A85_268.jpg Ball, Cricket (1939-1945). K. T Brown. Collection of Puke Ariki (A85.268).

The hardships of an Italian Prisoner of War camp during World War Two did not stifle the sporting spirit of the prisoners. This makeshift cricket ball was made from Red Cross Parcel string by a prisoner at Campo 57 in Gruppignano, Italy.

Peter Winter, a Taranaki man who spent a year in the camp and wrote a book about his wartime experiences, remembered that cricket, soccer, volleyball and deck tennis helped fill many hours. Those skilled enough to make the balls gained some standing in the camp although they never rivalled a 'clique of successful gamblers' who always had plenty of 'worldly goods'.

Sport was a welcome release for the prisoners who lived under the harsh discipline and sometimes brutal punishments of camp life. Two New Zealanders were shot and killed at the camp and two others were wounded. 

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