The Unknown Soldier Alpine Rocco Botta

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What I tell you a story if we want a happy ending; definitely a abella history. Who it was born in the days when it reopened and that the outcome was unexpected as positive for all those who have lived it.
Us by mail in June we receive a request for a lawyer, Sebastiano Di Filippo, who asks us for help to find the remains of a relative, a downhill Sommocolonia died in October 1944, but for which you ignore the burial site .
Get used to hearing about Sommocolonia and the facts of the war on Dec. 26, 1944, intrigues us the month quoted by the relative of this mountain and so inform you of what Victor Lino Biondi, whose historical work of reconstruction of the facts of the war was in these Sommocolonia years each time more and more complete and valuable.
Biondi did not need to be told twice and in the end it comes out of a story, a story really interesting; a new and unexpected story, which is the same Biondi telling below.
Sometimes life is strange. What would you think lost forever to oblivion the passing of years back; even after so many years. This is what happened in the history of the Alpine Rocco Botta. A cross with no name, a deceased crying without the comfort of a tomb from his family for more than fifty years now he has found his identity and his loved ones.

Sommocolonia October 31, 1944;
Allies Brasiliera Expeditionera Force (the BEF), entered in Barga on 11 October together with the Patriots XI Zone Pippo (actually the latter, under the command of Deputy Commander of the XI, Titian, arrived on October 9 2 days before …).
On 30 October, the Allies have planned a major military operation. The troops of the BEF with the Patriots XI Zone must break through the lines, attacking the Axis positions on the ridge from Monte Ceneri / Albian takes to Monte Romecchio. This operation was planned exactly the day when the Germans surrender control of their stations to the Italian Alpine IV Alpine Division “Monterosa”, just arrived in Garfagnana; Therefore, there is an understandable moment of hysteresis due to the change of positions.
This advantage attackers temporarily unable to penetrate inside the defensive and getting to see even Castelnuovo Garfagnana; if the maneuver was successful in its entirety it would have definitely changed subsequent events …
Sommocolonia is one of the bases for the operation. October 31, from St. Rocco in the early morning, depart two columns of Brazilian soldiers, accompanied by Italian soldiers with mules (baggage) of the reconstituted Italian Army (called “Badoglian”), pointing Lama di Sotto and Blade Above; They are accompanying by two local residents as guides: Vittorio Biondi and his son Paolo Biondi. Another, Bertino Biondi, patriot of the XI Zone, accompanied with other patriots, an observation unit of fire consists of a lieutenant and a sergeant in the British always Lama, but following another road higher up.
This small unit will be made to sign fire in the late morning and two patriots, including the Biondi, will be seriously injured.
The column led by fifteen Paolo Biondi, however, comes in “La Palmiretta” close to Lama di Sotto, and Alpine (salmiere) Rocco Botta let supplies in house manned by Brazilians, which in the meantime, have captured Marshal Zamolo of “Monterosa” which riottosamente tries to escape; in the excitement of a Brazilian soldier it hits him on the head with the butt of a Garand and wounds him in a serious way. He will be admitted, as a prisoner of war, American Military Hospital of Coltan, where he found the Paolo Biondi, which in turn there will also meet his brother Bertino, who was also injured in the morning of 31 at a coal town in Sassalta before Lama.
So the Paolo Biondi and the Alpine Rocco Botta, with the mule now discharge, fall afternoon in Sommocolonia, where he arrived in Piazza San Rocco around 16.30, greet each other and divide.
They do, however, a few steps and get run over by a grenade explosion of artillery or a mortar projectile, which exploded in front of the shop, investing mortally with splinters the Alpine and his mule, and seriously injuring the Biondi, who will lose the sight in one eye; Paul rolls out from the square in slipping below Bulitoia Road, where it will be picked up later by villagers who hear the cries of pain.
For the Alpine Rocco Botta there’s nothing to do. It will later be buried in the local little cemetery, the grave before coming right along the wall, where it has been for over 50 years until his stumulazione and the subsequent transfer of the poor remains at the city cemetery of Barga.
On the small wooden cross, covered with a protective sheet, an inscription: “Unknown Soldier” hastily attributed the lost memory of the people, thanks to the devastating fury of war which resulted in the destruction of the “Register of Deaths” in the rectory of the local Sought San Frediano.
For years the small cross, with the inscription now faded by time, intrigued the attention of the writer; always the same answer: “it was a mountain … was struck by a piece of shrapnel on October 31 along with your Uncle Paul, who lost an eye … brought supplies with mule in Lama”.
The fact was described accurately, but the name had been lost. Sometimes even confused with other alpine the opposing side, the “Monterosa”, but fell two months later. Understandable confusion, accelerated by the passage of time.
For all it remained so to this day, the Alpine Unknown Soldier. To this day precisely because one morning, suddenly and unexpectedly, the story took a different turn. And that name remained hidden for fifty years has finally come out.
One morning this summer, the newspaper of Barga receives an email request for information Att. Sebastiano Di Filippo, a relative of Botta describing the death of Rocco, which occurred in Sommocolonia, and asks if you have news of the mortal remains and where they are buried.
The lawyer Filippo provides general information and circumstances regarding the death, taken from precise military source. He explained that the mountain was awarded the War Cross for Military Valor “memory”. “Alpine salmerista – reads the motivation -, offertosi voluntarily to supply a department Allied engaged in harsh mountainous area heavily beaten by the Germans, fell mortally wounded in the performance of its mission. Example of calm courage and high sense of duty.” Barga, Garfagnana, 8 October 1944 “.
The witty and smart director, Luca Galeotti, hijacks the request immediately to this writer. I make two and two, despite two errors in the same sentence of the text provided by the Ministry; location: Barga is Media Valle and Garfagnana, and the date of death, right, is October 31, 1944, and October 8, 1944. Considering that the Brazilians enter the BEF in Barga on 11 October, it was impossible that 8 died Botta intent on bringing supplies. … It happens.
But in the end it turns out that the Alpine Rocco Botta, is THAT ‘ALPINE! The Unknown Soldier, no longer unknown! So were his own the remains left without a name for so many decades: Rocco Botta, born on 14.11.1923 in Siano (Salerno), died on 31.10.1944 in Sommocolonia (Lucca), Alpine 10th Ward baggage, baggage XX Grouping. Hit together with Paolo Biondi, who, living in precise application and in exactly the date, time and circumstances.
The loop was to find the actual place of rest of Botta, to allow family members to lay a flower and say a prayer. Legitimate desire, dutiful search for a lover of Military History, though not easy, as many years.
A couple of phone calls in Barga, and the morning of 14 August a good municipal worker, Mr. Mariani, instantly shows me a box of zinc on a yellow sheet of paper: the Unknown Soldier, Rocco Botta … Emotion, astonishment.
“Why – I ask the worker – you’ve held the remains without putting them in the ossuary common?
“When it comes to soldiers – she says -, since relatives often for news, I put them in a bag and catalog them. To find them if required. ”
Well done our Mariani! A gesture of great sensitivity and attention her, that allows us today, 70 years later to return the remains to the family.
It would be great to organize an event in memory of this mountain on 31 October to mark the anniversary of the death note and return the remains (and the cross that for many years remained in Sommocolonia and which still exists) to the family members. The remaining inhabitants of Sommocolonia and Municipal Authorities, will definitely be pleased to know the relatives of Botta, and accompany them to visit the places that were the last.
It certainly will. The mayor of Barga, Marco Bonini, informed of the discovery and the news, has already confirmed the intention of the City to arrange for the ceremony on October 31.

