By I. Williams
Utilizing unique records, the Allied career of southern Italy, really Sicily and Naples, is illustrated through studying crime and unrest by way of Allied squaddies, deserters, rogue troops and Italian civilians from drunkenness, robbery, rape, and homicide to riots, demonstrations, black marketeering and prostitution.
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Extra resources for Allies and Italians under Occupation: Sicily and Southern Italy 1943–45
In the Italian statistics for Allied crime, 524 violent deaths are listed, categorized solely as homicide and with no apparent distinction made between murder and manslaughter. 37 A typical example of this was the stabbing of Ettore Barone in Palermo in October 1943. Taking an evening stroll with his fiancée and her sister, two soldiers came from behind, and one attacked the sister, attempting to rip off her dress. When Barone attempted to stop him, the other soldier stabbed him in the back. 39 Rape and attempted rape were other crimes of violence committed by soldiers although, as shown by the Italian statistics quoted later, with the exception of the French Moroccan troops it would appear that relatively few rapes and attempted rapes were reported.
8 There was a lot of drunkenness by men in the rear areas on leave, and those new to Italy who were unused to drinking wine. Commanding officers said that the ‘chief cause was the shortage of beer. ’9 Soldier Trouble 33 While the local water supply would not have been fit to drink without boiling, especially given the contamination from bomb-damaged sewers and water tanks, this explanation is perhaps a little naïve. Most of the troops had come from the equally hot climate of North Africa, and, while it might have been a valid explanation for the first few months when the troops were in the hot South, inebriation was a problem throughout the campaign, including through two winters that were among the longest and most severe ever experienced in Italy.
34 Yet another example of illegal enterprise was the US Private in the Quartermaster Company who was employed as ‘projectionist and generator man’ at a cinema set aside for use of US troops in Naples. The statement of Private Curry at his court martial gives an insight into what it was possible for soldiers to get away with when not on the front line. The actual charge was that ‘Private Harrison Curry Jr, 3281st Quartermaster Service Company, did […] during the period from about 23 November 1944 to about 11 December 1944, wrongfully use as houses of prostitution buildings requisitioned for the use of the United States Army’, to which Private Curry pleaded ‘Not Guilty’.