Searching for Jack: Can you solve mystery for Italian POW descendants?

PUBLISHED: 10:48 19 September 2018 | UPDATED: 11:38 19 September 2018

Prisoners of War at a Royston farm. Picture: Courtesy of Guiseppe Schipani

Prisoners of War at a Royston farm. Picture: Courtesy of Guiseppe Schipani

Archant

A mystery surrounding the son of an Italian man who was captured and sent to the Royston area during the Second World War is waiting to be solved.

Jack and his mum, who may have been called Paddy. Picture: Courtesy of Guiseppe SchipaniJack and his mum, who may have been called Paddy. Picture: Courtesy of Guiseppe Schipani

Anna Schipani’s family have been searching for more than 11 years for her half-brother Jack, who was the son of her brother Ildebrando Verrusio and a young English woman they think was called Paddy.

They now have the help of retired genealogist Pam Ince, who believes the answer could lie in Royston.

Ildebrando – who was born 1912 in Castelpoto, near Naples – and his brother Florinda worked on their father’s farm until war broke out in 1939. In 1941, the two brothers were captured by the British and were sent to Herts and Cambs as prisoners of war.

Both Ildebrando and Florinda were made to work on farms, described as being “around the Royston and Newmarket areas”.

Jack's mum, possibly called Paddy of the Paddy WAAF Medical Corps at Littleport Hospital. Picture: Courtesy of Guiseppe SchipaniJack's mum, possibly called Paddy of the Paddy WAAF Medical Corps at Littleport Hospital. Picture: Courtesy of Guiseppe Schipani

After 1943 when Italy surrendered, Ildebrando and his brother had much more freedom in Britain and were able to freely mix with locals – some Italians even took the bus into Cambridge.

It was at this time that Ildebrando suffered an eye injury and was taken to the RAF General Hospital at Littleport.

There it’s believed he met ‘Paddy’ and they had a son named Jack, born between 1943 and 1945 – maybe with his mother’s surname.

Ildebrando and Florinda were both repatriated back to Italy at the end of the war and he never saw his son again.

Ildebrando Verrusio. Picture: Courtesy of Guiseppe SchipaniIldebrando Verrusio. Picture: Courtesy of Guiseppe Schipani

His grandson Guiseppe said: “We only came to know about Jack 11 years ago and have been looking ever since.

“Being Italian, family always comes first and as my mum is not in good health it would mean so much to all of us to find Jack just to let him know that we been looking for a very long time to find him.”

Genealogist Pam said: “It is a long shot, but hopefully someone out there will recognise one of the pictures and get in touch. It may be someone who lived near a prison camp and remembers Ildebrando and his sweetheart, another POW who stayed in Britain or even a WAAF girl.

“All we need is one small clue and we can piece this puzzle together.”

Ildebrando Verrusio in later years. Picture: Courtesy of Guiseppe SchipaniIldebrando Verrusio in later years. Picture: Courtesy of Guiseppe Schipani

Go to www.facebook.com/searchingforjack for more information or email footprintstothepast@yahoo.co.uk to get in touch.

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