In 1939, at the outbreak of war, Giacinto De Marco joined the Brighton Air Raid Patrol Service (ARP) becoming a senior warden and his brother, Geraldo enrolled in the Hove Auxiliary Fire Service.
Geraldo went on to become a full time fireman in 1941 and was transferred into the newly formed National Fire Service later the same year. Due to manpower shortages he was not released from service until March 1946. While in the service he met Eleanor Fenwick and they were married in June after his release.
Being stationed in Hove, Geraldo was able to maintain contact with his relatives and in particular help his parents when they were released from internment in late 1941.
After the declaration of war by the Italian Government in June 10 1940, and the internment of his father as an enemy alien, Giacinto received a letter from Brighton Police sacking him from his ARP post on the grounds that he possessed dual nationality. He was then registered as eligible for service in the armed forces. On 17 July 1941 Giacinto was enlisted into the army and sent for basic training. He said that at the training camp, the new recruits were being inspected by a senior officer who asked if Giacinto had previous military service as his drill was obviously better than the other recruits, Giacinto snapped out the name of his previous regiment - he had done two years national service in the Italian Army in 1926-7. There was a frozen silence, then the officer walked on. He was posted to the 294 coy Pioneer Corps stationed at Swansea.
In December 1941 he asked successfully (after several attempts) for a transfer to 270 coy which was an alien (and dual national) unit composed of Italians based in Slough. He served here for the rest of the war being demobbed on 13 November 1945.The 270 (Alien) Coy (Italian) kept a war diary - the following are extracts from the official account.
“This is the best built and administered camp I have yet seen. All work has been done by the unit without any assistance whatsoever. The Coy is entirely composed of returned Italian internees, chiefly from the Isle on Man. The OC is a Canadian. CE and DDL should plan the employment of this highly skilled labour on hutting and not on general labour.” Since 1941 we have always had no less than 4 sections working at the RAOC Motor Spare Parts Depot (now 60 Ordnance Sub-Depot) where the men have attained much skill in packing major assemblies for overseas transit. For some months prior to ‘D’ day, much hard work was put into packing waterproofing kits. Many thousands of which were prepared at this depot.
Working at 71 IAD during the winter of 1944 the 6 sections employed there worked night and day to keep the guns of the London barrage supplied with ammunition during the return of the air raids of that winter. All the guns of South and South-West London were supplied from this depot. On occasions office staff and other employed men turned out to keep the supply going.
The Coy was specially commended for this work.
Since formation, the Coy has supplied 60 men for transfer to Intelligence Corps and POW Units as Interpreters.
The high percentage of skilled workers has made the Company exceptionally useful on Construction and Camp Maintenance work, on which many were engaged in the years 1942-1943.
No resume of the work of 270(A) Coy would be complete without mention of its Cooks, many of whom have been loaned to different Units in the Command for special occasions.