Two days ago Bruno Giovanni Lonati died in Legnano, Italy. He was 94 years old. During the war he had been fighting in Russia, then he joined the communist resistence after the 8th of September 1943 and, after the war, he became a successful manager at the FIAT car company.
In 1994 he managed to have his memoirs printed by Mursia of Milan, after several publishers thought them to be worthless, rejecting them. Was finally the historian Luciano Garibaldi who thought that those pages he had typed were worth of publication. Garibaldi, after having investigate his typescript found some points matching and he was convinced that they contained some truth. His book was then published under the title of “That 28 April. Mussolini and Claretta: the truth” and it caused a sensation.
In a few words Lonati says that in 1944 while in Milan he was approached by a British agent of Italian descent, John Maccarone – probably a false name – who wanted to kill Mussolini and recover some documents deemed to be too embarrassing for the British government. They finally managed to reach Bonzanigo, on the Como lake, on the 28 April 1945, snatching Mussolini and his lover Clara Petacci from the partisans who had captured them, then Lonati shot Mussolini while John shot his girlfriend, not guilty of anything but who had seen too much. The documents were not there, even if a few days later Lonati met again John who told him that the documents had since been found. Lonati had sworn to keep his mouth shut for 30 years but then, when the time had elapsed, he tried to re-connect with John who was in London but what he got was only a phone call in which he was asking him to forget everything.
The sensational revelations of Lonati did fall on fertile ground in Italy since all the different versions given by the Communist partisans who had captured Mussolini and claimed to have him executed were confused, contradictory and changing over the time. A further complication was caused by the fact that Mussolini was fleeing with a large amount of gold (over 100 kg) money and jewels. Several partisans did fall on the gold, and fortunes were made overnight followed by a string of executions of people who had witnessed those events.
I know well Lonati’s book because it was the base of my historical novel, Ben, published by Mursia in 2010, where Lonati was one of the main characters, together with a young James Bond.
Here is an unedited version of the first chapters of my book which I had translated into English: