Italian POWs at Tingoora

My dad, Samuel Long had a farm at Tingoora and during the war, we had Italian POWs on the farm to help with the work. I would have left school by then and working on the farm.  We grew peanuts and corn mainly and farm work was pretty labour intensive, although farmers in the South Burnett district were pioneers in inventing and making purpose built farm machinery such as peanut harvesters and thrashers.  We worked with horses and also tractors so there was always a lot of general farm work to do.

An article in Queensland Country Life (23 May 1940) mentions my Dad, “Keen on labour saving equipment, Mr. Long has a McCormack-Deering tractor, and for handling maize, has an automatic husker, sheller and bagger, with capacity for 60 bags”.  Dad also had a system for conserving fodder whereby he had sheds built in three sections which could be raised and lowered as required to store lucerne.  It was an alternative method to silos and was more cost effective. “An adjustable roof is operated by pulleys and can be raised and lowered according to the quantity of material they contain,” was reported in  Queensland Country Life. Dad had a lot of projects going, always trying to improve productivity.

Long show

Farmer Mr S. Long excelled in the outstanding one-farm exhibits, as indicated by the great variety of farm produce and products on display from his farm at Tingoora. Exhibited at the Kingaroy Show, 1934.

(John Oxley Library Image Number 199695)

Two of our Italians were Mario Ferrone and Luigi Rubano.  The Italians were used as a workforce pool and would be rotated around the farms when needed.  From memory they would come to our farm and then go on to Jake Peterson’s farm.  My dad was an easy boss so didn’t work them that hard, or at least that is how I remember it.  Other farmers were much harsher with their expectations of the Italians.  We would have had more than just these two.

Kingaroy. Rubano

Prisoner of War/Internee; Rubano, Luigi

(National Archives of Australia NAA: MP1103/2, PWI49505)

They lived on a small house on our farm, might have been a workers’ cottage or the old house.  They would eat with our family.  Occasionally they would cook a meal for the family or often they would cook a certain part of the meal for mum.  They always had enough food because we had a house garden with vegetables and salad greens.

A provision truck would come around to the farm and the Italians would buy items they needed.  I think things like spaghetti and biscuits.

We lived about 14 miles from town and I can’t remember the POWs going anywhere.  Sometimes on a Sunday, the Italians from the neighbouring farms would get together and they would have walked.

I got the general impression that they were discontented with working, or maybe it was just that dad was an easy boss and didn’t push them.  They didn’t have much English, but they just learned as they went.  They would have learnt words for food and farming tasks and general pleasantries.

I also remember that during harvest time, we had some Aboriginal workers.  They probably came from Cherbourg.  Farm workers were in short supply especially during the harvest.  We never had Land Army Girls though.

Dudley Long

18.2.17

Tingoora

Tingoora Railway Station

(Keith Kratzmann southburnett.com.au 12 April 2016)

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