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Ken de Souza


Following in Dad's footsteps....

Remembering Ascoli in 2008

Sad news.  Ken passed away on 4.5.07 more..


  Ken de Souza

This part of my website has nothing at all to do with my Dance Teaching,

but is simply a short information for friends of my father Ken de Souza

This year Ken celebrated his 89th birthday!

He enjoys receiving letters and Emails from his friends in the UK.

If you want to send him an Email then please use my address.

  Escape from Ascoli

The book “Escape from Ascoli”  which Ken wrote, is in the UK sold out. 

Some copies may be still available from Amazon and public libraries.

In 2005 his book was translated into Italian and bears the title “FUGA DALLE MARCHE

The book is a tribute to the Italians who helped evaders during WW2.

  About the book

Although set in the WW2 era, it is not a war story, but portrays a lot of memories of everyday people caught up in the ridiculous events of War.  Not only does it portray mans inhumanity to man, but also the tremendous compassion and friendships, especially of the Italian people who risked their lives helping their fellow man.


Ken´s book describes after having bailed out of his aircraft over the dessert, his 100 mile walk across desert surviving without food or water or shoes. 


After having been captured by the Germans he was made POW in Fermo in Italy.  The hospitality of the POW camp didn´t appeal to him, so together with his pilot “Hal” he escaped by hiding under the weighbridge directly under the sentry post, for 17 days before walking to freedom

Where he was hidden in a farmhouse with Family Brugnoni.


 For a year he taught the children of the village, and disguised as an Italian peasant worked on the fields.

  Return to Ascoli

After Mum passed away Dad visited Italy several times to see his “Italian Family”

At 80 he toured throughout Italy on behalf of the “Escaping Society” visiting all the Italian helpers, laying wreaths or plaques and making grants available to those in need


A part of Ken’s heart is in Monte Urano the small village on the Adriatic Coast.

On 25th April 2006, (Italian Independence Day) he was invited by the Mayor to travel to Monte Urano as a special guest of the Town.  The Culture Ministry wanted to launch his book in Monte Urano on this date and were kind enough to assist in arranging the visit.

  Off to Ascoli

At 89 years young, following several Strokes which have left him paralysed on the left side, wheelchair bound, as well as affecting his speech, he was advised not to travel.

There are times when you take the advice of experts, and times when you follow your heart.

As we rise above the clouds, Ken is deep in thought. Maybe remembering his days as a navigator?  Maybe thinking about his last trip to Italy on behalf of the "Escaping Society" when he travelled in the Cockpit?  Maybe thinking his times gone by, dear friends.. or just waiting what is to come.

  The Welcoming Committee

From Bolgnia Airport to Monte Urano involves a trip  through the beautiful region of the Marche beside the Appenines.  A Green Cross Ambulance had been arranged for the transport.  The driver Francesco was the son of Giovani Brugnoni who was a POW in Scotland at the same time that Ken was being hidden by Family Brugnoni


The Green Cross Ambulance reaches its destination where Ken is to spend the night.  As his wheelchair rolls out of the Ambulance his face lights up as he sees a group of people waiting to welcome him.  The Mayor of Monte Urano, The Minister of Culture, Annalese who translated his book, and Francesco’s wife.  Such lovely People!  We had safely arrived :-)

  Reception in Monte Urano

The next day was an early start.  The Ambulance picked us up to drive us to Monte Urano for the Liberation Day Memorial Service.  As we rolled into the church heads turned, veterans remembered, eyes were wet. Following the service people gathered on the square between the Church and the Town Hall, Ken was the centre of attention.  Everyone had a story to tell.  The past had become very real.

  Fall in

A band had assemled just across the square, we waited expectantly to be musically entertained, no such luck they were waiting for us to fall in.   The Mayor ushered Ken to the centre of the square where promptly Partisans gathered to his side and the band took this as their signal and also fell in. 

The standard bearer lifted his standard, the drums rolled the trumpets sounded off and we were away.

  On Parade

The NHS Wheelchair containing Ken rolled off down the cobbled streets of Monte Urano leading the Partisans Parade to lay a wreath at the memorial statue at the bottom of the hill.

We soon learnt the man brandishing a large TV Camera was from Italys national TV station and that Ken was to feature for 10 minutes on the 19.00 hr news that evening. National and Local Reporters were taking snapshots which appeared the next day in many national and regional newspapers.  I guess that makes me the most famous wheelchair pusher in Italy. J

  The Town Hall

The wreath having been laid, we marched back up the hill stopping in front of the Town Hall again being surrounded by people wanting to shake hands, hug  and kiss Ken.

The Mayor and Minister of Culture ushered Ken into the packed auditorium where he took his place on the top table sandwiched between the Mayor and Professor Nebbia who did the Italian translation. The president of the Liberation Movement, a leading war historian were also represented.  Having had the honour to be able to sit behind my Dad, we shared the view into the packed audience, where we could observe the antiks of the the camera team from Italy´s National TV station, national and local press photographers and reporters ...

  Presentation of the Book

We looked into  a sea of faces not just war veterans or members of the Italian Resistance adourning uniforms and flags but a multitude of people, who like myself, belong to the next generation, we were not involved but only "heard" about the war from our parents.

