Rossano A Valley in Flames, Major Gordon Lett.

Rossano A Valley in Flames, Major Gordon Lett.P

An Adventure of the Italian Resistance

Major Gordon Lett was a British officer who was captured at Tobruk and held as a Prisoner of War in Italy. Immediately after the Italian armistice he was released, and escaped into the hills. When it became clear that the Germans had taken control of Italy and that the fighting would continue Lett remained behind enemy lines and became commander of the International Brigade, one of many partisan groups that sprang up in Italy in the last two years of the war.

Lett spent about a year and a half fighting in the mountains, facing a series of very different opponents. On a military level his main opponents were the Italians of Mussolini's fascist republic, mainly a mix of local police and the militia. The Germans were more dangerous, but appeared on a less regular basis. On a day-to-day level survival in the mountains was the main task, and here the support of the inhabitants of the Rossano valley was essential. Finally the most constant human threat seems to have come from other resistance groups, and in particular those associated very closely with political parties (mainly Actionists and Communists).

I have read several accounts of this fighting from other points of view (in particular from the SAS men who took part in Operation Galia), so it's nice to read the same story from the point of view of Lett himself (those other accounts make it clear that Lett underplays his own popularity in the Rossano Valley). Lett's account is a fine mix of high adventure (with occasional farce), balanced with an understanding of the horrors of war, and the price the thousand or so people of the valley paid for supporting him and his partisans. This book is a valuable reminder of the part played by the people of Italy in their own liberation.

Part I: Fugitives
1 - We Come to the Valley
2 - Alarms and Excursions
3 - The First Day of Christmas
4 - The Hunt is Up

Part II: The International Battalion
5 - The Sanctuary
6 - Armed with Hatred
7 - Contact with Corsica
8 - The Battle of Calice
9 - The Power House
10 - A Conference is adjourned
11 - Fire in the Hills

Part III: The Coming of the Allies
12 - Return to Rossano
13 - Descent from the Skies
14 - The Fortunes of War
15 - A Race for Time
16 - The Enemy Advances
17 - Touch and Go
18 - A Man of Peace

Part IV: Liberation
19 - Through the Enemy Lines
20 - The Road to La Spezia
21 - His Excellency
22 - The Freedom of the City

Author: Major Gordon Lett
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 256
Publisher: Frontline
Year: 2011

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