Comitato Guglielmo Marconi International
Fondato nel 1995


MARCONI MEMORIAL

I first heard about the Marconi Memorial at Camp 61 when Sergio I1ZCT telephoned me in February 1995. He then wrote, enclosing a copy of Radio Rivista February 1995; on page 87 was a photograph of the memorial and a letter from Eugenio I6EDC. The following is an account of everything I have been able to find out about it. Since I do not speak Italian, I must write my part of this account in English, and the translations I have tried to include may not be completely accurate.
Kevin Snelling GW7BSC
Newport October 1995

The letter from Eugenio I6EDC in Radio Rivista February 1995 indicated that the monument was built at Christmas 1944 by the prisoners-of-war in Camp61, north of Chepstow, in Wales, near Newport.

When Sergio I1ZCT wrote to me he added that the prisoners-of-war passed on iron bridge with seven arches, every day when they went from the camp into the town.

Chepstow (like Newport) is in the county of Gwent, which used to be called Monmouthshire, and is in Wales. The records office of Gwent County Council could not find any record of Camp 61, let alone a monument.

I contacted the local Ramblers' Association - enthusiasts who spend their spare time taking country walks in groups, with detailed maps to find their way about. They had no knowledge of anything that might help. They probably know the countryside better than anyone else, so we seemed to be looking in the wrong place.

I looked at old maps to try to find a railway bridge with seven iron arches, but could not find one, so I started looking further away.

I next tried the records office of Gloucestershire County Countil. At first they did now know anything about Camp 61, but they agreed to search their records. In May 1995, by lucky chance, they discovered that someone who had written books about the Forest of Dean had placed his papers in the Record Office.

These gave very little information, but showed that the POW Camp had been at Wynols Hill, at Coalway, near Coleford. This is in an area called the Forest of Dean, which is in Gloucestershire. This is in England not Wales, but is only just over the border from Wales.

The Records Office offered to photocopy a very poor photograph of the monument when it was in a very bad state. The photocopy was of very poor quality. They also sent me a copy of a letter, written by an archaeologist who was member of the Local History Society, which includes the following words:
Coleford April 5, 1963.
Dear Dr. Scott-Garrett,
... The Italian War Memorial was an unfortunate episode, caused by the unwillingness of everybody concerned to run any financial risk. It could have been retained if the Local History Society had got a firm quotation from an insurance broker in 1961, but unfortunately the broker whom Mr. Mansfield asked to give us a quotation never did so and consequently by the time I had got a quotation from another broker, and the Society had agreed to be responsible for the insurance premiums, the situation had changed entirely. The cost of effective repair had risen and the Council were no longer prepared to let their engineer and surveyor, whose department was heavily committed to carrying out important Council schemes, carry out the work. ...
Yours sincerely, (I. Light?)

So it seems that the monument was pulled down between 1961 and 1963, mainly because someone was too slow in arranging to insure it.

Even worse, it seems that the Italian Consulate had once (probably in 1961) actually offered to pay for the upkeep of the monument, but the West Dean Rural District Council had refused the offer!

There was a report in a Gloucestershire newspaper, I think it was on Saturday 2 March 1963, which reads as follows:

West Dean Memorial

Two years ago the Italian Consulate sent the sum of £250 to the West Dean Rural District Council so that the Italian war memorial at Wynols Hill, erected in connection with Italian prisoners of war who had been stationed there, could be repaired and maintained.
But nothing was done, and after hearing that the work of restoration could cost considerably more than the £ 250, West Dean RDC decided to return the money to the Italian Consulate with a message regretting that they were unable to carry out the work.
Members were told by the engineer and surveyor (Mr. H. Parks) that, if carried out, the work would involve a considerable amount of his staff's time, to the detriment of other council work.

Dieci anni fa il consolato italiano inviò al Consiglio del West Dean Rural District la somma di 250 sterline affinché il Monumento di Wynol Hill, eretto dai prigionieri di guerra italiani ivi acquartierati fosse riparato e mantenuto in buono stato. Nulla fu fatto e, dopo avere appreso che i lavori sarebbero costati ben più di 250 sterline, il Consiglio del W.D.R.D. decise di restituire la somma al consolato italiano con una lettera di rincrescimento per non poter portare a buon fine la richiesta, sostenendo che in quel lavoro di riparazione si sarebbe impegnata buona parte di quella manodopera necessaria per altri lavori in programma.

