Category Archives: Outside of Queensland

The Financial Situation

The purpose of this article is to present the facts.

I have purposely avoided this topic because it is complicated.

Money is always a difficult topic because lack of money equates to hardships. Additionally, emotions are attached to discussions on money.

I present the information about the financial situation for Italian prisoners of war to provide the facts.

These facts are from primary source documents:

Dr Georges Morel’s reports for the International Committee for the Red Cross

Pay Sheets for Queensland

Camp Order No. 13

Various documents from the National Archives of Australia and personal records.

  • Pays for Prisoners of War

There were three levels of income for prisoners of war:

  1. Prisoners of war were paid on behalf of their government at a rate agreed to by relevant countries.

This meant that on a monthly basis, Italian prisoners of war received a stipend [allowance]. This was deposited to the cash accounts of each man.

As of March 1945, the rate set was:

£-/15/5 for combatants (N.C.O.s) (fifteen shillings and five pence)

£-/10/9 for ordinary ranks (ten shillings and nine pence)

£37/14/1 for doctor (thirty seven pounds, fourteen shillings and one pence)

How do we verify this?

Pay records for Italian prisoners of war in Queensland have survived.

The extract from the March 1945 Pay Sheets for Home Hill Hostel displays the rate per levels of prisoners of war.

(NAA:  J2255, 12)

2. Prisoners of war would be paid for work duties (other than fatigues while in camp)

In camps, work details were offered inside and outside camps.

This rate per day was £-/-/7 (seven pence) for unskilled work and

£-/1/3 (one shilling three pence) for skilled work.

For farm work and on government projects

The rate set was:

£-/1/3 per day

How do we verify this?

When a prisoner of war control hostel was approved, documentation was submitted which included the rate of pay. The example used is a document for the establishment of the Hume Hostel in Victoria.

NAA: A373, 6221

3. Income from the camp canteen profits.  

This was used to purchase communal items for the use of men inside the camps.

This money was used for special foods for Christmas, books, records, musical instruments and sport equipment.

For the month of: December 1942 canteen proceeds for Camp 7 Hay was £232 and for Camp 8 Hay £188

January 1943 canteen proceeds for Camp 7 Hay was £135 and for Camp 8 Hay £102

  • Debit charges

Money debited was also debited from individual accounts. This could be for a breach of discipline [a fine] or damages to Commonwealth property (buildings and boots). 1946 saw fines for ‘boots beyond repair’. The authorities perceived this as a deliberate action to obtain a new pair of boots before repatriation as opposed to genuine ‘wear and tear’.

Umberto Liberto escaped, and the Department of Army had drawn up an invoice for money owed for his army issue clothing and kit. Presumably, if he was not ‘found’ or surrendered, then he would be charged for government property.

  • Accountability while in Australia

Camp Order No. 13 sets the following rules regarding the financial accountability of prisoner of war accounts:

16.–     (1) As soon as practicable after the arrival of a prisoner of war at a prisoners of war camp a cash account shall be opened in his name by the Camp Paymaster in accordance with regulation 13.

            (2) The Camp Paymaster shall be responsible for seeing that each cash account is kept in accordance with a proper system of accountancy and is kept up to date.

            (3) Prisoners of war shall be informed as soon as practicable of the receipt of moneys sent to them and shall be informed from time to time upon request as to the state of their cash accounts.

            (4) A prisoner of war shall be permitted to withdraw from his cash account (several provisos were provided regarding permission and limits)

 How do we verify this?

Financial accountability was integral to the custodial situation for Italian prisoners of war.  The Australian Department of Army held prisoners of war on behalf of the War Office in Britain. Every penny spent or claimed was accounted for. An example is the request for supply of Italian prisoner of war labour to work on army sties.  This expense had to be costed and approved.

(NAA: SP196/1, 19 Part 3)

Another document highlights the income earned from the sale of lettuce which had been produced by Italian prisoners of war at Liverpool Camp.

NAA: SP196/1, 19PART 1

Dr Georges Morel makes note that Italian prisoners of war were able to access a statement of their account.

  • Money held in accounts at time of repatriation

At the time of repatriation, prisoners of war were issued with credit receipts for amounts in cash account. This would have included money relinquished at the time of arrival in Australia as per Property Statement. A copy of the Property Statement for Salvatore Fuino is attached.

(NAA: MP1102/1, PWI48983)

Arrangements were made by the Australian Department of Army to transfer all moneys held on their behalf to the War Office in the United Kingdom.  The War Office in the UK then had the responsibility to transfer these funds. Eventually these funds were transferred to Italian authorities. The Italians then presented their credit receipts.

How do we verify this?

Statement of Account documents for Stefano Lucantoni and Umberto Cofrancesco have survived.  It was not unusual to balances to be zero. Some Italians purchased items from the canteen which they knew to be in short supply in Italy eg boots, clothing material, soap, toothpaste, tinned food.

Statement of Account for Stefano Lucantoni (photo courtesy of Marco Lucantoni)

Property Statement for Umberto Cofrancesco (Umberto’s War
by Pacifico Cofrancesco)

It is assumed that amounts were transferred to Italian prisoners of war when they returned to Italy and/or at some part of their discharge process.

Documentation exists regarding German prisoners of war having not received their money. An investigation was held by United Kingdom authorities.  The issue was finally resolved in 1950.

  • Rate of Exchange from Pounds Sterling to Italian Lire

It appears that this rate was set via negotiations between the UK War Office and the Italian government. 

