(Photo from Fortuna Villa Facebook Page)
For the 30 Italian prisoners of war who were sent to work at “Fortuna” Bendigo, they might have thought that this work placement was an illusion; a bizarre turn of events; a lucky transfer; a little paradise after Murchison POW Camp.
“Fortuna” is a Victorian 40 room mansion with opulent decor and furnishings in Bendigo Victoria dating back to the 1870s.
What did the Italians think of ‘Fortuna’s’ Roman Bath and Pompeii Fountain?
During WW2, ‘Fortuna’ was home to the Cartographic Coy (Royal Australian Survey Corps) responsible for war time mapping: “The Emergency Mapping Programme was initially for strategic mapping at scale four-miles-to-one-inch (‘four-mile maps’) covering a coastal strip 200 miles (300 km) inland from Townsville to Port Augusta and 100 miles (200 km) inland from Albany to Geraldton and key strategic areas in Tasmania and around Darwin and ‘one-mile’ maps of populated places. Map production was from existing State Lands Departments information and conducted jointly between State and Commonwealth agencies and Survey Corps units. The programme expanded to include more of Australia, New Guinea, New Britain and New Ireland and although many maps were of a preliminary standard only, providing general coverage critical at the time. ” https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Royal_Australian_Survey_Corps
On 22 January 1946, approval was given for 30 Italian prisoners of war to be sent to “Fortuna”.
1/1/14 Headquarters Unit Adjutant General 6 (a) Prisoners of War, Adjutant General 12 (AG. 13) January to May 1946 AWM Digitised Collection: https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C1360591
I am yet to find further information about the type of work the Italian POWs did, or in what buildings they resided, but generally speaking POWs sent to Australian army sites were involved in rehabilitation of the site, storage of equipment and general maintenance.
Can you help?
Are you a Bendigo resident or a family member of the Survey Corps? Can you add any information or reference to the Italian prisoners of war at “Fortuna”?
Does your father or grandfather have the words: ‘Fortuna’ or Bendigo or Cartographic Coy on the Service and Casualty Form?
More information about “Fortuna”: