Luigi Pinchiaroli was born in Boschetto, in the Province of Parma Italy on the 1st of December 1894 to his mother Luigia Baduini and father Stefano Pinchiaroli. Luigi was (as far as is known) the first of seven children, three girls and four boys. Not a lot is known of his early years at home with his parents.
At the beginning of the 1900’s there was a shortage of employment in Boschetto and the nearby villages, Luigi's father decided to send Luigi to an Uncle ? Baduini in San Francisco in America where there was a better prospect of him finding work. On the 29th of September 1906 at 11 years of age Luigi boarded a ship the S.S. Cretagne sailing from Le Havre to New York. Luigi travelled alone and had 5 dollars in his possession. During the voyage someone was to look after his money and ticket but when the ship arrived at its destination the money and ticket had disappeared. The authorities would not allow Luigi to disembark so on the 8th of October 1906 he was deported back to Italy. Years later Luigi joined the army and in 1914 at 20 years of age he became a prisoner of war in Austria. Luigi returned home to Boschetto at the end of the war.
On the 9th of August 1919 at the age of 24 Luigi married Rosa Signorastri, this marriage was registered in Albareto, Parma, Italy. Sometime after their marriage Luigi and Rosa travelled to Wales. On the 19th of August 1919 their first daughter Pepina was born at 61 Castle Street, Caerphilly, Glamorgan, Luigi's occupation at that time was given as an ice cream vendor. Their second daughter Rita Anno Domenico was born on the 1st of March 1923, a birth certificate has not been found for her in Wales; so it is thought that Rita must have been born in Italy. There is no trace of Rita living in Wales until she is about 12 years old, it is assumed that she stayed in Italy living with her grandmother until this time, we do not know the reason for this. The next event that we know of is when their third daughter Luigia was born on the 28th of March 1925 at 35 Ynyshir Road, Ynyshir, Rhondda. Luigi's occupation at that time was a master confectioner; he also sold ice cream from a horse and cart. The family's next address is 35 Taff Street, Pontypridd when their fourth daughter Maria Gilda was born on the 3rd of July 1934; Luigi's occupation now is a refreshment house keeper. Sometime after Maria was born the family lived in a large semi detached house at 2 Penuel Road, Pontypridd and also had a cafe in 93 Taff Street, Pontypridd, it was called Park Cafe, and there is a listing for this address in February 1940. The family would love to have a photograph of the café but have been unsuccessful in finding one.
When Italy entered the 2nd world war in June 1940 many Italians in Wales were rounded up by the authorities. The decision was taken after Prime Minister Winston Churchill suspected that a "Fifth Column" of enemy nationals was living in the UK. Luigi had never become a British citizen and was one of ten Italians who lived and worked in the Welsh valleys that were arrested and taken from their homes. These Italians were all innocent of any wrongdoing and were just part of small communities where they had lived, raised families and built up businesses.
Luigi was one of the Italians taken from his family home by the authorities and at the end of June 1940 Luigi was interned and taken to Warth Mills Internment Camp.in Bury in Lancashire, his internment number was 58580. Luigi wrote two letters to Rosa and the children while he was at the camp; the second letter was dated the 25th June. In this letter Luigi sent his love to his wife and children and told them not to worry, that he was well and looked forward to seeing them again soon. This was not to be as on the1st of July 1940 at 4 am Luigi was one of the 1,300 internees put on the ship the Arandora Star at Liverpool, they were to sail unescorted to Canada where they were to be put in prison camps. The ship was a former Blue Star luxury liner, it is said that the ship should have had an escort and also be marked with a red cross. The ship made steady progress at 15 knots on a zigzag course. At 6.15 am on the 2nd of July when some 75 miles west of Bloody Foreland, County Donegal the ship was torpedoed on the starboard side by the German submarine "U.47". The Arandora Star sank stern first at 7.20 am. 805 men died that day, 470 of these were Italian, and Luigi who was only 45 years old was one of them, his body was reported as being lost at sea.
Luigi's wife Rosa was left devastated at the loss of her husband in such tragic and needless circumstances. Without any family in Wales to help her she had four daughters to take care of, a home and a business to run. The events of this tragedy were kept a secret by the authorities for many years, even the families of these men did not talk about it, probably finding the memories too painful.
A memorial chapel was erected in the cemetery at Bardi in Parma which was dedicated to all the men from around that area that had died on that fateful day. Luigi’s name is one of the many listed inside the chapel, some of his family from Wales and England have been able to visit the memorial to pay their respect.
On the 2nd of July 2008 to commemorate the 68th Anniversary of the sinking of the Arandora Star a memorial service was held at Liverpool Parish Church Our Lady & St. Nicholas. During the service which was attended by the families of the men that had died, a plaque was unveiled by the Lord Mayor and the Italian Ambassador and blessed by the Archbishop. Luigi’s grandsons Dino and Giancarlo Piccaro and their families were there to remember and represent the Pinchiaroli family. After the service there was a buffet lunch and book launch at Merseyside Maritime Museum this was followed by wreath laying on the River Mersey by the relatives of the victims of the tragedy. A Performance “Arandora” was at 6 30pm the days celebrations ended with a dinner at the Merseyside Maritime Museum.
On the 2nd of July 2010 on the 70th Anniversary of the sinking of the Arandora Star a Solemn Mass of Remembrance was held at the Cardiff Metropolitan Cathedral of St. David. Luigi’s granddaughter Jeanette Stacey and her husband Graham were there to remember and represent his family. The church was full with families and dignitaries; the mass was a very moving experience for all. At the end of the service at the back of the church a plaque was unveiled it lists the names of all the men who had die
I hope Luigi's life story will always be remembered.