Una Gioncada Haldane

Una was born in Benburb in 1892, one of seven children. Her diary, kept from 1941 to 1944, is in the form of letters to her family; letters that she could not post as she was living in Milan in Italy, under the regime of Mussolini.

Una was married to an Italian lawyer, Mario. Her diary is a fascinating reflection of life in war-time Italy covering everything from her thoughts on battles on various fronts, the Allied bombing of Milan, the fall of Mussolini and her never-ending search for a good cup of tea!

She and Mario helped British servicemen who had escaped from Prisoner of War camps to make their way safely to Switzerland. After the war, she retold her story in radio programmes on her beloved BBC which had provided such a lifeline of news from home during a time of censorship and fascism in Italy.

She is a wonderful, feisty woman keen to capture what her world was like whilst also longing to hear from her family and friends so far away at a time of terrible war. It has been an honour to read her words.

Researcher: Bronagh McAtasney

PRONI Reference for Diaries: T2678/6

Bio & Researcher's Notes

Una Gioncada Haldane Diary Entries

16th April, 1941
Nations must lose fear if they are to trust one another...
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5th November, 1941
Hot water bottle gives me more comfort than a husband...
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19th December, 1941
War has spread like a fungus everywhere...
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1st February, 1942
My Irish-Scots blood rushing to my head, I’m ready for fight...
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24th March, 1942
Nations [should] become better acquainted with each other...
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11th June, 1942
How the other foreigners manage...
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9th September, 1942
When your husband comes home with a parcel...
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4th December, 1942
I had my hair permed yesterday...
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3rd January, 1943
Everyone knows Fascism is doomed...
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22nd May, 1943
Old newspapers have a strange effect on me...
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2nd July, 1943
Every day some beautiful building disappears under a bomb...
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10th July, 1943
At last the invasion has begun...
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No Date, August, 1943
Did Mussolini fall too soon?
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27th September, 1943
God inspire me to help them!
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30th October, 1943
I hope you never have to organise an escape from danger...
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6th November, 1943
God didn’t approve of much praying...
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