Stolen Years: Australian prisoners of war
Private James McCracken
“I will not see you again”
When Italy surrendered in September 1943, many prisoners escaped. Some reached Allied lines; others joined anti-Fascist partisans waging a guerilla war in Italy’s mountains. As many as 39 Australians who had been prisoners of war – no one really knows – died fighting with Italian partisans.
One of these men was Private James McCracken, who in February 1944 joined guerillas fighting the Germans around Milan. In April he was caught in civilian clothes at Varallo, north-east of Milan. Before he was stood against a wall and shot in the back, he was allowed to write to his family in Bendigo: “Just a line to tell you that I will not see you again as I am going to be shot”.
McCracken was buried in the British Empire Cemetery in Milan.