My late father once said at an uncle's funeral that he was not going to elaborate on what a great person the deceased had been, as he was many things to many people and that each one present should remember him for who he was in their lives...
Carlo Casati was a remarkable human being.
After months of arrangements and negotiations he was finally laid to rest on 20th June 2011 at the Zonderwater Italian Prisoner Of War Museum, during a small intimate ceremony, attended by friends and dignitaries from the Italian Embassy. In many ways this is where his life began and it was only fitting that it be where he had his final resting place.
Uncle Carlo, as most of us knew him, was wounded and captured during WW11 in North Africa. After a treacherous sea journey in which many prisoners died, he finally landed at Zonderwater, east of Pretoria, where the largest of 18 Italian POW camps had been established.
"The early days at Zonderwater were trying ones for the
disillusioned troops. The period 1941-1943 were known as the
Tendopoli days. Eight-men canvas tents were erected to house the
prisoners. By comparison to sleeping under the stars up north at
the front, this in itself was a luxury. But with the high winds,
treacherous thunderstorms and sandy conditions, a new war had
begun for these young men, this time, against the elements. The
metal poles used to sustain these tents became magnets during
such vicious storms with many men falling victim to lightning. At
the beginning of 1942, a massive 7,000 tents had been erected; by
the time the number of prisoners had reached 63000"
After the war Uncle Carlo decided to stay in South Africa and obtained citizenship. Many of us were blessed to have crossed paths with him and he touched our lives with grace. Rest in peace Uncle Carlo-you will be dearly missed.
The Zonderwater Museum is only open to the public once a year on the first Sunday of November, when a full memorial service is held by the Italian Government. Below are a few snaps for those who are interested and who could not be present at the burial.
Ps. Older photos supplied courtesy of http://www.francoforleo.co.za/Zonderwater.html