Marrinup PW Camp No.16 was in operation from August 1943 to July 1946. It was built to house 1200 Italian and German prisoners of war.
The footprints of the camp are still visible today in the concrete foundations and barbed wire at the site: POW Camp Marrinup Trail
Marrinup PW Camp was the parent and administrative camp for all prisoners of war in Western Australia. Italians en route to their farm placement in one of the 27 Prisoner of War Control Centres (PWCC) or work placement in one of 4 Prisoner of War Control Hostels (PWCH) had time at Marrinup. Identity Cards were issued at Marrinup and all mail was processed through the camp.
Identity Card for Giuseppe Garizzo
In May 1944, a comprehensive report was written by an independent delegate on behalf of the International Red Cross. Some of the pertinent points relate to cigarette issue, recreational activites and correspondence.
The layout of the camp was dependant upon the terrain of the site and is very different from the hexagon layout of Hay, Cowra and Murchison PW Camps. It was also a much smaller camp than those on the east coast of Australia.
Marrinup: Plan of PW Camp No. 16
Aerial View of Marrinup Prisoner of War Camp
As per regulations, Italian prisoners of war have the right to dispatch the following number of letters and cards:
Fighting staff … 2 letters or 2 cards per week, or a letter and a card.
Protected staff … 2 letters and 2 cards per week.
A major concern for the Italian prisoners of war related to not receiving news from their families. This is causing a great deal of anxiety. [May 1944, the allies were fighting the Germans at Monte Cassino. Rome was liberated on 4th June 1944]
During the month of April 1944, the men sent 2715 letters, of which 415 were sent by airmail. Airmail charges were at the expense of the prisoners of war.
However, in the same month, the prisoners of war of this camp, and including all the centres of control in Western Australia, received only 217 letters and 2 packets.
At the time of the visit, military authorities announced that 73 letters from Italy have arrived for prisoners of war in Western Australia.
Prisoners of war have the avenue to enquire through the International Red Cross for information about their families.
The camp did not have a library but it was noted that prisoners of war had the option of acquiring books of their choice, subject to the approval of the camp commander. They could also receive Australian newspapers and periodicals which are censored but not cut. Since many prisoners of war did not have adequate English, the main need was for Italian books.
Australian Red Cross, Division of Western Australia had been contacted and assurances were made that efforts to buy Italian books would be made. Arrangement was made for the purchase of 50 English-Italian dictionaries.
Movie Theatres and Radio Broadcasts
Movie theaters are allowed. But equipment is not in place.
From time to time, concerts and theatrical sessions are organized for the Australian Garrison and prisoners of war are allowed to attend these evenings.
The camp has a gramophone and a number of discs.
Radio broadcasts were allowed BUT the apparatus and the installation had to be at the expense of the prisoners of war and the broadcasts are controlled by the commander of the camp. No radio is in place.
Recreations and sports
The camp had a table tennis. A small sports field is located at a distance of about one kilometre from the camp. Another large piece of land is five kilometres from the camp and prisoners of war go there on Sunday.
Other Items of Note
The precautions against air strikes have not been considered necessary in the camp, given the security of the area in which they are located.
Prisoners of war have the right to wear their uniforms and rank insignia. They have the opportunity to celebrate their national and patriotic festivities.
Kitchen and Mess
The refectory is furnished with long tables and benches; it has electric light. The refectory is heated in winter.
Canteen is in a special hut is reserved for the canteen.
The kitchen is in the same barracks as the refectory. It includes a room for meat, provisions and a cooking.
Regulatory rations of Italian prisoners of war included meat, bread, potatoes, onions, legumes, butter, lard, cheese, jam, sugar, milk, tea, coffee, salt, pepper, rice, barley, blue peas and macaronis.
The menu is set by the prisoners of war themselves within the limits set by the regulatory rations.
Noodles and macaroni are made in the camp. A vegetable garden provided a supplement of vegetables.
