My grandfather was born in a small mountain village in Sicily, under the
shadow of Norman Ruins, where he finished school early and
worked as a plasterer and farmer. He was conscripted at
age 17 and fought in the 4th regiment of the Piemonte
Brigade in "Alto Adige" [Trentino]. He survived the influenza
epidemic, the post war financial collapse and famine
and emigrated in 1922 becoming an American citizen.
He probably had postencephalitic Parkinson's Diease
(Von Economo's Syndrome) from the 1918 influenza
epidemic, but managed to do well with it until his
My friend Leo Benedetti has helped research the war record of the Piedmonte Brigade.
- February- Isonzo front (Ravnilaz)
under the 24th
- May-moved to Trentino Campaign in the Valley of the
transfered to M. Ortigara
- 11th Battle of the Isonzo (one of the more sucessfull
for Italy). On August 28th alone the 3rd Regiment lost
17officers, 680 soldiers
- In the time of Caporetto " the Piemonte brigade withdrew in perfect order... and counter-attacked the advancing enemy's flank in their advance from Udine-Codroipo"
Transferred to the Piave; later involved in the
final crossing in the area of Nervesa with the 57th divison leading up to Vittorio
Venetto and the end of the war on that front.
The entire Brigade was awarded the Medaglia Di Bronzo "for bloody,obstinate attacks with consequent important results notwithstanding the difficulties if
the terrain and the artful and tenacious resistance of
the enemy in the batttle of S.Marco (August 1917).
Equally for the alacritous demonstration in the battle
for the conquest of Nervese (19-23 June 1918) and at
Vittorio Veneto (Oct 27-Nov 1, 1918)"
Rarely would he speak of the war. He would shake his
head and talk of the "great destruction". When he was in
the mood he would talk of the cold and snow. Once he
went over the top and ran up against an Austrian lying
prone with his gun pointed at his chest. Grandad's
cartidge did not go off ( not an unusual occurence)and
he thought he was dead. Actually the Austrian was dead
and frozen solid still in the firing position.
He would jokingly gripe about the food. Mostly they fed
him rice for two years. I never saw him eat it in the
thirty years I knew him. He was a bit more bitter about
the terrible quality and scarcity of ammunition. He was
asked to go over the top once with only three cartridges.
About the bombardments he would not speak.