What a story to tell

'I remember that night'.

'I remember that night'.

CONNECTION: Italian couple Enzo and Ivana Casadio are flanked by brothers Monty Soutar (left) and Barry Soutar (right). For more than 30 years these families have been linked after Barry travelled to Faenza in Northern Italy to visit the grave of his uncle, Sam Paniora, who was killed in action in 1944 when an officer in the 28th Maori Battalion. They are "like whanau", and are pictured in the C Company building in Kelvin Park that commemorates the soldiers of the 28th Maori Battalion who lost their lives. Barry has hosted the Casadios’ children on their OEs to New Zealand over the years, and Enzo will host visitors from Tairawhiti next month. The Casadios’ latest grandchild, born in Auckland this month, is another wonderful connection between these families — and it is quite the story of how it all came about. Picture by Paul Rickard

A young man’s journey to Italy retraced the steps of his uncle who was killed in action during World War 2. Barry Soutar shares the untold story of his uncle Sam Paniora, and of the lifelong friendship forged between his family and the Casadios, from Faenza, Italy, where Sam drew his last breath. Sophie Rishworth reports.

A young soldier’s death 74 years ago was the catalyst for a lifelong friendship between his Ruatoria family and an Italian family from the city where he was killed.
Italian couple Enzo and Ivana Casadio visited Gisborne last month to catch up with Barry and Monty Soutar, whose uncle Sam Paniora was killed in action in their home town of Faenza, Italy.
They have become lifelong friends and like whanau.

Sam's story

Sam Paniora was 21 when he died under enemy fire, in December 1944.
He was among the tens of thousands of New Zealand troops who fought their way through Italy from late-1943 to mid-1945, as part of the vast multinational force assembled to roll back Hitler’s forces in World War 2.
Sam was part of the 28 Maori Battalion when, in the northern Italian town of Faenza, he was shot as he tried to liberate an Italian family home.
“The death of someone killed in action anchors that person in a place much more. And even though Sam’s death was a moment of time in Faenza, his legacy lives on strongly,” says Barry Soutar, Sam’s nephew .
News of his death arrived via telegram in the tiny settlement of Ruatoria, on the East Coast of New Zealand.
It shattered the small town where he lived and was deeply loved. It was said that Sam’s mother was never the same again.
His young sister Kino Paniora, who was 10 when Sam died, vowed to one day visit his grave in Italy.
Kino grew up and had children of her own. Her wish to visit her brother’s grave was her lifelong dream but sadly she never made it before she passed away. Her son Barry Soutar took on his mother’s dream.

The journey

In 1986 Barry Soutar travelled to Faenza, armed only with a battle map used by the 28th Maori Battalion. It was pre-tourism in Northern Italy back then, and by a fluke he found himself standing right in front of the home where his late uncle had died.

The name of the house, Casa Della Cura was written in stone above the front door. It was a name he had heard many times growing up as his family recounted the story of how Sam died.

Barry, fresh off the plane from New Zealand, knocked on the door.
He didn’t speak Italian, and the person who opened the door did not speak English.

A person who could speak some English was found, and between them all they managed to communicate.

Finally the words Barry longed to hear, “oh I remember that night”, were spoken by the interpreter.
Barry was put in touch with Faenza resident Enzo Casadio, who helped track down the people who had lived in the home at the time.

They found a woman who was 16 at the time of the attack. She remembered the morning she and her uncle went across the road to Casa Della Cura where the fighting had taken place the night before. There they found the bodies of two soldiers, one in the living room and the other, partially out the front door. Sam Paniora was one of these. An eye witness recounted both bodies had been left in the lounge room of the home. So this piece of information told Barry that one of the men initially survived, and had tried to get outside before succumbing to his gunshot wounds.

The woman told Barry she and her uncle buried the two men under the apple tree in the front lawn.

A week later the British Army came through the town and recovered the bodies of those killed, and their bodies were all moved to Forli War Cemetery nearby.

The front line of the campaign was in Faenza from November 1944 until the spring of the next year. The many nationalities of soldiers buried in the Forli cemetery include men from India, Poland and New Zealand.

