Lieu. Hart Statement

The following written statement was provided by Lieutenant Hart for the courts-martial of Theodore Schurch.

Statement of Lieutenant Archibald HART, RNVR of HMS “King Alfred”, Brighton.

I was the Senior Officer of a Canoe (fold boats) launched from submarines in the Mediterranean in 1943. We were employed on most secret reconnaissance work on the beaches in Sicily. I swam ashore from the Canoe to Ponto Corvo Sicily on 7 March 1943, and was captured by the Italians the following morning, 8 March. I later learned that Sub-Lieutenant FOLDER, RNVR, has also been captured after sinking our canoe.

About the 11 March 1943, I arrived at a Special Interrogation Camp 50 in Rome with FOLDER. I also met a Lieutenant G.H. DAVIES, RNVR, who had been doing the same job as myself and had been captured on the beaches further along. To begin with, we were put in separate rooms. After about three weeks when the Italians had finished their interrogations, the three of us shared a room.

After I had been in this camp for about two or three days, a British Army Officer in battledress passed a cup of tea through the window of my room. He told me he was Captain Richards, the Senior British Officer at the camp and was resident in the camp in order to look after our welfare. He came along about half a dozen times while I was in the separate room had a yarn at the window. As I had received a warning on the first day I arrived at the camp from an Army batman, I was very careful what I said to Richards.

When Folder, Davis and myself shared a room Richards asked whether he could live with us. He suggested we should go to his room which was larger than ours as we could make a four at cards. We agreed and moved up to his room where we all slept. The four of us were together for about a week, and quite naturally discussed the war.

I told Richards I was formerly the Scottish Third Lanark footballer.

He told me that he was a ranker in the Italian Army or Middle East Forces and had been promoted in the field. He said that he had been captured at Tobruk. Also that his Father was manager of some big hotel in London, I think the Savoy.

As I had been warned about Richards, as had the two others, we were careful what we said in front of him, but he may of course have overheard conversations between Folder, Davies and myself.

After Richards had lived with us for about a week, an Army Officer, whose name I don’t know, was brought into the camp. He recognised Richards and after they had a long conversation, Richards disappeared and did not return. The Italian authorities told us he had been taken ill and had been taken to hospital.

I could identify Captain Richards.

This statement has been read over to me and is true.

Sgd. Archie Hart, Lieutenant RNVR.

Statement taken, read over and signature witnessed by me.