The only reference found is from Australian War Diary log for a ‘cable’ received from War Office, London dated 15.7.44. “rates of pay converted to Stg. (pounds sterling) at 400 lire equals £1 Stg.; this rate having been officially accepted by Italian Government for general purposes and expenditure, out of date rate of 72 lire equals £1 cannot be permitted.”

Another reference is:

After the Allied invasion of Italy, an exchange rate was set at US$1 = 120 lire (1 British pound = 480 lire) in June 1943, reduced to 100 lire the following month. In German-occupied areas, the exchange rate was set at 1 Reichsmark = 10 lire. After the war, the value of the lira fluctuated, before Italy set a peg of US$1 = 575 lire within the Bretton Woods System in November 1947.

  • Money paid upon arrival in Italy

At the Military Housing Centre in Naples, the POWs were registered and given two months leave together with a payment of 10,000 lire.  Technically, they were still soldiers of the Italian Armed Services.

How do we verify this?

Paolo Santoro wrote to his war time farmer Jim Fullerton in February 1947: “Italian government gave me 10,000 lire not for all my captivity but for 2 months leave in army.”

Post War, high inflation rates, lack of basic necessities and black racketeering devalued the value of ‘money’ the Italian prisoners of war returned home with. 

Some Italians thought ahead. They used the money in their Australian accounts to purchase necessities to take home to Italy. Some farmers also understood the situation. Australians remember their dad sending a suit or shoes to the men once they returned to Italy. One Western Australian farmer wrote to the newspaper explaining the need to send food parcels to their ex-workers

There could never be compensation for loss of personal earnings as a result of war and imprisonment.

Panico Visits the POW Camps

A special thank you to Rocco Severino De Micheli who has shared these photos of Dr Panico. The photos are taken from “Il Cardinale Panico e la sua terra”- Congedo editore – Galatina 1995.

As with the International Red Cross Delegate, Dr Panico was allowed to visit the prisoner of war camps in Australia. He was entitled to interact and speak freely with the Italians. The Italians could use the ‘Apostolic Message Service’: monthly messages not exceeding 25 words were permitted to be despatched by the prisoners of war via Dr Panico.

Some of those messages sent by Dr Panico were:

Am well. Kisses, regards to all.

Good health. Expect your news. Kisses.

Greetings, kisses. Best health. Best treatment.

Cowra March 1942

Murchison Easter 1942

Yanco December 1942

Murchison

Liverpool December 1945

Repatriation 1946

An Officers’ Camp

Prisoner of War Camp 5 Myrtleford was a camp established specifically for prisoner of war officers and their batmen*.  The site had two camps built to accommodate 500 men each: Camp A and Camp B. The camps were surrounded by barbed wire fencing and was set in a ‘delightfully wooded and green country at the foot of the mountains.  The climate is excellent and healthy with a cold winter and hot summer.’ (Dr Georges Morel June 1943)

Guerre 1939-1945. Camp de Myrtleford. Vue du camp. War 1939-1945. Myrtleford camp. A view of the camp.

View of Myrtleford Camp July 1942 ICRC V-P-HIST-01883-01T

The men were accommodated in galvanised iron huts raised above the ground. They had glass windows and were lighted by electricity. The dormitories were lined inside.  The officer dormitories were divided into compartments: five compartments for 2 officers each or four compartments for four officers. Officers were provided with an iron bed, mattress, sheets, pillow and five blankets.

Guerre 1939-1945. Camp de Myrtleford. Les travaux de drainage. World War 1939-1945. Myrtleford camp. The labour drainage.

Drainage Installed between Dormitories Myrtleford ICRC V-P-HIST-01883-05

Batmen dormitories were not divided into compartments and slept 24 men.  Each dormitory had two doors and ten windows. 

Furniture made by the Italian prisoners of war included small tables, benches and wardrobes.

Guerre 1939-1945. Camp de Myrtleford. World War 1939-1945. Myrtleford camp.

Ablutions Hut at Myrtleford ICRC V-P-HIST-01880-15

There were three ablution huts for each camp.  One hut had 15 hot and 18 cold showers. Four hot showers were divided into compartments: two for superior officers and 2 for captains. There were another two huts for ablutions with 24 cold water taps.  The toilets and urinals were sewered.  Partitioned toilet compartments were for the use of superior officers and captains.  The laundry was in the hot shower hut containing eight troughs, four hot water taps and eight cold water taps.

Officers were allowed to go for walks on parole accompanied by two guides.  This happened two times per week for two hours.  N.C.O.s and privates went out under escort on an irregular basis.  Communication between the two camps was not allowed. 

MYRTLEFORD, VIC. C. 1943-11-06. THE ENTRANCE GATE INTO “B” COMPOUND AT THE 51ST AUSTRALIAN GARRISON COMPANY PRISONER OF WAR CAMP FROM THE GUARD TOWER. SOME PRISONERS, WHO HAVE BEEN OUT ON DUTIES AROUND THE CAMP AREA IN THE HORSE AND CART, ARE RETURNING FOR LUNCH. PRISONERS OF WAR AND INTERNEES (PWI) OFFICERS ARE SEEN PLAYING ON THE TENNIS COURTS CONSTRUCTED BY THEM. (AWM Image 059309 Photographer Geoffrey McInnes)

On 22nd June 1943, there were 440 Italian prisoners of war in Camp A: 308 officers and 132 N.C.O.s and privates.  In Camp B there were 254 Italian prisoners of war: 152 officers and 102 N.C.O.s and privates.

