souvenir: an item that is kept as a reminder of a person, place, or event

Eugenio Talamo had a little over two years in Australia as a prisoner of war.

He arrived in Melbourne 29th December 1944 on the Melon; part of a group of 991 Italian prisoners of war from India and the second last group to arrive in Australia.

Upon return to Italy 19th February 1947 on the Otrontes Eugenio had three Australian souvenirs.

A button with a map of Australia is a reminder of the prisoner of war uniforms the Italians wore. These uniforms were second-hand Australian uniforms. 

POW Uniform Button

(photo courtesy of Laura Demartino)

A 1945 Christmas Card is a reminder of the six Christmases he spent as a prisoner of war. The YMCA Australia [Societa Giovenu Cristiana Australia] provided for the Italian prisoners of war: books, sports and musical equipment and Christmas Cards. 

1945 Christmas Card Issued to Italian Prisoners of War

(photos courtesy of Laura Demartino)

A copy of Propagation of the Faith Year Book 1945 is a reminder of the importance of the Catholic faith to the Italians.  As best can be found, it is a book about the work of Catholic Missionaries in promoting the Catholic religion. Money was raised and used to support missionary programs. Two such programs were in Papua New Guinea and aboriginal communities in Australia.

Propagation of the Faith Year Book 1945

(photo courtesy of Laura Demartino)

Most ex-Italian prisoner of war rarely spoke about their trials of being a prisoner. Some kept a few souvenirs of Australia.

Eugenio’s souvenirs have added three more items to the collection of relics for this history.

Each relic assists families to have a greater understanding of the everyday life of an Italian prisoner of war in Australia.

It is with special thanks to Eugenio’s granddaughter Laura, that these souvenirs have been shared.

souvenirs… memories… family legacy

Nonna and Nonno Talamo (photo courtesy of Laura Demartino)

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