Decimomannu, Sardinia

In April 1957, the RCAF opened an Air Weapons Unit in Decimamannu, Sardinia, Italy, to be used as air-to-air gunnery and compliment the French Air Base at Rabet-Sale, Morocco. Decimamannu was owned by the Italian Air Force but was also actively used by Canadian, German, and NATO forces. Right and below are photos taken by my grandfather while he was in Decimamannu for training.

I also found a message from the Canadian Commanding Officer in the Decimomannu Information Booklet for Canadian Troops. I thought it rather cute:

“This information booklet is published to help you as a visitor enjoy your brief tour of duty in Sardinia. The people of Sardinia are most friendly and hospitable; they are also curious and inquisitive about Canadians. Your actions will be carefully watched since many local people have relatives in North America and therefore are naturally interested in the “New World.”

Canadians have been accepted as friends of Italy as well as NATO partners. To ensure that our good relations continue, you are asked to remember at all times that you are representatives of Canada. You are the only Canadians these people see, therefore make sure that you as a guest on their island leave the right impression.”

My grandfather labelled the photos in the gallery as follows:

  • deci-08-19: Entrance to Camp Deci
  • deci-08-20: Guys Playing Ball
  • deci-08-21: Leo & Stan with Friend
  • deci-08-22: River at Dechy
  • deci-08-23: Wash Day Italy
  • deci-08-24: Donkey Transport
  • deci-08-25: Streets of Dechy
  • deci-08-26: Great Town of Dechy

Other photos taken by my grandfather in the 1950s can be found under the “Papa’s Photos” tag.

52 comments on “Decimomannu, SardiniaAdd yours →

  1. Served in Sardinia with 441 Squadron from Marville several times from 1959 to 1963. A wonderfull experience. Wish I could do it all again!

    1. My father Lee McLean served there around that time. Do you recall that name. He still lives near Trenton, Ontario.

      1. Hello. I’m from Belleville. I recently found a souvenir mug from air weapons unit Sardinia units 441 and 439. Apparently they were made for those units from an Italian Italian Potter. Let me know what you think of this maybe your dad already had one

    2. Ciao,
      Greetings from Sardinia. Just reading yours interesting comments, I decided to drop you a line. I’m completing a history project about AWU/AWTI Decimomannu airbase 1957/1990 and I’m now searching to complete the photographic side of my work. I would like to know if you have photographs taken in Sardinia and if you are willing to share them to improve my project. Your kind cooperation would be much appreciated. Best Regards, Alessandro Ragatzu

  2. I was posted to dechi as part of the advance party in 1957.
    Left in 1958. A very unique experience to say the least.!

  3. I was stationed Deci from 1964 to 1966. It was a great experience. My name Freeman Moore wife Shirley and 4 children , a boy born in Deci.

    1. I also helped open the RCAF base in the spring of ’57. I was one of the 2 AFP Cpls posted there. Most of the names have faded from my memory but the faces (and the scooters with Neuf’s “follow me” shirt)
      remain. Don, did you run the orderly room? John Wright

  4. My dad was stationed here around 1963-64. Cpl. Robert (Bob) Guertin RCAF. Our family loved it….but I was too young to remember.

  5. My Dad Garnet Morse was stationed in Deci too I believe between 67 and 70 we lived on the Poetto I was quite young then but want to return for a visit, can anyone tell me where abouts on the island we were living? There was a van we road in I think was caled the Sardo Voyager.

    1. ken morse i remember your name i am kevin schewaga my dad is peter schewaga we were there 68 to 70 i rember the poetto swimming at the hole in the wall and driving to the beach at salias

    2. Ken Morse and Kevin Schewaga – we lived in Deci the same time you did. I have no idea what our address was. Have you found out anything? See my info below. Thx!!!

      1. We were posted to Deci from ’67 to ’70.

        We lived on the Poetto. My dads name is Art Campbell.

        Our Street address was 56 Via de A Villini.

        The hole in the wall beach was a stones throw away from our appartment.

    3. We were there as well living in the Poetto with the rest of the Canadians. Heading back this summer to look up some of the old haunts.

      1. My Dad Robert Jobe ( now deceased) was there in 58-59 and we are going back in Sept 2016. Many fond memories of the Poetto and Canadian club and school. Recall CO was Lee. They lived down the street from us and played with his son Ricky Lee. Have some colour slides and some Deci memorabilia. Good times.

    4. I lived in Poetto as a child. My father married an Italian when he was posted there. I go back regularly because my parents bought a small house there.

    5. Poetto, is situated east of Cagliari about 15 minutes from the center. It is a strip of land between the salt lakes and the sea (loverly area). Used to be one of the main living areas for the R.A.F families based there. We were there approx 1970 – 1972.

    1. The salt flats have been turned into a bird sanctuary. Do you remember saddle mountain at Poetto. It now has lovely walking trails with a great view.

    2. Gord,

      You knew my parents Art and Anne Campbell.

      I believe your apartment was on the ground floor bottom left. We were on the second floor, right hand side.

