A story for immigrants: the tragic fate of the Anglo-Italians in the Second World War


Cesidio di Ciacca and his family, fish and chip shop owners in East Lothian. Two years after the photo was taken, Cesidio and hundreds of others were expelled from Britain as dangerous aliens. He died on the Arandora Star.

ON 2 July 1940 the SS Arandora Star was torpedoed off north-west Ireland. The liner was carrying civilian “enemy aliens”  from Britain to internment camps in Canada. Nearly 800 of them drowned. Some were German Jews, but most were Italians: grocers, ice-cream vendors, waiters and chefs, many of whom had lived all their lives in Britain.

Their families survived, but even now the memories of the deaths of their menfolk and the way neighbours turned on on them, looting shops and smashing windows, are raw. As one of the Arandora Star victims’ descendants asks – how would Britons behave today to the outsiders in their communities?

My story on the sinking of the Arandora Star and the cruelties inflicted on the Anglo-Italian community during World War Two is in this week’s Newsweek magazine – read it here.

One thought on “A story for immigrants: the tragic fate of the Anglo-Italians in the Second World War

  1. Dearest Al

    Awful story. The Ice-cream shop in Maybole, where we used to get our treats, was called Amos Biagi. Its windows were broken by the Maybole mob, but I don’t remember whether it closed. Probably. And I don’t know what happened to the Biagi family, poor things.

    My dear governess, Pipette, was chased down Maybole High Street by boys shouting “Vichy France, Vichy France.” She was terribly upset.

    We are behaving like this to harmless Moslems, of course, without the government telling us to.

    love, M. xxx

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