Fountain at Wakool Camp 1 May 1945 ICRC V-P-HIST-01881-40
Wakool Camp ICRC V-P-HIST-01882-44
V3 Wakool on a Service and Casualty Form indicates that your father or grandfather, during 1943-1945 worked on ‘the largest and best equipped rice-growing farm in the Southern Hemisphere’. This project was to grow rice on a large scale for military requirements.
The newspapers reported that ‘all prisoners of war, nearly 200 are on parole’ and that the place had no locks and the Italians worked under civilian supervisors.
The Italians arrived in September 1943, to prepare the ground for planting and to tend the crops. Another group of Italians were involved in construction work for the second 5000 acres to go under rice.
Wakool Camp ICRC V-P-HIST-01882-45A
“ The camp is conducted largely on the pattern of a military camp and is entirely self-contained, well-conducted and with a strict but reasonable discipline. Some seventy men are engaged in various operations. Much of the general labour of the farm is being done by Italian prisoners of war whom there are about 180 and mostly taken during the North African campaign. The men are on wages and working well. The normal daily routine was first call at 6.30am, breakfast 7am and at 7.20am some 25 trucks carry the men to various jobs on the farm. They return to headquarters at 11.45am and returned for the afternoon at 12.40pm Work for the day ends at 5pm” (Wiluna Miner (WA: 1931-1947) Friday 8 December 1944, page 4 and 5)
Wakool Camp ICRC V-P-HIST-0329-18A
This rice farm was operated by the Water Conservation and Irrigation Trust of New South Wales with water for irrigation diverted from the Edwards River. It was the first rice production in the area and was situated on part of Tulla Station at Wakool near Barham.
The farm covered 5000 acres and by January 1945 was reported to have yielded 8000 tons of rice and 125,000 bales of rice straw. Rice straw was sent to paper mills. Bren carriers were borrowed from the Army to move bagged rice to storage. About 100 acres were harvested each day.
Italians at Work Wakool ICRC V-P-HIST-01880-11A
As a government project, finances were available to purchase machinery. This project was highly mechanised: 47 tractors of the bulldozer and caterpillar types, 24 header harvesters reaping 25 tons per header per day, 14 seed drills and 18 disc seed drills, rice cleaning plant. It was reported that it took two men working seven days a week to keep the equipment supplied with fuel.
Italians at work Wakool ICRC V-P-HIST-01880-09A
ICRC V-P-HIST-03290-16A; V-P-HIST-03290-15A;V-P-HIST-03290-14A; V-P-HIST-01882-02A