Unknown English soldier -- 'L'Inglese Sconosciuto' -- identified after 60 years

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ROME -- A British officer murdered by the Nazis in Rome and until now honoured only as “The Unknown Englishman” has been identified after more than 60 years.

Second World War veterans and local historians in Rome who have sought to identify the officer for more than a decade have named him as Captain John Armstrong. But so little is known about his service record that they are appealing to Times readers to help to track down his surviving relatives. It is thought that he might have been an intelligence officer, liaising with anti-Fascist partisans.

Captain Armstrong was one of fourteen prisoners of the Gestapo who were taken in a lorry by Nazi forces retreating northwards up the Via Cassia as Allied troops liberated the Italian capital on June 4, 1944.

The fleeing Germans swiftly concluded that the prisoners were an encumbrance and unloaded them near the Rome suburb of La Storta. They were herded into a wood, forced to their knees and shot in the back of the neck.

A monument on the Via Cassia records the massacre, trees planted at the site carry plaques bearing their names of the dead and a ceremony is held every year on June 4. One plaque, however, has until now simply read “The Unknown Englishman” (“L’Inglese Sconosciuto”).

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