On 2nd July 1940, 800 people were drowned when the Arandora Star was torpedoed off the Irish coast by a German U-Boat. Among the 1200 internees aboard, being deported to Canada were over 100 Welsh-Italians who had settled in Wales decades earlier.

In early June 1940, immediately Italy entered the Second World War, all Italian males in Britain who held a passport and were aged between 18 and 70 years were arrested and forced to leave their homes or workplaces with immediate effect. They were to be indefinitely interned under orders from the British War Cabinet. Subsequent reports from the Red Cross and other organisations reveal that these internees were badly treated by the British authorities. They were imprisoned in inhumane surroundings, without access to sufficient food, without adequate sanitation or medical care and more than 700 Italian internees were transported to Liverpool, where they were herded aboard the former cruise liner, the Arandora Star, along with some 450 German and Austrian internees and Prisoners of War who were all to be shipped to Newfoundland in Canada.

The first Welsh national memorial to the victims of the Arandora Star debacle was unveiled at a ceremony in Cardiff’s Metropolitan Cathedral of St David in Charles Street, Cardiff on 2nd July 2010. The memorial is a collaboration between the Welsh-Italian artist, Susanna Ciccotti, from Swansea and the world-renowned stone carver from Ammanford, Ieuan Rees.

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VIA: The History of Wales