The Records Office was able to tell me that a new housing estate had been built where the monument had been. I went to look for this, so that I could at least photograph the place where the monument had been.

Wynols Hill is not marked on our maps, but there was a hill without a name in about the right place. While searching around Coalway for this hill, I saw a house named "Wynols View", so stopped to ask where Wynols Hill was.

The lady who lived there remembered the huts of the Camp, and remembered playing near he monument (which she could still describe to me) many years ago. She did not know that the monument as connected with Marconi. Her father had been Secretary of the local football club, and had arranged football matches between the Camp and the local people. She knew that the monument had been pulled down, and was able to describe to me where it had been. She was shocked to find that the District Council had actually refused the Consulate's offer to pay the upkeep of such a fine memorial.

I went across to Wynols Road as she had described, and found a church, surrounded by houses, where the monument had been. The church was a Church of Latter Day Saints, of Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S.A. (known in England as the Mormon Church).

There used to be a railway passing very close to where the Camp must have been, but it was closed some years ago. It looks as though the railway ran from Monmouth (to the North-west) down to Lydney Junction (to the South-east) and from there the Main Line went to Chepstow. The prisoners must have gone on the train to Lydney or to Chepstow (or possibly to Monmouth, in the other direction.)

I have not been able to find the bridge with seven iron arches, but if they went over the bridge it might have been just outside Chepstow, or just outside Monmouth (if they went that way). The Main Line bridge at Chepstow has been re-built, and the original bridge near Monmouth has now gone. If they saw it from the train, it might have been the road bridge in Chepstow (which has iron arches, but not seven.)

A group of railway enthusiasts are rebuilding the old railway line, and are now running trains (at limited times) for about two miles, from Norchard to Lydney Junction. They call themselves "The Dean Forest Railway".

Most of this information has now been published, with photographs, in Radio Rivista, October 1995, pages 96-97.

Information Office

There is a Tourist Information Office in Coleford.
The address is:
Royal Forest of Dean Tourist Information Office,
Market Place,
Coleford,
Gloucestershire,
England.
Telephone 91594836307 (+441594836307)

They did not know anything more about the monument, but they have travel and hotel information.


A note says "Coats of Arms of Sundry Italian cities and states in the folds of the curtain walls of the crescent flanking the central tower". I should think "Coats of Arms" refers to "shields", in the heraldic sense.

Maps

In Great Britain, the best maps are the official ones published by the Ordnance Survey. For a general map: Use the Ordnance Survey "Travelmaster" maps. Both Sheet 7 "Wales and West Midlands" and Sheet 8 "South West England" cover the Newport - Chepstow - Coleford - Bristol area at a scale of 1: 250 000 (4 cm to 10 km). These only allow you to find Coleford, not to find the monument. These maps cost about £4.00 each (plus postage).

For a detailed map: Use the Ordnance Survey "Landranger" map, Sheet 162 "Gloucester and the Forest of Forest of Dean". This covers the Coleford area at a scale of 1 : 50 000 (2 cm to 1 km) and allows the position of the monument to be located. This map costs about £4.50 (each, plus postage).

Location of Memorial

We use a standard map-reference system called "National Grid References". Using this system, the location of the monument would be described as SO587107. I don't know whether you use a similar system, so the following description may help.

Using only Sheet 162 "Gloucester and the Forest of Dean" the two letters "SO" can be left out. To the nearest 100 meters, the point is 58.7 going Eastwards, and then 10.7 going Northwards. The following diagram may help:


GW7BSC - Kevin Snelling




Italian war memorial at Wynols Hill,Coleford Glos
Mon, 21 Jan 2002 15:39:12 +1100

I too remember playing as a youngster on the remains of the structure of this memorial at Coalway.
I would have been around eight years old which fits with the period just before 1963.
I had not before today seen a picture of it as it was constructed, when I played on it it was a totally delapidated decaying concrete structure, with reinforcing rods protruding and no evidence of the paintwork, and would have required rebuilding not restoring or maintaining.
The Council attitude indicated by the letters etc was not in accordance with local feeling as I understood it. The Italian Prisoners of war were, in the stories I heard as a child, considered quite fondly by the local population. They worked on farms and for local firms. I believe a number stayed in the area after the war and did not return to Italy.
At that time I was playing around the camp the concrete pathways were still there but the huts etc were long since removed, and the area was significantly overgrown - a fantastic place to play!!!!!!!

