Look at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission records in Sangro River War Cemetery, Moro River, just over the border at Monte Cassino or at any of its graves across Italy and you can see the high number of Hindu, Sikh and Muslim Indian & Nepalese soldiers that signed up to be part of the Ally forces in dismantling Mussolini’s fascist regime and restore freedom within Italy.
Recorded Indian & Nepalese Graves in Abruzzo
- Sangro River Cremation Memorial – 517
- Sangro River War Cemetery -335
- Moro River Canadian War Cemetery – 4
The much acclaimed British ‘Golden Age’ illustrator Edward Ardizzone’s drawings of Ortona and Casalbordino shows the soldiers side-by-side during World War 2. Despite an enormous contribution to British military campaigns that spans 200 years, it was only Remembrance Sunday 2019 at the Cenotaph in London that the Nepalese Ambassador was invited to lay a wreath on behalf of the Gurkha Regiments for their support. Would things be different in the UK today if their contribution to the UK Army had been valued sooner and not left forgotten?
Last week I sat in Piazza Martiri della Libertà (Piazza of the Freedom Martyrs), in a small northern mountain village in Abruzzo enjoying an autumn sagra. Scratch below the surface of things you aren’t told about it, and you find out that in May 1944 this pretty small town’s village priest had been led away by Slovenian, anti-Mussolini partisan and shot for being a ‘fascist’. Mirko Jovanovic, was the executor, a self-proclaimed ‘ communist freedom fighter’whose beliefs led to the deaths of two local priests who today are regarded as innocent of any crimes beyond being ‘impartial’.
Two forgotten nations of people, two forgotten murders, it’s time to wake up and remember the human cost when extremes are dangerously peddled.
“Fascists aim to use the country’s assets to increase the country’s strength. This leads to a nationalisation of assets and in this, fascism resembles Marxism. Fascism is “a form of political practice that arouses popular enthusiasm by sophisticated propaganda techniques for an anti-liberal, anti-socialist, violently exclusionary, expansionist nationalist agenda. They excel at propaganda and make use of grand gestures, such as parades and leaders’ dramatic entrances. Fascists scapegoat and demonise other groups, though those groups differ by country and time.” Robert Paxton, Professor Social Science, Columbia University.