Forestry at Mt Burr, Mt Gambier & Penola

1st February 1946

1.2.46 who is grey haired man (2)

1-2-46 SA Salisci

What can a 74 year old photo tell us? Where why this photo taken? Who are the young men in the photo? Who is the white haired gentleman at the back left?

This photo was one of many photos taken home to Italy by Antioco Pinna.  In 2017 Luigi Pinna, Antioco’s son, shared his father’s collection of Australian photos.  Little by little, Antioco’s movements in Australia were traced.  His Service and Casualty Card records: S13 Hostel Mt Gambier but further records place him at Mt Burr undertaking forestry work.

S13 Hostel Mt Gambier was an abbreviated reference to 3 hostels or sub-camps situated in South Australia’s forestry region. The full title is S13 Prisoner of War Control Hostel: Mt Gambier-Mt Burr-Penola.  Italian prisoners of war worked with the forestry departments of Mt Gambier, Mt Burr and Penola but the hostels were actually situated at Wandilo, Rocky Camp and Nangwarry. The employing authority of the Italian prisoners of war was the State Conservator of Forests (SA) which also had to provide accommodation for the Italians POWs and the AMP personnel.   The Italians were used in logging operations and general forestry work.

Unfortunately for Italian families, the prisoner of war record cards rarely indicate to which hostel their fathers or grandfathers were allocated. Little by little and with the assistance of Colleen Hammet in Millicent, Ann McLaughlin in Dubbo, Luigi Pinna in Sardinia, Vic Smith at the Nangwarry Museum and Peter Dunn at ozatwar.com  a clearer picture of S13 Hostel Mt Gambier emerges.

The following document gives an insight into this history:Forestry Hostels S13 Mt Gambier, Mt Burr and Penola

The backdrop to the photo above is most likely the Rocky Camp Hostel near Mt Burr.  Salisci is most likely Alberto Salis who can be placed at ‘a hostel near Mt Burr’.  One Italian is wearing his Italian military uniform and others are wearing their Australia issue magenta dyed uniforms.  The Italian POWs were know for their gatherings of music and song and can be seen with violin, ukulele, guitar and mandolins. The day is Friday 1 February 1946.

A373 D Salis - CopyFrom Police Gazette (NAA: A373 D)

The hostels of S13 accommodated Italian prisoners of war who were then trucked to their work details for the day.  Hostels were overseen by a staff of Australian Military personnel.  The Italians worked with civilian forestry and timber mill employees. The cleaning and cooking duties were performed by the Italian prisoners of war.  Assigned to this Hostel was 1 medical officer, 3 medical orderies and 3 hygiene personnel.

Doctor Enrico Frego from Tornaco (Novara) was assigned to S13 from 11.9.44 to 3.6.45.  He also worked at the wood camps of  S14 Morgan Hostel and S12 Woolenook Hostel.

Doctor Mario Sano from Torino was assigned to S13 from 27.6.45 to 28.3.46, seemingly replacing Doctor Frego.  He  also worked at S14 Morgan Hostel.

A number of Italians who have S13 Mt Gambier on their record cards, were only temporary residents.  Italians being transferred from one farm allocation to another, being transferred from hospital or detention would stay en-route at S13 Hostel before transfer to their next allocation.  Some of the Italians in transit stayed only 1 day, others one month.  Others like Antioco Pinna were at S13 Hostel from the start to the end: August 1944 through to the end of March 1946.

 

 

 

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