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Untold stories of loss: Mourning the ‘enemy’ in Second World War Britain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)86-102
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of War and Culture Studies
Volume8
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jan 2015

Abstract

Italy's declaration of war on Britain in June 1940 had dramatic consequences for Italian immigrant families living within Britain, signalling their traumatic construction as the ‘enemy within’. Male Italians between the ages of sixteen and seventy who had been resident in Britain for less than twenty years and all those who had been identified by MI5 as members of Italian Fascist clubs were interned, with those categorized as the ‘most dangerous’ internees deported overseas. Tragedy struck when a ship transporting internees to Canada, the Arandora Star, was torpedoed killing over 800 people, including over 400 Italians. This article explores the ways in which the disaster was recalled within the personal narratives of descendants of the victims, reflecting upon how bereaved families endured their loss within a wider context of wartime anti-Italianism and how aspects of the grieving process remained unresolved through the subsequent decades. It also reflects upon the increasing memorialization of the disaster, which intensified after the interviews had taken place, and its implication for the author, as a historian working with personal testimonies.

ID: 19932833