Mysterious Briton killed by Nazis 'was a top secret agent', Gabor Adler





ROME -- An ''Unknown Englishman'' murdered outside Rome by fleeing Nazis was a secret agent who had been landed by submarine to organise anti-Fascist resistance on Sardinia, a historian claimed yesterday.

The officer, whose anonymous grave lay in a wood dedicated to victims of a 1943 massacre, was named last month by Second World War veterans as ''Captain John Armstrong''. But they cautioned that this could have been an alias and appealed for those who might know the truth to come forward.

Yesterday it was claimed that [he was actually] Gabor Adler, a Special Operations Executive (SOE) agent code-named ''Gabriel'', who was landed in January 1943 at Cape Sferracavallo, in German-occupied Sardinia. He was captured almost immediately however...

[Adler hoped to contact anti-Fascists including Salvatore Mannironi. His son,] Domenico Mannironi, a lawyer in Nuoro, Sardinia, said that he had tracked down ''Captain Armstrong’s'' identity in SOE papers held in the Nation Archives, at Kew...

[Adler was] described by SOE as ''a man of astonishing courage'' who had swiftly become a ''first class radio operator''.

Colonel Tom Huggan, a retired army officer and historical consultant to the British Embassy in Rome, said that the Embassy was now trying to track down Adler’s birthplace and any living relatives. He said the name suggested Hungarian origins, although SOE records indicated his mother was either British or Italian and that his father was ''a naturalised British subject of Italian origin''...

When Allied forces entered the capital on June 4, 1944, he and 13 other prisoners were taken in a lorry by German forces retreating northwards up the Via Cassia.

Near the Rome suburb of La Storta, the fleeing Germans offloaded their prisoners, herded them into a wood, forced them to kneel and then shot them in the back of the neck. A monument on the Via Cassia records the massacre, and trees planted at the site carry plaques bearing their names – except for one, which simply reads, ''The Unknown Englishman''.


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