Italian Military Records
7/9/2014
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Q. My Italian grandfather served in World War I and was a prisoner of war of the Austrians. Where would I find information on this beside getting his military papers? How would I ask for this information? I am assuming I would write to Lucca, Italy.

A. That is a tough one. You can get the conscription papers for your ancestor from Italy. Trafford Cole's book Italian Genealogical Records states that the conscription records are called registro di leva and list all males, listed by year of birth, within each military district. He goes on to say that the records are usually indexed and fairly easy to consult: "There are two copies of them; one is held in the military district, and the other copy is initially held by the procura della repubblica, usually at the court (tribunal) archive. After 75 years, the latter copy is usually turned over to the state archive and made available for consultation."

Cole goes on to describe how the military districts are divided. He also includes several examples of some of the documents.

The second type of military record is the registri dei fogli matricolare (record of draftee curriculum), which documents the individual's military service. In a separate document (sometimes they are included in the foglio matricolare) called the registro di ruolo (military record), other documents may be found.

My recommendation would be to read Cole's chapter on military records. I find no mention of where prisoner of war records would, if at all, be included. I would think they would be in the registri dei fogli matricolare or the registro di ruolo since this is the most logical place for them.

Lynn Nelson's book A Genealogist's Guide to Discovering Your Italian Ancestors has a short explanation of military records (pages 31-32 and page 86). She also states that few of these records have been filmed by the Family History Library so the researcher must write to Italy for them. Page 86 tells you where you need to address your inquiry (at the Archivio de Stato, or State/Province Archives).

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