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The Last Farewell - A Journey of the Heart, a posthumous wartime memoir set against the rich, colorful landscape of historic Florence and Northern Italy, tenderly recalls one soldier's heartfelt love story through the viewfinder of his still and Bell and Howell 35 mm Eyemo motion picture camera during the Italian campaign of the Second World War.

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By Edmund Burke O'Connell

Co-authored by

Julie Whitman Jones and Thomas J. Sullivan, Jr.


Purchase either a signed hardcover or paperback copy of The Last Farewell directly from the authors.

  ISBN: 978-1-4257-4186-0


ISBN: 978-1-4257-4187-7



We invite you to read a sample chapter:

A Beautiful Stranger

 Thank you for visiting our site and for signing our guest book today. We are honored to share this very special love story, The Last Farewell - A Journey of the Heart with you.


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About the Co-Authors / About the Book

The Latest - Author Events / About Edmund Burke O'Connell / Villa Calamai

Donald Wiedenmayer / Contact the Authors

 Buy the Book / Links

Bibliography / Veteran's History Project


196th Signal Photo Company

Still Photographers

Selected Photo Collection

These special tribute pages highlight some of the significant combat photography of five Army Signal Corps photographers who served in the 196th Signal Photo Company. Many are identified by their captions.

They include:

Harry Morgan / Cecil "Max"Campbell / John Mason

/ Donald Wiedenmayer / Jerry Kosseff




196th Signal Photo Company - Still Photo Gallery

Known Army Signal Corps photographs attributed by serial number to individual members of the 3131st Signal Service Company and the 196th Signal Photo Company, Italian Campaign, 1944-1945. These photos were obtained from the National Archives and the public domain.

A-F / G-L / M-R / S-Z


A wartime love


An unlikely luncheon date during a lull in the summer 1944 liberation of Florence leads Edmund Burke O'Connell, an Army motion picture photographer with the U.S. Army's 196th Signal Photo Company to meet an attractive English-speaking Florentine, Tina Calamai. Their friendship steadily blossoms into love as her family's 15th century Medici villa, the Villa Calamai, becomes his wartime base of operations.

The end of the war in Europe soon draws near and Burke and his unit prepare for redeployment to the United States where they will film the remaining months of the Pacific War. Burke faces immediate separation from his beloved Tina, and is challenged to determine how he can return to the woman he now truly loves.

O'Connell returns to Italy at war's end to resume his relationship with Tina, marry her, and remain at their Villa Calamai home until her death in 1972.

A new love story begins

Burke's return to the U.S. in 1972 for the first time in 25 years to Santa Monica, California, soon leads to a whirlwind romance, a new second marriage, and introduces co-author Julie Whitman Jones, then 15,  to her "Irish pop," a stepfather who would leave her with a lifetime of cherished memories.

The Last Farewell - A Journey of the Heart balances bittersweet recollections of close calls in combat, Divine intervention, and the grim realities of combat against the unique opportunities of American military photographers to capture and experience the rich cultural history of Italy during wartime.

WHAT'S NEW - Sept. 2011

We're in ZERB, the twice-yearly UK journal of the ZERB, the Guild of Television Cameramen (GTC)!




Issue 74, Autumn 2011 features GTC's coverage of the summer Royal Wedding.

Run by cameramen for cameramen, "The Guild" was formed in 1972 and now has over 1,000 members in countries as far afield as Australia, South Africa, the USA, Russia and Singapore. 

 The cover photograph of Edmund Burke O'Connell of The Last Farewell - A Journey of the Heart holding his Bell and Howell 35mm Eyemo camera is featured in an article on Cooke lenses which were standard issue for camera operators during World War II. (View - The Latest - Author Events)

  • New Italian DVD Documentary - 196th Signal Photo Company cameraman David Kurland is in the spotlight in a new special section featuring a new Italian documentary DVD honoring the still and motion picture cameramen of the unit. (View page)

  • New Video Links - The co-authors will be adding a selection of Signal Corps video clips from the Italian Campaign including the Battle for San Pietro and excerpts from a recently released Italian DVD depicting the Po Valley campaign. (View page)

  • Tech Sgt. Cecil "Max" CampbellNew photos taken by T/4 Cecil "Max" Campbell - A Signal Corps photo taken by Campbell during the Sicilian Campaign and a second photo taken of Campbell, at right in May 1944 is featured special tribute page the the photographer who was killed in action at the age of 23 in November 1944. (View page)












Featured Pages

Po Valley DVD / Battle for Bologna

Selected photos from a new Italian DVD focusing on the work of the 196th Signal Photo Company

Collection of photos taken by Army T/4 Don Wiedenmayer during the Battle for Bologna, Italy.

Operations History - 196th Signal Photo Company

NOTE: We are in the process of re-designing our web site using MS Expression Web 4 to include more features and functionality. We also will be expanding the known history of several of the Signal Photo Companies including the 161st, 162nd and 163rd to include unit rosters and additional background history of these same units. Our site contains an unofficial history of the 196th Signal Photo Company and its origins. We have also included links to the Signal Corps Photographic Center (SCPC) which was led by Army Colonel Melvin E. Gillette who became the highest-ranking Signal Corps officer in the North African Theater of Operations. When the Italian campaign began in September 1943, the Signal Corps was under intense pressure to acquire realistic battlefield coverage.  Gillette radioed Washington, D.C. for 14 qualified motion-picture cameramen,  more cameras and a supply of 35 mm film. The operational history of the 163rd Signal Photo Company and the 196th Signal Photo Company share the same point of origin. The 163rd Signal Photo Company was attached to the Fifth Army in Italy before following the Allied advance into Southern France.

(Click on any of the links below to learn more about the operations history of the 196th Signal Photo Company.)


O'Connell's Equipment

 Bell & Howell 35mm Eyemo Camera

Captain Melvin Gillette

Architect of the Army Pictorial Service

Selected Reference Materials (Orders and Official Documents)

Army Pictorial Service - North Africa

196th Signal Photo Company

Awards and Decorations

196th SPC Roll of Honor

196th Signal Photo Company

Unit History

196th SPC - Campaign for Sicily - 1943

196th Signal Photo Company

Motion Picture Coverage

196th - Still Photo Coverage

Bibliography - Selected books and research materials

Veteran's History Project

War's End - Nauders Crossroads - 1945


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The Last Farewell - A Journey of the Heart

By Edmund Burke O'Connell and co-authors Julie Whitman Jones and Thomas J. Sullivan, Jr.

Email the Authors: info@thelastfarewell.net

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