Petty Officer Cyril Kennedy

 

National Archives catalogue reference - WO 208/3315/7

 

Name: D/JX.130287 Petty Officer Kennedy, Cyril.

Unit: H.M. Submarine Oswald.

Captured: Straits of Messina, 1st to 2nd August 1940.

Escaped: Campo 102 (Aquila), 10th September 1943.

Left: Gibraltar, 15th October 1943.

Arrived: Hendon, 16th October 1943.

Date of Birth: 15th December 1911.

R.N. Service: Since 17th March 1927.

Peacetime Profession: Royal Navy.

Private Address: 10 Derwent Road, Liverpool.

 

1. CAPTURE.

 

I was 2nd. Coxwain in H.M.S. Submarine OSWALD on the night of 1-2 Aug 40 when she was rammed by an Italian destroyer in the Straits of MESSINA. The entire crew were taken first to TARANTO, thence to POVEGLIA (VENICE), and thence to SULMONA. My movements and my experiences are - with one exception cited below - identical with those of Leading Seaman A.E. PENNY (S/P.G.(Italy) 1038) up to the end of Jun 42 when he was removed to VETRALLA and I left for CAMPO 102 (AQUILA).

 

2. FIRST ATTEMPT TO ESCAPE.

 

When the camp at POVEGLIA, a small island in the VENICE lagoon, was evacuated at the end of Oct 40, four of us - Lieut. POPE, R.N. (ex OSWALD), Lieut. WATERS (Fleet Air Arm), Stoker Petty Officer OAKES (ex OSWALD), and myself - tried to hide away in the island. Our absence was noticed and after being four days in hiding we were rounded up. For this escape I was punished with 30 days' cells at SULMONA.

 

3. CAMPO 102 (AQUILA).

 

I was moved to CAMPO 102 at the end of Jun 42. Here I was placed in charge of a gang who had been sent to construct a "District Bank of NAPLES" in AQUILA. As there was no skilled labour on the job, the results were rather incongruous. We were strictly guarded and there was no opportunity to escape.

 

4. ESCAPE FROM CAMPO 102.

 

On 10 Sep 43, two days after the announcement of the armistice, the Italian authorities told me, as Assistant Camp Leader, that elements of a German Armoured Division had occupied barracks not far from the camp, and that as a precaution the Italians were taking us into the mountains. As the main body was being conducted out of the back of the camp, some small parties succeeded in slipping away. I should estimate the total number at about 40. My companions were Riflemen DODGE and CLARK, both of the 2nd Army. I do not know their regiments. None of us had food, money or civilian clothes. We were wearing battle dress.

 

Our journey over the APENNINES from AQUILA to AVELLINO (Europe Air Map 1:250,000, Sheet NAPLES) lasted 21 days. We were soon successful in bartering our battle dress for civilian clothes. We slept at night and after obtaining civilian clothes used main roads by day. The civil population were helpful, and from them we got occasional bits of bread to supplement our fare of grapes and nuts. We by-passed BENEVENTO, where there were many Germans, to North and East. In the neighbourhood of AVELLINO we learned from Italians where the Allied forces were and we made for CASTELLAMARE.

 

On 2 Oct we were between MARIGLIANO and SOMMA when we met a patrol of the 11th Hussars, who were trying to find MARIGLIANO. I gave them the necessary information through the local inhabitants. I was taken to Div. H.Q. and a patrol went back to get the other two.

 

At Div. H.Q. I was interrogated and then sent to the S.N.O. at CASTELLAMARE. I reached SALERNO on 4 Oct. On the same ay I sailed in a L.C. for BOUGI (NORTH AFRICA) which I reached on 6 Oct. From there I was taken to ALGIERS. I was flown from ALGIERS to GIBRALTAR via MARRAKESH.

 

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