Barry visited his Uncle Sam there, and fulfilled his mother’s wish.
But from this pilgrimage developed a strong friendship between the Casadios and the Soutars. For more than 30 years the families have kept in touch.

“Part of the reason we all connect is because of our cultures,” said Barry.

They found they had many things in common. Both families were brought up speaking their native tongue, which was a dialect different from others in the rest of their countries, and they both came from humble backgrounds with Faenza a farming economy, much like Ruatoria.

Ivana said when her and Enzo’s parents spoke about their lives in Faenza, it was divided into two times; before the war and after the war.

“It was the most important event of their lives,” she said.

“And in these difficult and sad moments there were built a lot of friendships.”

When the Casadios’ three children graduated they were each given a present of a trip to New Zealand.
Barry and his family hosted the Casadios’ children during these OEs. The youngest daughter stayed in New Zealand, and married one of their whanau.

A baby completes full circle

A baby boy born in Auckland this month with Italian and Ngati Porou heritage will have quite the story to tell about their ancestry.

Te Whetūkamokamo Enzo Casadio-Huata’s birth is directly related to the event 74 years ago when a soldier Sam from Ruatoria was killed.

This baby’s great-grandparents were in Faenza that night. His great-grandfather was Colonel Peta Awatere, commander of the 28th Maori Battalion. The baby also had three great-grand-uncles in Faenza from the Huata family of Wairoa. They were Padre Wi Te Tau Huata, Major Te OKanga (Ossie) Huata and Ranapia (Dick) Huata. All men survived.

The baby’s mum is the daughter of Enzo and Ivana Casadio.

The birth cements the bond between these two families who were brought together because Sam died in action in 1944, and because his younger sister vowed to visit his grave one day.

Enzo and Ivana visited Gisborne in August to visit the Soutars. It was their first time out of Europe.

They are going to host students from Whangaparaoa, East Cape and Te Aute College who will travel to Faenza with Sir Wira Gardiner to learn more about the 28th Maori Battalion, their achievements, memories, values and lessons.

Know someone called Faenza?

Following Sam’s death, in Maori tradition, the next seven babies born were named after him. There was a baby boy named Soldier Sam, and a baby boy named Faenza who their grandmother adopted. Four other babies around that time also carry names to commemorate this incident.

A young man’s journey to Italy retraces the steps of his uncle who was killed in action 74 years ago during World War 2. Barry Soutar shares the untold story of his uncle Sam Paniora, and of the lifelong friendship forged between his family and the Casadios, from Faenza, Italy, where Sam drew his last breath. Sophie Rishworth reports.

A young man’s journey to Italy retraced the steps of his uncle who was killed in action during World War 2. Barry Soutar shares the untold story of his uncle Sam Paniora, and of the lifelong friendship forged between his family and the Casadios, from Faenza, Italy, where Sam drew his last breath. Sophie Rishworth reports.

A young soldier’s death 74 years ago was the catalyst for a lifelong friendship between his Ruatoria family and an Italian family from the city where he was killed.
Italian couple Enzo and Ivana Casadio visited Gisborne last month to catch up with Barry and Monty Soutar, whose uncle Sam Paniora was killed in action in their home town of Faenza, Italy.
They have become lifelong friends and like whanau.

Sam's story

Sam Paniora was 21 when he died under enemy fire, in December 1944.
He was among the tens of thousands of New Zealand troops who fought their way through Italy from late-1943 to mid-1945, as part of the vast multinational force assembled to roll back Hitler’s forces in World War 2.
Sam was part of the 28 Maori Battalion when, in the northern Italian town of Faenza, he was shot as he tried to liberate an Italian family home.
“The death of someone killed in action anchors that person in a place much more. And even though Sam’s death was a moment of time in Faenza, his legacy lives on strongly,” says Barry Soutar, Sam’s nephew .
News of his death arrived via telegram in the tiny settlement of Ruatoria, on the East Coast of New Zealand.
It shattered the small town where he lived and was deeply loved. It was said that Sam’s mother was never the same again.
His young sister Kino Paniora, who was 10 when Sam died, vowed to one day visit his grave in Italy.
Kino grew up and had children of her own. Her wish to visit her brother’s grave was her lifelong dream but sadly she never made it before she passed away. Her son Barry Soutar took on his mother’s dream.

