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Taranto Town Cemetery Extension

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#1 Andrew Gordon

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 03:11 pm

This is really weird. I have always had an interest in WW1, obviously as everyone here has, and have always choosen to read as much as I can, I think because my uncle Chas was in the RFC, but having always read of France and Belgium, I came across the Italian Austro Hungarian front by accident and was totally captivated by the scale, hardship and terrain that this war raged, and it has always been in the back of my mind, then yesterday I found out that my Great, Great Uncle, T. Captain Andrew McAllister is buried in the Taranto Town Cemetery, and is listed as having been killed in August 29th 1917, so I am totally blown away. (no pun intended) I have found very little so far about his involvement, and cannot work out why he would be in the south of Italy, when the battles around the time were in the North, could anyone please shed any light on why this may be.

My mother spoke to a researcher and he mentioned that he was with 400 men who were killed, and Bologna, plus Vera Brittain's brother Edward was with him (but he died later I believe in the 11th Isonzo)... so confused and any help would be gratefully accepted.


#2 Mally



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Posted 19 November 2012 - 07:59 am

Hi Andy

I too only found out last year about the incredible goings on at Taranto. My father (who was a lot older than my mother) was a pilot stationed there in 1918. He had joined the RNAS in 1917, but was then with 226 squadron RAF. Last year an Italian researcher contacted me because he had found some fascinating archive material (in English) at the Military Archives in Rome. That might be a good place for you to go to get more info. Like you say, there is so little written about this time, and my father (Anthony Jacques Mantle) never spoke about it, although he did speak about his later captivity in Russia when he was sent to Baku after the end of the war.


#3 David Porter

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 11:56 am

This is what the Commonwealth War Graves Commission says about Taranto Town Cemetery:

The Italians entered the war on the Allied side, declaring war on Austria, in May 1915. Commonwealth forces were at the Italian front between November 1917 and November 1918, and rest camps and medical units were established at various locations in northern Italy behind the front, some of them remaining until 1919.

Taranto was used as a base by the Royal Navy immediately after the Italian declaration of war, but its importance to Commonwealth troops dates from the summer of 1917, when the Mediterranean lines of communication were established. These lines ran from the eastern theatres of war through Taranto, Turin, Lyons and Le Mans to Cherbourg. A base and rest camp were made at Taranto and labour units, including the 8th, 10th and 11th Battalions, British West Indies Regiment, were brought in. No 79 General and No 6 Labour Hospitals followed.

The Town Cemetery was used for Commonwealth burials from June 1915 to April 1919, but as early as January 1918, it became necessary to open a military extension. After the Armistice the 102 Commonwealth burials in the town cemetery were removed to this extension, and the grave of one sailor was brought in from Trani Communal Cemetery in 1958.

As you will see Taranto was used in the Lines of Communication to Eastern theatres and troopships would arrive and depart from places such as Port Said & Alexandria, There are War Diaries at the National Archives devoted to Lines of Communication, so you may find out the circumstances of Capt. Andrew McAlliter's death. They start at WO 95/4252.

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