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. The Trust 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 PoWs, and the second and third generations of their families, many of whom research their ancestors’ stories and 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 relies entirely on donations to fund these bursaries, and is currently running a £1m Appeal to secure their long-term funding. With £900,000 raised so far, the Appeal has embarked on its final leg – though still with some way to go. (Click on Fundraising in the Contents panel to find out more, or on the banner above to support the Appeal).

The Trust also supports Freedom Trail walks in Italy, such as the annual Tenna Valley Trail in the Marche, eastern 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’s trails all run along routes taken by escaping prisoners aiming to reach Allied armies in south Italy, or neutral Switzerland. The Trust has strong ties with the town of Fontanellato, near Parma, and 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, has also been made Cavaliere Ufficiale, and Antonio Millozzi, the Trust’s organiser within Italy, has an honorary MBE.

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Miles Skinner, tired but triumphant, in St Peter’s Square, Rome


On May 2nd 2015, MSMT supporter Miles Skinner completed an amazing feat by reaching St Peter’s Square in Vatican City after running the equivalent of ten marathons in just seven days.

Starting at Lucca, in Tuscany, he covered 263 miles, mostly in hilly terrain and often in heavy rain. Miles, whose grandfather was a prisoner of war on the run in Italy, has raised nearly £18,000 on behalf of MSMT. For the full story and his Justgiving page, go to “Ten marathons in seven days”, in the News section, and read his day-to-day blog of the run at “Miles Skinner’s marathon blog”.