Military Wiki
Maurizio Giglio
Born (1920-12-20)20 December 1920
Died 24 March 1944(1944-03-24) (aged 23)
Place of birth Paris, France
Place of death Rome, Italy
Buried at Fosse Ardeatine (41°51′24″N 12°30′37″E / 41.85667°N 12.51028°E / 41.85667; 12.51028)
Allegiance Italy Italy
Service/branch Royal Italian Army
Years of service 1940-1944
Rank Lieutenant
Unit 81st Infantry Regiment

Valor militare gold medal BAR.svg Gold Medal of Military Valour

Valor militare bronze medal BAR.svg Bronze Medal of Military Valor

Maurizio Giglio (20 December 1920 - 24 March 1944) was an Italian soldier and policeman. In September 1943, during World War II, the Italian government concluded an armistice with the Allies. He thereafter transmitted military intelligence by radio from Rome about the Nazi forces there to the Allied forces advancing through southern Italy. In March 1944, he was captured, and was executed by the Nazis. He was posthumously awarded the Gold Medal of Military Valour (Italian language: Medaglia d'oro al valor militare ), a decoration which acknowledges deeds of outstanding gallantry. Places have been named, and memorials dedicated, in his honour.[1][2][3][4]


Early years

Giglio was born into a middle-class family from Rome. His parents were Armando and Anna (née Isnard). He had a sister, Giulia Adriani, who outlived him by many years.[5] Armando had served with distinction as an infantry captain during World War I. He had been wounded on the French front, and been awarded the Silver Medal of Military Valor.

Maurizio spent his boyhood between France and Rome. From 1933 to 1938, he studied at the it (Liceo ginnasio statale Terenzio Mamiani), graduating in law.[6] He was a keen sportsman: hunting, skiing, swimming, mountaineering, and motoring.[7]

In January 1940, he was called up into the army. He attended officer training school at Ancona. He served on the French front, with the rank of sublieutenant (Italian language: sottotenente ). After the Fall of France in June 1940, he volunteered to serve on the Albanian front during the Greco-Italian War (1940-1941). He gained a reputation for bravery and leadership. He was badly wounded in the battle of Kurvalesh, following which he was awarded the Bronze Medal of Military Valor. In January 1941, he returned to Italy on the hospital ship Aquileia (Aquileia (ship)). While convalescing from his injuries, he continued his legal studies and was registered in Rome as a qualified attorney. Once recovered, he was recalled to duty and assigned to the Italian Commission of Armistice with France, headquartered in Turin. He remained there until January 1943, in the meantime being promoted to lieutenant (Italian language: tenente ). He disliked his desk job, and asked to be assigned to an active unit. He was transferred to the 81st Infantry Regiment, which was stationed in Rome.

Secret agent

On 3 September 1943, Italy and the Allies signed the Armistice of Cassibile. Nazi Germany did not learn of it until 8 September, when news of it was broadcast by Allied radio stations. The Germans retaliated by immediately putting into effect a pre-arranged plan for the forcible disarmament of Italian forces, codenamed Operation Achse. They invaded Rome, capital of their former ally. The Italians resisted. Giglio took part in the fighting, leading both his own soldiers and armed civilians, at Porta San Paolo. On 10 September, the Germans occupied Rome.

On 17 September, Giglio left Rome with the intention of offering his military services to the Allies. On 4 October, he managed to pass through the fighting line and to contact an American patrol near Benevento (210 km (130 mi) from Rome). On 7 October, he arrived in Naples; where he was debriefed by the American Office of Strategic Services (OSS), who saw his potential as a secret agent. After a short period of training, on 28 October he passed through the lines in the reverse direction, equipped with a radio transmitter, a cipher book, and the code name "Cervo" (Italian for "deer").

He exploited his family connections. His father, Armando, was Questore (Questore (policeman)) (police chief) of Bologna and had been Director of the 2nd Zone of OVRA, the Italian Fascist government's secret police. He used his influence to have his son appointed an auxiliary lieutenant of the Roman mounted police. It seems unlikely that the father knew what the son intended to do. Maurizio thus became a senior police officer in command of other policemen, himself commanded by Pietro Caruso, Questore of Rome, who was loyal to the Fascist Government. He therefore had considerable freedom of action; for example, the curfew laws did not apply to officials in positions such as his.

