In January 1942 some 550 Italian prisoners of war, mainly captured in North Africa, were brought to Orkney. They were needed to overcome the shortage of labour working on the continuing construction of the Churchill Barriers. These were the four causeways designed to block eastern access to Scapa Flowfollowing the sinking of HMS Royal Oak by a German U-Boat in 1939.
Prisoners of war were prevented by treaty from working on military projects, so the barriers were said to be primarily causeways linking the southern islands of Orkney together, which is what they remain today.
The causeways are not all that remains to remind us of this period. On a bare hillside on the north side of the little island of Lamb Holm, overlooking the most northerly of the Churchill Barriers, is what has become known as the Italian Chapel. The Chapel, together with a nearby concrete statue of St George killing the dragon and an Italian flag fluttering atop a pole are all that remain of Camp 60.