The bridge which your prisoners would have seen on the way to Chepstow sounds almost certainly like the Old Severn Rail Bridge (Lydney to Sharpness)

To travel to Chepstow by train from Coleford would have required going via Lydney. The rail connection from Coleford to Monmouth had been pulled up before the First World War. Passenger services to Monmouth used to run via the Lydbrook Viaduct ,Lydbrook Junction and Symonds Yat up until about 1929 (My Aunt used to go this way to school at Monmouth Girls school until the much quicker bus service was started) Lydbrook viaduct was not seven spans. The Lydbrook line was still working during WW2 and it would have been possible to pick up a train at Coleford, Milkwall or Cannop, normally it was frieght only at this time.

However if the POWs were taken to Chepstow via Lydney in a special train then it would have had to run out along the Severn Bridge line in order to join the Main South Wales line to Chepstow, afording a good view of the Old sevrn Bridge. The middle span of the bridge was hit by a barge in the early sixtys and a span collapsed severing the link. There was much debate about repairing it but eventually the whole structure was removed.

regards

Bill Nash
Hm 02 9680 2219
Wk 02 934 28484
Mob 0417 239 770
E-mail (Wk) bill.nash@optus.com.au*
E-mail (Hm) bill@pluckpenny.com.au
*Please note change to email address


FW: Italian war memorial at Wynols Hill,Coleford G...
Tue, 22 Jan 2002 11:13:00 +1100

Atnn Ian Pope Webmaster Forest of Dean Local History Society

Happy New Year Ian.

Attached are some links and correspondence with the Comitato Guglielmo Marconi International

I noted that the New Regard had some wartime articles in it, and wondered if anyone had done any research on the POW Camp at Wynolls Hill. Are you aware of any photo's???

My maternal Grandfather Sidney Kear ran a building company from Machen Road Broadwell which was run until the early '80s by his son Eric (see "uncle Eric" below - still living in Victoria rd Coleford - he knows Cyril Hart your patron (who lives almost "over the road and down a bit!!!!" - I went to school and was a friend of Anthony - Cyril's son) >From what my mother told me some of the POWs worked for Sid Kear during their internment.

>From my recollection in the early sixties few had any real idea of what the structure was at the camp - I knew it had been built by the prisoners but had always believed it had some practical function, part of a watch tower or similar. But as I played there many times I came to now the shape of the structure, and recognised the photo on the web site immediately. My Great Aunt Kate lived on the Colway Road, (So did I for 6 months in 1959 when our house was being finished - in what had been my Uncle Eric Kear's house) prior to that I lived for a year or so at Hazeldene on the Junction of Foxes lane and South Road Broadwell opposite Heals Builders/ Undertakers (?). I often played there with Hubert Smith's son (whose name I cant remember - Hubert was a plumber and did some plumbing work for Eric - They live in what was then a new bungalow roughly where South Road Broadwell and New Road Coalway join.

At this time with the 100th. anniversary of the first Atlantic transmission, it seem appropriate to investigate this monument to Marconi. Why was Marconi so special to the POWs at the time??? Did they "acquire" (liberation or donation) some of the materials from my Grandfather???!!!!!! I know building materials were in extremely short supply.

regards

Bill Nash
Hm 02 9680 2219
Wk 02 934 28484
Mob 0417 239 770
E-mail (Wk) bill.nash@optus.com.au
E-mail (Hm) bill@pluckpenny.com.au
E-mail (Hm) family@pluckpenny.com.au (family history email)
Snail-mail (Hm) 9, Cragside Place, Glenhaven, NSW, 2156


Further to dicussion about Camp 61 and the Marconi Memorial
Wed, 23 Jan 2002 17:25:44 +1100


This view of the Old Servern Bridge is from the Lydney end of the bridge at Purton.
The bridge was constructed between 1875 and 1879 a little upstream of Lydney and Sharpness it was 1,400 feet (425 Metres approx)long, over twenty-one spans supported by huge cast iron cylinders.
There was to be a lot of jealousy during the period of construction between the bridge company and the project tunnelling under the severn further downstream at Aust which had started in 1873. Delays on the tunnel due to flooding of the workings ensured the bridge was completed well ahead of the tunnel. The bridge was opened on October 17th 1879 and remained (excluding ferries) the first possible crossing of the Severn until the Severn Tunnel was eventually opened in 1886. Until 1960 the Severn Rail Bridge allowed passage across the Severn. On the foggy night of the 25th October 1960 two tanker barges owned by John Harker Ltd, the ARKENDALE H and WASTDALE H were swept by a large tide into the bridge. Two spans of the bridge dropped onto the tanker barges, setting both craft and the river ablaze. Five men lost their lives that evening, and is now always referred to as "The Severn Bridge Disaster". The bridge was never repaired and stood for several years with the missing spans, it was finally dismantled in 1967 (1969?).
School-children from Berkley were no longer able to attend school in Lydney.