The journey

In 1986 Barry Soutar travelled to Faenza, armed only with a battle map used by the 28th Maori Battalion. It was pre-tourism in Northern Italy back then, and by a fluke he found himself standing right in front of the home where his late uncle had died.

The name of the house, Casa Della Cura was written in stone above the front door. It was a name he had heard many times growing up as his family recounted the story of how Sam died.

Barry, fresh off the plane from New Zealand, knocked on the door.
He didn’t speak Italian, and the person who opened the door did not speak English.

A person who could speak some English was found, and between them all they managed to communicate.

Finally the words Barry longed to hear, “oh I remember that night”, were spoken by the interpreter.
Barry was put in touch with Faenza resident Enzo Casadio, who helped track down the people who had lived in the home at the time.

They found a woman who was 16 at the time of the attack. She remembered the morning she and her uncle went across the road to Casa Della Cura where the fighting had taken place the night before. There they found the bodies of two soldiers, one in the living room and the other, partially out the front door. Sam Paniora was one of these. An eye witness recounted both bodies had been left in the lounge room of the home. So this piece of information told Barry that one of the men initially survived, and had tried to get outside before succumbing to his gunshot wounds.

The woman told Barry she and her uncle buried the two men under the apple tree in the front lawn.

A week later the British Army came through the town and recovered the bodies of those killed, and their bodies were all moved to Forli War Cemetery nearby.

The front line of the campaign was in Faenza from November 1944 until the spring of the next year. The many nationalities of soldiers buried in the Forli cemetery include men from India, Poland and New Zealand.

Barry visited his Uncle Sam there, and fulfilled his mother’s wish.
But from this pilgrimage developed a strong friendship between the Casadios and the Soutars. For more than 30 years the families have kept in touch.

“Part of the reason we all connect is because of our cultures,” said Barry.

They found they had many things in common. Both families were brought up speaking their native tongue, which was a dialect different from others in the rest of their countries, and they both came from humble backgrounds with Faenza a farming economy, much like Ruatoria.

Ivana said when her and Enzo’s parents spoke about their lives in Faenza, it was divided into two times; before the war and after the war.

“It was the most important event of their lives,” she said.

“And in these difficult and sad moments there were built a lot of friendships.”

When the Casadios’ three children graduated they were each given a present of a trip to New Zealand.
Barry and his family hosted the Casadios’ children during these OEs. The youngest daughter stayed in New Zealand, and married one of their whanau.

A baby completes full circle

A baby boy born in Auckland this month with Italian and Ngati Porou heritage will have quite the story to tell about their ancestry.

Te Whetūkamokamo Enzo Casadio-Huata’s birth is directly related to the event 74 years ago when a soldier Sam from Ruatoria was killed.

This baby’s great-grandparents were in Faenza that night. His great-grandfather was Colonel Peta Awatere, commander of the 28th Maori Battalion. The baby also had three great-grand-uncles in Faenza from the Huata family of Wairoa. They were Padre Wi Te Tau Huata, Major Te OKanga (Ossie) Huata and Ranapia (Dick) Huata. All men survived.

The baby’s mum is the daughter of Enzo and Ivana Casadio.

The birth cements the bond between these two families who were brought together because Sam died in action in 1944, and because his younger sister vowed to visit his grave one day.

Enzo and Ivana visited Gisborne in August to visit the Soutars. It was their first time out of Europe.

They are going to host students from Whangaparaoa, East Cape and Te Aute College who will travel to Faenza with Sir Wira Gardiner to learn more about the 28th Maori Battalion, their achievements, memories, values and lessons.

Know someone called Faenza?

Following Sam’s death, in Maori tradition, the next seven babies born were named after him. There was a baby boy named Soldier Sam, and a baby boy named Faenza who their grandmother adopted. Four other babies around that time also carry names to commemorate this incident.

A young man’s journey to Italy retraces the steps of his uncle who was killed in action 74 years ago during World War 2. Barry Soutar shares the untold story of his uncle Sam Paniora, and of the lifelong friendship forged between his family and the Casadios, from Faenza, Italy, where Sam drew his last breath. Sophie Rishworth reports.

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