Remarkable…

In November 1945 Giuseppe Quarta from Arnesano Lecce Italy lived with Mr and Mrs Dixon on their farm in Golden Valley Tasmania.

In November 2020 Jan Dixon, daughter of Reg and Elsie shared 75 year old photos with Giuseppe’s children Antonio and Anna.

This is remarkable.

Giuseppe Quarta celebrated his 24th birthday, thirteen days before arriving in Melbourne from Bombay India. He was processed and photographed at Murchison PW Camp Victoria before travelling to Tasmania. 

Giuseppe Quarta Murchison Victoria NAA: A376 T321

Giuseppe’s son Antonio had obtained a copy of his father’s extra file in the National Archives of Australia which contained the PWI58832 photos. This file also provided the name of Giuseppe’s farming family: RR Dixon Golden Valley. But the research stalled.  A google map could provide Antonio with a geographic location for Golden Valley. But Antonio had a deep yearning to know something more about his father’s 17 months with the Dixon family.

On 30th November 2020, Antonio’s dreams came true.  Jan Dixon had seen a Facebook post on Tasmanian History and knew immediately that this man: Giuseppe Quarta was the man from her family stories and in her family photos.

Giuseppe was known as JOSH and while Jan was born after Josh had left her family’s farm, her parents often talked about Josh and referred to a few photos with Josh and the Dixon family.

Jan recalls her mother Elsie telling her, “Josh always called me Elsa.”  Just as the Dixons had given Giuseppe an Aussie name, Giuseppe gave Elsie an Italian name. There is no doubt that Giuseppe was well looked after by the Dixon family as the photos show a healthy young man as a result of the good hospitality of the Dixons.  Antonio agrees, “…senza ombra di dubbio , mio padre in quei due anni che ha trascorso presso la famiglia Dixon , si e’ trovato benissimo lo si puo’ vedere anche dalle foto che gode di ottima salute. belle foto.”


Giuseppe Quarta with Grandpa Dixon Golden Vally Tasmania 1945-1946

(photo courtesy of Jan Dixon)

Jan Dixon remembers that the farm had dairy cows and small crops hinting that fresh milk and butter were on the table; there was an abundance of bread made by her mother; and fresh vegetables came straight from the farm.  The photos also hint at the acceptance and inclusion of Giuseppe into the Dixon extended family.

Giuseppe Quarta with the Dixon Extended Family 1945-1946

(photo courtesy of Jan Dixon)

For Antonio and Anna Quarta from Lombardy Italy, these photos are a special early Christmas gift. Speaking from the heart, Antonio writes, “e’  un bellissimo regalo di Natale , proveniente dalla lontana Australia dalla cara Joanne ,e’ stata anche una grandissima sorpresa che mi ha fatto tanto piacere , aprendo lentamente il messaggio ho capito subito che si tratta di notizie importantissime… mi ha invaso la commozione e la felicita’ con gli occhi di lacrime.”

There is a remarkable series of events which has brought together the Dixon and Quarta family. Most importantly, this research project, Footprints of Italian prisoners of war in Australia, is a community project. From Antonio Quarta who entrusted me with his father’s story, to John Towers in Tasmania who pointed me in the right direction and gave me links to the Facebook group Tasmania History, to the administrator of the Facebook group who approved my post, to Jan Dixon for recognising Josh and sharing her family photos: this is a remarkable story.

Anna Quarta  adds, “Voglio Ringraziare tanto la signora Joanne Tapiolas , la Famiglia Dixon in modo particolare Jan di aver messo a disposizione le sue foto di famiglia e tutte le altre persone che hanno collaborato alla ricercar.”

