Finished the Arandora Star (Maria Serena Balestracci) at last. A very moving account of the less than glorious rounding up of enemy aliens in WWII, sending them to camps in or around England or even to Australia or for the most unlucky to Canada on the Arandora Star. The ship was torpedoed. It was unmarked, had too few lifeboats and rolls of barbed wire impeding escape. A large proportion of the enemy aliens were Italians, they had emigrated and settled in Great Britain, many had children born in England, Wales or Scotland, some of them serving in the British Armed Forces. They were often middle-aged or even elderly. Some of the other aliens were Germans and Austrians, many of them elderly, many of them refugees. No attempt was made by the British authorities to determine if any of these men posed a national security threat. 446 Italians lost their lives leaving widows and children behind who never had an explanation, or apology, or a body to bury. Balestracci has researched the whole subject over many years and bought some comfort to the still grieving relatives.
One of the strongest consequences of such a catastrophic piece of mismanagement and injustice, especially for relatives left without explanations, is the lasting pain and knock on effect on communities. It is now 70 years since the event, yet it is clear that people are still suffering. It is difficult not to feel depressed about the new resentments and years of suffering being created under the umbrella of war on a daily basis.
Sad post, but I am glad I read the book and for those relatives Balestracci contacted, there have been great benefits in making sure the Arandora Star and its victims are not forgotten