He began a double life. To public eyes - and, most importantly, to German and to Italian collaborationist eyes - he was a uniformed police officer. In private, he created a network of informants. These included Giuliano Vassalli and Francesco Malfatti (Francesco Malfatti di Montetretto),[8] and Colonel it (Giuseppe Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo), leader of the it (Clandestine Military Front) (a resistance organisation). A priest helped him by concealing the radio transmitter in his own church.[9] He watched for German troop movements by road and rail, and passed his observations on to the Allies using his radio transmitter (nicknamed "Radio Vittoria", i.e. "Radio Victory").[10]:245 He helped fugitives from the fascist authorities to escape to the western (Tyrrhenian) coast of Italy, from where they could be rescued by Allied MTBs.[11]

Peter Tompkins was an American undercover OSS agent in Rome. On 21 January 1944 (the day before the Anzio landings), he made contact with Giglio. From then on, they worked closely together and were in almost daily contact. Allied forces were now within 60 km (37 mi) of Rome. Giglio increased his activity, which placed him increasingly at risk. He supplied Tompkins with detailed reports about the police stations of Rome, and about the buildings occupied by the Germans.[8]:78 He arranged meetings in his own house between Tompkins and leaders of the Roman resistance: Giorgio Amendola, Giuliano Vassalli, and it (Riccardo Bauer). He was able to inform the Allies that the German attack at Cisterna di Latina on 16 February during the Battle of Anzio was only a diversionary attack, in preparation for the real attack to be made two days later at the western end of the Allied position.[10]:257 He now had charge of three radio sets, which he personally moved from one place of hiding to another to keep them from being discovered by the Gestapo or Caruso's men.

On 3–4 February, policemen commanded by Caruso, and the Banda Koch (a gang of fascist thugs commanded by Pietro Koch), raided the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls.[12][13] The basilica was not only a sacrosanct church building, but was also an exclave of Vatican City and therefore on neutral territory outside Italy. The fascists arrested over 60 anti-fascists and Jews who had taken refuge there. Giglio photographed the event using a Minox miniature camera. He was discovered in the act of doing so by the official driver (a fascist functionary in plain clothes) of it (Giuseppe Pizzirani). Pizzirani was a senior fascist official; Giglio was therefore in a difficult position. Disciplinary proceedings were instituted against him, leading to an oral hearing. His father, Armando, interceded with a personal plea to Caruso. Maurizio escaped punishment, except for the loss of his camera; but from then on, he was under suspicion.

Arrest and death

On 16 March, Enzo Buonocore, a member of Giglio's spy network, was arrested. That put the whole network at risk. On 17 March, Giglio went to retrieve a radio set which had been hidden in the water near the Ponte del Risorgimento. Policemen loyal to Caruso and members of the Banda Koch were lying in wait. He was captured and taken to Banda Koch headquarters; where he was subjected to seven days of the most brutal torture; during which he disclosed — nothing.

On 23 March, Italian partisans detonated an improvised explosive device at Via Rasella (Attack at Via Rasella), killing over 30 German soldiers. Retaliation was swift, and tenfold. On 24 March, Giglio was transferred, more dead than alive, unable to stand, to Regina Coeli prison. That same day, 335 Italians, none of whom had had anything to do with that attack, were taken to an abandoned pozzolana quarry near the ancient Via Ardeatina, and were (in batches of five) shot in the back of the neck; an event called the Ardeatine massacre. Giglio was one of the victims. German military engineers then dynamited the site to conceal it.

In an unusual gesture of compassion, on 26 March Eugenio Cerruti, commandant of the Republican Police Corps, told Armando of Maurizio's death. This was against the Nazi policy of "Nacht und Nebel", under which the fate of their victims was concealed from the whole world. Armando's devoted service to the fascist cause may have been a factor.

After the war, the bodies in the Ardeatine caves (Italian language: Fosse Ardeatine ) were exhumed, and were given decent burial at the place where they had been murdered.