Lino Vittorio Biondi

The battle of October 31
The battle, for completeness, then had … a very disappointing outcome for the Allies.
Things do not always go as you plan for war. An approximation by the attackers, scarce technical difficulties related to the materials used (the Brazilians use the Metric System, but the weapons sights of weapons and targeting systems were expressed in English units (yards, inches, feet, inc … ) they determined thus slowing the advance, and the subsequent maneuver of retreat. The front will remain in the same positions for another six months.

Antonio and Leo Lucia

War Cross Military Valor “memory”

Alpine – 10th Ward baggage “Valdieri” XX Grouping baggage. Born November 14, 1923 in Siano and resident – Bachelor. He died Oct. 31, 1944, in Sommocolonia Barga (LU), for injuries sustained in combat. Buried in the Municipal Cemetery of Barga (LU). Subsequently the Mortal Remains were transferred, Ossuary City Cemetery Barga (LU).

Called up for mobilization, January 13, 1943, is assigned to the 78th Infantry Regiment, based in Bergamo. Admitted to the Military Hospital of Bergamo, 4 April 1943, it was discharged on May 1 and sent on sick leave for 20 days. He returned to the department on May 24, was transferred on 30, the 112th Infantry Regiment, located in Savona and used in the defense of the cover band coastal Liguria. In July, following its department in New York, south of Rome, in the Alban Hills, carrying out duties of coastal defense, from the mouth of the River Garigliano in Ardea. Upon hearing the news of the Armistice, September 8, 1943, he manages to evade capture of the Germans, returning to Siano. Granted him a special leave, on Jan. 20, 1944, it is presented at the Military District of Salerno, 15 April. Transferred on May 11, at the Sorting Centre of 210ª Division Auxiliary Italian, framed in the US Fifth Army, he was sent near the Garigliano, with departments used in the beachhead of Anzio. May 17, participates in fierce combat in the north of Cassino and 5 June at the Battle of Anzio. Liberated Rome, dates from the Peninsula alongside military units Allies, who must stop their advance, the Tosco – Emiliano, because of the strong defensive line, organized by the Germans, called “Gothic Line”. Transferred to the 10th Ward baggage “Valdieri” twentieth Grouping baggage, it is used in various logistic services in support of the Allied troops. October 31, 1944, volunteers to replenish food and ammunition, a group of soldiers Brazilians of BEF (Brasiliera Expeditionera Force), holed up in a farmhouse situated in “La Palmiretta” (to 1 Km north of Sommocolonia). Accompanied by a local guide, the thirteen Paolo Biondi, the Alpine salmerista Botta Rocco carries out the mission entrusted to him, returning in the afternoon to Sommocolonia Barga (LU). Once in the local Piazza San Rocco, they are both affected by an enemy grenade whose shrapnel invest mortally Botta and his mule, wounded while in a serious way the young guide, who later irretrievably lose sight of the right eye. He died Oct. 31, 1944, in the locality of Sommocolonia Barga (LU), following the severe injuries to his head. By virtue of the courage shown on the battlefield, he was awarded the War Cross for Military Valor, “memory”.

Grounds decoration

“Alpine salmerista offertosi voluntarily to supply a department Allied engaged in harsh mountainous area, heavily beaten by the Germans, fell mortally wounded in the performance of its mission. Clear example of courage and high sense of duty “. Sommocolonia diBarga (Lucca), 31 October 1944 (BU 21, 1945).

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