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Bruno, Ricciotti (jr), Giuseppe “Peppino”, Sante, Costante, and Ezio Garibaldi were all sons of Ricciotti Garibaldi (sr), fourth son of Giuseppe Garibaldi. They had another brother, Menotti, the only one who did not join them in the Argonne (at the time, he was working in a railway construction company he had founded in China; he returned to Italy in 1915 and joined them to fight on the Dolomites Front when Italy entered the war as well), and three sisters, Constance Rosa, Anita Italia, and Giuseppina.
Giuseppe, called “Peppino” (diminutive of Giuseppe) to avoid confusion with his more famous grandfather, was the oldest of them. He had been born in 1879 in South Yarra, Australia, where his father had lived for seven years and had met and married Constance Hopcraft, Peppino’s mother; he had then moved to Italy with his family but in 1897, at age eighteen, he ran away from school and joined his father’s volunteers fighting alongside the Greek Army against the Ottomans in the battle of Domokos, during the Greco-Turkish War of 1897. From 1898 to 1900 he worked in Argentina, the United States, and Uruguay; he then volunteered for the British Army during the Second Boer War, after which he returned to South America where he fought in Venezuela against Cipriano Castro. He then worked for some years in Romania and in Panama, but returned once again to America to fight against Porfirio Diaz in the Mexican Revolution, where he was made a Lieutenant Colonel and given command of a force of foreign volunteers. Plaza Garibaldi in Mexico City is named after him. In 1912 he fought alongside the Greek Army in the First Balkan War, together with his father and brothers, and in 1913-1914 he lived in the United States. In 1914, after the outbreak of World War I but with Italy still neutral, Peppino went to France and created a legion of Italian volunteers willing to fight for France; over 2,000 enlisted and the Garibaldi Legion was thus created, formally as a regiment of the French Foreign Legion. All his brothers, except for Menotti, enlisted in the Legion, of which Peppino became commander with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel (Ricciotti jr. was made Captain, Sante Lieutenant, Bruno and Ezio Second Lieutenants, and Costante Chief Warrant Officer). The Legion fought in the Argonne from the autumn of 1914 to the spring of 1915; in January 1915, after conquering a well-defended German position and driving the Germans back more than a kilometre despite numerical inferiority, Peppino was awarded the Legion of Honor by the French authorities.
Ricciotti jr., the second son of Ricciotti sr., had been born in Rome in 1881. After graduating in a technical school in Fermo in 1898, he worked in the railway and construction industries in Egypt and Libya; in 1912 he joined his father and brothers in the Second Balkan War, and after the outbreak of World War I he enlisted in the Garibaldi Legion.
Sante Garibaldi, the fourth son, had been born in Rome in 1885. After completing technical studies, at age eighteen he left for Egypt, where he participated in the construction of the new town of Heliopolis (now a suburb of Cairo) and took part as a cartographer in an expedition along the Blue Nile. In 1912 he returned to Europe and participated in the Second Balkan War, then joining the Garibaldi Legion in 1914.
Bruno Garibaldi, the fifth son of Ricciotti Garibaldi, had been born in Rome in 1889. At age eleven he had been sent to England to study in a Methodist institute in Canterbury; in 1907, at age eighteen, he went to Cuba, where he worked for seven years in a sugar refinery. He returned to Europe in 1914 and joined the Garibaldi Legion with the rank of Second Lieutenant; on 26 December 1914 he was killed in action during an assault on a German trench in Belle Etoile, near Bois de Bolante in the Argonne. His funeral in Rome was attended by 300,000 people, including the French, British, Russian, Belgian and Serbian ambassadors.
Costante Garibaldi, the sixth son, had been born in Rome in 1892. He too attended school in Rome and then the technical institute in Fermo, after which he started to work as a technician in the steel mills in Terni. At the outbreak of World War I, he joined the Garibaldi Legion as aide-de-camp to his brother Peppino. On 5 January 1915 he participated in an attack on German positions near Four-de-Paris; the attack was successful, resulting in the capture of 120 prisoners, but heavy casualties were suffered, with Costante being mortally wounded. His father was notified of his death during Bruno’s funerals.