The customary duties of fatigues were carried out by N.C.O.s and privates for which there was no payment.  Opportunities for paid work was limited due to the fatigue duties and batman responsibilities taking up the majority of the men’s time.  On 22nd June 1943, from Camp A five men were employed inside the camp and three men were employed outside the camp.  For Camp B, five men were employed inside the camp and three men were employed outside the camp.  Paid work included gardening, woodcutting, road-making and carpentry and was paid at a rate of 1s 3d for skilled work and 7.5d for unskilled work.

Guerre 1939-1945. Camp de Myrtleford. World War 1939-1945. Myrtleford camp.

February 1945 Myrtleford Camp Italian Prisoners of War with wallabies pictured in front of vegetable gardens ICRC V-P-HIST-01882-31

Officers and prisoners of war from the merchant marines were not obliged to work.

Each month Italian prisoners of war, excluding merchant marines, were given an allowance.  The monthly payment** was:

Fighting Forces: Lt. Colonel £16.14.0, Major £14.10.4 Captain £11.9.2 Lieutenant £8.17.10 2nd Lieutenant £5.8.4 Sergeant 15s 4d Corporals 10s 9d

Protected Personnel (Priests, Doctors, Dentists, nurses, orderlies): Captain £38.19.9 Lieutenant £30.2.00 Sergeant 15s 4d Corporals 10s 9d

Interior of Chapels at Myrtleford ICRC V-P-HIST-E-00313 and ICRC V-P-HIST-E-00314

Each camp had a chapel with a decorated altar made by the prisoners of war.  The service of mass was performed by a prisoner of war priest.

Guerre 1939-1945. Camp de Myrtleford. La chapelle et le Padre. World War 1939-1945. Myrtleford camp. The chapel.

Chapel at Myrtleford ICRC V-P-HIST-01879-36

Each camp had three tennis courts and a bowling green. There was a football ground near the camps.  Officers played golf two times a week outside the camp where a golf course would be reserved for them.

MYRTLEFORD, VIC. 1943-11-05 TO 1943-11-07. OFFICER PRISONERS OF THE 51ST AUSTRALIAN GARRISON COMPANY PRISONER OF WAR CAMP PLAYING TENNIS ON COURTS WHICH THEY BUILT THEMSELVES.

Regular football, tennis, bridge and golf tournaments were organised between the two camps.  Each camp had provision for a wireless service, the wireless set was to be purchased by the prisoners of war. In June 1943, there was no wireless service.  There were regular movie shows held by a travelling company with Camp A paying 15 per session and Camp B paying 9 per session.

There were separate dining rooms for officers and ordinary ranks in each camp.  Trestle tables with bench seats furnished the dining rooms.  They could be heated in winter, as these huts were not lined. Officers were entitled to buy wine and beer.  When Dr. Morel, representative of the International Red Cross visited in June 1943, a delivery of 50 gallons of wine and 63 gallons of beer had been delivered to Camp A. [1 gallon = 4.5 litres]

Regular football, tennis, bridge and golf tournaments were organised between the two camps.  Each camp had provision for a wireless service, the wireless set was to be purchased by the prisoners of war. In June 1943, there was no wireless service.  There were regular movie shows held by a travelling company with Camp A paying 15 per session and Camp B paying 9 per session.

There were separate dining rooms for officers and ordinary ranks in each camp.  Trestle tables with bench seats furnished the dining rooms.  They could be heated in winter, as these huts were not lined. Officers were entitled to buy wine and beer.  When Dr. Morel, representative of the International Red Cross visited in June 1943, a delivery of 50 gallons of wine and 63 gallons of beer had been delivered to Camp A. [1 gallon = 4.5 litres]

MYRTLEFORD, VIC. 1943-11-05 TO 1943-11-07. INTERIOR OF PRISONER OF WAR OFFICERS’ MESS IN “A” COMPOUND 51ST AUSTRALIAN GARRISON COMPANY PRISONER OF WAR CAMP WITH THE ORDERLIES AT THE TABLES.

*A batman or an orderly is a soldier or airman assigned to a commissioned officer as a personal servant.

** Australian currency £= pound s=shilling d=pence.  There were 12 pence = 1 shilling and 20 shillings = £1

Graytown’s Italian Prisoners of War

Giuseppe Loprieno

A mechanic from Bari, Giuseppe Loprieno was 21 years old when he was captured at Tobruk on 22nd January 1941.  He served with the navy on San Giorgio which was stationed in Tobruk Harbour as offshore artillery to defend the township.

23rd January 1941 Tobruk – High Officers of the Italian Navy and Army led their men out of Tobruk to surrender to British forces.  Although without guards, this column of prisoners marched with perfect discipline to the prisoners camp where they were handed over by their own officers. (AWM Image 005393, Photographer: Frank Hurley)

Giuseppe’s arrival in Sydney on the Queen Mary 15th October 1941 was reported in the newspapers:


[1941 ‘ITALIAN PRISONERS OF WAR HERE’, Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW : 1888 – 1954), 14 October, p. 1. (HOME EDITION), viewed 28 Apr 2021, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article48402593]

His first camp was Cowra Camp New South Wales where he spent 20 months before being sent to Murchison Camp Victoria for nine months.  Giuseppe was sent to wood cutting work at No. 6 Labour Detachment Graytown for just over five months: 30.3.43 to 3.9.43 before German prisoners of war replaced the Italian workers.

Giuseppe was then sent across Australia to No. 8 Labour Detachment at Karrakatta Western Australia.  This labour detachment worked in an army project for the salvage of materials eg tyres and metal. He was then assigned to farm work in the Kendenup district. Giuseppe was repatriated on the SS Katoomba from Fremantle port 17th October 1946. He was 27 years old when he arrived home.

