Cesare Bianchi

Cesare Bianchi

Lake Como – London
1897 – 1945
Nationality: Italian

Cesare’s Early Life

Cesare Bianchi was born in 1897 in a village called Cernobbio on Lake Como in Northern Italy. He came to England in 1913 to pursue a career in catering. He began as a culinary boy in London, but his early career was cut short by the outbreak of the First World War. As an Italian national, Cesare was called home to serve with the Alpine Brigade.

On his return to Britain, Cesare found work at the Palace Hotel in Aberdeen where he met Martha Gall. Although she was from Scotland, a long way from Lake Como, she was born within a few months of Cesare. The two married in 1921, giving birth to a daughter, Patricia, not long after.

The family moved to London and Cesare rose through the ranks. In a 1930s edition of the ‘General Guide to Italians in Great Britain’, which reported on emigrants forging successful careers, Cesare is said to be ‘known for his skill in preparing delicacies and sauces, in the preparation of tasty dishes’. He was hired as a chef at the famous Café Royal in London.

Cesare became Head Chef at Café Royal, but suffered a huge, personal blow when Martha died giving birth to their second baby. The child, a boy named Robert, survived. The family were supported by Martha’s older sister, Mary.

Cesare’s Internment

On Italy’s entry to the Second World War, all Italian nationals living in Britain were rounded up. Despite having two young children without a mother, Cesare was arrested and sent to Warth Mills where conditions were a world away from the Café Royal.

In late-June 1940, Cesare was among the names chosen for deportation. He was transported to Liverpool with other Italian internees and put on board the SS Arandora Star. They still didn’t know their destination when a German torpedo struck. Cesare managed to survive and was taken to Scotland by the rescuing ship, the HMCS St. Laurent.

From here, Cesare was taken to the Isle of Man. He would remain on camps on the island until his release in December 1942.

Life After the War

On his release from internment, Cesare was reunited with his two children, Patricia and Robert, and his sister-in-law, Mary. He had been out of the catering business for several years, but found work at Smithfield Market.

Tragically, on 8 March 1945, in almost the last attack Germany would launch on Britain, a V2 rocket hit Smithfield Market. Cesare was with Mary. Both were among the 110 people killed.

Cesare and Mary were buried with Martha in Hampstead Cemetery.

Thanks to Robert Bianchi, Jon Glidden and David Bingham for providing biographical information and archive images. All rights reserved by the Estate of Cesare Bianchi.

Stefano Paolini presents his talk, ‘The Tragedy of the SS Arandora Star’, at The Fusilier Museum, Bury on Saturday 11 August, 2018. For more information, visit the Events page.

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