In India

Tripepi 10 - Copy

Clothing Inventory for Italian POWs in India

(NAA: A7919 C98988 Tripepi, Domenico)

Information about the prisoner of war camps in India is difficult to find.  The British oversaw the operations of these camp sites, many of which had been used during the Boer War.

Italian Prisoners of War in India is a guide for ordering a copy of the record relating to Italians who spent time in POW camps in India.

It is thanks to a number of Italian families that we can see and read about some of the experiences of Italian prisoners of war who were then transferred to Australia.

Adriano Zagonara, Andriano Zagonara and a group of Italian POWs in India

(photos courtesy of Paola Zagonara)

Paola Zagonara remembers the stories her father Adriano Zagonara told her about working and living in India:

Paola Zagonara wrote,  “Mio padre raccontava che erano nel campo di Bangalore,e che dovevano costruire I binari della ferrovia, che pativano la fame perche’il rancio era solo una scodella di riso integrale al giorno, e che era una festa quando riuscivano a catturare un serpente:lo arrostivano e se lo mangiavano sul posto, cosi’assumevano proteine della carne,e si mantenevano in salute.Me lo raccontava quando eravamo a tavola ed io non volevo mangiare, ma allora ero piccola e non capivo molto….un caro saluto!”



Ferdinando Pancisi and Reference from POW Doctor in India

(photos courtesy of  Tammy Morris and Nicola Cianti)

Ferdinando Pancisi remembers:

[I was in India for ] 2 years. I was working in the camp hospital. The doctor there wrote a letter of reference for me, here is the paper…He (the doctor) said that when you go back to Italy and you want to work in a hospital, give this letter to the doctors and they’ll surely give you a job.

He (the doctor) said that when you go back to Italy and you want to work in a hospital, give this letter to the doctors and they’ll surely give you a job. I was fine, I didn’t want for anything. I was doing a lot, male nurse, pharmacist, I did most things, because the doctor would just visit and leave!

[The doctor was a prisoner] Yes, the whole camp was run by prisoners. We made a hospital there just for the prisoners…

The 2nd World War was over in Italy but Japan was still going. In fact, our ship which transferred us to Australia was escorted by British destroyer ships.

(Interview with Ferdinando Pancisi 21 October 2107: Interviewers: Tammy Morris and Nicola Cianti)

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Salvatore Morello : Memories of India

(photos courtesy of Luigi Tommasi)

Salvatore Morello and Pietro Pepe were in India together and than transferred to work on a Boonah district farm.

They came to Australia on the Mariposa. Three ships came to Melbourne from India at that time. There were a total of 4056 Italians on the ships. Mariposa, SS Mount Vernon and Vernon Castle arrived in Melbourne 26.4.44. On board were 8 officers and 4048 ORs From Melbourne, the Italian POWs were put on trains and taken to Cowra for processing.

Sacred Heart of Maria was embroidered by Salvatore while in India.  The words 1942 and India are sewn into the banner held by the angels.

Foto Luigi Iacopini AUS__001 (2) - Copy

Luigi Iacopini with a group of Italian prisoners of war in a camp in India

(photo courtesy of Raffaele Iacopini)

life was monotonous and over time many of the men felt they were forgotten and became more desperate.  Health was the most serious worry.  At the camp, at Ramgarh many succumbed to beriberi and typhoid fever, ‘at an alarming rate’. The camp turned into a sea of mud and was filled with mosquitoes when the rains started.  Several hundred Italians died while interned during the war in India, some from natural causes but the majority from illnesses caught while in confinement.  For prisoners of war of all different nationalities, the war was characterised by a long, testing time of waiting in camps, longing for letters and hoping that their own news was getting through.  (Khan, Yasmin, The Rah at War: A People’s History of India’s Second World War)

Vincenzo Piciaccia from Pescara del Tronto (Ascoli Piceno) was captured 4th January a914 at Bardia.  From Egypt he was transported to India. The photo below is of a young 23 year old Vincenzo at Bangalore 1943.  He was transported to Australia and arrived in Melbourne 26th April 1944 onboard Mariposa.

Piciacchia Bangalore 1943

Vincenzo Piciaccia Bangalore India 1943

(photo courtesy of Leo Piciaccia)

Filippo Granatelli from Sant’ Elpidio (Ascoli Piceno) was captured at Asmara 6th May 1941.  He did not arrive in Australia until 13th February 1945. The group of Italians  onboard the General William Mitchell departed from India and were the last group of Italian POWs to arrive in Australia. Despite searches, Filippo managed to keep hidden a relic from his time in India, a One Anna note from Prisoner of War Camp Bhopal.

Granatelli India

One Anna from Bhopal

(photo courtesy of Veniero Granatelli)

13 thoughts on “In India

  1. Silvia

    È bellissimo leggere queste cose!!! Sto cercando ancora notizie sulla prigionia di mio nonno…che però era a Loveday e Sandy Creek.
    Arrivò in Australia dall’India, Bairagarh, campo 13 ( penso fosse un non collaborazionista, così ho capito dalle informazioni su internet sul campo 13 a Bairagarh)e presta attività in una farm di Edilillie, ho conosciuto le figlie del fattore un’emozione fortissima, ma loro non ricordano mio nonno, che era il primo pow che era stato nella loro , ricordano che ilprimo pow si ammalò ( ed è veromio nonno andò in ospedale) ma ricordano un secondo pow italiano,“john” così lo chiamavano…
    Chissà se nell’Archivio nazionale Australiano ci sono foto da visionare… grazie


    1. JoanneinTownsville Post author

      Silvia, please telll me the name of your nonno. I will look at his record in the National Archives and then see if I can find some other information. I am very happy that you find the stories relevant and interesting.


  2. Fabrizio Turchi

    Dear Gentleman,
    redirected on this web site looking for “Italian POW Bangalore” informations.
    Great website!
    I’m carring on researches about WWI and WWII soldiers to remember their stories.
    I’m looking for more informations about two POW’s in India. The first one was coming from my same town, the second one was a “far” father’s relative:
    1) Soldier Gallegati Enrico: born 30/06/1909, died 29/09/1941. Camp n°6.
    2) Sergeant Turchi Guerrino: born 25/12/1916, died 21/09/1943. Camp n°3.
    Do you have any idea where focusing researches (camp location, pictures, more details)?
    Thanks a lot.
    Best regards.



    1. JoanneinTownsville Post author

      Dear Fabrizio, Thank you for your interest in the website. This is one suggestion: Important for Italian families to know, is that families can obtain a copy of Service Records for their fathers/grandfathers, from the Office of State Archives in their region in Italy. I only have brief information about India. Have you contacted the Red Cross? I have sent you an email with two links which might assist you. I read yesterday that by 1943, there were 68,000 Italian prisoners of war in India. Ciao Joanne Tapiolas


      1. Fabrizio Turchi

        Thank you for the replay! Thanks for the documentation sent by email too.
        I had contacted the Office of State Archives to obtain military short status and that’s the reason because I had informations on that. I still have to contact International Red Cross archives. They could have documents, but unfortunately for me, they have all to be paid. I’ll try anyway.
        Keep in touch.



      2. JoanneinTownsville Post author

        It is important that we remember the sacrifice made by innocent people in war. I wish you luck with your research. If you tell me the name of your village, I will keep a look out for men in Australia who might have come from your village.


    1. JoanneinTownsville Post author

      Thank you Stefano for visiting the website and reading my research. Although the information from the British Library is a one line entry, it is an important document for family members who are researching their fathers or grandfathers. And it is not too expensive. Joanne Tapiolas


    2. Ginetta Maria Fino

      Gentilissimo Stefano, sto cercando notizie su mio padre portato a Bhopal dal Sudan nel 1942. Non conosco l’inglese e la ricerca è alquanto difficile per me. Ho depositato la memoria di mio padre nell’Archivio Diaristico nazionale di Pieve Santo Stefano, ma non ho alcun documento sulla sua prigionia di guerra in India, mentre sono riuscita a reperirla dagli archivi australiani in quanto mio padre fu poi portato in Australia. Ha qualche consiglio da darmi? Mio padre si chiamava Giosino Fino, era nato a Bonito (AV) l’11 maggio 1917. Grazie, Ginetta Maria Fino


  3. Edoardo Amaranto

    Dear Joanne
    I’m Edoardo Amaranto and in the past few weeks I’ve been looking for some records or informations about my granfather. He was an Italian prisoner captured in Eritrea (Africa), held in a camp in India (Bairagarh) and then shipped to Australia and sent in some farms from the ’43 till the ’46.
    I read your research and it’s impressive all the work you did!!
    do you have any leads where I can find some more info about him?
    Sincerely Edoardo Amaranto


    1. Joanne in Townsville Post author

      Hi Edoardo, thank you for your kind words. Is your nonno Edoardo Amaranto from Roccaforte Prea (Cuneo)? You can begin by going to the menu bar: Finding Nonno on the website. If you need some guidance, please email me: joannetappy@gmail. as this is the best method to transfer documents. Ciao Joanne Tapiolas


      1. Edoardo Amaranto

        Hi Joanne,
        I’m actually looking at it and I’m finding what I was looking for thank you so much, I can’t wait to show the files to my father and his brothers.
        i wish you the best
        Sincerely Edoardo Amaranto


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