Giuseppe Loprieno NAA: K1174)

Giuseppe Loprieno Wedding Day 1949

(photo courtesy of Giorgia Paparella)

No. 6 Labour Detachment Graytown

Italian prisoners of war lived and worked at Graytown Camp from 30.3.43 to 3.9.43.  The workforce was then replaced by German prisoners of war [from the Kormoran who were captured off the Western Australian after sinking the HMAS Sydney]

Giuseppe Loprieno was one of 253 Italian prisoners of war to work at Graytown.

GRAYTOWN, VIC. 1943-12-01. PORTION OF THE BOUNDARY FENCE AND ONE OF THE GUARD TOWERS AT THE CAMP OF THE 13TH AUSTRALIAN PRISONERS OF WAR GROUP. (AWM 061201 Photographer Geoffrey McInnes)

A May 1943 Red Cross Report states that the camp had been established for 15 weeks and that Italian prisoners of war had been in residence for 5 weeks.

The following information relates to the Italian prisoners of war, while the photographs were taken at the Graytown Camp when the German prisoners of war were in residence.

The situation of the camp was 60 kilometres from Murchison Camp. On the 26th April 1943 the men in charge of Graytown camp were: Ernani De Cesare a signaller with the navy for 30 years and Giovanni Acanfora a warrant officer in the army. Lieut. Giuseppe Amato a surgeon was appointed as the medical officer for Graytown Camp.

In total there were 253 Italian prisoners of war comprising of Army: 141 men and Marine: 112. One doctor and two orderlies (protected personnel) were part of this group.  The group formed a fire brigade consisting of 20 men.

The camp consisted of barracks for communal purposes and tented accommodation.  The barracks were made of timber and ‘fibro’ sheeting with a tin roof. The windows were made of glass and lighting was electric.

MURCHISON, VIC. 1943-11-23/30. GENERAL VIEW OF THE 13TH AUSTRALIAN PRISONER OF WAR GROUP (GRAYTOWN SECTION). (AWM Image 061128 Photographer Geoffrey McInnes)

The kitchen barracks had six sections: three dry stores, one section of making macaroni, one section for meat, 1 section of ovens and cookers. There is no refrigeration.

The dining barracks is furnished with long tables and forms for seating. Table tennis is played in the refectory. Mass is held in this barracks every fortnight.

The canteen is installed in another barracks. It also contains an office for administration.

MURCHISON, VIC. 1943-11-23/30. GRAYTOWN SECTION OF THE 13TH AUSTRALIAN PRISONER OF WAR GROUP. (AWM Image 061129 Photographer Geoffrey McInnes)

The tents had wooden floors and accommodated six men.  The prisoners of war could purchase a camp bed or make a camp bed from timber available.  Bedding provided consisted of a light mattress and five covers.  The tents were swept daily and cleaned with soap weekly.

MURCHISON, VIC. 1943-11-23/30. GRAYTOWN SECTION OF THE 13TH AUSTRALIAN PRISONER OF WAR GROUP. (AWM Image 61130 Photographer Geoffrey McInnes)

The shower barracks consists of two sections with nine cold showers in each section. Hot showers are to be installed soon. There is another section containing six basins and six taps for washing.

The ablution barracks consist of 12 toilet cubicles and a urinal. 

Guerre 1939-1945. Camp de Graytown. Les latrines. World War 1939-1945. Graytown’s camp. The latrines.

Graytown Camp. The Latrines 1.1.44 (ICRC V-P HIST-E-0030-8)

There is a large sports field situated outside the camp where the men play football. The camp has only been established for five weeks and does not have a library nor is there a school.

The workforce is divided into work inside the camp: 20 men and work outside the camp 190 men. There is a tailor, a bootmaker and two hairdressers/barbers. Ninety men work on timber cutting and the others work on camp infrastructure, drainage and building of roads and pathways.

An Australian priest from Murchison Camp holds Mass every two weeks.  The Italians can go every day to the local church which is close to the camp.

Rations are supplemented by rabbits caught by the Italians.  The men requested an increase in the sugar ration, but the same quota is applied to both Italian prisoners of war and Australian soldiers.

Requests were made for gymnastic apparatus, new kitchen utensils and a cinema projector.

Firewood Production at Graytown

GRAYTOWN, VIC. 1943-12-01. GERMAN PRISONERS OF WAR SPLITTING A LARGE LOG INTO HANDLABLE SIZES TO BE USED AS FIREWOOD AT THE 13TH AUSTRALIAN PRISONER OF WAR GROUP. (AWM Image 061192 Photographer Geoffrey McInnes)

GRAYTOWN, VIC. 1943-12-01. GERMAN PRISONERS OF WAR FELLING A LARGE TREE FOR FIREWOOD FOR THE 13TH AUSTRALIAN PRISONER OF WAR GROUP. (AWM Image 061190 Photographer Geoffrey McInnes)

GRAYTOWN, VIC. 1943-12-01. GERMAN PRISONERS OF WAR UNLOADING LOGS FOR FIREWOOD, WHILE OTHERS CAN BE SEEN STACKING IT IN TIDY HEAPS AT THE 13TH AUSTRALIAN PRISONER OF WAR GROUP. (AWM Image 061188 Photographer Geoffrey McInnes)

GRAYTOWN, VIC. 1943-12-01. BOTH HORSE DRAWN AND MOTOR VEHICLES ARE USED AT THE 13TH AUSTRALIAN PRISONER OF WAR GROUP TO GET THEIR WINTER FIREWOOD IN. THIS PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS A FINE TEAM OF HORSES HARNESSED TO A FOUR WHEEL LORRY. (AWM Image 061189 Photographer Geoffrey McInnes)