Posthumous recognition

The grave of Maurizio Giglio in the sepulchre of the Ardeatine caves

In 1944, the Gold Medal of Military Valour, an Italian high military decoration, was conferred upon Giglio. The citation reads:

"Si portava alla conclusione dell'armistizio in territorio liberato desideroso di combattere contro i tedeschi. Assunto dal servizio informazioni della 5ª Armata americana dopo un breve periodo di addestramento, ritornava in territorio occupato munito di apparato radiotrasmittente ed, arruolatosi nella polizia della pseudo repubblica sociale, svolgeva intelligente, preziosa opera informativa. Sorpreso mentre eseguiva delle fotografie, fermato e sottoposto ad indagini con sangue freddo ed astuzia riusciva a confondere i suoi avversari ed otteneva la liberazione. Arrestato dai fascisti in seguito ad indicazione strappata al suo radiotelegrafista fu sottoposto a feroci interrogatori e torture senza nulla rivelare sul suo servizio. Veniva poi barbaramente trucidato per rappresaglia, immolando la giovane vita generosamente offerta per la liberazione della Patria dalla oppressione nazifascista — Roma - Fosse Ardeatine, settembre 1943 - 24 marzo 1944."[14]

An English translation:

"After conclusion of the armistice, he ventured into liberated territory, desirous of continuing to fight against the Germans. He was recruited by the intelligence agency of the Fifth United States Army and, after a brief period of training, returned to occupied territory armed with a radio transmitter, and, in the guise of a policeman of the pretended social republic, carried out invaluable intelligence work. Discovered taking photographs, he was apprehended and questioned, whereupon with coolness and presence of mind he confounded his captors and secured his release. Arrested by the Fascists on the basis of information extracted from his radiotelegraphy operator, he was subjected to savage interrogation and torture without revealing anything about his service. He was then barbarously murdered in a reprisal, extinguishing this young life so generously offered for the liberation of his fatherland from the Nazi-Fascist oppression. — Rome - Ardeatine Caves, September 1943 - 24 March 1944."

There are also tangible memorials. Caserma Maurizio Giglio of the Polizia di Stato in the Roman quarter (Quarter of Rome) of Flaminio (Flaminio, Rome) - in effect, the police headquarters building of Rome. A lecture theatre at the it (Scuola superiore di polizia), Rome, named after him. Via Maurizio Giglio, a street at the junction of Via Cassia and it (Via Trionfale), Rome. Via Maurizio Giglio, a street in Santa Marinella, Rome. A memorial plaque in Piazza Navona, near the church of Sant'Agnese in Agone, Rome. A memorial plaque in Largo della Gancia, in the Roman quarter of it (Della Vittoria).[2]


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Giglio, Maurizio" (in Italian). Retrieved 22 July 2017. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Ianniello, Claudio. "L'eroica storia del tenente ausiliario del Corpo degli Agenti di Ps Maurizio Giglio" (in Italian). Retrieved 22 July 2017. 
  3. "Giglio Maurizio" (in Italian). Retrieved 22 July 2017. 
  4. "Maurizio Giglio" (in Italian). Retrieved 21 July 2017. 
  5. "Maurizio Giglio" (in Italian). 7 January 2017. Retrieved 22 July 2017. 
  6. "Maurizio Giglio" (in Italian). Retrieved 22 July 2017. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Maurizio Giglio" (in Italian). Retrieved 22 July 2017. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 Tompkins, Peter (19 November 2002) (in Italian). Una spia a Roma. Il Saggiatore (il Saggiatore (publisher)). ISBN 9788842810728. 
  9. The identity of the helpful priest is uncertain. One source says that it was Monsignor Nobles of Sant'Agnese in Agone.[7] Another says that it was Monsignor Didier Nobels of San Giuseppe all’Arco di Travertino.[2]
  10. 10.0 10.1 Roggero, Roberto (22 June 2006) (in Italian). Oneri e onori: le verità militari e politiche della guerra di liberazione in Italia. Greco e Greco. ISBN 978-8879804172. 
  11. The sources say that fugitives were embarked at Grossetano,[1][2] but that place is not easy to identify.
  12. "Quando i fascisti irruppero nell’Abbazia Ostiense alla ricerca di ebrei" (in Italian). 7 January 2010. Retrieved 25 July 2017. 
  13. "Nella notte fra il 3 e il 4 febbraio 1944 l’irruzione fascista nella basilica di San Paolo fuori le Mura" (in Italian). 3 February 2014. Retrieved 25 July 2017. 
  14. "GIGLIO Maurizio" (in Italian). Retrieved 22 July 2017. 
  • Tompkins, Peter (1 January 1962). A Spy in Rome. Weidenfeld & Nicolson. ASIN B0000CLI4H.  The English-language original of Una spia a Roma.

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