Barry Men’s Forum and Italian connection Mussolini was paid £100 a week by MI5

By GEM Community Correspondent in Local People

The speaker at last week’s meeting of the Barry Men’s Forum held at Trinity Presbyterian Church Hall, saw the return of Romeo Basini, who spoke about the Italian-Welsh connections, and the problems especially associated with the Second World War.

History remembers Benito Mussolini as a founder member of the original ‘Axis of Evil’– the Italian dictator who ruled his country with fear and forged a disastrous alliance with Nazi Germany. But a previously unknown area of Il Duce’s CV has come to light: his brief career as a British agent.

Archived documents have revealed that Mussolini got his start in politics in 1917 with the help of a £100 weekly wage from MI5.

In 1923, King George V awarded Mussolini the Knight Grand Cross of the Bath, which made him Sir Benito Mussolini.

On the outbreak of the Second World War, the Italians in the country together with others were considered aliens and rounded up. Some were sent to Australia, the Isle of Man and Canada. In July 1940, the Arandora Star set sail, under protest of the captain, from Liverpool with 1,340 internees on board plus Army guards and crew. It was sunk by a German U-Boat and 805 men died, of whom 417 were Italians.

Romeo continued his talk with some very interesting facts about the Italians’ subsequent achievements in Britain, where they are now part of the establishment.

The next meeting is on February 23, when the speaker will be Haydn Burgess with a talk entitled ‘Teenage Adventures at the end of the War’.

New members are very welcome, at £2 per meeting (which includes light refreshments), from 10.15am to 12 noon. The Barry Men’s Forum meet at the Trinity Presbyterian Church Hall, every Thursday morning.

For further information, contact chairman Mac Tanner on 01446 743455. PMW

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