In early June 1940, immediately Italy entered the Second World War, all Italian male civilians between the ages of 18 and 70 years living in the UK were arrested by the police and military to be interned under instructions of the War Cabinet. Following a decision to transport a number of internees to Canada and Australia the liner “Arandora Star” left Liverpool for Canada carrying some 1,570 Italian, German and Jewish internees.
On the morning of 2nd July 1940, off the coast of Ireland, the Arandora Star was torpedoed and sank with the loss of nearly 700 lives – which included 446 Italian Nationals who had made their permanent home in the United Kingdom.
Among those lost on the Arandora Star were the following Barghigiani:
Agostini, Oliviero 29.04.1904
Bertolini, Vincenzo Silvio 14.06.1876
Biagioni, Ferdinando 06.07.1895
Da Prato, Silvio 27.02.1878
Poli, Amedeo 10.03.1896
Rocchiccioli, Caesar 06.12.1909
Togneri, Giuseppe 19.03.1889
A series of ceremonies in Barga today to mark the tragedy of the Arandora Star started with a mass at San Rocco for the victims and continued on afterwards at the Scottish Museum in Barga Vecchia for the opening of an exhibition called ” Arandora Star – the forgotten tragedy” – organised and curated by the Paolo Cresci Foundation (site here)
Shortly afterwards a plaque outside the Scottish Museum commemorating the events of 68 years ago was unveiled.
In the evening a concert of traditional music was held in the Duomo by the Scottish group ” The Haven Fiddlers” Click on the piper image to see more images of this concert
The most significant monument to the Italian community ever to be considered in Scotland is now imminent. The idea is to build an Italian Cloister Garden next to St Andrewâ€™s Cathedral in Clyde Street, Glasgow. – People who suffered the loss of husbands, or fathers, or sons have always carried a sadness over the Arandora Star, but it is not just one of loss, it is also over their rejection from the Scottish community, The memorial garden will recall events and heal memories by acknowledging that it is alright to remember the past and, as in life in general, rise above it.
But I would like to think that this is more than one reference to a tragedy. I want it to celebrate the links between Italy and Scotland as the Italian community have made a great contribution to the country – Mario Conti – Archbishop of Glasgow
The garden was an opportunity to forgive, but not to forget. These things happen in war. It is a question of having a constructive approach in remembering the tragedy, as it is important to stay in touch with the past.- Gabriele Papadia de Bottini, the Consul General for Italy in Scotland