PG 98 - San Giuseppe Jato

Sheet by: Costantino Di Sante

Part of the concentration camp No. 98 in San Giuseppe Jato (PA) destroyed by a storm - AUSSME Archive, Fototeca 2 Guerra Mondiale Italia 507/646

General data

Town: San Giuseppe Jato

Province: Palermo

Region: Sicilia

Location/Address: Traversa - San Giuseppe Jato

Type of camp: Transit camp; quarantine camp

Number: 98

Italian military mail service number: 3550

Intended to: NCOs – Troops

Local jurisdiction: Difesa Territoriale di Palermo/Forze Aeree della Sicilia

Railroad station: Palermo

Accommodation: tents

Capacity: 1000

Operating: from 09/1942 to 06/1943

Commanding Officer: Major. Giulio Oldani

Brief chronology:
June – September 1942: the camp was opened and the command and PoWs were transferred from Castelvetrano.
December 1942: arrival of many American PoWs.
19 April 1943: two prisoners escaped.
July 1943: the camp was closed after the Allied landings in Sicily.

Allied prisoners in the San Giuseppe Jato camp

Date Generals Officers NCOs Troops TOT
31.10.1942 28 240 277
30.11.1942 87 444 531
31.12.1942 6[1] 82[2] 763[3] 851
31.1.1943 4 43[4] 269 316
28.2.1943 12[5] 114[6] 126
31.3.1943 7[7] 35[8] 42
31.4.1943 1 22 76[9] 99
31.5.1943 1[10] 18[11] 311[12] 330
30.6.1943 1[13] 9[14] 46[15] 56
[1] Including 2 Americans. [2] Including 25 Americans. [3] Including 191 Americans. [4] Including 3 Americans. [5] Including 7 Americans. [6] Including 35 Americans. [7] Including 4 Americans. [8] Including 18 Americans. [9] Including 5 Americans. [10] American [11] Including 13 Americans. [12] Including 54 Americans. [13] American [14] Including 6 Americans. [15] Including 18 Americans.

Camp’s overview

In February 1942, when the Italian Chief of Staff realised that the Castelvetrano (Trapani) camp’s locality was inadequate because it lacked drinking water and malaria was endemic, it invited the Territorial Command of the Difesa Territoriale of Palermo to find another place for a PoW camp. The locality chosen was Traversa, in the municipality of San Giuseppe Jato, in Palermo province. This time, although 50 km away from the Castelvetrano airport, at least the area was salubrious and in line with the required hygienic necessities. Moreover, it was supplied with drinking water and even electrical lighting.
In the summer of 1942, the works to erect the camp began, recycling many materials from the old structure of Castelvetrano. PG 98 was opened in September to house the PoWs captured in North Africa.
The new camp, identified as PG 98, had the same command as the old one. It was a tent encampment, divided into two sectors, each numbering 500 beds. One sector was intended for decontamination, and the other was a quarantine camp. The PoWs arrived in batches, and, for a few weeks, both PG 98 and Castelvetrano operated at the same time.
At the end of 1942, the number of American prisoners (218) increased. In the following months, they continued to arrive but were less numerous.
Although there is no information on the living conditions of the prisoners, as the Red Cross and Protecting Power inspectors were not admitted, they were surely less abysmal than in Castelvetrano. Two prisoners, an American, Walter Solom, and an Englishman, Thomas Cosgrave, escaped on 29 April 1943. There is no information on whether they were recaptured or managed to hide until the Allies’ arrival.
Even though there was no systematic maltreatment, some PoWs complained that at their arrival the searches were exceedingly scrupulous, and watches and rings were often requisitioned. Some PoWs were also punished by incarceration in security chambers. For these reasons, after the war, the camp’s commander, Major Oldani, was accused of maltreatment and put on trial between October and November 1946. However, he was found innocent.
At the end of July 1943, after the Allied landings in Sicily, PG 98 was closed.

Archival sources

Stories linked to this camp