The Road to Civitella 1944

The Captain, the Chaplain and the Massacre

Dee La Vardera

How a friendship forged in war between a Welsh captain and an Irish chaplain with the Eighth Army in Italy led to their adoption of a hilltop village destroyed during a massacre by a German army in retreat
Date Published :
November 2016
Publisher :
Fonthill Media
Illustration :
67 black and white photographs
No associated books available.


The massacre and destruction of Civitella on 29 June, 1944 by the 1st Fallschirm Panzer Division ‘Herman Göring’ as reprisal for the shooting of three German soldiers in the village Dopolavoro—after work social club, left women widows and children fatherless. The book describes the journey of Captain John Percival Morgan and Father Clement O’Shea with the Eighth Army in Italy, to that hilltop village in Tuscany. Even though they had seen much death and destruction during their service in North Africa and Italy, they were moved by the plight of this small community. The two British officers adopted the village, and over a five-month period, regularly brought life-saving supplies and comfort to the women and children. The village organised a farewell Christmas party that survivors still remember today, treasuring gifts they received from their ‘Santa in a truck’. Thanks to Keith Morgan, Captain Morgan’s son, discovering Civitella in 1997, while retracing his father’s wartime journey, this part of Civitella’s history would have gone unrecorded and forgotten. In 2001, the village commemorated the work of this father and friends in the naming of a street Costa Capitano John Percival Morgan. A son found his father; a town its hero.

About The Author

Dee La Vardera is a freelance writer living in Wiltshire with an interest in social and military history and a love of Italy. A member of the Society of Authors and the Society of Women Writers and Journalists (SWWJ), she has written features for national and regional magazines and newspapers, as well as writing a series of local history books. She co-wrote ‘Survivor of the Long March, Five Years as a POW, 1940-1945’ with Charles Waite, who died aged 92 in 2012, shortly after its publication.

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