Liberated in 1944, the southern Italian town of San Severo played an important role in support of the Fifteenth Air Force servicemen who were stationed at nearby airfields. The fact that they could walk to town (or pile into a Jeep), wander around on market day, buy ice cream, and meet locals, was, I’m sure, a comfort to my father and his fellow soldiers. To the people of San Severo, thank you.
Saverio d’Incalci, of San Severo, saw some of my father’s photos that I had posted online. He messaged me and asked where specific photos were taken, peoples’ names, events depicted…but I had few answers. I’m so thankful he is a man of action. He immediately wrote back, “I will help you.“ Eight years ago, we began to collaborate. I sent copies of photos to Saverio and he surprised me time after time by replying with exact locations, names, and events…in photos over 70 years old. Once we got going on the project, he began to create composite “now and then” images that were both beautiful and incredibly helpful. His composites appear throughout the website.
(l) Piazzetta Coperta di Piazza Nicola Tondi, San Severo, as it looked in 2016.
(r) My father’s photo of the same place in 1944. Composite by Saverio d’Incalci
Thank you, Saverio, for your knowledge, kindness, good humor, and for nudging me continually to keep moving forward to complete this project.
Saverio introduced me to San Severo’s attivisti leaders who not only advocate on behalf of current issues in San Severo, but also work diligently to keep the events of World War II alive in the minds of the town’s residents. The attivisti group supports “Never Again” through activities such as commemorative events, photo exhibitions, lectures, and social media. To Ivon d’Incalci; Professor Michele Monaco, town historian; and Professor Aldo Sabatino, thank you. Your enthusiasm and interest in the project inspired me, and I felt more confident knowing you were all keeping an eye on my work to be sure I stayed on track.
Early on, I asked Saverio, “What is your interest in this?” He replied by sending a press photo:
Mio padre, d’Incalci Leonardo [center] con il Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, Gen. MacArthur—ad Aviano
Saverio’s father, Leonardo d’Incalci, was a tank commander in the Italian army in World War II, stationed at Sterparone Airfield. In 1950, Generals Eisenhower and MacArthur came to Aviano Air Base (where the Italian and American governments had a joint use agreement) to review the troops. Leonardo d’Incalci was General Eisenhower’s honor guard. Saverio said it best when he wrote to me, “Our fathers were good men.”
To Peter L. Zanella of Venice, Italy, thank you for identifying the “Project Extraversion” Lockheed YP-80A jet fighter. That was so cool. I never would have noticed the aircraft had no wings.
To Meryl Ann Butler whose father Sergeant Ralph H. Butler Jr. also “missed the boat” and served in the 4th Photo Tech squadron—thank you for sharing your father’s memoir and rare documents.
To Raffaele Giannone of Barletta, Italy, thank you for identifying the Castle of Barletta.
To Valentino Rossetti of Brescia, Italy, thank you for identifying the Abbey of Montecassino.
To Daniel Studener of Landshut, Germany, thank you for identifying the B-24 #42-50417 Yellow ‘K’ of the 343rd Squadron.