or their journey home.
Today we were contacted by Professor Richard Holton who is researching the story of his Grandfather, Pte Antonio Dellafera of the Army Service Corps (Expeditionary Force Canteens), who was a patient at the hospital and one of those fortunate to have survived the war. Professor Holton has discovered a small collection of photographs showing his Grandfather with other patients in the hospital grounds and on visits to two monument sites, one of which is outside of city. Professor Holton has kindly agreed to write up Antonio’s story and we will be delighted to add it to our Soldiers’ Stories in due course.
20 April 2020
Today the Commonwealth War Graves Commission announced that they were making available more of their digitised files and a previously unreleased collection of photographs held in their archive. This gave us a chance to see if we could add further to the stories of the Turin Men.
Although we didn’t locate any more information about the men in the personal correspondence files, we were very excited to find images of the Turin cemetery from the 1950s and intriguingly discovered that not only had changes been made to the reburial of the men in the early 1920s, but a further change was made to the relocation of Driver Thomas Langan’s grave whose headstone is not on the 1950s photos.
The 16 men are named and listed together on the grave registration report dated 1919, whereas the 1924 report remarked that Thomas Langan’ grave remained in the original plot and was relocated in 1964. We now had photos from 1952 and 1954 which show the graves before all 16 men were later buried together in the CWGC plot.
11 April 2020
We were delighted to finally catch up with another descendant of one of the ‘Turin Men’ soldiers. Back in 2019, the team at Fraser and Fraser had very generously offered to help with our searches and they put us in contact with Dave Harris, the Great Nephew of Lance Corporal William Herbert Barnes, who died 101 years ago on 12 April 1919.
Although Dave didn’t have any family photos of his Great Uncle, he was very pleased to receive information about his forebear, who had originated from the Nottingham area before the family relocated to Liverpool. We were able to share details with Dave as William Barnes’ service record had survived so we know quite a lot about his early life and military career prior to his death in Turin. More details about Lance Corporal William Herbert Barnes and the other men can be found in the Book of Remembrance.
15 February 2020
Today we heard from Deryc Rees that his descendant, Private Evan Lewis is one of those named on the Imperial Camel Corps memorial in London. More information about this memorial can be found on the War Memorials Online website. Private Evan Lewis is also commemorated in his home town in Tregaron Memorial Hall; a photo of which along with full details of Evan’s story can be found in our Turin Men Book of Remembrance.
9 February 2020
Although buried some distance away from the other men in Turin’s Town cemetery, Driver John C A Taylor who lies alone in a solitary grave in Oulx Communal cemetery now has another visitor as a result of our project. Alessandra Ullu, one of Emma’s colleagues visits John’s grave whenever she is in the area. We know that another anonymous visitor refreshes the flowers on his grave but perhaps isn’t aware of the details of John’s accidental death in Oulx in December 1918. We thank Alessandra for visiting John and for sending us this and other photos.
11 November 2019
Following the successful Remembrance event of 2018, the Esprit Club of Turin and Emma Pace held a joint commemorative Remembrance Sunday Service yesterday for the ‘Turin Men’. The service took place at the CWGC plot in the Turin Monumental Cemetery.
Peter Allen, Chairman of the Turin Esprit Club played a key role in organising this year’s event and reported that it was ‘a great occasion with nearly 40 participants including 7 uniformed officers of the British, Australian and Italian armed forces’.
After Peter had delivered the opening remarks, a selection of poems were read by Emma’s students from the school, IIS Blaise Pascal.
The service was led by Pastor Thomas Noffke with readings and the exhortation delivered by Esprit members and the names of all 16 soldiers were read out.
The Last Post was played by Bruno Faenzi, an Italian colleague of Esprit member Sean Stringfellow of the RAF who is currently working in Turin.
12-14 August 2019
Emma visited the UK during August and spent 2 weeks on a tour of Wales, but the Turin Men were not far from her thoughts. Emma took the opportunity to meet up with Deryc Rees who is one of the descendants of Private Evan Lewis. Evan is remembered in his home town of Tregaron and Emma visited the Memorial Hall there and has kindly sent us this photo.
