The splendid Grade II listed Art Deco Bianchi memorial was created by Cesare Bianchi for his wife Martha who died in 1936 giving birth to her second child. The memorial is set in a large triangular plot that had wrought iron railings and a gate until they were stolen by thieves in 2011. A futurist angel stands with wings outstretched over a gateway inscribed with the name Bianchi. On either side of the gateway are carved relief panels, one showing Martha ascending to heaven accompanied by wingless angels and the other showing Martha and Cesare, apparently reunited in the afterlife, sitting on a bench with Martha finally cradling the baby she presumably never got to hold before she died.
On the 30 June Cesare joined 734 other interned Italian men on the SS Arandora Star (owned by Frederick Leyland & Co) along with 479 interned Germans and 86 German PoW’s, all bound for St John’s Newfoundland. The ship sailed unescorted and early in the morning of 2 July, having crossed to the north of Ireland, was 75 miles west of Bloody Foreland in County Donegal and about to set off across the open Atlantic to Newfoundland. Here she was spotted by U Boat U-47 commanded by Gunther Prien. The U boat was almost out of torpedoes and about to sail back to base when she picked up the Arandora Star. In fact all that was left in her guns was a single broken torpedo that had already failed to fire. Prien decided to give the defective missile one last chance and took aim at the enemy ship; this time the torpedo fired, detonating against the starboard side of the ship, flooding the engine rooms and immediately killing all the personnel there. There was chaos on board the sinking ship as sailors, military guards and the Italian and German internees fought to get on the lifeboats and life rafts, some of them falling from the bows in the desperate scramble. 805 people drowned including the ships commander, Captain Moulton, 12 ships officer, 42 crew, 37 military guards, 486 Italians and 175 Germans. Cesare survived and returned to Liverpool from where he was interned on the Isle of Man. He was lucky, many of the survivors were sent to Australia to be interned on an isolated camp on the Murray River for the duration of the war. When the authorities decided that Cesare was no longer a threat in 1942 and released him from internment the journey home from the Isle of Man was much easier than it would have been from South Australia. He re-joined his family in Hampstead where his sister in law had been looking after the children in his absence. He found work in catering, helping to develop frozen food in Smithfield Market and must have hoped that he could now quietly see the rest of the war out.
|V2 devastation at Smithfield Market|
Cesare was buried with other victims of the V2 in the City of London Cemetery in Manor Park. He would have certainly wanted to be buried with his wife but the circumstances of his death made that impossible. Mary Gall’s place of burial is not known.
I would like to thank Jon Gliddon for allowing me to use the results of his genealogical research in this post and Robert Bianchi for permission to use his parents photograph's and for providing additional information about them.