Ken had to make a speech in Italian, due to severe speech difficulties resulting from the Strokes, this was going to be very difficult.  I had offered to deliver a speech on behalf of my Dad which was seen as an ideal solution, apart from the fact that I don´t speak Italian. L  I had 5 days to learn a speech in Italian.  Ken with difficulty still gave a short speech, although difficult to understand the content was very clear as could be seen by those having to dry their eyes.   Thank You means the same in any language.


  Autograph session

Speeches were made by the Mayor, The Minister of Culture, Leading historians, Partisans, the Institute which had published the book and a representative of the “Contadini” (from the next Brugnoni generation). 

It was now clear it wasn´t simply a book which Ken had written it was an important contribution and document to Italy´s history especially in the “Marche” region.  As the speeches ended a crowd gathered in front of Ken, some holding copies of his book in Italian or English which they wanted signing, some wanting to shake hands other saying, “do you remember me?”  

  The Prison Camp

Whilst in the region, Ken re visited the POW camp in Fermo where he was imprisoned for a year before escaping by hiding under the weighbridge.  The Camp was then home to 8.000 prisoners mainly Marines & Army and 3 RAFs including Ken and his pilot, "Hal".  Before the war it was used as a flax factory and for a short time after the war as a leather factory.  Nothing much has changed the brickwork is still the same. Ken prefers not to remember the suffering, but instead talks about the beautiful views over the Adriatic and the region Marche.

  The POW

Ken approached the hut in which he was imprisoned during WW2, the door opened and slowly Ken wheelchair rolled in.  This dismal hut in which 2000 people had slept was now quiet. According to Ken nothing had really changed. As he viewed this depressing place he was remembering those days.  Slowly we moved to where Ken slept on the way he was remembering who was sleeping where, the pictures of loved ones that were hanging, the atmosphere.  Ken placed his wheelchair on the exact spot where he had slept.  In "those days" there was the comfort of straw on the ground where he now sits. 

Ken remained silent, remembering, thinking... then, as over 60 years ago, he wanted to leave.

  Going underground

Ken, together with his Co Pilot "Hal" who had also landed in the same camp, ran the POW newspaper "70 Times". This allowed them access to a small room from which they were able to crawl under the weighbridge where they then hid for 17 days before walking to freedom.  In “those days” a guard patrolled on top of the Weighbridge.  Hal occasionally lit up a cigarette which frightened Ken as the whisps of smoke drifted upwards and through the Weighbridge.  If only the guartd had looked down...

This picture shows Ken with Prof. Nebbia, on top of the Weighbridge which is now cemented over.

  View from the Prison Camp
  Here I escaped

Before leaving we took a trip to the coast, to see the part of the Adriatic coast from where Ken was rescued by the SAS.   There were 2 rescue attempts, the first by the father of Prof. Nebbia (who translated the book), he was to sail down the coast and look for a morse code light signal “R R”.  There was a bad storm making the rescue impossible.  Sometime later a second attempt, Ken lay on the beach flashing the signal, a signal was returned and off Ken & Hal set in a Fishing Boat out to the ship.  The Fishing Boat sank leaving Ken & Hal a long swim in icy cold water in January, they reached the rescue craft before freezing.  Ken remembers  the spot exactly!

  The Brugnoni Family today

Afterwards we visited the Farmhouse of the Family Brugnoni.  Although Stella has passed away, the spirit of the Brugnoni Family lives on.  They are truly wonderful people, all 3 generations were waiting to greet Ken (then known as "Arturo").  They were at the Civic reception and afterwards we met up again up to revisit the old farmhouse in which the last generation lived and where Ken and Hal were hidden for almost a year before being rescued by the SAS. The next generation of the Family live just across the road from the old farmhouse, (now used as stables). Ken couldn´t get upstairs in his wheelchair but from the description it is just as it was.

  The Irony of POWs

The Brugnoni Family risked their lives by taking in an escaped POW. As "contadini" (local peasants), they had very little apart from what the could grow, but what they had they willingly shared, knowing that if found out they would be shot without question, (in the same way as a family just down the road). 

The brother of Stella, "Giovani", was being held as a POW in Scotland at the same time Ken was hiding out with the Italians. Following his return to UK, Kens first Job was to go Scotland to see Giovani Brugnoni at the POW Camp.  This picture is of Giovani´s wife and son.

in the 20th Century, will we ever see the return of the "Caring Generation"?  

  The region

The Map shows Fermo where Ken was held POW.

Following his escape he was hidden by the Family Brugnoni in Monte Urano.

The SAS organised his get away from Porta San Giorgio

  Monte Urano 25.04.06
 On Italian Independance day 25.04.06, the Italian translations of Ken´s Book, "Escape from Ascoli" is being launched in Monte Urano where he was hidden during WW2
  Presentazione di

Presentazione di "Fuga dalle Marche. Prigionia ed evasione di un ufficiale di aviazione inglese (1942 - 1944)

San Benedetto del Trono (AP), 22 febbraio 2006

di Giuseppe Lupi

  25 APRILE 2006 FUGA DALLE MARCHE di Ken de Souza - 05.11.2006 - 15:34
 L'Amministrazione Comunale di Monte Urano, unitamente all'Istituto regionale per la storia del Movimento di liberazione nelle Marche, in occasione del 25 aprile (anniversario della liberazione) e' lieta di invitare la cittadinanza alla manifestazione:

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