Lost and Found

Alcide Stucchi arrived in Naples in January 1947. Over seventy five years later, I spent a beautiful spring day in Milan with Miriam Stucchi. We talked about her father’s memories, photos and a button and did a little sightseeing.

Miriam told me that she has a memory from her childhood of a button from her father’s Australian prisoner of war jacket.  The button was memorable because of the map of Australia on the button.  Miriam remembered that this Australian button was in a coffee tin with hundreds of other ordinary buttons, but she reflected that over the years it had been lost.

Alcide Stucchi had told his daughters that besides a few photos, this was the only souvenir he saved from the inspections when he arrived at Naples.

It is interesting to note that Alcide was one of 115 Italian prisoners of war transferred from Murchison Camp Victoria to Adelaide South Australia to board the Moreton Bay

Moreton Bay

(passengers.history.sa.gov.au)

This was the first batch from Victoria (apart from Andes) to be repatriated. The total group included 41 officers and 733 other ranks.  Accompanying the Italians were Captain F.E.R. Kafehagen and Roman Catholic Chaplin F.J. Conlan.  At Fremantle, one man was taken from the ship by ambulance for xrays at Hollywood Hospital.  He did not return to the ship.

Another interesting fact is that four of the Victorian prisoners of war on the Moreton Bay were men ‘whose priority repatriation was requested by the Italian authorities.’

In July 2022, I received a message from Miriam, “…at last, I found the button from my father’s jacket as a prisoner in Australia.”

Alcide Stucchi’s Australian Button

(photo courtesy of Miriam Stucchi)

Although the information below is from the Routine Orders: Repatriation Alcantara the orders were the same for each repatriation ship:

PW Clothing

Officers will wear their uniforms

Other ranks who possess uniform will wear them.  Those without uniforms will wear regulations issues [burgundy Australian uniforms].

The Australian ‘red’ uniforms were a symbol representing ‘prisoner of war’. I wonder how many Italians still had in their possession items of their Italian uniform. Possibly one of the first purchases in Naples with money received at the accommodation centre was a set of civilian clothing.

The Moreton Bay departed Adelaide on 14th December 1946. The group of prisoners of war consisted of 659 Italians from Loveday Camp South Australia together with the 115 from Murchison Camp Victoria.

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