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Beniamino Martelli – Italian Army

Beniamino (Benjamin) Martelli was born in Mello[i], Lombardy, Italy on 1st September 1887.[ii] Beniamino married Angela, about 1908, and their first child Teodosia was born in Mello on 22nd October 1910, followed by Esterina, 1912 and
Palimor (Cellerina) 1913.

On 23rd May 1915 Italy declared war on the Austro-Hungarian Empire, this opened a new war front of 600 kilometres, 
mostly mountainous areas along the common border. While Italy did send some troops to the Western Front the majority of their efforts were along the Isonzo River, South Tyrol. Beniamino is noted on his gravestone as being a ‘Veteran of the Great War’ indicating that he highly likely was involved in the fighting in the South Tyrol area.  An Armistice between Italy and the Austro-Hungarian Empire was signed on the 4th November 1918 ending the conflict.

Beniamino, Angela and their three children immigrated to New Zealand in the late 1920’s possibly early 1930’s as
Beniamino was naturalised on 19th August 1936. From 1923, applications for naturalisation could be made to the Minister of Internal Affairs by aliens of ‘good character’ who had lived in New Zealand for at least three years, had ‘an adequate knowledge of the English language’, and did not suffer from any ‘disability’. Following Beniamino, Angela (1936), Teodosio (1939) and Palmira (1940) are also listed as being naturalised.

Beniamino is listed in the naturalisation documents as a dairy farmer, the Lombardy area of Italy where he was born, is renowned for it diary produce including Parmesan cheese. Beniamino and Angela are listed from 1936 living in the Johnsonville area, Wellington with Beniamino dairy farming until he retired.

On 10th June 1940 Italy, siding with Germany, declared war on Britain and even though the Martelli family were
‘naturalised British subjects’ they were still required to register as Enemy Alien. The Martelli family were not interned
but there were 25 Italian men on Somes Island in World War Two most of these had connections to the Italian Fascist
Party.

Beniamino Martelli died in Johnsonville on 6th April 1965 and Angela died on 3rd August 1979 both are buried in Porirua Cemetery.

References
Archway Archives New Zealand ( Naturalisation and Enemy Aliens)
NZ BDM
Porirua Cemetery Online Records

Photos
Beniamino and Angela's grave: Melanie MacDonald
Italian troops in mountain conditions: Google 

[i]  New Zealand Naturalisation records 19th August 1936.
[ii] Natuarliastion papers: Ancestry.com
Italian troops in mountain conditions