Camp Marrinup September 1943
Living Arrangements and Ablutions
The dwellings of this camp are composed of raised huts, with doors and shuttered windows. The dormitories are six men per hut. The bedding includes a wooden bed, a bench and 5 covers. The dormitories are filled with shelves for personal effects. The lighting is in oil. Officers share a hut with one other non-commissioned officer.
The dormitories are swept daily, and once a week a soap cleaning is carried out.
Footprints of Marrinup Prisoner of War Camp
The shower stall contains a cloakroom, two hot showers, four cold showers and eight cold water faucets for ablutions.
The shack of the toilets contains six covered seats and two urinals. A closed compartment is reserved for non-commissioned officers.
Footprints of Marrinup Prisoner of War Camp
The laundry room consists of a boiler, two sinks and four hot and cold water taps.
Meet some of Marrinup’s Italian Prisoners of War
Image 030213/04 Marrinup, Australia. 29 July 1944. Group of Italian prisoners of war (POWs) interned at Marrinup POW Camp. Back row, left to right: 59611 Rocco Ciocia; 48326 Antonio Saponaro; 47616 Tripolino Nunziati; 63279 Angelo Nenciolini; 49260 Francesco Iodice; 47775 Domenico Vallone. Front row: 48556 Renzo Menicucci; 48631 Franco Riva; 48343 Enrico Varone; 48381 Alfredo Bertini. Note: The number is an assigned POW number.
Image 030123/02 Marrinup, Australia. 29 July 1944. Group of Italian prisoners of war (POWs) interned at Marrinup POW Camp. Back row, left to right: 49724 Narciso Tognarelli; 45340 Carlo Consalvo; 59646 Nicola Di Sciullo; 59250 Giovanni Risi; 47908 Ugo Bottone. Front row: 59139 Dante Maranca; 59227 Vitaliano Parentela; 59109 Giuseppe Luongo; 59985 Giovanni Sera; 59110 Gaetano Lanzetta. Note: The number is an assigned POW number.
Image 030123/03 Marrinup, Australia. 29 July 1944. Group of Italian prisoners of war (POWs) interned at Marrinup POW Camp. Back row, left to right: 58185 Francesco Maellaro; 48123 Francesco Gallone; 59224 Vincenzo Palma; 47640 Agostino Perna; 59614 Cosimo Collecola; 59822 Michele Parisi. Front row: 59820 Gabriele Licenziato; 60045 Giuseppe Vitucci; 48599 Giocondo Orciani; 59997 Lorenzo Scaccaborozzi. Note: The number is an assigned POW number.
Image 030123/07 Marrinup, Australia. 29 July 1944. Group of Italian prisoners of war (POWs) interned at Marrinup POW Camp. Back row, left to right: 46213 Vincenzo Muto; 59989 Fioravante Speranza; 59871 Antonio Massimo; 49202 Giuseppe Scanella; 59870 Francesco Mascia. Middle row: 59279 Cammillo Spada; 59309 Giovanni Salvi; 59102 Rosindo Ingolingo; 59884 Raimondo Nicolai; 59674 Nicola Di Sciorio. Front row: 59064 Michele Conte; 56964 Nicola Settani; 48682 Angelo Terlizzi; 59645 Beradino D’Alessio; 62003 Pasquale Criscuolo. Note: The number is an assigned POW number.
Image 030123/05 Marrinup, Australia. 29 July 1944. Group of Italian prisoners of war (POWs) interned at Marrinup POW Camp. Back row, left to right: Unidentified (only half shown); 47640 Agostino Perna; 47916 Domenico Cammarano; 48748 Domenico Chiono; 59046 Giuseppe Andretta; 47908 Ugo Bottone. Front row: 47501 Giuseppe Giuffrida; 59458 Filippo Ciconte; 59301 Luigi Savini; 48999 Emanuele Piro.
The above information is compiled from a report written by the delegate for the International Red Cross who visited Marrinup 18 to 21 May 1944.