(photos courtesy of AWM and individual contributors)
In response to a negative newspaper report on the POW workforce, Mr Male in Western Australia submitted a letter to the editor in support of the POW farm placement scheme.
A question is often posed: How do you quantify the value of the Italian POW workforce? Mr Male is able to provide the answer.
Mr L B Male, of Redmond, in writing of his Italian prisoner to the ‘Albany Advertiser’ certainly boasts the Ities as workers, Mr Male says:-
“I have had a POW since the inception of the scheme, and am well satisfied. In fact, I can honestly say he is the best worker I have had on the place. he works voluntarily from 5 am to 7 pm, and if necessary I am prepared to give a detailed account of his work, day by day. Only dissatisfaction I have heard is from farmers who haven’t got any Italian labourers.
“It is said that some farmers think the military authorities nurse them too much. Well, such is not the case as far as my Control Centre is concerned.
“They are very firms with both POW and employer, but are exceptionally fair to each.
“In my particular case, I was unable to obtain labour for three years. Result: Fences not kept in repair; grass paddocks overgrown; calves running with cows that should be milked; only half the potatoes planted previously; and the farm generally going into a decline. I thought I was going into one too!
“Now I have the farm back to normal, or even better than it was before the rot set in, and it is solely due to the work done by a POW in less than 12 months, with the co-operation received from the POW control centre.
“I have conversed with at least 20 employers of POW between Mt Barker and Albany, and not one of them has ever mentioned being dissatisfied.”
(Beverly Times (WA: 1905-1977), Friday 17 November 1944, page 4)
1944 ‘Italian POW.’, The Beverley Times (WA : 1905 – 1977), 17 November, p. 4. , viewed 09 May 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article202749325