The “Brigata Maiella”
1943: THOSE MARVELLOUS YOUNG MEN
The Partisan Band Began its Story on a Cold February Day in that Hard Winter
of Half a Century Ago.
By Antonio Manzi.
5th December 1943, 50 years ago, on a cold day in that hard
winter, the story of the Partisans of the “Brigata Maiella” (Maiella
Brigade) began. A handful
of willing men, survivors of the raids, the violence, the round-ups, the
destruction, the massacres and the actions of revolt that had raged through
the Sangro-Aventino zone, followed the lawyer Ettore Troilo, exemplary
figure of antifascism, and they went to Casoli to ask the Allies for arms
and provisions so they could carry on fighting against the Nazis, inexorably
cruel devastators of all material and moral goods with an absolute negation
of all human richness. The action of the lawyer, Ettore Troilo, in trying to
overcome the diffidence towards the Italians of the Allied Command, was
obstinate, unnerving, courageous, but he reached his goal of obtaining arms
and food in order to organise units of combatants. In a short time the
“Patriot Band of the Maiella” was constituted, with 300 personnel, mostly
peasants, students and workmen. Later it developed into the “Group” with
1,500 men. Several people worked at lawyer Ettore Troilo’s side, including
Dr. Domenico Troilo, who became the Group’s Vice-Commandant, and Dr.
Vittorio Travaglini, untiring co-ordinator and organiser. It was from Casoli
that the fighters of the “Maiella” undertook their luminous path of
sacrifices and victories that led them to crown that sign of rebirth,
blocking the disintegration of the Country.
The valour and the faith of the willing men of the “Brigata Maiella”, whose
flag has been decorated with the Gold Medal for Military Valour, are now a
heritage of inestimable merit.
Their valorous and splendid feats included those at Selva di Civitella,
Falloscoso, Pizzoferrato, Cingoli, Apire, Cupramontana, Arcevia,
Montecarotto, Pesaro, Monte Castellaccio, Monte della Siepe, Brisighella,
Monte della Volpe,Bologna and Asiago. Holocausts, renunciations, courage,
martyrdom of individuals and of entire formations, during those bright
stages that led to the final victory, have since been consigned to History;
let us hope that they have been interpreted and written in exact
correspondence to reality, because what has been written about the Patriots
of the Maiella was true history, concrete, tangible and not just for
convenience. Twenty months of almost uninterrupted fighting, innumerable
acts of heroism, had their conclusion in the solemn ceremony at Brisighella
on the 15th of July 1945, where the Group disbanded, ending their glorious
cycle in the presence of the highest authorities of the State, of the Allied
Forces and the Italian Army, with Political, Administrative and Religious
representatives, other Partisan Units and an immense crowd of exultant
applauding citizens. At Milan on the 9th of May 1965, the Head of State
described the acts of the Patriots of the Maiella as being amongst the most
important facts of the National Fight for Freedom. Satisfied and aware of
the notable contribution needed for the rebirth of Italy, the Willing men of
the Maiella then humbly returned to their own functions and jobs, without
asking why, satisfied with their usefulness of their undertakings.
The high contribution of valour, of sacrifice and blood that the
Brigata Maiella gave in the Fight for Freedom is documented in these figures: the
only Partisan unit to be awarded the Gold Medal for Military Valour; 15
Silver Medals; 43 Bronze Medals; 144 Crosses of War; 1 Polish Cross of Merit
with silver sword; 14 Polish Crosses of Merit with bronze sword; 3 |polish
Crosses for Valour; 55 fallen; 19 lost; 151 wounded.
In the present climate of deep crisis, therefore, this 50th anniversary must
be the occasion to recover the roots of the motivation that pushed those
courageous young men to fight to redeem the dignity and prestige of the
Italian people and to take back that marvellous democratic vitality.
In this task it is necessary to involve the entire scholastic world for an
opportune work of disclosure that will allow young people effectively to
enrich morale. We need to discuss with the young the meaning of that
National “Identity” which, for the first time in our history, was shown to
be both an individual and a collective need, throughout all the Italian
territories; we need to involve everybody, men, women, the young, the old,
in the same research. Even today we are all called to make choices regarding
our National “Identity” and then how attitudes can be different; stay and
watch, or go down to the fields with commitment and devotion.
The acts of the Patriots of the Maiella will return and light up if,
regaining historic memory, we all unite in our commitment to affirm a new
morality and to reaffirm our ideals.