2 July 2019
On a return visit from the mountains today, Emma visited the grave of one of our ‘Turin Men’. Driver John C A Taylor is buried in Oulx Communal cemetery in a solitary CWGC grave. Each time Emma visits she finds that the flowers have been refreshed so we know that his grave is being visited by someone else who also cares about him and ensures that he will not be forgotten.
19 June 2019
David Mackie, a reporter at the Gazette & Herald has written a follow-up story since Fraser and Fraser successfully identified some of Sidney Baker’s descendants. The story entitled, ‘Family of Pickering soldier tracked down’ has been published in today’s edition of the newspaper. We are very grateful to David for his interest in our story which has helped us locate more descendants of the ‘Turin Men’.
28 May 2019
We had some exciting news today from Dan Hayes, Communications Manager at Fraser and Fraser, an International firm of professional genealogists and probate researchers. It seems that one of the case managers at Fraser and Fraser had spotted the news item about Sapper Sidney Baker in the Gazette & Herald and unbeknown to us decided to use their skills to assist. We are delighted to hear that they have tracked down a relative who is happy to be contacted by us. We will now be able to share the story of the ‘Turin Men’ with Sidney Baker’s great nephew, Edward and Kate, his great niece. We are extremely grateful to Fraser and Fraser who have included this on their website: “Finding the relatives of a First World War soldier”.
15 May 2019
We submitted a news item to the Gazette & Herald (Ryedale) to tell the story of Sapper Sidney Baker of Pickering who died 100 years ago on 2 May 1919. With thanks to one of their reporters, David Mackie, an article about Sidney appeared in the newspaper on the 15 May. We very much hope that we are able to locate any of his descendants, so that we can learn more about Sidney and share what we know of his life during the First World War and how he was commemorated in Turin last year at the ceremony in November.
4 May 2019
We have received these photos from our colleague Emma who has recently revisited the CWGC graves in Turin Town cemetery to pay her respects to the ‘Turin Men’. Emma says that she will never forget them, which we know is greatly valued by those descendants with whom we have made contact.
20/21 March 2019
A working visit to Scotland by Emma Pace from Italy enabled us to arrange our first meeting in person and to invite along descendants of Corporal William Muir, one of our ‘Turin Men’. Many of William’s descendants live in Scotland and one of his great-nieces lives in the house in Lugar where William’s family are known to have lived in 1918.
Our get-togethers enabled us to see items that related to William’s First World War service and his untimely death in Turin from pneumonia whilst on his return home on leave. It was a privilege to read the letters that had been sent to his parents from the hospital in Turin and to hold one of his books, and the death penny and scroll that had been kept safely for 100 years. Emma was thanked by everyone for her great interest in the soldiers, which has resulted in our collaborative work on the lives of the ‘Turin Men’.
24 February 2019
On 10 December 1918, Harry Edward Funnell, a soldier from Sydenham, London, died of pneumonia in Turin after serving for over four years in the First World War. We submitted a news item to the Sydenham Society to tell Harry’s story and to hopefully find any of his descendants. With thanks to their editorial team our story appeared in the Spring 2019 issue of the Sydenham Society News. We are particularly grateful for the interest shown by Steve Grindlay, a Local Historian from the area who confirms that in 1953 Harry’s mother, Catherine (or Kate), was still living at 6 Bishopsthorpe Road, the address given on his military records.
18 February 2019
Staff at the school, IIS Blaise Pascal have created a video from the ‘Turin Men’ commemoration on Remembrance Sunday using the photos taken on the day. Each soldier in the Turin, Meana and Oulx cemeteries is honoured. This lovely record of the commemorative event is available to view on the school website.
2 February 2019
Our colleague Emma Pace has sent this photo of the CWGC plot in Turin Town Cemetery in the snow. A century ago the war was ongoing for some of our ‘Turin Men’, but they all now lie together here and have not been forgotten. The changing seasons give us a sense of continuity over time.
12 January 2019
‘Away from the Western Front’ was represented at the meeting of the Wolverhampton branch of the Western Front Association; about 70 members were present. Lyn Edmonds spoke about the ‘Turin Men’, some of whom came from the West Midlands. One audience member commented: ‘Great research, preparation and presentation with a real passion for the subject‘.
