Killed in action. The soldier Ricardo del Lama in memory of his daughter Gloria

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text and testimonies collected by Andrea Gatti

Pvt. Ricardo de Lama y Martin

Company G – 133rd Infantry Regiment – ​​34th Infantry Division “The Red Bulls”

Fallen in action – Livergnano (Bologna)

34th crest_133 CombatInfantry Rome_arno_streamer North_Apennines_streamer

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In his memory, his daughter, Gloria de Lama Sciole

“I will bear witness to the love of a father no longer in my life by doing what is best for me, by doing what is right.” My name is Gloria de Lama Sciole, and I am the only daughter of Ricardo de Lama, who fell near Livergnano, in the province of Bologna, on 23 November 1944, just three days after my second birthday. My father served in the 34th division of the US Army, known as the "Red Bulls", and was in company G of the 133rd Infantry Regiment.

Recently, I visited Italy for the third time in eleven years. This visit, in November 2006, coincided with the anniversary of my father's death in the La Guarda area, near Livergnano. Before leaving the United States, I asked some war veterans to put me in touch with someone in Italy who could allow me to visit the Livergnano area. To my complete surprise and gratitude, I was lucky enough to correspond with Filippo Spadi, a young enthusiast of the Second World War, who in turn put me in contact with Corso Paolo Boccia., already a historian and also interested in those events . This was the third visit I had made to the Livergnano area, but it was the first to prove so personal and in-depth that it made me fully aware of the events of the 1944 Apennine winter campaign south of Bologna.

Ricardo Da Lama, Gloria e Mary - Agosto 1943

Ricardo Da Lama, Gloria and Mary – August 1943

At the end of my time in Italy, Corso asked me to tell my story of growing up without a father, and to share what I knew about his military career. Although I will try to do both, I find it very difficult to write about my experience, as it seems small compared to what Europe suffered during wartime. I'm just one of many who grew up without being able to hug a father or hear his voice. Others, who like me lost a parent in the war, know that our generation, which grew up in the 1940s, was called “the silent generation.” The men who were lucky enough to return home from the war didn't like to talk about it, the widows cried in silence, and we children grew up keeping the pain of our loss essentially to ourselves, so as not to add further suffering to that which our mothers already endured. I was lucky enough to cherish the memory of my mother talking raptly about her three-year marriage to my father and their love of dancing. As for war stories, I only knew that before he died my father had already been wounded twice more, first in June 1944 and then again in September. I grew up always feeling different from other children who had an entire family, with a mother and father. My mother was never really interested in finding someone to take my father's place and almost immediately we went to live with my grandparents, who were really capable of giving me stability. Like all single-parent children, I was afraid that my mother would leave me too. After being diagnosed with a terminal illness when I was still a teenager, my mother finally died when I was twenty-two. Here are some photos of my mother and father and the last photo of me with my father, when he was about to leave for the war.

Ricardo Da Lama

December 1943 – Our last photo together

Maey e Ricardo Da Lama - 1941

Mary and Ricardo 1941

As a young wife and mother, I wrote to the U.S. Department of Defense in 1971 asking to know the location of my father's death. It was then that I learned about Livergnano for the first time.

KIA_RdLInformation_Letter_from_the_US_Army

However, the years passed as I raised three children, until in the mid-1980s one of my cousins ​​married a World War II history buff. His interest brought to light new details about my father, including his infantry company, and he gave me a book where I can follow my father's path during the war. However, it was not until 1995, when my daughter was studying in Florence for a semester at university, that I had the opportunity to visit Italy. I remember how we took the train to Pianoro to go to

KIA_RdL1995seconda

The miracle man

Livergnano. Our hopes soon turned to despair when we found ourselves at the station without even a taxi available. I told my daughter that it would be better to return to Florence, because even if we found a taxi driver, he certainly wouldn't be able to tell us the war stories we wanted to know so much. My daughter, ever the optimist, insisted that we had come too far to return to Florence so soon. I told her it would take a miracle to find someone who knew everything about the war. Well, the miracle happened! An elderly and distinguished gentleman accompanied us as we drove along the streets and although his car did not have "Taxi" written on it, he told us that he was also a half-service taxi driver. Having heard our situation, he was kind enough to spend two hours with us telling my daughter, who spoke the language, everything about the war in Italian.