  6. Thanks Kevin I am going to go back in the New year just trying to figure out what part of the island it was on, my parents are deceased so was looking into it, my e@ is kenmorse at (editor note: replace at with @ symbol; removed @ to prevent spamming) if you can remember or know where exactly we were on the island… Thanks much

  7. We were stationed in Deci too, We loved it. 1987-1992, We lived in Decimomannu and still have friends/family in Deci. We would love to go back. The Pack

  8. My father Major Robert F. Cowie was stationed in Deci from 1958 to 1960. I was only two years old then and my brother was only one. My father passed in 2011 and my mother is living in Belleville, ON. I do have pictures on slides if anyone is still interested.

      1. Well now that you have taken me up on my offer … now I have to come up with the goods! Remember that any pics I have are on slides so it will take me a while to pull them out and go through them and scan so please be patient. I know I have a slide scanner down in the basement somewhere … SCSI connection … arg … I’ll work on it!

    1. I would write the history of the Canadian base in Decimomannu . I ‘ve lived in the 70 and 80. To write the story I need photographs, testimonies , drawings of the houses . my address is ,

      I’ll send you the latest pictures , 70 , 80 , 90 , 2000

      Thank you in advance , Gianni Canu . Hello

  9. My father was stationed at Deci 1968/70 ish as a pilot – Captain Michael J.S. Barber. I was about five and my brother was three. Both of my parents have passed away. I do have photos of Santa coming to visit us in convertible. Not sure if I have many other photos.
    I want to go back and figure out where we we lived and went to school. I’m not sure of the address but I do have mail and addresses of other people stationed there then. So interesting!

  10. John MacGarva I was cleaning up some of my late fathers stuff. A 50 cal bullet plaque presented to Flt Lft Ron MacGarva by the officers of AWU Decimomannu. His service record shows Fighter Weapons Instructor 1958. He was with 441 Sqdn.

    1. I replaced Ron MacGarva as FWI in 1958 as I was checked out and FWI on both Sabre and CF100. Left in 1962 – best posting we had in our career. Became CADO in 58 when the AWTE was established and Italian/German squadrons used the base with us. Set up the Canadian club and commissary on the Poetto and the new quarters at Deci. Had trout eggs brought from Canada to a hatchery in Sardinia. Great fun!

  11. Hey everyone. I just uploaded some of the photos my grandfather took while stationed in Decimomannu. They are colour and very clear because he used slide film instead of using regular film. I’ve also added his “key” for the photos.

  12. I spent 2 very memorable years there in 1964-1966: my father was with the RCAF. I’m returning in June of this year for the first time since leaving and am very much looking forward to seeing Deci.

  13. Hi,I live in Medicine Hat Alberta Canada, and I have an original Air Weapons Unit Hand Made Mug with a lizard for a also has 1960 engraved on the bottom.No initials,I found it at a yard sale about ten yrs ago.It’s nice to final get some info on it,thanks

  14. Served as a ME Tech april 58 to Oct 58.No barracks for support staff so lived on the poetto in Marble floored Apt.Often ate at the Sandalyon Hotel/restaurant.Lots of sun.

  15. I also lived there as a child from 1963-1967. My father, Gary Ashton was stationed there with the RCAF. We lived on the Poetto, in the same neighborhood as the other Canadian families, near the Salt Flats, across from a large church that was built around 1966. I went back in 1984, and the church didn’t look as big as I remembered. I also remember it was an easy walk to the beach, and there was a pizza restaurant up the street from us. We were bused to school, and I would be interested if anyone knows where the school was.

    1. I must have waited at the bus stop with you. I cannot remember where the school was either. I was there last summer. They have been fixing up Poetto but the Canadian Hospital is now a boarded up wreck. I remember going to the Canadian Club for family activities and the teeter totter and swings. We used to walk to the Canadian Club from our apartment.

    2. Hi Penny

      The school they used to bus us to was in Cagliari I went there from 1960 to 1964

  16. I just Google mapped where we lived. We were in 3 different homes, I believe one was 73 Via Ausonia, we had both sides of a duplex, and the other was around the corner at 7 Via Lipari, a white home, where we had the lower level. Good friends lived in the apartments across the street. I might be able to find some pictures of my father playing baseball.

  17. Born in 56 My father was Sgt Roger Lafortune, stationed in Duchi probably 1959/1960
    I rememeber apartment in Cagliari, I do have a few photos and now at 60 years of age reminisce these memories
    Long live the RCAF (btw My full name Rober Charles Albert LaFortune aka RCAF)

  18. My Father who has passed often mentioned Sardinia but I don’t recall the dates he was there. Cpl William (Bill) Abel RCAF.

    I would be interested in any history of this era email: garyabel at

    1. Hi John. If you upload your photos to social media / sharing site (e.g. Flickr, Facebook, Instagram, there are so many), I’ll post the link here so people can link to it (and you have control of your photos). Alternatively, because there’s a community of people growing here, I can create a gallery for you within the comments. With most services I can do that as well (with your permission of course).

  19. I am interested also in the working relationship of Canada/Italy/Germany in 1959 at Decimomannu as I was told as a spouse NATO had no Communists aboard the mission. I lived in Cagliari and hardly saw my spouse in good health!!!
    “wind chimes’

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