Eric Morris

WO 208/3325/60

Eric Morris, who in peacetime worked as a storeman for a post office, was captured in Tunis on 3 December 1942, a few days before his twentieth birthday. He was immediately transferred to Sicily, to PG 98, San Giuseppe Jato and, a month later, to PG 66 Capua, where he remained until April 1943. After a brief stop in PG 59, Servigliano, he finally arrived at his “permanent” destination, a work camp in Trino, part of PG 106, Vercelli, in June 1943. Until after the Armistice of 8 September 1943, Morris never tried to escape;  his first experience was indeed after the Armistice. This escape, moreover, was not precisely exciting:.

[…] the Italian guards left the campo, and the next day (10 Sep[tember]), I set out with another private (name unknown) with the intention of reaching the vine-growing district, where we hoped to find work until the British troops arrived.

The two indeed managed to find a job in a vineyard in the area while the farmer provided them with civilian clothing and paid them a salary of 50 lire per week. However, at the end of October, the news of their presence spread, and the farmer, frightened, asked them to go.

We set out again and crossed the river Po by ferry but were unable to find any work in the district beyond the river, and as the people were definitely unfriendly, we decided, after three days, to return to the area we had recently left.
We re-crossed the river Po by the bridge near Trino, and at Morano sul Po, we met an Italian who was collecting food for the partisans and decided to join forces with him.

The Italian led them to a village, where the two were sheltered, fed, and clothed. They also received new shoes. The next day, they were moved by train to Verres in the Aosta Valley, where they were picked up by a car and brought to the village of Busson. «There we met the partisans».

Morris and his comrade remained with the Italians for five weeks, participating in their activities. They were part of a group of roughly 20 British soldiers.

About the middle of Dec[ember], the camp was attacked, and we were forced to disperse. I left with a party of five, which consisted of [private] Kitto, [private] Palmer and two Australians, for Gressone, where we remained for a few days. During this time, our food consisted entirely of chestnuts. We then continued on [southwards] to Baio Dora, where we were given shelter at a hotel for six weeks.

However, soon, the group was forced out of their hideout. A Fascist patrol, in fact, arrived in the village and started searching houses to find the local partisans. Once more, the local population aided them, and somebody sheltered them in a house in the nearby village of Andrate.

In mid-February 1944, Morris decided to return to the plains, hoping to reach the vineyard where he had worked right after his escape from PG 106 again. «I was caught in a snowstorm, however, and was forced to seek shelter at a small village called Piane […], where I remained for two weeks». After this forced stop, Morris managed to reach his destination. Still, he discovered that the situation had changed drastically: «I was informed that the Germans had recently captured many British soldiers working on the farms of the area and was told to go away». Morris returned to Andrate, where he stayed for another week before deciding, with his companions, to return to Baio Dora. The decision proved to be the correct one. The next day, in fact, Fascists swarmed through the village, searched the house that was sheltering the escaped PoWs, and tortured the woman who was aiding them. However, she resisted and did not tell them anything.

At the end of March, the group returned to Andrate once more to recover their belongings, which they found well hidden in their hostess’s house. The next day, Morris and Kitto moved again, reaching Piane, where they were sheltered in the same house that had already housed Morris during his first visit to the village. The two of them remained there until September 1944. «During this time, I was taken ill with appendicitis and was cared for by my hostess and a doctor from a neighbouring town [Bollengo]».

At the beginning of October, Morris and Kitto joined a group of 15 Australians and New Zealanders in the village of Sala, and soon after, they made contact with an Italian (wearing an American uniform) who sent them to Perloz, from where they, supposedly, could cross into France.

We set out on 26 Oct[ober] with six Italian guides travelling via Ponte San Martino to Cogne and thence to Val d’Isère where we crossed the border. We made contact with American troops on 1 Nov[ember] at the first small village we came to in France.

Morris was sent to Marseille and, on 14 November, to the United Kingdom (after a brief stop in Naples), where he arrived on 2 December 1944 in Liverpool, one day before the second anniversary of his capture in Libya.


TNA WO 208/3325/60, Morris, E. Prisoners of War Section. Escape/Evasion Reports: Code MI9/SPG: 2802.