Category Archives: Marrinup PW Camp No. 16

Welcome… Benvenuto

Welcome to Footprints of Italian Prisoners of War  a comprehensive archive of documents, artefacts, testaments, photographs and research relating to this compelling chapter in Australian history. This is a community history involving Australian and Italian families from ten countries who have shared their stories so that this history is not forgotten.

Sneath Murray Bridge

Over 18000 Italian Prisoners of War came to Australia from 1941 – 1945. Captured in theatres of war in North Africa, East Africa and Europe, they were transported to Australia  via staging camps in Egypt, Palestine and India.

There is much written about internment in Cowra, Murchison and Hay the main Prisoner of War and Internment Camps in New South Wales and Victoria, but only snippets of information are recorded about  Italian prisoners of war in other states.

This research features Italian prisoners of war and their farming families in Tasmania, Western Australia, South Australia, Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales. Articles cut across a range of topics: the battles in Libya, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Greece; the movement of prisoners from the place of capture to prisoner of war camps in Egypt and Palestine; interment in the camps of India; transport to Australia; repatriation from Australia and arrival in Naples.  

The stories and memories of Italian and Australian farming families gives this history a voice.  The diversity of photos and relics shared personalises what would otherwise be a very black and white official report.

The articles featured on the project’s website brings colour and personality to this almost forgotten chapter in Australia’s history.

List of Articles May 2020

The Italian prisoners of war were more than just a POW.  They were fathers, brothers, sons and husbands from across Italy and from diverse backgrounds and occupations.

Follow their journey…. Walking in their Boots

 

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Nonno Ermano Nicoletti’s Journey

(Photos and documents from: AWM, Red Cross, NAA, Trove, Alessandra Nicoletti, Nambucca Guardian: Ute Schulenberg, David Akers)

 

The Footprints Project

Join the journey and follow the footprints of the Italian prisoners of war

Footprints of Italian Prisoners of War Project is a community project supported by Australians in five states and Italian families in ten countries.****

Background

What started out as a personal journey to read about the Italian POW Camp outside of Home Hill has resulted in a comprehensive, diverse and rich collection of stories, letters, photographs, testimonies, artefacts, music, newspaper articles spanning 79 years: the battles on the Libyan/Egyptian border December 1940 to the present.

Over the past four years, I have heard these words many times over, “but you have it wrong, there were no Italian prisoners of war in Queensland”.

And this became a focal point for the research: to record this chapter in Queensland’s history before it was completely forgotten.

But like ripples in a pond,  Queensland’s history of Italian POWs expanded across and was part of a greater history and so the project extended and expanded: to other Australia states and to Italian families in ten countries across the world.

 

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What makes this research unique and diverse?

Perspective.

Contributions have come from far and wide:  farmers, farmers’ wives, farming children, the town kids, families of Australian Army interpreters, children of Italians who were prisoners of war, Italians who were prisoners of war, the local nurse, the mother of an ex-POW, government policy.

What does the research encompass?

Website: italianprisonersofwar.com

Facebook Page: Prigionieri di guerra Italiani in Australia

Music Book: Notations for songs and dance music by Ciccio Cipolla.

Farm Diary: daily notations regarding farm life during war time including information on Italian POWs and Land Army Girls.

Discussion about our Queensland research at conference in Catania Sicily May 2019 on prisoner of war experiences.

Memories in Concrete: Giuseppe Miraglia from Enna Sicily and Adriano Zagonara from Bagnara di Romagna Ravenna.

Donations to the Australian War Memorial of two artefacts made by Gympie Italian prisoners of war

Two publications: Walking in their Boots and Costanzo Melino: Son of Anzano (in collaboration with Rosa Melino)

Journey of two Italian families from Italy to visit Queensland and ‘walk in the footsteps of their fathers’: Q1 Stanthorpe and Q6 Home Hill

POW Kit Bags: Adriano Zagonara and Sebastiano Di Campli

The Colour Magenta

Handbooks: L’Amico del Prigioniero, Pidgin English for Italian Prisoners of War, Piccolo Guido per gli Italiani in Australia

Voices from the Past: five testimonials from Italian soldiers who worked on Queensland farms.

Letters written by Italian prisoners of war to family in Italy, to their Queensland farmers and to the children of farmers, written by mother of an Italian POW to a Queensland nurse, written by the Italians to their interpreter, Queensland farmer to Italian.

Photographs of Italian soldiers in full dress uniform, Italian soldiers in Libya during training, Italians as POWs with their Queensland families, Italians on their Wedding Day and with their families, Italians in POW camps in India.

Handmade items: embroideries, wooden objects, cellophane belt, silver rings, paintings, cane baskets, metal items, chess sets, theatre programs.

Contributions by ten Italian families whose fathers and family returned to Australia as ‘new Australians’.

Identification of five buildings used as prisoner of war accommodation.

Publication of three guides for Italian families to assist in their search for information about their fathers and grandfathers.

Collaboration with numerous Italian and Australian families; local museums and family history associations; journalists; translators; collectors of historic postal items; local libraries.