GRAYTOWN, VIC. 1943-12-01. SMALL MOBILE SAW BENCH, OPERATED BY GERMAN PRISONERS OF WAR WHO ARE CUTTING FIREWOOD FOR THE 13TH AUSTRALIAN PRISONER OF WAR GROUP. (AWM Image 061194 Photographer Geoffrey McInnes)


GRAYTOWN, VIC. 1943-12-01. PRISONERS OF WAR CUTTING FIREWOOD ON A SAWBENCH AT A CAMP OF THE 13TH AUSTRALIAN PRISONER OF WAR GROUP. (AWM Image 061198 Photographer Geoffrey McInnes)

GRAYTOWN, VIC. 1943-12-01. PRISONERS OF WAR OF THE 13TH AUSTRALIAN PRISONER OF WAR GROUP LOADING BLOCKS OF FIREWOOD ON TO A LORRY FOR DELIVERY TO OTHER CAMPS IN THE AREA. (AWM Image 061197 Photographer Geoffrey McInnes)

GRAYTOWN, VIC. 1943-12-01. PRISONERS OF WAR CUTTING FIREWOOD ON A SAWBENCH AT A CAMP OF THE 13TH AUSTRALIAN PRISONER OF WAR GROUP. (AWM Image 061199 Photographer Geoffrey McInnes)

GRAYTOWN, VIC. 1943-12-01. FIREWOOD SAWMILL AT THE 13TH AUSTRALIAN PRISONER OF WAR GROUP. (AWM Image 061195 Photographer Geoffrey McInnes)

Graytown Site Today

https://www.visitmelbourne.com/regions/Goldfields/Things-to-do/History-and-heritage/Graytown-Prisoner-of-War-Camp

http://livinginballan.blogspot.com/2014/01/graytown-and-pow-camp.html

https://walkingmaps.com.au/walk/4572

Nonno Peppino’s Cowra Photos

Francesca Maffeitti has a valuable and sentimental collection of items belonging to her nonno Peppino. 

Two photos in her collection are the Cowra group photos taken in 16th September 1943 by Army photographer Michael Lewicki.

At 5’ 8” tall, Ippolito Moscatelli (Peppino) is noticeably taller than other men in the photos.  He is the man standing third on the left in the top photo and he is standing at the end of the right in the second photo.

These are the first ‘original’ photos I have seen. The Australian War Memorial in Canberra holds the Italian prisoners of war collection of photos.

Cowra 16th September 1943

(photo courtesy of Francesca Maffietti)

The regulations [regarding photographs] state that:

(a) Groups were to comprise not less than 10 PW

(b) PW were permitted to purchase two copies of photographs in which they appeared and two copies of photographs of general camp interest, for despatch to relatives…

 (d) Prints were supplied at a cost of 1/6d. each

But these are the first photos that I am aware of that made it home to Italy. There is an interesting stamp on the reverse of the photos: MILITARY HISTORY SECTION.  Nonno Peppino’s name and number is written in the bottom right corner; indicating these photos had been ordered and paid for; waiting collection.  

For perspective: Italian prisoners of war were paid 1 shilling threepence (1/3d) per day while working on farms. Each photos was 1 shilling sixpence. (1/6d)

Cowra 16th September 1943: Reverse of Photos

(photo courtesy of Francesca Maffietti)

The patient and the anaesthetist

Capitano Luigi Socci’s watercolours offer a unique perspective of Yol Prisoner of War Camp.

The paintings were a gift from Luigi Socci to George Purves: the Italian prisoner of war to the British anaesthetist. While they met in the hospital at Yol, theirs was a friendship which continued decades after the war.

Mr and Mrs Purves with Luigi Sossi (photo courtesy of James Purves)

A special thank you to James Purves, son of George, for his contribution of these watercolours to this history.

Yol Prisoner of War Camp Kangra Valley 1943 (photos courtesy of James Purves)

Capitano Luigi Sossi was admitted to Yol Prisoner of War Camp hospital with a serious infection. It was however an order that penicillin was reserved for Allied soldiers only.

Penicillin was a new treatment for infection but it was a precious commodity; WW 2’s miracle drug. In the lead up to the D-Day invasion of Normandy in June 1944, a total of 21 U.S. companies joined together, producing 2.3 million doses of penicillin.

Operating Theatre: Yol Prisoner of War Camp Hospital Kangra Valley 1943

(photos courtesy of James Purves)

James Purves recounts that his father realised the quick deterioration of Sossi’s condition and without treatment, Sossi would die. “Father took pity on Sossi and somehow acquired the drug for him, either by deed or theft, though I doubt theft. Either way, Sossi recovered and when he found out what had happened, he asked Father how he could repay him. Father replied, “Teach me Italian.” It was the beginning of a life long friendship.

My parents would drive over to Italy virtually every year on vacation and sometimes stay with Sossi. Letters were written, but have since disappeared or been thrown out. When I was about eight years old, my family went on vacation to Viareggio. My parents left us with our uncle in the hotel for a week, while my parents went to stay at the Socci villa, a few hours drive away.

After his return to Italy from India, Luigi Socci worked in the Fiat Factory in Torino [Turin].

Yol Prisoner of War Camp Kangra Valley 1943 (photos courtesy of James Purves)

Click here for: further information for Yol

Searching for Vito

Noel Frankham from Dulcot has drawn together memories and photos to document the history of two Tasmanian Italian POWs.

