On 20th June 1946, The Western Australian Premier’s Department forwarded to The Prime Minister’s Department a letter penned by an Italian prisoner of war.
To His excellence Governor General of W.A. Perth
Immigation Department Perth
West Australian Redactor Perth
League of the returned soldiers Perth
I am writing on behalf of the Italian P.O.W. whom think of having done their duty working on farms.
When the Italian Government became co-belligerent (we were in the time in India) a number of I.P.O.W. had been sent to Australia for agricultural work in order to collaborate with their work to warlike effort of the United Nations.
Before our departure from India, the English Government formally promised us that after the cessation of hostility we would be allowed to settle in Australia. Now after about 30 months during which the Commonwealth of Australia have been employing us in useful way, and just now hen he should take some interest in us, it abandons us.
From letters previously published in the papers we must believe that we have been useful on the farms and plus nearly all hte farmers remained quite satisfied and many of them express wish to employ the I.P.O.W. again as ex P.O.W.
We make appeal to the well known rectitude and honest of the Australian people and we ask their co-operation in our case.
As we have done our duty was P.O.W. we are ready to do it as civil.
It is obvious that not all the I.P.O.W. intend to remain in Australia. Well, why don’t give a chance to those who wish to stay.
We know that Australia is in need of population then, why is the Commonwealth of Australia going to send us back to Italy against our will? The Australian Government says that according to the Geneva conventions we should be sent back. What is a convention when millions of people are starving.
We have kept our promise doing our best.
Can the English Government say the same.
Sir, Knowing your kind heart and rectitude of mind, we hope in your help.
(NAA: A434, 1950/3/15531)
But I want to stay….
The Italian prisoners of war were removed from farms at the end of 1945 into the beginning of 1946. They were told that they would be going home soon… but as the months dragged by, the number of escapes increased. The above extract from a Victoria Police Special Circular No. 7 shows some of the men who wanted to stay in Australia.
Interestingly, one proactive Italian POW in New South Wales on 19th November 1946, had submitted his ‘Application for Permit to Enter Australia’ together with his ‘Medical Examination Report’ which had been completed by an Army Medical Officer. There is no doubt that this man wanted to stay in Australia.
For the question: present occupation, he has written P.O.W.
With no faith in the system, he escaped on 24th November 1946. He remained ‘at large’ until September 1952 by which time he was well established, well respected and allowed to remain in Australia.