• Visitors tour Castle Williams.

    Governors Island

    National Monument New York

Josephine Ilardi Wanderlingh

Mrs. Wanderlingh discusses her memories of Governors Island with a National Park Ranger.
Mrs. Josephine Wanderlingh discussing her memories of Governors Island with a National Park Ranger.
Daniel C. Krebs

Josephine Ilardi Wanderlingh
Civilian Employee, Post Hospital, 1944—1945

Josephine Ilardi was a civilian employee who worked at the hospital on Governors Island from 1944 to 1945. A native of Italy, Josephine was a secretary in the Receiving Office of the Military Hospital. However, because of her fluency in Italian, Josephine helped to translate for the Italian Prisoners of War (POWs) who were captured fighting in Italy and brought to the United States on Governors Island. She says that the Italians on the island were members of the king’s army in Italy forced to fight in the war by Benito Mussolini. They did not willingly fight.

On Sundays, the prisoners were allowed to visit relatives living among the large Italian-American population in New York City. While working, Josephine had met a young Italian POW named Arturo Wanderlingh. Arturo would often leave Governors Island on Sundays and visit with Josephine. Having fallen in love, the couple decided to marry. In fact, Arturo proposed to Josephine outside the Post Exchange on Governors Island. But at the war’s end, Arturo was sent back to Italy . Josephine decided to return to Italy with her future husband, where they were then married. Arturo eventually received a visa and the two settled in New York City where they would raise a family together.

Did You Know?

U.S. Army Air Corps Colonel Hap Arnold in the 1930s.

Henry “Hap” Arnold (1886-1950), a founding father of the modern U.S. Air Force, got the itch to fly while a second lieutenant in the infantry at Fort Jay in 1909, watching biplanes take off and land on Governors Island. His commanding officer told him that he knew of no better way to commit suicide. In 1911, he learned to fly with the Wright brothers and would go on to become the first five-star general of the Army Air Corps and the first and only five star general of the U.S. Air Force.