Tony, George Hanslow, Vito (Photo courtesy of Hanslow family Tasmania)

Noel’s cousin sent him two photos of great uncle George Hanslow with the Italians. He took the photos to show his mother Molly Frankham (née Hanslow) and his aunt Mavis Fitzgerald (née Hanslow) and recorded their memories:

Both remember the two Italians in the pictures. The taller was Tony, assigned to the Blackburn’s ‘Lauderdale’ farm and the other was Vito, assigned to ‘Milnathort’, the Murdoch farm, also at Dulcot. Mum clearly recalls a sing-a-long session at the Hanslow family home (former Dulcot Schoolhouse, and now my home).

Apparently, Tony had a lovely voice and mum accompanied him to ‘O Sole Mio.’ She retold the story noting that she – then 15 – had the audacity to suggest that Tony should up the tempo a bit. She is still embarrassed more than 75 years later that she, as an accompanist, should suggest the singer might change the tempo – and more particularly embarrassed that she was suggesting how a national Italian song might be better sung.

Mum and my aunt remember the two men fondly – mentioning that they had hot chocolate with Vito at his house at Milnathort. Apparently, their cousin, Aileen, corresponded with the sister of either Tony or his successor at Lauderdale for some years.

This history is a bit of a giant jigsaw puzzle. While Tony (Antonio) is a common Italian name, Vito however is not so common, so begins a search to find Vito. There were 5 Vito’s assigned to T3.

T3PWCC (Prisoner of War Control Centre) was referenced on the cards of the Italian POWs as T3 Hobart.  Other documents reference the district as T3 Glenorchy.  The Drill Hall at Glenorchy was the administrative office for the Australian Military Forces staff who was in charge of the prisoners of war in the district. It was from this office that farmers applied for workers, Italians were assigned to farmers, Italians were detained in a lock up room on the premises, mail for the Italians was distributed and collected, the canteen truck took provisions to the Italians on the farms.

Lieut. A Coulthard was the commanding officer of the centre which placed Italian POW workers on farms in the following areas: Hobart, Glenorchy, Richmond, New Norfolk, Kingborough, Sorell, Huon, Brighton, Esperance, Clarence, Tasman, Cygnet, Spring Bay and Green Ponds.

Vito Di Tello only had 1 week in the T3 district. Vito Buragina spent from June 45 to Oct 45 on a T3 farm; he was 43 years old with a dark complexion. Vito Lombardo a bootmaker from Trapani worked on a T3 farm/s from May 44 to March 46; he was 30 years old with a ‘sallow’ complexion. Vito Rescinito worked on a T3 farm from Sept 45 to March 46; was 40 years old and had a ‘fresh’ complexion.

And then there is a young 24 year old Vito Monteleone a farmer with a dark complexion who spent February 44 to March 45 on T3 farm/s before spending some time in detention and being sent to T4 Smithton farm/s.

Unfortunately, few questions are answered. Maybe Vito Monteleone is the Vito in the Hanslow photo. A Vito Monteleone returned to Australia in 1949 and registered his address with immigration as Hobart.  This Vito can later be found working as a waterside worker and living in 12 Falconer Street Fitzroy North, Melbourne.

If only it was possible to give a a background and name to Tony the singer!

Vito Monteleone (NAA: P1184, Monteleone V)

Remarkable…

In November 1945 Giuseppe Quarta from Arnesano Lecce Italy lived with Mr and Mrs Dixon on their farm in Golden Valley Tasmania.

In November 2020 Jan Dixon, daughter of Reg and Elsie shared 75 year old photos with Giuseppe’s children Antonio and Anna.

This is remarkable.

Giuseppe Quarta celebrated his 24th birthday, thirteen days before arriving in Melbourne from Bombay India. He was processed and photographed at Murchison PW Camp Victoria before travelling to Tasmania. 

Giuseppe Quarta Murchison Victoria NAA: A376 T321

Giuseppe’s son Antonio had obtained a copy of his father’s extra file in the National Archives of Australia which contained the PWI58832 photos. This file also provided the name of Giuseppe’s farming family: RR Dixon Golden Valley. But the research stalled.  A google map could provide Antonio with a geographic location for Golden Valley. But Antonio had a deep yearning to know something more about his father’s 17 months with the Dixon family.

On 30th November 2020, Antonio’s dreams came true.  Jan Dixon had seen a Facebook post on Tasmanian History and knew immediately that this man: Giuseppe Quarta was the man from her family stories and in her family photos.

Giuseppe was known as JOSH and while Jan was born after Josh had left her family’s farm, her parents often talked about Josh and referred to a few photos with Josh and the Dixon family.

Jan recalls her mother Elsie telling her, “Josh always called me Elsa.”  Just as the Dixons had given Giuseppe an Aussie name, Giuseppe gave Elsie an Italian name. There is no doubt that Giuseppe was well looked after by the Dixon family as the photos show a healthy young man as a result of the good hospitality of the Dixons.  Antonio agrees, “…senza ombra di dubbio , mio padre in quei due anni che ha trascorso presso la famiglia Dixon , si e’ trovato benissimo lo si puo’ vedere anche dalle foto che gode di ottima salute. belle foto.”


Giuseppe Quarta with Grandpa Dixon Golden Vally Tasmania 1945-1946

(photo courtesy of Jan Dixon)

Jan Dixon remembers that the farm had dairy cows and small crops hinting that fresh milk and butter were on the table; there was an abundance of bread made by her mother; and fresh vegetables came straight from the farm.  The photos also hint at the acceptance and inclusion of Giuseppe into the Dixon extended family.

