At a time when the world is going through a geopolitical thug of war between Washington and Moscow, a message of peace is delivered by an 82-year old Preston resident.
David Perryman was four years old when his father, Donald Perryman, colonel of the British Eighth Army, was killed at the gates of San Severo, Puglia, by the Germans on 27 September 1943. The colonel was burned alive when his jeep was hit by a flamethrower. A horrendous death that shook the town of Nazi-occupied San Severo who dedicated a monument to Donald Perryman and his comrades, also killed in the ambush.
The tragic event was recently highlighted by the founder of Youmanity, Angelo Iudice, having identified an original photo of Colonel Perryman's military funeral held in San Severo. In 2014 Angelo Iudice tracked down the dead soldier’s son, David Perryman, with whom he shared his research and collection of historical photos.
Stories of Friendship - exhibition and conference on the Second World War
With the intention of promoting the values of peace and brotherhood in the context of the Second World War, again in 2014, Iudice organised a photographic exhibition with unpublished images representing British soldiers and civilians from the Puglia region, i.e. when between 1943-1945 the The English army (8th Army) reached the coasts of the Italian peninsula, freeing the local population from Nazi-fascist oppression.
The scope of the exhibition showcased at the Museum of the Order of St John, highlighted how it is possible to find humanity and solidarity in the most adverse of situations - a particularly important topic at the moment.
"The precious photographic collection demonstrates how the English soldiers genuinely familiarised with the Puglian population, showing sincere interest in the techniques and work tools traditionally used in southern Italy," stated Mr Iudice whose team of researchers examined over 30,000 documents and photographic files from the Imperial War Museum.
The Stories of Friendship project is ongoing and aims to preserve the memory not only of the events that unfolded towards the end of WW2, but also the personal stories of the people directly involved in the conflict.
David Perryman continued to stay in touch with Youmanity. He recently wrote to us to say that he would be visiting his father’s tomb in Italy, accompanied by his daughter Jane, next generation of Perryman, to show them their beloved resting place of Donal Perryman - a soldier who gave his life for the freedom and democracy.
“There are no winners in war. All conflicts bring misery and destruction. I lost my dad when I was only 4 years old. I missed him desperately as a kid. Fathers belong at home, with their families”
said Mr Perryman in Puglia before heading to his father’s grave.