This fine photo taken by a local photographer looking northwards clearly demonstrates how the Viaduct dominated the whole of the valley. The foundation stone was laid on November 9th 1872 and the work was contracted by the Crumlin Viaduct Works at a cost of £7,396. Billups carried out the masonry work. The viaduct comprised 5 stone arches and 3 wrought iron girders of the warren pattern, 2 with a 120ft span, the other with a 150ft span. The viaduct was 90ft
above the valley floor and was opened on 26th August 1874. The first passenger train arrived in Lydbrook Junction from Lydney at 1.20pm on 23rd September 1875. The route followed was: Lydney Junction, Lydney Town, Whitecroft, Parkend, Speech House Road, Drybrook Road, Upper Lydbrook, Lower Lydbrook, Lydbrook Junction. The locomotive which pulled the train was Robin Hood. Regular Passenger services were withdrawn from 8th July 1929. The line was eventually closed on 30th January 1956. The Viaduct was removed in 1965. In the 1950's a special passenger train took local the schoolchildren on the last run over it.

I took this info and pictures from http://www.sungreen.co.uk/Default.htm
where there are more old pictures of the Area.

regards

Bill Nash
Hm 02 9680 2219
Wk 02 934 28484
Mob 0417 239 770
E-mail (Wk) bill.nash@optus.com.au
E-mail (Hm) bill@pluckpenny.com.au
Snail-mail (Hm) 9, Cragside Place, Glenhaven, NSW, 2156


Oggetto RE: Marconi monument Wynols Hill Coleoford
Wed, 21 Aug 2002 10:26:18 +1000

Thank you for your interesting recollection about the monument. I am forwarding your story to the others with whom I have corresponded on this issue.

I was un aware that there were any German prisoners at Wynols Hill, I had been under the impression that the Italians and Germans were deliberately kept at different camps.

I also understood that quite a few of the Italians at the camp did not return home and settled in the area - I believe that the Catholic community in Coleford was boosted at this time, and it was just after the war that the present Catholic church on High Nash was built.

I would also imagine that many of the Italians became prisoners quite early in the war, after the First Bardia and Tobruk campaigns, and the so called "Benghazi handicap" where the towns in Cyrenica changed hand a number of times until the eventual victory after El Alamein (Oct 1942) The number of Italian prisoners would have substantially reduced after the defeat of Rommel (May 1943)after the success of Operation Torch. There would have been a few prisoners from the early Italian Campaign, as Italy surrendered to the Allies on Sept 3 1943

regards
Bill Nash
E-mail (Wk) bill.nash@optus.com.au
E-mail (Hm) bill@pluckpenny.com.au


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Bill Cronin [mailto:Bill.Cronin@fdean.gov.uk]
> Sent: Friday, 16 August 2002 21:57
> To: Bill Nash
> Subject: Marconi monument Wynols Hill Coleoford
> 
> 
> I was dealing many years ago with the planning application 
> for the wynols
> hill development for the local planning authority and the 
> erection of the
> church on the site.which resulted in the demolition of the 
> monument, which
> was in a poor state at the time I inspected it. 
> 
> Subsequently I talked to a german prisoner of war who had 
> been a  held in
> the area. He  remained in this country and became quite 
> famous locally. He
> said  with some amusement that the prisoners took some 
> delight in raising
> the monument and had been expressly forbidden from having the 
> likeness of
> Mussolini on any monument but the bust of Marconi bore an uncanny
> resemblance to Il Duce. This is a nice story and he wasn't 
> prone to telling
> untruths but I have no way of verifying it. I was not around 
> when Mr Parks
> and the Local Council refused the funds which in retrospect 
> was unfortunate.
>  

the forest of dean  italian prisoner of war marconi memorial

P.O.W. CAMP No. 61 GREAT BRITAIN


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