The Monte San Martino Trust


Keith Killby points to a breach in the wall at Servigliano PoW camp in the Marche, eastern Italy, where he was imprisoned. On 14th September 1943, many of the camp’s prisoners escaped through this hole. To read about Killby’s wartime experiences, go to Escape Stories/In Combat, Unarmed

The Monte San Martino Trust was founded in 1989 by J. Keith Killby, a former prisoner of war in Italy, together with other veterans of the Second World War. It awards English-language study bursaries to Italians, aged 18 to 25, in recognition of the courage and sacrifice of the Italian country people who rescued thousands of escaping Allied PoWs after the Armistice in 1943. The Trust is a registered charity, number 1113897, and is supported by families of former PoWs, many of whom keep in touch with Italian families who gave refuge to the escapers.

The bursaries are granted for four weeks’ study at language schools in Oxford and London. The students come from schools in Italian regions where prisoners were on the run. The Trust has run a highly successful Appeal to secure the long-term funding of the bursaries, reaching its target of £1m in November 2015. It also supports Freedom Trail walks in Italy, such as the annual Tenna Valley Trail in the Marche, north-east Italy, co-hosted with the WW11 Escape Lines Memorial Society. There are also regular trails in the Rossano Valley on the borders of Liguria and Tuscany. The Trust holds an annual Fontanellato lunch, commemorating the escape of 600 officers from the town’s PoW camp.

MSMT issues an annual newsletter and its archive contains more than 300 books and manuscripts by those who were “on the run”. Keith Killby has received the awards of OBE and, from the Italian presidency, Cavaliere Ufficiale. Vanni Treves, chairman of the Trust’s Appeal, and Sir Nicholas Young, MSMT chairman, have also been presented with the honour of Cavaliere Ufficiale. Antonio Millozzi, the Trust’s organiser within Italy, has received an honorary MBE.

The following memory comes from former student Debora Rossetti, writing in 2016: “Thank you very much for the great experience 20 years ago. Mr Killby was of very paternal help. It was my first time in London. Such a big city. Incredible for a girl who lived on a little farm in the middle of nowhere. I was so shy and insecure. I was so proud of myself for my first ride alone on the tube! My family hid soldiers and my father wanted me to learn as much English as possible to be able to exchange good ideas with foreigners.”

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