The last few escaped Italian prisoners of war

In October 1947, the Minister for Immigration, Mr Calwell, invited the remaining escaped prisoners of war to surrender by November 15 1947.  If they did so, they would still be considered for re-entry into Australia as a migrant.  If they did not come forward, when they were eventually captured, they would be deported and not be allowed re-entry to Australia.

In October 1948 there were two German prisoners of war and 41 Italian prisoners of war hiding out in Australia.  The Commonwealth Government offered a £25 reward for information leading to the arrest and capture of any of these men.

By November 1949, newspapers reported that it was believed that 25 prisoners of war remained ‘at large’.  Two ‘escaped’ Italians made their own way home to Italy: Mario Shivitz and Gustavo Norbiato.

One of the more unusual stories is that of Osvoldo Paier.  He evaded arrest in Australia and found his own passage back to Italy in 1949. In July 1950 he re-entered Australia as a sponsored migrant. 

1952 ‘Escapee returns’, The Herald (Melbourne, Vic. : 1861 – 1954), 12 February, p. 7. , viewed 26 Jul 2022,

By 1952, there were 17 ‘escaped’ Italian prisoners of war remaining in Australia.  They were no longer the responsibility of the Department of Army and their cases were transferred to the Department of Immigration.  In time, all 17 were accounted for (arrested or surrendered). They were released on parole until an investigation was undertaken. On the basis of a favourable report for their good character and work ethic, they were granted Temporary Alien Visas and remained in Australia.

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