Giuseppe Quarta with the Dixon Extended Family 1945-1946

(photo courtesy of Jan Dixon)

For Antonio and Anna Quarta from Lombardy Italy, these photos are a special early Christmas gift. Speaking from the heart, Antonio writes, “e’  un bellissimo regalo di Natale , proveniente dalla lontana Australia dalla cara Joanne ,e’ stata anche una grandissima sorpresa che mi ha fatto tanto piacere , aprendo lentamente il messaggio ho capito subito che si tratta di notizie importantissime… mi ha invaso la commozione e la felicita’ con gli occhi di lacrime.”

There is a remarkable series of events which has brought together the Dixon and Quarta family. Most importantly, this research project, Footprints of Italian prisoners of war in Australia, is a community project. From Antonio Quarta who entrusted me with his father’s story, to John Towers in Tasmania who pointed me in the right direction and gave me links to the Facebook group Tasmania History, to the administrator of the Facebook group who approved my post, to Jan Dixon for recognising Josh and sharing her family photos: this is a remarkable story.

Anna Quarta  adds, “Voglio Ringraziare tanto la signora Joanne Tapiolas , la Famiglia Dixon in modo particolare Jan di aver messo a disposizione le sue foto di famiglia e tutte le altre persone che hanno collaborato alla ricercar.”

Acknowledgements

There are many people who have been part of this project and  I would like to publicly acknowledge those who have:

  • shared with me their story and entrusted me with their memories, photos, letters and mementos,
  • assisted me in  promoting my research,
  • done a bit of  local ‘digging’ on my behalf by searching local publications, sending out letters and emails, making telephone calls to ‘find’ locals who have a memory, making suggestions as to where to look next, providing me with my next lead,
  • answered my ‘cold call’ letters that I have sent to municipal councils, local historical societies and most importantly relatives of Italian POWs who returned to Australia.

Without your assistance, this project would have been a ‘black and white’ history of Italian POWs in Queensland as army and government records are by nature, factual.

Your stories and memories and mementos have added ‘colour’ to this history as you have told stories of the every day life of the Italian POWs but told these stories as emotional and personal memories.

Q1 Stanthorpe: Mary Puglisi, Tony Hassall, Paula Boatfield, Alec Harslett, Morwenna and Franco Arcidiancomo, Janette and Rod Ratcliffe, Angelo Valiante, Lina Scalora, Claudio Marino, Esme and Millie Townsend, Rodney Smith, Shirley Stanton, Dorothy Barraclough (Jones), Lisa Saggiomo (Antonio De Marco), Marco Abbona (Angelo Abbona), Colleen and Roger Willis, Loreen Long (Stanthorpe Museum and Historical Society), Tommaso Mobilia (Carmine Mobilia)

Q2 Nambour: Martin Schulz, Nev Townsend,  Lorna Akers (Ivin), Rosemary Watts (Bury), Barbara Want (Nambour Museum), Audienne Blyth, Di Brown (Sunshine Coast Heritage Library Officer), Franceschina Tigani, Gordon Plowman (Flaxton) Maria Rosa Allan (Tigani), Nambour: Remember When! Facebook Site, Sunshine Coast Daily, Paul Cass, Yvonne Derrington (Fullerton), Maxina Williams, Les Farmer, Nonno Armando Evangelista, Katia and Martina Evangelista, Laurelle Murphy (Beamish family), Paolo Santoro (Paolo Santoro)

Q3 Gympie: Allan Blackman (Gympie District Historical Society), Ian McConachie, John Huth, Ian Bevege, Ernie Rider, Beth Wilson ( Gympie: Local History Officer), Mike Butler, Patrick Rodney, Gloria Rodney, Damiano Lumia, Rosa Melino, Dianne Woodstock, Mal Dodt, Dr Elaine Brown, Kathy Worth(Knowles), Peter Van Breemen, Gympie Times, Doug and Lynne Wilson, John Miguel, Alex Miles, Keith Buchanan, Leita Boswell (Beattie), Val Doyle (Cullen), Barry Mason, Jim Buchanan, Marco Vaccarini, Anna Eusebi, Raffaele Iacopini, Faye Kennedy (Stey), Daniel Reginato (Paolo Reginato),

Q4 Gayndah: Avis Hildreth (Robinson Family)  Thea Beswick (Robinson),  Adrian Azzari-Colley, Joe Devietti,  Central and North Burnett Times, Colleen Lindley (Robinson Family) Colin Wenck (Sauer Family), Eva Lutvey, Samuele Micali, Mario Liscio, Katia Cioffi.

Q5 Texas: Zita Hutton (Rodighiero), Darryl Hutton, Frank Yeo, Barbara Ellis (Texas Historical Society). Heidi Dawson (MacIntyre Gazette)

Q6 Home Hill: Nino Cipolla, Christine Morriss, Doug Kelly, Tom Durkin, Rhonda Mann, Glenis Cislowski, Julie Chapman (Tapiolas), Isabel Stubbs (Fowler) Kelsie Iorio (The Burdekin Advocate), Jack Cipolla, Kent Fowler, Ross Di Mauro, Pina Vettovalli, Charlie Scuderi, Jo Gallagher (Tiberi),

Temporary PWCC Atherton: David Anthony (The Tablelander), Jack Duffy, Dick Daley

Q7 Kenilworth: John Ower, Lenore Meldrum (Kenilworth Historical Museum), Margaret and Tony White, Heather O’Connor (Moreland), Sharon Pearson (Brown), Anthony Brown, Rose Moir-Bussy (Mangini),

Q8 Kingaroy: Joyce Dickenson and Robyn Bowman, Althea  Kleidon (Rackemann), Dudley Long and Lorraine Giollo, Tom McErlean,  Shannon Newley (South Burnett Times)