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The Pianoro station

I then saw Livergnano for the first time, with its wonderful green mountains. I was so overwhelmed by emotion that despite the horror of the war I found that area of ​​Italy beautiful. Upon returning to the Pianoro train station, we took many photographs. When I asked the gentleman his age, he replied that he was born in 1913. I will always remember that day as a "miracle", because my father was also born in 1913. I add these wonderful photos so that you too can see them. Although I asked for his name, not having written it down so I could formally thank him for everything he had done for us that day remains one of my greatest regrets.

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At the Livergnano Museum with the veterans of the 34th Division

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Deborah and our “taxi driver”

Upon returning to the United States, I decided to become a member of the Veterans Association of the 34th Division, my father's. The veterans planned a visit to Italy to visit all their war zones, and although no one remembered my father, they welcomed me as one of their own. My son organized the trip to Italy for both of us, to visit all the war sites, and the trip took place in May and June 2000. Since my father had been killed in Livergnano, the veterans arranged for our bus there would stop, for my benefit. It was then that I met the curator of the Livergnano Museum, which has a collection of war artefacts. The museum was unknown to me, and I had the honor of meeting Umberto Magnani and his daughter, Patrizia, who gave me a certificate relating to the war in Livergnano. Once again, I was humbled by the locals' hospitality towards the veterans. Here are some photos of the occasion.

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Glory with the veterans of the 34th Division – May 2000

During the trip to Italy in 2000, I had the opportunity to sign the guest book at the American cemetery in Nettuno, on the occasion of "Memorial Day", the day of remembrance of the fallen which in the United States is celebrated on the last Monday of May of each year. Upon returning to the United States, a lady contacted me saying that she had seen my name and address in the cemetery guest book, and she informed me of an organization for war orphans. Thus it was that I was finally able to meet many other war orphans for the first time, also people who had lost their fathers during the Second World War. The organization is known as AWON, or the network of American war orphans. Surprisingly, we all grew up in silence, without knowing much about the war stories of our fathers, and it was only in the 1990s that many of us, after starting families, began to look for answers to the many questions about the last days of our fathers, ultimately finding others like us, who understood our loss. As a group, we learned how to retrieve additional facts from government agencies about our fathers' final days of war, and other information we had long aspired to.

At the end of my time in Italy, Corso asked me to tell my story of growing up without a father, and to share what I knew about his military career. Although I will try to do both, I find it very difficult to write about my experience, as it seems small compared to what Europe suffered during wartime. I'm just one of many who grew up without being able to hug a father or hear his voice. Others, who like me lost a parent in the war, know that our generation, which grew up in the 1940s, was called “the silent generation.” The men who were lucky enough to return home from the war didn't like to talk about it, the widows cried in silence, and we children grew up keeping the pain of our loss essentially to ourselves, so as not to add further suffering to that which our mothers already endured. I was lucky enough to cherish the memory of my mother talking raptly about her three-year marriage to my father and their love of dancing. As for war stories, I only knew that before he died my father had already been wounded twice more, first in June 1944 and then again in September. I grew up always feeling different from other children who had an entire family, with a mother and father. My mother was never really interested in finding someone to take my father's place and almost immediately we went to live with my grandparents, who were really capable of giving me stability. Like all single-parent children, I was afraid that my mother would leave me too. After being diagnosed with a terminal illness when I was still a teenager, my mother finally died when I was twenty-two. Here are some photos of my mother and father and the last photo of me with my father, when he was about to leave for the war.

KIA_RdaLama_1935NYCs

Ricardo in 1935

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Glory to the Guarduzza of Livergnano – 2006

KIA_RdaLama_1941NYs

Ricardo in 1941

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