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september 2023

Medallion and pendant: Italian WW2 identification item

Eighty years have passed since the Italian armed forces left the Axis powers. On September 3, 1943, the armed forces of the Kingdom of Italy signed an armistice with the allied armed forces of the United States and Great Britain. Five days later, on September 8, 1943, American General and Supreme Allied Commander Eisenhower announced on the radio the unconditional surrender of the Italian forces, and Italian Prime Minister Badoglio announced an armistice with the Allied forces. This event is known in Slovenia as the capitulation of Italy. It also ended the twenty-one-year long period of conscription of coastal Slovenes into the Italian armed forces, when coastal Slovenes and Italians performed military service together and fought together. Thus, as the object of the month, we have chosen two different Italian identification objects of soldiers of Slovenian and Italian descent from the Second World War – Anton Poklar and Enrico Sgalaberni. Identification medallions and pendants were worn by soldiers so that in the event of death they could be identified, and those identified could be buried and their relatives notified.

The metal medallion, measuring 5.2 x 3.4 x 0.3 cm, has a paper roll with Anton Poklar’s personal information: military district of Trieste, year 1920, 1st category, identification number 12579, born in Podgraje on 18/12/1920, son Vincent and Katarina, b. Jaksetič, living in Podgraje 29. On the other side of the scroll there is information about vaccination against smallpox (30 March 1940) and typhus (2 and 20 April 1943). Although metal pendants with less engraved data, but more durable, were already introduced in the Italian armed forces before World War II, medallions introduced during World War I were still used during World War II.

The metal pendant measuring 4.6 x 3.6 cm was worn by Enrico Sgalaberni. In addition to the name and surname, personal information is engraved on the pendant: identification number 10571 (8) and the letter C, which means Catholic, parents’ names Giuseppe and Emilia, b. Gavanelli, year 1921, place Sollarolo [Solarolo, province of Emilia-Romagna].

Anton Poklar survived World War II, his medallion was preserved by his great-nephew Joško Dekleva and donated to the museum. The fate of Enrico Sgalaberni is still unknown. He is not listed in the Italian official list of victims. Sonja Česnik found his pendant near her house in the village of Palčje and donated it to the museum.

Medaljon in obesek, v njem zložen papir.

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