Sam Derry was a member of the Royal Artillery and had been one of the thousands who escaped at Dunkirk. He was subsequently transferred to North Africa where he was captured at the beginning of 1942.
He managed to escape but was soon re-captured ironically by the same German unit that July. He was imprisoned in the Chieti Camp in Italy where he was invited to join and eventually take charge of the escape committee. He was moved from here before escaping but before this he had helped many other prisoners to escape. On a train journey through Northern Italy, Derry managed to throw himself from the train and escape.
Derry headed to Rome and was eventually assisted by The Monsignor, who promptly asked him to join the 'Council of Three' taking charge of organisational details.
He commented of The Monsignor:
"Tramping around Rome with him, I marvelled at how his organisation had so far concealed more than a thousand ex POWs in convents, crowded flats, on outlying farms"
Derry managed the discipline amongst the prisoners of war ensuring that no unnecessary risks were taken while moving from location to location or through over indulgence of alcohol.
Derry maintained careful financial records of all the monies used by the organisation in providing food, provisions and shelter for POW's and civilians.
Sam Derry's book 'The Rome Escape Line' was published in 1960 and in this he commented of The Monsignor:
"he is one of the finest men it has been my privilege to meet. Had it not been for this gallant gentleman, there would have been no Rome Escape Organisation"