Sanctuary in Garulla: Frederick Lax

Clara Guglielmi: she was a teenager in 1943 when her family was one of ten families who sheltered Frederick Lax and his companions

In November 1943, after two months of trekking across the Appenines after their escape from Fontanellato PoW camp, Lt Frederick Lax of the Green Howards and three companions reached the village of Garulla in the Marche. They were heading south to rejoin the Allies.

Desperate for shelter, they went into a bar where they were recognised as being English. After a village meeting the following day, ten families agreed to look after them. The men stayed in Garulla until Spring 1944 before leaving and eventually reaching safety.

After the war Frederick revisited Fontanellato and Montalbo, another of his PoW camps, but he was never able to return to Garulla. However, he often spoke of the great debt he owed the extended Guglielmi family and others, and in a letter he wrote to his fiancée (later his wife) from Naples in July 1944 he mentioned “the peasants which have been my saviours”.

During 2014-15, his son David and daughter Elizabeth gathered photos and papers he had left at his death into an illustrated document. David was determined to seek out the Guglielmi family in Garulla and in September 2015 he and his wife Carole made the journey.

With the assistance of MSMT trustees in the UK, and particularly of their colleagues Giuseppe Millozzi and Ian McCarthy in the Marche, they succeeded in tracking down the descendants of the Guglielmi family for a heart-warming reunion.

The Trust is grateful to the Lax family for sharing this remarkable story of friendship with MSMT. Please click on the pdf below to read the account made by David and Carole Lax of their pilgrimage to Garulla, which also contains photos of the Guglielmi family.

Pilgrimage to Garulla

Panorama of Garulla, where Frederick Lax found refuge