“Life must be understood backwards; but it must be lived forward.”
“We can only be free when everyone is.”
The Second World War has produced an infinite number of books, black and white films, images and documentaries. The heroic moments of those who survived, those dying and of those who died are catalogued by war correspondents, whose work was to astonish through their photographs.
Cold images of how war is.
We feel that, for the first time, this book offers testimonial from both ordinary soldiers who fought on our land and of the people they encountered, witnessed through the eyes of the men who found themselves risking their lives in a foreign land, far away from home and among unknown customs and cultures.
The testimonial is made even more unique by the rare colour images for that period, above all in Italy, through which passionate details are conveyed.
The idea for this book began in May 2006 during the course of the Veterans of the Italy; Fanano, Vidiciatico di Lizzano in Belvedere, Gaggio Montano, Iola di Montese and Castel d'Aiano, places where they had fought in over 60 years ago.
While visiting the room of the original memorabilia of the 10th Mountain Division at the Museum of Iola di Montese, Mr. Val Rios, the son of Cruz Rios belonging to the mortar crew of 87th Regiment K Company, 3 rd Battalion of the 10th Mountain Division, showed us the photographs which helped to create this book. This is how it all started, with great enthusiasm and the desire to share these historical images and passionate events which have characterized this period in history.
These "amazing" colour photographs are unheard of for that period.
These are the facts: Cruz Rios, who was stationed at Camp Swift, purchased, from a soldier, an Argus C2 35mm camera, produced in America between 1938 and 1942, and a few rolls of colour Kodachrome film, available in the Unites States from 1935, and carried it with him throughout Italy.
He assumed that it was not going to be possible to use the camera on the battlefields but found a way to use it without being seen by the officers. The finished rolls of film were then posted back home to America. It was only when he returned home that he was able to see the photos that he had taken in Italy.
We are grateful to Mr. Cruz Rios for his life testimony and the wonderful images that he was able to collect during his journey, first of a man and then of a soldier, from Texas to Italy and onto Slovenia. And a special thanks to his son Val and family for making these images available for publication.
Cruz Rios lived in Fresno, California and passed away May 25,2016. He was 98 years old.
Andrea and Giuliano Gandolfi