2 January 2019
We submitted a news item to the Cumnock Chronicle to tell the story of William Muir of Lugar and hopefully to find any of his descendants. With thanks to one of their reporters, Stephen Bark, an article about William appeared in the Chronicle on the 2 January 2019 and within 24 hours we received an email to say that one of William’s great nephews had read the story. We have since heard from one of his great nieces too. It seems that several of William’s descendants still live in the area where he was born. We will be sharing what we know of William’s life and how he was commemorated in Turin last year at the ceremony on November 11.
4/5 December 2018
Over half of the men buried in Turin Town cemetery and both of those in Meana and Oulx died after the Armistice of November 1918. We have been attempting to find more descendants by contacting various news outlets with details of their stories. The Northern Echo published our story about Thomas Langan on 4 December, the centenary of his death. Thomas was from County Durham in North East England. As a result of this publicity we are delighted to report that we were contacted the next day by Thomas’ great granddaughter, Emma Langan. We are looking forward to sharing the story of the ‘Turin Men’, and learning more about Thomas’ early life.
26 November 2018
We received some very good news today that the Mayor of Oulx has kindly searched through their Municipal archives and has found a police report from 1918, which sheds light on exactly what happened to John Taylor, the soldier who we knew had died as the result of an ‘accident’, and is buried in the village of Oulx. The Mayor sent a copy of the document to Emma Pace, who transcribed it for us and after translating it we have been able to update John’s story in the Remembrance Book.
15/16 November 2018
We are very pleased that the ‘Turin Men’ commemorative events have attracted much publicity in Italy. Several newspapers reports appeared after the events and the Italian television channel TGR Piemonte recorded the ceremony in Turin and interviewed our project partner, Emma Pace (2:34 – 4:37).
11 November 2018
One of our ‘Turin Men’, Private Evan Lewis was also remembered in London by Deryc Rees who was honoured to take part in the People’s Procession on the centenary of the Armistice, where he laid a wreath at the Cenotaph which was dedicated to his Great Uncle Evan Lewis and his Grandfather, Rhystyd Davies. The message on the card is written in Welsh and reads:
‘In Treasured Memory of Evan Lewis and Rhystyd Davies, Both who did their part’
‘They shall not be forgotten’ The Family x
11 November 2018
One of our ‘Turin Men’, Gunner Alexander Sutherland Mackay had been a student at Brisbane Grammar School in Australia and on 11 November the school held a service of remembrance for all its former students who enlisted in the First World War. Alexander’s name is on the school roll of honour and several of his descendants were there to pay their respects and remember him, including Nicholas and Lincoln who will be following in his footsteps as students at the school.
10 November 2018
A short extract from Alexander Sutherland Mackay’s diary appeared in the Armistice supplement of ‘The Australian’, Australia’s national daily newspaper on 10 November 2018. His diary entry for 11 November 1918 read:
Just got official word that hostilities cease at 11am today. Here we are situated in a deserted village can’t even buy a bottle of soda water to celebrate the joyfulness. We are about 12 hours behind Aussie time so it would be about….
Gunner Alexander Sutherland Mackay died of Pneumonia in Turin on 18 December 1918.
9 November 2018
Our project was featured with a full page article today in ‘La Stampa’, one of Italy’s leading papers. Undoubtedly this will raise public awareness about the wider history of the First World War, especially as most of the soldiers buried in the cemeteries near Turin were not involved on the Italian Front.
8 November 2018
An article has appeared today in La Valsusa, a local Italian newspaper which has reported on the grave of John Carey Alexander Taylor which is in the cemetery in Oulx. Emma’s visit to the cemetery has aroused the interest of the Mayor of Oulx, Paolo De Marchis who is intrigued to know more about the soldier and the fact that this solitary CWGC grave is always decorated with flowers. The Mayor has offered to look through the local archives to see if there is any more information about how John met his death in 1918.
8 November 2018
We are delighted to have received an email from Mr Adam Jones, a Defence and Security Specialist at the British Consulate in Milan who says:
I was pleased to hear about the project you have been undertaking to research the campaigns ‘away from the western front’ and I am delighted to support the initiative by attending the ceremony in Turin on Sunday. I have shared the information about your project in collaboration with Emma and Andrea’s article with British Embassy colleagues and they were very supportive of the initiative.
