Documenting the history

Alan Fitzgerald’s book The Italian Farming Soldiers Prisoners of War in Australia 1941-1947 was the first publication in Australia about Italian prisoners of war. It was published in 1981 and it is a book I continue to refer to. There is specific information about the journey of Lieutenant Arnaldo Gatti and his son Luciano Gatti together with the “great” escapee Lieutenant Edgardo Simoni.

Bill Bunbury published Rabbits and Spaghetti: Captives and Comrades Australians, Italians and the War in 1995. It is specifically about Western Australia: Italian internees, Italian prisoners of war and Australian POWs in Italy.

In 2006 Biagio Di Ferdinando published his autobiography Odyssey. Biagio had returned to Australia post WW2.

Haywire (2006: Hay Prisoner of War and Internment Camps) and A Town at War (Graham Apthorpe 2008: Cowra Prisoner of War and Internment Camps) are comprehensive histories of the multi-layered nature of the camps accommodating both prisoners of war and Australian and international internees.

In Italy, Evandro Dell’ Amico published two books: L’Uomo Tornato Da Lontano in 2016 and Il Viaggio Australie in 2018.

Bocco… Mio Padre Carlo Vannuci was published by his son Enrico Vannucci.

Echoes of Italian Voices, Family Histories of Queensland’s Granite Belt by Francesco and Morewenna Arcidiacona presents information on the Italian POWs working on the Stanthorpe district farms during WW2 as well as family stories for those Italian POWs who returned to settle in the district post war.

Darren Arnott from Melbourne published No Regard for the Truth in 2019. An expose into the fatal shooting of Rodolfo Bartoli by Captain Waterston of Rowville Hostel.

A recent Australian publication A Cage in the Bush (2022) by Ernie Polis centres on Marrinup Camp in Western Australia, home to German and Italian prisoners of war.

Very importantly, families in Italy are self-publishing books about their fathers and grandfathers.

Every man has a story to tell and it is heartwarming to know that sons, daughters and grandchildren are acknowledging the individual journeys.

It is vital to remember that while these men were soldiers, airmen, marines and prisoners, they were also husbands, fathers, sons and brothers.

3 thoughts on “Documenting the history

  1. Pip

    Thank you Joanne for your regular posts on the Italian POWs and for providing a list of books in your latest post. I am not a descendant of any POWs, but my grandfather hosted three POWs on his farm in northeast Tasmania from 1943-46. I only have anecdotal information and want to find out more (to include in a book, or snippets, on my family history). I have scant information about these POWs, and my uncles (now all deceased) who worked on the farm with them could not remember their names when I enquired some years ago. I read Alan Fitzgerald’s book years ago when it was the only one available on the subject. I am glad to see there are many more now.


  2. Ines

    Hi Joanne, Many thanks for providing the names of these books. I grew up in Pozieres ( in the Stanthorpe area ) and used to hear of several POW’s in our area that worked for Italian farmers but I was very young so don’t their names. One eventually became a priest & others were taken to Cowra.
    Much appreciate all your help in knowing about these times of conflict.


    1. Joanne in Townsville Post author

      Hi Ines, I had forgotten to include the book, “Echoes of Italian Voices… Family Histories of Queensland’s Granite Belt” by Francesco and Morwenna Arcidiacona. The book includes information on the Italian prisoners of war working on the Stanthorpe farms and then stories of some of the Italians who returned after the war. Ciao Joanne



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