In 1948, there were 40 escaped Italian prisoners of war ‘hiding out’ in Australia. These men wanted to remain in Australia and had found themselves jobs. Eventually, all but 17 were captured or surrendered. These 17 had evaded being ‘found’ and were granted temporary Alien Registration.
1948 also saw the return of former Italian prisoners of war. Armando Cervi and Domenico Molino returned to Adelaide on 30 November 1948 as assisted migrants.
“They had come back to Australia ‘because it was the best country in the world.'” Their passages were paid by Victor Harbour dairymen for whom they worked on parole from Loveday. Mr. HH Collins who paid 167 pounds for Domenico’s fare, said it was the one way he knew to get a good worker.” [News (Adelaide, SA: 1923-1954), Tuesday 30 November 1948, page 1.
It is estimated between 10 to 20% of Italian prisoners of war returned to Australia to begin new lives.
Some of the men who returned in 1949:
Pietro Driussi returned on the Ugolino Vivaldi to marry his fiancee Miss Eina Oliver of Murwillumbah NSW.
Vitale Iacus returned on the Cyrenia accompanied by his wife, daughter and son to work from Mr TH Fisher of Mumballup near Donnybrook WA.
Alfonso Gerardi and Giuseppe Morabito returned on the Toscana into Sydney. Gerardi was nominated by Jack Booth Armidale NSW and planned to bring his wife and daughter to Australia as soon as possible. Morabito would work with his uncle in a fruit shop in Oxford Street Sydney NSW.
Angelo Pin and Vincenzo Agostino returned on the Napoli. Agostino returned to work on a farm at Gunnedah NSW.
Antonio Scarpato arrived on the Napoli. He would work with Mr H Nahrung a orchardist in Stanthorpe Queensland.
Giovanni Cecire took a unique approach to find a sponsor to assist him return to Australia:
Ex-Italian P.O.W. .I Wants to Come Back
“The Land” has received a letter from Giovanni Cecire, of Salerno, Italy, who wants to come to Australia. He says that he spent five years as a prisoner of war in Australia, part of which time he did farm work, and now wishes to return here to work and become an Australian citizen. Giovanni is aged 32, and he wants someone to make an application for his entry, which can be secured if he has a job to come to. If anyone is interested, “The Land” will supply further particulars on application by letter. (The Land (Sydney, NSW: 1911-1954 Friday 2 June 1950, page 23)
An electrician, Giovanni arrived in Australia on the Toscana under the Italian Australian Migration Scheme.
Memorial at Cowra Prisoner of War Site listing the names of ex POWs returned to Australia
(Photo courtesy of Maria Schattinger)