8 thoughts on “Remarkable…

  1. Enrico

    Thank you so much, for everything you do, for documenting all of this. Your efforts to preserve the history of the Italian P.O.W experience in Australia, and of their Australian hosts, is truly remarkable indeed, and no doubt appreciated by many Italo-Australians searching for their roots, and history enthusiasts. Mille grazie Enrico

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    1. JoanneinTownsville Post author

      Enrico, I am the granddaughter of Italian and Spanish migrants to Australia. I understand what it is like to try to research for information in Italy and Spain. It is difficult. But people have helped me. Regarding this history of Italian prisoners of war in Australia, if I can help an Italilan family, then I am happy. This research is a ‘living history’ as it connects Italian families across the world with Australian families. Thank you for your kind words.

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  2. Roberto Vitale

    It’s always wonderful reading these stories and it’s truely amazing that after so many years sons and daughters can retrace and find a piece of history of their fathers that is so personal and yet explicitly linked to many others simply be way of being born in a particular place and a particular time. I was having dinner with my son, Justin last night and I told him how in the last day or so that I had realised something about three males in my family: my father, my self and my son – three generations, it was this. It came to me that where we were in our lives at turning twenty one. In 1941 my father found himself in Hay as a P.O.W. I then compared my life and my son’s at that same age. In 1977, I was in the U.K. away for five whole months travelling Europe. My son will be twenty one in Feb 2021. I’m pretty damn sure for him, he will be living a life of freedom. War does nothing but force the rewrite of the lives to come, and yet somehow, good does come out of that. For me, it meant I was born and subsequently my son and hopefully more generations to follow. I just wished that when my father was alive I had the conversations I now have with my son, not just as a Dad, but as a close friend. My hope is that he will have real fond memories of me, not fragments which I have had to put together and only imagine.

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    1. JoanneinTownsville Post author

      Wonderful reflections Roberto. Yes, we are the custodians of our family history. It is our role to write down the memories and stories of our parents and record our journey through life. One of the greatest gifts we can give to our children and grandchildren is a sense of place in time. It is not enought to offer them fragments of “I remember when I was your age, our cars didn’t have airconditioning” but tell them about the family holiday from Townsville to Melbourne in a Holden Sedan, 4 teenagers, 2 adults, no airconditioning and it was summer.” Thank you for your reflections on being 21… a sense of place in time.

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      1. Roberto Vitale

        Hi Joanne. Thanks for yr kind words and comments. Wow! such a long road trip in Summer, back then! Hell cannot possibly compare!! 😂

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  3. antonio29quarta

    Ciao Grande Joanne , Tante Grazie +Tante Grazie ! Il mio Grande Sogno grazie a te si e’ avverato , a distanza di circa 75 anni , Grazie a te, ho scoperto un momento particolare della vita di mio padre Giuseppe Quarta, questo tuo grande lavoro ne e’ la prova , Tanti Complimenti e Auguri… I miracoli dell’era del Digitale, , come tu definisci, Ha unito famiglie scambiandosi nuove emozioni e ricordi …Punto di riflessione ,IO SONO QUI, riferendomi al percorso di mio padre, La partenza per la Guerra ,la sofferenza sul campo di battaglia, la Prigionia in Egitto, India e la tranquillita’ in Australia , e un po’ di serenita’ nella Famiglia Dixon, cosi’ e’ riuscito a portare a casa la sua pelle…mentre in Europa la Guerra aveva lasciato parecchie ferite, distruzioni e morte . Una volta ritornato in Italia dopo qualche anno si e’ sposato , nel 1954 e’ nato mio fratello , nel 1956 io (Quarta Antonio) e nel 1960 mia sorella … ecco il FILO , non si e’ spezzato ! la vita continua! ecco perche’ IO SONO QUI , a ringraziare TUTTI , Antonio Quarta.

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  4. Shirley

    Hi, I recently came across this photo of 3 Italians POW’s who worked on the Ernst property during the war, they are 1. Targivanni Bruno, 2. Giovannilli Gverino,

    3. Damiano Tassoni & Pat & Martha Ernst who owned the farm at Templin, Qld, Australia, these are the names as the appear on the back of the photo, maybe this is of interest to someone, Thank you Shirley Ernst

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