Prisoner of War Camp 59 at Servigliano, Le Marche
The prison camp at Servigliano(about 30 mins from Amandola towards the coast) was originally built in 1914 on 30,000sq m of land on the outskirts of the village and adjacent to the railway line. It consisted of about 40 wood and brick huts inside the walls to house the Austro-Hungarian and Turkish prisoners with several brick cottages on the outside for the guards. At the end of the war, the prisoners were sent home and the place closed up.
In 1935 the Fascist State put the complex up for sale but it didn't reach it's target price so half of the compound was sold to the Servigliano Town Council for a token sum. It was turned into a sports field and is still in use today (Rob & I watched a good football match there in late February).
The remaining half of the complex was used to hold armaments. In 1938 weapons were sent from there to Spain to the 80,000 Italian soldiers who were fighting alongside General Franco. Then, as war in Europe became a certainty, the complex was reactivated as a prison camp with the first prisoners arriving in January, 1941, not long after Italy entered WWII.
Shortly after the armistice on 8 September, 1943, after some lengthy convincing by a Dr Millar, one of the prisoners, the camp commandant agreed to allow the then 3,000 prisoners (mostly English with some Americans) to "escape" into the countryside. Of course, the area was still under the control of the Germans and it was only through the care and selflessness of the local farmers that many of these prisoners survived the war. They were hidden, fed and clothed by these farmers often at the risk of their own lives and that of their families.
To read what happened to the camp after 1943 see www.casadellamemoria.org/historycamp.htm