1942 South Africans Italy LUCCA POW CAMP 60 Leon Falkson, Fitz Perlestein and Roy Pienaar i

Living History

My late father-in-law – Garnet Pendray Richards – Lance Bombadier – 3rd Field Regiment South African Army.

He was in action in the western desert during World War 2. Unfortunately captured at the Battle of Tubruk on 21st June 1942 – when German and Italian forces besieged the Allied troops and about 40,000 soldiers were taken prisons of war. He was one of the approximately 10,000 South Africans captured. The prisoners were marched through the desert to Tobruk Harbour to await ships that would transport them to Italian Prisoners of War Camps.

The following was written in his bible and I thought the families of his fellow POWs’ might be interested in how their ancestors spent 9 August 1942. As usual most POWs spent many hours thinking about food and planning meals! PS – only South Africans will understand the word ‘chaff’!


9th August 1942

Spent my 29th Birthday at Lucca camp surrounded by the hills and mountains of Pisa, Italy.

A beautiful autumn day. Food has been the thoughts and discussions of everybody. Celebrated this anniversary of mine with Leon Falkson, Fitz Perlestein and Roy Pienaar indulging in the extravagance of the contents of Red Cross parcels.

7am. Drank our coffee (terrible stuff)

10am Breakfasted in style making fish cakes from 2 tins of salmon and 1 loaf of bread and a little toast rounded off with a cigarette end.

12:30pm the usual ration of a quarter of a Dixie of soup. Being meat day today, the soup was a little bit more savoury but marked by the absence of any signs of meat.

We lashed out and divided a tin of beef from our Red Cross Parcel.

4pm Leon makes a brew of tea while Roy makes 10 vet cookies out of Yorkshire pudding powder. A delicious afternoon cup of tea.

5pm Prepared meal of the day which had been planned and discussed for days previous. I make 2.5 dixies of rice. Leon prepares a tine of corned mutton plus 1 tin of steak and veg making a thick gravy with a little curry left over from a parcel.

6pm We dine in style. Ration soup and toast. Large helping pot pourie (sic). Toast Margarine and syrup. Delicious coffee 1- 1 cup) made from tin received from a parcel.

8pm We stroll up and down the camp while the sun sets behind the mountains and the local population gaze at us from the other side of the wire. They are friendly and the boys chaff the Italian girls. So ends the most unusual birthday I have ever spent. We all agree that it has been a great success.

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