I am pleased to report that the British Ambassador, Jill Morris, has written a letter to Emma expressing thanks for the project to research the lives of the soldiers buried in Turin.
7 November 2018
Today we received an update from Emma Pace, who said:
We have been working hard at school. After studying the historical and literary background to WW1 we are now focusing on the ceremony. To tell the truth I was worried that by now the students may have had enough of all the lessons but this morning they really surprised me when they chose by themselves the poems to read and they wrote their messages on the wooden crosses. I am sure they are looking forward to meeting the soldiers who have become sort of special friends to them.
6 November 2018
Emma will take two personal items to the Turin cemetery on November 11, from descendants of Evan Lewis and Alexander Mackay. On behalf of the Mackay family in Australia, Nick Jorss his Great Great Nephew has sent a photograph to be placed at Alexander’s headstone and Emma has made a card for Evan Lewis’ grave, using text supplied by his Great Nephew, Deryc Rees in Wales.
30 October 2018
At the beginning of November All Saints Day and All Souls Day are important dates on the calendar in Italy and are significant for honouring the dead, graves are visited and decorated in remembrance. Luna Nuova, a local newspaper in the Val di Susa, has published a full page article by Marco Giavelli on the stories of two men from our ‘Turin Men’ project, in particular that of William Howard Lewis, who is commemorated in Meana di Susa and John Carey Alexander Taylor, who is buried in Oulx cemetery. Emma hopes that maybe this publicity today may lead to local contacts as when visiting John’s grave some weeks ago Emma found that it had been tended and flowers laid there.
30 October 2018
A printed copy of the ‘Turin Men’, Remembrance Book was the centrepiece of the exhibition display at our National Conference today. One of the silhouettes that had been awarded to ‘Away from the Western Front’ from a charity called ‘There But Not There’, was placed on the chair at the display in honour of one of the men, who was representing all 18 of our Turin soldiers.
We were able to give a brief update about the ‘Turin Men’, project during the day, and many delegates were seen looking through the Remembrance Book. As a result of sharing this work at the conference, we have been asked to give a presentation at one of the branches of the Western Front Association in the West Midlands, where a few of the men had lived prior to the First World War.
15 October 2018
Today we have sent a batch of Royal British Legion poppies and remembrance crosses to Emma for her to use with her students on November 11, when they will visit the Turin cemeteries and pay their respects to those soldiers, who we have named the ‘Turin Men’.
8 October 2018
We are delighted to have been contacted by Andrea Parodi, a journalist for the Italian newspaper, La Stampa. Andrea has been interested in the story of the Turin hospital and wrote an article earlier this year. Andrea is interviewing us and the two descendants that we‘ve contacted and he will be writing up the story of the ‘Turin men’, and how they will be remembered in November by Emma Pace and her students.
6 October 2018
Emma Pace visited Susa Public Library with Marco Giavelli, who was one of her former students, is now a journalist and will be writing an article on the ‘Turin Men’. Marco had offered to help Emma search through local newspapers to see if they could find any information about the two soldiers who are buried in the Meana and Oulx cemeteries.
Unfortunately they didn’t have any luck, but as they were nearby they visited the Meana cemetery where Sapper William Howard Lewis is commemorated. Whilst there Emma had a chance meeting with the mayor of the village who confirmed that in the past many renovations had occurred in the cemetery and perhaps that is why William’s grave was lost. He is commemorated on a memorial in the cemetery, which is named a Kipling memorial. Emma said, I feel really sad for him. His story is a difficult one and the fact his grave was lost makes it even more sad.
29 September 2018
After considerable research we have now completed a ‘Book of Remembrance’ for the eighteen soldiers in the cemeteries in Turin, Meana di Susa and Oulx. Click on the book to go to the webpage, where you can download it as a PDF.
26 September 2018
We are delighted that Deryc Rees, descendant of Evan Lewis, one of the ‘Turin men’, has translated the beautiful poem written in his relative’s memory by T. H. Lewis. Click on the picture on the left for the Welsh version, and the one on the right for the English translation.