Did you know?

The website operates as a ‘virtual’ museum and library.

The website has a wide reaching readership to 118 countries!

150 articles have been written for the website.

My Wish List

In the beginning:

I had one wish, to find one Queensland family who remembered the Italians working and living on their farm. Thank you Althea Kleidon, you were the beginning with your photos and memories of Tony and Jimmy.

My adjusted wish list, to find three photographs of Italian POWs on Queensland farms. Then came Rosemary Watt and Pam Phillips with their collection of photos, a signature in concrete and a gift worked in metal.

….

Now:

To have the three Finding Nonno guides translated into Italian.

If I win Gold Lotto, to have Walking in their Boots translated into Italian.

 

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****What does the future hold… After four and a half years of research, over 150 website articles, two publications, thousands of emails, visits, interviews, cataloguing etc …

I plan to go at a slightly slower pace.  I will continue to work offline and in the background answering questions, assisting families and adding to this historical collection.

I have republished articles in a chronological order starting with the soldiers and their battles. And I will slot in new articles and add new information along the way. Hopefully this will convey ‘the journey’ of the Italian soldiers from capture through to repatriation and for some Italians, a return to Australia.

Join the journey and follow the footprints of the Italian prisoners of war.

 

 

 

Friendship down the generations

Alessandra Garizzo stumbled across the article on Marrinup Prisoner of War Camp Western Australia; and was amazed to see her father’s Prisoner of War Identity Card.  I had a number of identity cards to choose from for this article but I was drawn to Giuseppe Garizzo for two reasons: he was tall – 6 ft and he was from Venice.  There is a  generalisation that all Italian POWs were short peasant farmers from the south of Italy, and I wanted to counter this myth as not only was Giuseppe tall, he was also from the north of Italy.  The second reason is a little closer to home for me: my nonna and nonno migrated to Australia for a small village, Palse near Pordenone north of Venice.

Garizzo Identity Card 1

(NAA: K1174 Garizzo, Giuseppe)

However, there is another reason, which is less tangible, for I sometimes think decisions are made for me; that maybe Alessandra’s father touched me on the shoulder and in that moment I chose his card.  Now Alessandra via ‘The Footprints of Italian Prisoners of War’ project has new background knowledge of her father’s time in Australia: Marrinup, the repatriation voyage on Chitral,  details of the Battle of Bardia, photos and stories from the camps on India.

Garizzo 1

Gino* and Giuseppe Garizzo with Graeme Stewart at Rocky Glen 1944-45

(photos courtesy of Alessandra Garizzo)

Alessandra grew up with her father’s stories of  Jack Stewart and his family on Rocky Glen via Muradup.  Four precious photos of Giuseppe’s time at Rocky Glen are kept close and in Alessandra’s mobile gallery.  The connection between the Stewart and Garizzo families is a story that spans over seven decades with Stewart family members visiting Giuseppe Garizzo in Venice several times.

Garizzo 2

Giuseppe Garizzo and Gino  with Graeme Stewart at Rocky Glen 1944-45

(photos courtesy of Alessandra Garizzo)

In September 2014, Alessandra journeyed to Australia and Muradup to visit Graeme Stewart and his childhood friend Max Evans.  Both men shared memories of ‘Joe’ [Giuseppe’s Aussie name]. The local newspaper captured this special connection and history in: War friendships endure

Garizzo Reunion - Copy

Sandra Garizzo with Max Evans and Graeme Stewart.

Picture: Marcus Whisson d426086

Jack Stewart’s grandson David Carlin has written about the special relationships between the two families and Joe’s prisoner of war journey in The Bronzista of Muradup   The article is a beautiful and poignant tribute to the special friendship of Jack Stewart and Giuseppe Garizzo.

* There were two men named Gino who arrived in Western Australia on board Ruys** and were sent to W4 Kojonup on 11.3.44, the same journey as Giuseppe Garizzo.  Gino Appetito [PWI59376] was from Rome [5′ 6″]  and Gino Lucchini [PWI 59103] was from Verona [5′ 9″].

**Ruys was the only transport which disembarked Italian prisoners of war at Fremantle, before sailing to Melbourne and disembarking the remainder of Italians.

 

Marrinup: May 1944

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.

Garizzo

Identity Card for Giuseppe Garizzo

(NAA: K1174)

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 2

Marrinup: Plan of PW Camp No. 16

(NAA: K121430/32/4)

Marrinup 1

Aerial View of Marrinup Prisoner of War Camp

(www.wanowandthen.com/Marrinup.html)

Correspondence

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.

Reading Material

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.

V-P-HIST-E-00223.JPG

Camp Marrinup September 1943

(ICRC V-P-HIST-E-00223)

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.

Marrinup 4

Footprints of Marrinup Prisoner of War Camp

(www.wanowandthen.com/ghost-towns14.html)

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.

Marrinup-22 Laundry

Footprints of Marrinup Prisoner of War Camp

(www.wanowandthen.com/ghost-towns14.html)

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

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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.