Recently the diary of a World War I Italian soldier in the front line trenches of Italy in WWI was opened for the world to see. It has been in the safe keeping of his American born daughter who could not understand the Italian writing.
Today, Italian scholar Alessandro Gualtieri has translated and published this remarkable insight into the real life of a brave, hard working soldier fighting in hopeless combat. Settimio Damiani was one of only 6 percent of the Italian population who could actually read and write in the early 20th century. Even more rare, was owning a pencil in the midst of combat. Settimio actually gave up crackers to write in his diary.
AN ITALIAN FOREVER
Tales from the manslaughters of the Isonzo River, Caporetto and the Great War
At the Conference about The Great War in Italy, held at Oxford's Taylorian Institution in 2012, Alessandro Gualtieri presented his paper “Eye-witness reports from the Italian Front manslaughter”, introducing the exclusive and quite moving war accounts of Italian infantryman Settimio Damiani, the protagonist of this book.
The diary delivers the story of the irrepressible spirit of this young man, who returned briefly to Italy from America, knowing he would be drafted. Settimio was sent to the front lines to repel the German/Austrian attack. Everyone knew the Italians were outmanned, out gunned and lambs for the slaughter. Day after day, he fought to save his comrades or to bury them, weakened, worried, and dedicated to do his duty. In America, he eventually sent for his wife and 6 year old son Eleuterio (Ted), and had 3 more children, Cesare (Chester), Gaetano (Guy), and Nicolena (Lena).
His daughter kept the diary of her quiet father. It is ironical that years after his death, she is hearing his story through the devoted work of an Italian scholar, Alessandro Gualtieri and her nephew, Tim Damiani, devoted to the family history who contacted the scholar with the copy of the diary.