Fam­ily’s trip traces steps of war artist dad

Macclesfield Express - - FRONT PAGE - STU­ART GREER

THE daugh­ter of a war vet­eran has spo­ken of her emo­tional visit to the place where he was held pris­oner for three years.

Ho­race Wade was cap­tured in Libya on June 15, 1941 and trans­ported to a prison work camp in Chi­avari, Italy.

A tal­ented artist, he spent some of his time doc­u­ment­ing camp life, pro­duc­ing dozens paint­ings and sketches.

The hoard was later do­nated to the mu­seum of the Royal Tank Reg­i­ment in Dorset.

Now 75 years on his daugh­ter An­gela Hop­per, from Lan­g­ley, has spo­ken of her visit to Chi­avari, where she recre­ated, in pho­to­graphic form, some of the scenes Ho­race cap­tured.

An­gela, who vis­ited with her hus­band Derek, said: “Tak­ing in those same views that my father had seen all those years ago in such dif­fi­cult cir­cum­stances was amaz­ing and quite emo­tional. It made me very proud of him.”

Ho­race grew up in Not­ting­ham and was 27 when he be­came a trooper in the 6th Royal Tank Reg­i­ment (Corps).

Based in Libya he took part in Op­er­a­tion Bat­tleaxe, a dis­as­trous op­er­a­tion which re­sulted in 969 Al­lied ca­su­al­ties.

Ho­race was feared to have been killed in ac­tion but in truth had be­come a POW. For three years he was kept in Campo 52 where food sup­plies, man­aged by the Red Cross, were in­ter­mit­tent.

To re­lieve the bore­dom Ho­race painted and drew the land­scape and the build­ings of Italy, as well as more light­hearted mo­ments with pris­on­ers

of read­ing in their bunks, re­ceiv­ing let­ters from home and putting on per­for­mance in the camp theatre. But he also doc­u­mented the bru­tal re­al­ity of life be­hind the barbed wire.

Af­ter two years Ho­race was trans­ferred to Up­per Sile­sia in Poland to work down the mines. There he painted the grim faces of men wait­ing for the cage to take them un­der­ground and the dark­ness of the tun­nels. It was a hard and dan­ger­ous life, and ended in tragedy for Ho­race when his left leg was crushed in an ac­ci­dent and was am­pu­tated.

On his re­turn Ho­race trained as an art teacher but died of can­cer in 1968, aged just 56.

To­day, all that is now left of Campo 52 is a com­mem­o­ra­tive plaque on a bridge next to where the camp was.

An­gela, 68, said: “My fam­ily never men­tioned the war. I think ev­ery­one found the mem­o­ries too bad.

“It is amaz­ing how many of the build­ings sur­vived and how lit­tle some of those views cap­tured by dad have changed.

“I did quite a bit of re­search though war web­sites, Google Maps and Google Earth. It wasn’t dif­fi­cult to find the camp site, now a pad­dock, and to see four of the churches he’d drawn and painted.

“The camp site is si­t­u­ated next to a river and on one side is a bridge which bears a plaque say­ing it was where Campo 52 had been.

“It was cer­tainly a mov­ing ex­pe­ri­ence and made me feel very proud of my father, who died when I was only 21, and also en­abled me to feel I now know and un­der­stand him much bet­ter.”

●● An­gela Hop­per in Italy with hus­band Derek and daugh­ter Kate. In­set: Ho­race Wade in a self por­trait sketch, penned in 1943

●● One of Ho­race’s sketches and An­gela’s photo

●● A small chapel in 1942 and now

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