23 September 2018
We have had another report from Emma Pace, who has now visited all the cemeteries near Turin with CWGC burials. She wrote:
It was a sunny afternoon, so my husband and I decided to make a quick trip to the mountains, (about 60 km from where I live) to visit John Taylor’s grave in Oulx. I had never been there before although I had planned to go many times. Before getting there I wondered about this poor soldier, one of the youngest of our ‘Turin men’, all alone in this small village, probably buried in a neglected corner of the cemetery, but to my great surprise when I arrived there I found a nicely-tended grave, among all the others, adorned with a pot of geraniums and some small plastic flowers, though these were a bit faded.
I like to imagine that the inhabitants of this nice little village care about him and consider him as one of them. The sun is shining and John’s grave is getting all of it. It is a peaceful place, similar to many other CWGC cemeteries I have visited around Europe even if this is a communal one. I have the sensation that although alone and with no comrades around, John is happy there.
I am sure the people of the village would be happy to know more about John and his story. Then all of a sudden I remember a lot of English people come here every year to go skiing. I am sure that if they knew about John they would come and visit him. And this is where Lyn’ s work comes in!
I leave the cemetery saying goodbye to John, I’ll be back on November 11th and try to find some poppies to put on his grave.
Oulx is a beautiful place, as you can see from Emma’s photos:
20 September 2018
Another descendant of one of the Turin men has contacted us – this time from Wales. Deryc Rees is directly descended from Evan Lewis, who died of influenza in the Turin Hospital on 10 April 1919. Evan had served in the Pembroke Yeomanry and the Imperial Camel Corps in Egypt, North Africa and Palestine. We were able to share quite a lot of information with Deryc as a result of our research and he commented:
It’s very heart-warming to know that some of the stories of these men will be known and not forgotten.
19 September 2018
Our project in Turin has been attracting attention in Australia. We had been searching for descendants of the men buried in the Turin cemetery. One of these, Gunner Alexander Mackay, tragically died of influenza just a month after the end of the war, aged 34. Alex was an Australian and we found his great great nephew, Nick Jorss from Brisbane. We had already discovered quite a lot of information about Alex including diaries and letters as well as service records, but Nick was able to supply more detail, including the letter written to Alex’s mother by his friend and comrade Major S. E. Lewis. He was absolutely delighted that we were telling his great great uncle’s story, and very moved that some young Italians were planning to lay poppies at his grave on Remembrance Day.
How amazing that you have done all of this work! I’m stunned and so grateful! We would love to send something over for Remembrance Day. I was just thinking how sad it is I don’t think anyone has visited from the family and I’ve only just become aware of where Alex is. I drove past many of the Western Front battle fields in September on holidays with the family and we also went near Turin! If we had realised then of course we would have stopped in to see Alex’ grave. It would be really nice to have some beautiful young students visit his grave and place something from the family. What an amazing project. It brings tears to my eyes!
12 September 2018
The new school year has now started in Italy and Emma Pace has sent us the following notes:
I have just seen my students again for the first time after the summer holidays. I couldn’t wait to tell them about the project! Would they be interested in the idea?
I showed them some pictures, told them about the hospital and the cemetery in Turin and explained the role of the CWGC. They listened attentively. They are already studying the First World War with their history teacher and they also remember having seen some remembrance poppies when we went to Stratford upon Avon last year.
I explain to them that the world is preparing to commemorate the centenary of the end of the First World War on 11 November and we can do our small part, too. I suggested that we could go and visit the soldiers’ graves in Turin, adding that over the summer ‘Away from the Western Front’ has been doing a lot of research on their stories.
At the end of my introduction they all agreed with the idea of the project!
Great! We are ready to start!
11 September 2018
Following lots of correspondence over the summer, Emma Pace is keen to tell her students about the research into the British soldiers buried in Turin. Over the weekend she visited the cemetery and took photos of the gravestones. She sent us some notes:
‘Early in the morning, when the light was right, I went to the cemetery to take pictures of the individual graves. As you can see the plot is a bit neglected and there are weeds so I also did a bit of gardening before taking the pictures. I hadn’t been here for five years and it is still very moving, especially now that these soldiers are coming alive thanks to the research done by Lyn from ‘Away from the Western Front’. I am looking forward to seeing my students on Wednesday and talking to them about the project. It will be interesting to see how they will react.’