cover - Rossano - A Valley in Flames

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Rossano - A Valley in Flames

by Gordon Lett
Preface by Brian Lett
Introduction by James Holland

First published 1949 in Italian
Frontline Books, 2011
ISBN 9781848326217

In September 1943, my father, Major Gordon Lett escaped from a Prisoner of War camp in the north of Italy, and made his way to the mountain valley of Rossano in Northern Tuscany. There he was sheltered by Italian peasants [contadini] as he awaited an expected Allied landing between La Spezia and Genoa, which never came.

In November 1943, he was asked by anti-fascist Italians to help to organise a resistance movement to fight against the Germans and Fascists. He set up the “International Battalion” of partisans, and fought with them behind the lines for eighteen months. He was recruited as a Partisan Liason Officer by the Special Operations Executive in July 1944. He was reinforced by a parachute drop of Special Air Service troopers in December 1944, with whom he fought as a part of the very successful Operation Galia until the middle of February 1945. He ex-filtrated through the enemy front line in March 1945, to assist in the final Allied push, which resulted in the end of the war in Italy in early May 1945. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for his work behind enemy lines.

In his book “Rossano”, originally published by Hodder and Stoughton in 1955, my father, Gordon Lett, tells the tale of his time in the mountains, and of the strong bond that he formed with the people of the area. His book has been described as:

To a fine story, sad yet heartening, Gordon Lett imparts an elegiac quality.

The Sunday Times

An admirable book, carefully and modestly told

The Daily Telegraph

Quite simply, to my mind, there is no finer account of the partisan war by an English writer

James Holland

As humane and observant as Eriic Newby’s “Love and War in the Appenines”, Gordon Lett’s memoir of his role with the resistance in occupied Italy is one of the finest accounts from the Second World War of behind-the-lines fighting.

Roderick Bailey

The 2011 Frontline Books edition includes an introduction by my father himself, written in 1971, together with a preface by me and a foreward by James Holland.

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