The partisan leader of the Val di Vara – Daniele Bucchioni OBE (1917-2013)

Daniele Bucchioni, one of the great partisan leaders of World War II, has died at the age of 94. He was Commander of the Brigata Val di Vara della Colonna di Giustizia e Libertà.  The contribution and sacrifices he and his men made in the Val di Vara and Lunigiana during the war were enormous. ‘Dany’, Bucchioni’s partisan name, was highly respected and was known for his courage, honesty, and compassion. He worked closely with Major Gordon Lett during this terrible period in Lunigiana’s history, and the two became lifelong friends, as did Lett’s son, Brian.Daniele Bucchioni

Daniele Bucchioni was a young Italian Army lieutenant, who came from a landowning family in Borseda in the Val di Vara. He played a key role in the action at Calice, as well as in the liberation of Aulla. He was a major link in the escape route for Allied prisoners of war, providing guides from Borseda, across the Magra to the mountains in the south. After the war, Bucchioni continued to work with the British before returning to the Italian Army, where he held various positions, including that of commander of the military district of Massa. He was also a judge at the Military Tribunal in La Spezia and ended his career with the rank of General.

Major Gordon Lett recommended him to the British government for a King’s Medal, which he was awarded in 2001. In 2005, Bucchioni was honoured with an OBE, mainly for his wartime services, but also for his friendship to the United Kingdom in the years following the war. The citation for the King’s Medal read:

“Lieutenant Daniele Bucchioni was in command of a large partisan brigade operating in the Borseda (Spezia) area during the period October 1943 – May 1945. During this time he gave invaluable help to large numbers of Allied escaped prisoners of war in hiding them, and passing them through the districts. Under orders of a British military mission and working in close co-operation with No: 1 Special Force and ‘A’ Force, he organised dropping zones and was entirely responsible for the distribution of food and other necessities, both for prisoners of war and partisans, parachuted to him by the Allies. He provided guides to take parties of escapees to the Allied lines and incorporated many escapees into his partisan brigades.  In all some three hundred Allied service personnel passed through his hands.

In addition to his work on behalf of prisoners of war, Lieutenant Bucchioni and his partisans fought many successful actions against the enemy and were of great assistance to the Allied forces in the area. In spite of the fact that the German SS/Fascists offered large sums for his arrest, Lieutenant Bucchioni never faltered and continued to do everything in his power to help the Allied cause until the Liberation.

This man has shown outstanding courage, resolution and initiative; it is due to his efforts that a very large number of Allied escapees were able to regain their freedom.”

Source: SAS in Tuscany 1943-1945. Brian Lett, 2011.

Bucchioni’s own memories of this time are available at Voci della Momoria, in Italian.

The partisan leader of the Val di Vara – Daniele Bucchioni OBE (1917-2013) appeared on Ciao Lunigiana on 27 June 2013. All rights reserved.


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