Lest we Forget by Dr Allison Buck


Lest We Forget (Per Non Dimenticare)

By Dr Allison Buck


Italy is full of idyllic hilltop towns teeming with centuries of history. Soriano nel Cimino, located in the Tuscia region of Lazio is one of those. On June 5, 1944, the day after Rome was liberated, this small town was nearly destroyed by Allied bombing. In 1994 for the 50th anniversary of the bombing, first-hand testimonies were collected and printed by some of the survivors and made available in Italian. This book contains those same testimonies of devastation, resilience, strength, and re-birth translated into English. It includes testimonies from fascists, antifascists, and partisans. Cold-blooded murder by the hands of the Nazis as they retreated to the north and scavenged to find enough wood and nails in the rubble to build the coffins to bury the almost 200 victims of the bombing. Soriano nel Cimino has now been rebuilt, but scars still run deep in the generations which followed. Every day the air raid siren sounds from the clock tower in the centre of town at 8:00 am, noon, and 5:00 pm in remembrance of the horrific event of June 5, 1944 and its victims.



This book happened by accident. The author visited Italy many times over the years to play her bassoon at the summer opera festivals, One summer, while she was playing at a concert, she met her fiancé, who owns the Café Centrale in Soriano nel Cimino, an idyllic hilltop town located in the Tuscia region of Lazio, Rome.

She noticed how few books were available for tourists to read in English but stumbled across two different and out print publications of testimonies of the bombing of Soriano during the second world war. They were both in Italian so with the permission of her local commune, she set about translating them. The more she read, the more fascinated and personally involved she became. The lady who had compiled the accounts, all those years before, Maria Assunta Barelllotti Tarsetti, was still alive and gave her blessing to Allison’s mission, to tell this story to a new audience and to provide a legacy for all the families of the survivors. Their stories would never be forgotten.

This must be one of the most harrowing and lamentable events of the war. Even before you start reading the testimonials, the sheer irony of what happened and why is almost incomprehensible. No one could read these heart-wrenching stories without experiencing a sense of horror and revulsion.

Rome had been liberated the day before. This was a time to celebrate! The war was finally coming to an end.

“The Sorianese were out celebrating in the piazza and watching the German troops retreat north”

In their attempts to escape from the allies and head north, the Germans avoided the main roads and took to the backroads. One of these led through the little town of Soriano and that is why, on June 5th, 1944, the town was bombed by the Americans. There are moments in history when the world stops. For the people of Soriano, this was that moment. Young, old, parents, children, housewives, farmers, friends and neighbours. Everyone suffered.

This book is a collection of first-hand accounts, from those who experienced this tragic event. Each one is named.  Renzo, Liliania, Angelo, Luigi Gabriela, Francesco, Maria Theresa, Lucia, Enzo, Massimo and preceded by a short description. There are photographs in the book of the town during and after the bombing as well as a narrative about events and the sides, the fascists and the partisans. This is Teresa’s story


It is a short but intense testimony. Under the rubble caused by the air raid, lay the bodies of her mother, a brother and a sister. Mourning and destruction are still present in her soul!

“June 5th was my twenty-second birthday. That evening I was in the church with a cousin when suddenly I found myself witnessing a scene indelibly impressed in my memory. A great roar, the door of the church blown open, letting in flames, smoke and dust. After a lapse of some interminable minutes necessary to allow the thick fog, made up of dust and smoke, to clear and to overcome the panic, somehow I reached the exit. Hallucinating images passed before my eyes. Darkness and confusion. Screams, tears and cries. Under the rubble of my house, lay my mother Anna, 55, my sister Caterina, 24 and my brother Pietro, 16. Our house and shop destroyed. My father started digging, helped by other people. We had to use gas masks and it was only after 11 days that the rotting corpses of our relatives were found. My father put them in boxes."


Why I recommend this book

A powerful and formidable read! For many of us, war is a phenomenon seen through the lens of a television camera or a journalist's account of fighting in distant parts of the world. Our closest physical and emotional experience may be the discovery of wartime memorabilia in a family attic. But even items such as photographs, uniform badges, medals, and diaries can seem vague and unconnected to the life of their owner. For those of us born during peacetime, all wars seem far removed from our daily lives. Dr Buck, in her book, gives us an opportunity to feel the pain, the grief, the anguish and the sorrow of the Sorianese on that day. War causes large-scale destruction to life and property. War causes innocent people to die. War causes severe damage to the economic, political and educational institutions of the country. It has never been proven to be a permanent solution to the world’s problems. Dr Buck’s painstaking research to translate, authenticate, verify these testimonials and publish them in a book is a remarkable achievement. Not only does it help us to understand significant historical events such as the bombing of Soriano, but it preserves, treasures and honours the memories of all those affected. If we do not, then the sacrifice of the people who died will be meaningless.  Her book shows us that the effect of war continues long after any armistice, impacting people physically and emotionally, individually and collectively. 


“War, misery and death spared no soul and took pity on no family.”

— Sherrilyn Kenyon



Dr Allison Buck was born and raised in Northern California. She received her Bachelor’s and Master’s in Music Performance on Bassoon from the Lamont School of Music at the University of Denver and her Doctorate of Arts from Ball State University in Indiana. She was a member of a summer opera festival in Viterbo and Soriano nel Cimino for many years. This is how she fell in love with Italy. 

The author is currently working on a historical fiction novel that is set in Soriano nel Cimino during World War II which will be released in early 2023. She is also working on a recipe storybook that is filled with different recipes she has discovered while in Italy, during the COVID lockdown, and inspired by recipes mentioned in other historical fiction novels.




Published by Soriano Publishing 2022

Paperback available on Amazon and from the authors’ website







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