Q9 Monto: Janice Joyce (Pownall), Peter Pownall, Assunta Austin ( D’Addario Family), Doug Groundwater, Judith Minto, Lurline Graving (Harsant), Brett Dowling, Mackenzie Colahan, Rita Pace,

Q10 Boonah: Christine Titmarsh (Historical Society and Templin Museum),  Michael Joyce, Pam Phillips (Niebling), Eric Behrendorff, Ian Harsant, Laurie Dwyer, Carmel Peck (Dwyer), Murray Maudsley, Graham Neilsen, Carmelo Ierna, Joe Indomenico, Penny Wright, Antonio Ragusa, Judith Lane (Rackley), Billy Jack Harsant, John Gilbert, Tim Dwyer, Ferdinando Pancisi, Judith Lane (Rackley), Antonio Ragusa, Luigi Tommasi, Helen Mullen (Rackely),  Dino De Propertis (Paolo De Propertis) Roberto D’Angelis (Paolo De Propertis), Carolyn Bazley and Edmund Behrendorff (Francesco De Luca, Antonio Di Renna and Vincenzo)

Other Australian States and Overseas: Miriam Stucchi, Peter Dunn @ http://www.ozatwar.com,  Rebecca Donohoe (Queensland Farmers’ Federation), Seniors News,  Paul Stumkat (re: Wallangarra German POWs), Gray Bolte (West Wylong), Fraser Coast Chronicle, The Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton), Australian War Memorial Facebook Site, Queensland History Network Facebook Site, Alex Chambers @ 630 AM  ABC North Queensland, Sara Bavato at Il Globo and La Fiamma, Annie Gaffney @  90.3 Fm ABC Sunshine Coast, Carlo Pintarelli, Reinhard Krieger, Torsten Weller,  Liborio Mauro Bonadonna, Vitoronzo Pastore,  Enrico Dalla Mora, Ann Megalla, Trudy Brown (Herbert River Express), Susan Mulligan (Oral History Queensland), Davide Dander, Jocelyn Maddock, Merle Heiner, Enoggera & District History Association Inc., Cris Dall ‘Osto, Sharon Rigano from Quick on the Click (Book Cover Design), Anne Scheu (State Library of Queensland), Bruno Van der Heide Burdekin Printers, Alex Mannea Burdekin Printers, Andy Toulson ABC Radio 630 North Queensland, Trudie Legio ABC Radio Wide Bay, Mikayla Mayoh Burdekin Advocate, Matteo Tettamanti, Veniero Granatelli, Paola Zagonara, Luigi Pinna, Home Hill Newsagency, Marco Lucantoni, Cristina Capitummino, Alessandra Nicoletti, Leo Piciacchia, Catherine Murdoch (Cardillo), Marie, John and Joan McInnes, Ute Schulenberg (Nambucca Guardian), Kay Ball (Murchison Historical Society),  Australian War Memorial-Acquisitions Department, Jennifer Ellis (Another Del Bo), Paolo Zulli (Sebastiano Di Campli), Giuli Musini, Francesco Fracasso, Robert Perna,  Vanda Hodder, Colleen Hammat, Craig Douglas (Regio Esercito History Group), Darren Arnott (Rodolfo Bartoli), Petrus De Savoie (Giovanni Trunfio), , Rossana Ferulli (Domenico Ferulli), Fabrizio Patriarca( Blasioli Fioravante), Francesca Elliot (Luigi Moltedo) Chris Senti (Yanco), Maria Schattiger (Nicola Romano), Silvio Masullo (Giuseppe Polito), Giuseppe Mestre (Bruno Mestre), Anna Paola Fico (Mario Paesano), Joanne Ciaglia (Alfredo Romeno), Alberta Nunziati (Mario Nunziati), Rossella Petta (Costantino D’Agostino), Antonio Quarta (Giuseppe Quarta), Ginetta Fino (Giosino Fino), Sonia Brutti (Tullio Brutti), Claudia Lucchitti (Rinaldo Rossini), Hugh Cullimore (Australian War Memorial), Rob Willis (National Library of Australia), Dominic Goduto (Alfredo Goduto), John Towers (Tasmania), Alessandra Garizzo (Giuseppe Garizzo), Miriam Stucchi (Alcide Stucchi), Fabrizio Turchi (Cemetery India), Nat Talarico (Martino D’Anniello), Francesco Rosignoli (Armando Rosignoli), Rocco Martino (Alcantara Rolls), Silvio Gernini (Mario Rossi), Afra Salami (Jormen Salami), Maria Pepe (Michele Pepe), Heather Jackson (Michele Pepe), Daniela Anselmi (Pasquale Roffo, Antonio Cedroni, Armando Di Bona, Luigi Cellucci),

Ossario Day 2018

Sombre and reflective, Kay Ball from Murchison Historical Society has written an article about the remembrance service at The Ossario 11th November 2018…

Murchison and District Historical Society Inc.

The Ossario, located in a quiet corner of the Murchison Cemetery was completed in 1961 and is a beautifully crafted Mediterranean style building. It contains the remains of Italian Prisoners of War and Internees who died on Australian soil during World War 2.

Murchison Ossario

Every year, on the second Sunday in November, hundreds of people gather to remember the 129 men and one woman for whom the Ossario is their last resting place.

On Sunday 11th November this year, a warm sunny day with a lovely clear blue sky, the occasion was again well attended by over 300 people. Mostly of Italian descent, they travel from Melbourne, interstate, overseas and across Victoria and are joined by locals who appreciate this special occasion. The ceremony is moving, suitably reverent and also colourful with many Italian Military Service uniforms, banners, flags, floral wreaths and bouquets in abundance.

Lining up at beginning…

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