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Description

Angelo and his brother Benitto Greco came to Swansea in early 1900 from Caserta in S Italy. They arrived with nothing but a recipe for ice-cream and the determination to work hard and make a good living in the café trade. Angelo’s wife Maria Antoinette Greco came to Swansea c 1910 and they had 11 children over the next few years, having 9 girls and 2 boys. During this time Angelo and his brother Ben developed several businesses based in Hafod, High street St Thomas and Morriston. Angelo would work a very long day, getting up at 4 am to prepare the cakes and pastries as well as to make ice cream in the chilling rooms at Neath Road Hafod which was sold in the cafes.

At a time when most people were quite poor and unemployed, Angelo would allow the men to sit in the café most of the day and enjoy a hot cup of tea. Unfortunately, when Churchill declared Italian nationals as aliens Angelo was deported as a pow and was on the infamous Arandora Star when it was torpedoed off the coast of Ireland. Miraculously he survived and was deported for the duration of the war to Australia. With his assets frozen it became impossible to maintain the businesses.

His children continued to run family cafes for many years after with Ernesto and Mathilda Greco in Morriston, Angelo Jnr and Dorothea Greco in Hafod and Harriet and Gaetano Avo in St Thomas.

Report by Paola Browne
Photos provided by Paul Greco (Ernie and Matilda’s grandson)
Sent to People’s Collection Wales by Anita Arcari

Photo 1: Angelo Café
Photo 2: Ernie And Matilda Greco Woodfield St Café
Photo 3: Ernie Greco
Photo 4: Greco Ice Cream Stall, with Yvonne John Greco
Photo 5: Greco Wedding
Photo 6: Matilda Greco 1940
Photo 7: Mr and Mrs Ernie Greco with son, John

Comments (1)

Paulette L. Pelosi's picture
Just one point, regarding the rounding up of 'Enemy Aliens' in response to Churchill's order, "Collar the lot!", Angelo was not technically a "PoW" /'Prisoner of War'. He and other Swansea Italians including his friend, my paternal grandfather, Giuseppe Pelosi, my Great-Uncle, Michele Di Marco and the others, were arrested civilians, who were deemed a risk to national security. They were interned as 'desperate characters'. A PoW is a non-combatant who has been 'captured by the forces of the enemy during an armed conflict' - there was no 'armed conflict' for Angelo Greco, Giuseppe Pelosi and Michele Di Marco, just to name 3 of the generally cafe proprietors , who were arrested by local Police, as 'Enemy Aliens'. Many of these men, within a week of their arrests, were sent to a holding camp, described by Francois Lafitte, in his 1940's account, The Internment of Aliens, as "by far the worst of which we have any knowledge". This camp was a derelict cotton factory at Bury, Lancashire, known as Warth Mills. The men suffered appalling conditions before boarding the ill-fated Arandora Star at Liverpool.Another reference book, 'Collar the Lot', 1980 by Peter and Leni Gillman documents ,"Just how this bizarre passenger list came to be compiled can only be told through the story of Internment in Britain in 1940 - one of the strangest, most disreputable, and least-known episodes of the Second World War."

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