On the hills of Imola in Monte Battaglia in the municipality of Casola Valsenio two amateur historians who seek relics of World War II. E are the bones .. thus begins a passionate and difficult investigation, which lasted seven years, ending in Detroit. Where since 1944 a family mourns the son “missing in atction”
No one saved the soldier Harry. A grenade took him away on October 5, 1944, on the mountains over Bologna, while he slept in his fox-hole, his hole in the dirt, exhausted from hours of machine gun. But Harry is back home the same, sessant’arini later, as an unfortunate Ulysses, thanks to two unknown friends and fans.
This is the story of a soldier no longer unknown, dl-a metalworker metalhead, an entrepreneur and a friendship impossible-detective who has climbed over a century and an ocean.
The “metalhead” is called Renzo Grandi, and everyone at Imola know that for thirty years, when removed from its eight hours of workshop, she grabs the metal detector and goes to scour the grass blade blade of grass on the slopes of ‘Apennines, where the general Glarke smashed the Gothic Line at the cost of thousands of lives, and where you just scratch a little ‘jump off the turf because bullets, water bottles, badges.
Has a large collection in the cellar, but the most beautiful pieces gives them to the Museum of Castel del Rio, which he founded with some friends.That 3 June ’96 from the land of Monte Battaglia emerged a helmet American. Except that, underneath, there was also the owner, sleeping there for half a century. “He was still lying on his side, a little ‘huddled’.
Were those of the U.S. consulate, packed up the pile of bones, and took him away. A Renzo were a couple of rings, a silver bracelet, a watch, a wallet with a picture of a girl and a plate with a name: Harry Castilloux, a serial number, 35895836, and a date of birth September 24, , 1920. Those findings, however, did not end nor in the cellar, nor to the museum: “They were all that remained of a human life. They were not my thing. I had to return them to the family. I had to bring Harry home. “
But what house? Where? The American consulate everyone politely silent, not a word, “out of respect for privacy.” Renzo was about to give up.But here enters Alberto Forchielli, entrepreneur and avid cyclist, so who has bought the Atala (not just the bike: the whole company). It has a terraced Montecatone, and in these parts we all know: “Alberto> you who often go n America, can not just help me do some research?”.
Alberto in the U.S. has studied at Harvard: “I thought it was a trifle, a few phone calls.” Instead, damn, it was like looking for a needle in a haystack.Needless to ask the authorities: “I climbed up to the Pentagon: gentle but highly confidential.” Research on specialized sites, phone calls to the associations of veterans, hundreds of letters, nothing. Nothing for years. “But in the meantime Harry was growing inside me, I occupied my mind day and night. I had taken the transference. Who was that guy who could be my father, who died at the age of my son, to whom I was fond of as a brother? What led him to die here, near my home? He had a mother, a wife, children? I was attached to the dawn of the Internet, I wanted to go all the way. “
A few months ago, a stroke of genius:
“I bought it online Use the census of 1930.” And there, long live the wonders of electronics, among the millions of names here is that of the little Harry Castilloux, nine years old, a resident of Royal Oak, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit with his parents and five brothers and sisters. At that point it took a telephone directory. “Yes, my name is Albert Castilloux. Yes, my brother Harry died in Italy during the war, but what do you want? “The voice from the other side of the Atlantic was old, glossy, but wary. “He was afraid that spillargli wanted the money, he confessed to me later.”
Instead Rita, another sister, he trusted, “All right, come on, we’ll wait.” So Harry The soldier has returned home this past Easter. That day on the porch of the log cabin of Hazel Park were the brothers, all still alive, children grandchildren.
“Neither I nor Renzo wanted ceremonies even before entering the house delivered it to Rita rings, helmet, platelets, the bracelet with the name, wallet,” along with two letters of affectionate greeting with important signatures: President EU Romano Prodi and Foreign Minister Franco Frattini.”Welcome back Harry,” cried Rita kissing the helmet rusty.
Hugs, emotion, “Thank you Alberto, Renzo thank you.” “I realized at that moment that I had crossed the ocean alone to console a family,” says Alberto, “I had done for my friend Harry to meet him at last.” And it was there waiting for him, of course. Harry framed and hung on the wall of the living room: a kid of the American province, the son of immigrants from Canada modest, thin face, ears a bit ‘protruding, shy and proud to be graduated under the touch, the only member of his family to have studied and continue to do so, to the evening, while already worked for the Ford milling (where ever you can work a guy from Detroit years’ Forty?) and then divided by the clumsy Thu, sachet and distinctive rakish angle of the 350th regiment, 88 ‘division, the Blue Devils, but nothing but hell, “was a frail boy, sixty pounds, almost a child, just as I had imagined, only in Hollywood movies, the soldiers face of Gary Cooper or physical Rambo “.
It does not ache stopped asking questions, Alberto, relatives, friends, fellow soldiers of Harry: “I knew everything about him, his escape in a boat, or that time when Mom found a condom in his pocket … I found a sweet guy, marvelous, with the first salary he bought the fridge to the parents, with the second a Philco radio that still works. ” A character from the film by Frank Capra, but with the final to John Houston: “Working for the war could scamparsela, but could not stand in that country were saying that he was a coward.
He gave up the pantry, he left his savings to Mom Louise and left for Europe. ” And the girl in the photo? “For Rita was a surprise: I do not know who he is, he told me, Harry had no girlfriend. Maybe an Italian girl a segnorina known in Livorno: his first destination. I’m sure you asked her to marry him. “
In the package of documents that Alberto has put together with spirit and flair biographer detective that there is also a military report on “private Castilloux, missing in action ‘: it says only that he was seen for the last time at 15 of 4 October when he went to rest in the den he had dug on the side of Mount Battaglia, the last peak before the Po Valley, took nine times, nine times lost, a thousand deaths on both sides. Soon after all hell broke loose, the Americans were forced to withdraw. Harry no trace.
Now, on that ridge of sandstone that is achieved only trudging along a steep path, Renzo and Alberto have a small walled blue plaque with his name.
Alberto the sprinkle with his hand. “No rhetoric, it was only a small act of justice”, minimizes Renzo.
“Harry made me realize that in war there are not only large machines and large bombs, there are little men who are worth much more.” Alberto will be charged: not the type to lacrimucce., The manager cyclist.
The medieval tower on top of the crown waving a peace flag. “What matters is that Harry is back home, and now he can rest.” And also the two Italian friends, after seven years of painstaking research. “Yes, of course. But … There’s this girl. As the photo in the portfolio. Who will it be? Long may he live again? And where? ».
Group photo with members of the family Castilloux – The abbreviation of the banner means “Prisonir of war, missing in action”, an association that promotes research on soldiers who died or disappeared in the war.