75,000+ of those held by fascist Italy were recorded by the ‘Casualty (PW) Branch of the Directorate of Prisoners of War’ in London during the war. The Italian prisoner of war camps nominal rolls are sourced directly from the national archives under reference WO392/21 and entitled ‘Imperial Prisoner of War in Italy’.
The main camps were all designated ‘PG’ prigionieri di Guerra, although they were also abbreviated 'CC' meaning Campo di concentramento.
All were prefixed and numbered with the exception of the 2 Dulags and 1 Stalag within Italy which were German controlled transit centres for POWs being transferred to Germany.
When the Italian armistice was announced on 8th September 1943 there were an estimated 80,000 Allied POWs in Italy. At this point all Senior British Officers (SBOs) informed their men of Field Marshal Montgomery’s so-called 'standfast' order. This instructed them to remain in camp and await imminent liberation by the advancing Allied forces.
In reality, overall victory in Italy took far longer than anticipated. Reaction to the armistice varied from camp to camp. In some, the Italian Commandant refused to hand over control to the SBO or his equivalent; others opened the gates and disappeared along with the guards. In the latter circumstances, the more perceptive SBOs, realising the Germans would quickly take control, encouraged individual escapes; while some of the more enterprising prisoners escaped without official sanction. Some escapees fled northwards towards Switzerland or southwards towards allied lines. Others hid near their camp to await developments or took the opportunity to explore the vicinity before voluntarily returning to their camp. Ultimately, the confused situation meant that by the end of 1943 some 50,000 POWs had been rounded-up and transported to camps in Germany.
Italian camp rosters up to 1943 are very scarce and difficult to source, if the person you are searching for remained a Prisoner after 1943 it may well be useful to search the German camp records as they have a definite possibility of being recorded there. The source roster for Italian camps has however been located and have been completely transcribed on this site -these come directly from the National Archives reference WO392/21.
It should be noted that this source is not an absolute complete roll of everyone who was in the Italian POW system for various reasons, although it's the only single source that has the majority.
A very detailed research guide can be found here, which includes both German and Italian POW camps:
Further research guides here:
and many original publications here:
Note: Images used are an example only, collections content will vary from the example used.
Please be aware that due to the way we collate, and cross reference our databases, some records will contain more information than that listed above.
Original Source: National Archives reference WO392/21
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