Italian trip to tell grandfather’s wartime story once more

Stephen Hewson
Stephen Hewson

A North Willingham man is heading to Italy to be part of a prestigious commemoration of wartime bravery.

Stephen Hewson will be travelling to Zevio, in the north of the country, to meet with local families who helped save escaped prisoners of war like his grandfather, three-times Mayor of Market Rasen Albert Rhoades.

The story of Albert’s struggle for survival against the backdrop of World War Two are well documented, thanks to the book written by Stephen in 2012 - Memories of War, Letters of Hope, which has led to a number of speaking engagements, including the trip to northern Italy on April 19.

“It is a going to be quite an event, with a large display being mounted in the town hall about the different camps and many stories,” said Stephen.

“It is a huge honour to be representing my grandfather in this way - I feel very proud.”

“I have met members of the Bonato family who helped my grandfather, but now I will be able to meet some of the other families who helped other people escape to Switzerland and beyond - that will be the highlight for me.”

And travelling with Stephen, for what is certain to be an emotional occasion, will be Albert’s brother Lewis, who helped Stephen with the historical research for Memories of War, Letters of Hope, and sister-in-law Doreen.

The British Ambassador is among the dignitaries expected to attend the event, where Stephen will be one of the guest speakers, recounting his late grandfather’s experiences - all in Italian.

“I will definitely have to brush up on my Italian, but luckily it is a story I know very well,” added Stephen.