Ezio Garibaldi, the seventh and youngest son, was born in Riofreddo in 1894. In 1911, like several of his brothers before him, he enrolled in the technical institute in Fermo; in 1914 he abandoned his studies to join his brothers in the Argonne.
In May 1915, when Italy entered the war, the Garibaldi Legion was dissolved, with most of its members returning to Italy and enlisting in the Italian Army. Among them the surviving Garibaldi brothers: Peppino was given the rank of Colonel and fought in the Dolomites Front in command of a battalion of the “Alpi” Infantry Brigade; in 1917, after promotion to Brigadier-General, he assumed command of the brigade. Sante, Ezio, and Ricciotti all enlisted in the “Alpi” Brigade as well, reaching the rank of Major, Captain, and Major, respectively. On 26 October 1916, while fighting on Col di Lana, Ezio was seriously wounded by a bullet in the throat, but survived. After fighting for two years in the Dolomites Front, in 1918 the “Alpi” Brigade was transferred to France as part of the Italian II Corps, fighting on the Western Front till the end of the war: the four brothers thus ended the war where they had started it.
After the war, the rise of the Fascist regime divided the Garibaldi family. Shorly before the war, Ezio had befriended Benito Mussolini, and wrote some time for his newspaper Il popolo d’Italia before moving to America after the war (during the war, he had fallen in love with American nurse Hope Mac Michael, whom he married in 1921). He returned to Italy in 1924 and became a supporter of the Fascist regime, Brigadier-General in the Blackshirt militia, mayor of Riofreddo and member of the Fascist Party, the Chamber of Deputies and then of the Chamber of Fasci and Corporations, which replaced the former in 1939 (although he would later be critical of the alliance with Nazi Germany and the racial laws). The old Ricciotti sr. also became a supporter of Fascism, but died in 1924. The other three brothers – Peppino, Sante, and Ricciotti jr. – instead became opposers of Fascism; they were among the founders of Italia Libera (“Free Italy”), an association of pro-Republican and anti-fascist WWI veterans created in opposition to the Associazione Nazionale Combattenti e Reduci (National Association of Combatants and Veterans), which was seen as too Fascist-aligned. During the first half o the 1920s they organized several public rallies in Rome, the largest one in November 1924; they also prepared armed groups for a planned insurrection against the regime, but this never materialized. In 1925 Italia Libera was disbanded by the government, and the three brothers left for France in self-exile.
Peppino later moved to the United States, while Ricciotti jr. was recruited by the Fascist government as an agent provocateur and ended up being arrested by the French authorities and expelled from France, returning to Italy after a brief period in Cuba. Only Sante remained in France, where he became a building contractor. In 1939, after the outbreak of World War II, he again enlisted as a volunteer in the French Army fighting against Germany. He remained in France after its occupation and was arrested by the Gestapo in 1943, spending two years in various concentration camps, including Dachau and Buchenwald. In April 1945 he was transferred to South Tyrol with other high-profile political prisoners, and there he was liberated by the Allies in early May. His health, however, never recovered from the consequences of imprisonment (his weigth had dropped from 87 to 54 kg during his captivity), and he died in Bordeaux in 1946, at age 61.
In the United States, Peppino married Madalyn Nichools and lived in New York until 1940, when he finally returned to Italy. After Italy’s entry into World War II, Ezio supported the Gruppi d’Azione Nizzarda (“Nizzard Action Groups”), demanding the reunification of Nice – their grandfather’s birthplace, once part of the Kingdom of Sardinia but annexed by France in 1860 – with Italy. He asked Peppino to join him in this campaign, but he refused. After the Armistice of Cassibile (8 September 1943) and the German occupation of Italy, Peppino was arrested by the Germans and imprisoned in Rome; he was freed in 1944, with the arrival of the Allies. The opposite happened to Ezio; when the Allies arrived, he was arrested and spent some time in an internment camp.
Peppino and Ricciotti jr. lived their last years in obscurity and died in 1950 and 1951, respectively, aged 70 and 69. The much younger Ezio outlived them by nearly twenty years; he died in 1969, aged 75.