The name Archie Baird may be familiar to those with Scottish or footballing connections. Already the target of prominent clubs before the Second World War, Archie helped the Aberdeen Dons to many victories on his return from his adventures as a PoW in Italy.
Having escaped from a camp at Sforzacosta in central Italy, Archie was sheltered by the Pilotti family in Sant’Angelo in Pontano in the Marche. “They were real heroes,” he said years later. “They looked after me despite knowing the Germans would have shot them if they had found out.”
Archie wrote up the story of his time with the Pilottis in his book Family of Four. His post-footballing career as a journalist is obvious from this fluent and perceptive account of life with the Italian contadini.
His descendants are carrying on the tradition. His niece, Anna Magnusson, a presenter on BBC Radio Scotland, spent a few days in Italy in September 2016 in pursuit of her uncle’s story. She interviewed surviving members of the Pilotti family and found many evocative echoes of her uncle’s time there 70 years before.
Anna’s programme was made to be broadcast on BBC Radio Scotland on Remembrance Sunday, 2016, during “Sunday Morning With Cathy Macdonald”. Starting at about 10.25am and bridging the 11o’clock silence, finishing at about 11.15, it was then to be available for about 30 days on iPlayer. The theme is “Remembrance”, which of course fits very closely with the Monte San Martino Trust’s own objectives.