Category Archives: Q1 PWCC Stanthorpe

Dear Claude

Letters written by Italian prisoners of war are precious keepsakes for their Queensland families.  Written after the Italians left the farms and before their repatriation, they ask about the children and the crops, the weather and news, and they talk of their time of departure from Australia.  There are humble words of gratitude to the farming Queensland families and hints as the special friendships formed.

Claude Colley was an army interpreter at Q1 Stanthorpe and Q4 Gayndah.  As an interpreter, he was a go between for the army and the Italians but his fair treatment was appreciated by the Italians as this letter, penned by Aldo Cerdini attests.

A special thank you to Adrian Azzari-Colley for sharing Cerdini’s letter and his father’s story.

Q4 Gayndah.Colley Claude

Army Interpreter Attached to Q4 Gayndah: Claude Colley

(NAA: B884 W81143 Colley, Claude)

Cerdini’s departure from Australia was just ten days after he wrote this letter to Claude Colley.

Cowra

Dicembre 13th 1946

Dear Claude

 Being proxcimate to sail for Italy I wish to drop you a few lines to let you know that both I and Lewis are in the very best of health and trust this note will find you and your family the same.  Yes, Claude, the time we have been longing for so many years has come and telling you the truth I am looking forward more than any word could express to see again the land of my birth and those whom I love.

I am fully aware of leaving a country where everything concerning the standard of life is by far easier than that I shall find in a country like Italy where a stressing poverty is continuing to increase after the outrages of so devastating a war.  Anyhow this is my lot and I have to follow it whatever thing it may have in store for me.  Have you been getting any mail from Gayndah of late? I heard from Mrs Quinn and her son a couple of weeks ago telling me they was all well and that Mr Quinn and his son are working out on the farm owing to the fact that they sold their shop just a few days before we left, you knew that, didn’t you? How are you getting on? And how is the weather like out there?  Down here it is very trying and irksome, dusty and windy days as it was the Sahara desert.  I am still with Lewis, Liscio, Caradonna, Carlucci and many others whom you knew while you were acting as interpreter and all of them wish you to be remembered for the very kind and human way you were use to deal with us.  I hope you will drop me a few lines from time to time, even when I shall be in Italy. I think we shall set out on the 13th of next month but I couldn’t tell you the truth, anyhow we shall wait and see.  I conclude my letter sending you on behalf of my friends and on my own our very best regards and the best of everything to you and your family from your fond friend

Aldo (Cerdini),  Creatura Luigi, Liscio Marco

Q4 Gayndah Cerdini.Aldo

Letter Writer Aldo Cerdini: Prisoner of War Identity Card

(from National Archives of Australia J3118/200)

Angelo Valiante

Happy Birthday Angelo

Angelo Valiante is well known in the Granite Belt  of south-east Queensland for his contribution to the region.

He is so well respected  that a mural by Guido van Helten was commissioned by the Stanthorpe Art Gallery in 2016 to celebrate his 73 year involvement in the community and his 100 year milestone.

Stanthorpe.Valiante.JPG

Mural in Stanthorpe: Angelo Valiante

(from the collection for Joanne Tapiolas)

Soon to turn 101, Angelo has also been captured on canvas for Jacques van der Merwe’s exhibition “New Arrivals” and his story is part of  Franco and Morwenna Arcidiacono “Echoes of the Granite Belt” which details the history of Italians and their contribution to the area.

Life goes a little more quietly now for Angelo but a morning spent with him showed that he is a keen and animated story teller and willing to talk about some of his experiences as an Italian soldier in Libya, his treatment as a prisoner of war and his memories of incidents in Cowra and Q1 PWCC Stanthorpe.

Q1Stanthorpe.Valiante.JPG

What  I learnt from Angelo was not only details of his journey as a prisoner of war.  With a wily wisdom and experience that comes with being 100 years old, Angelo gave me  much more than facts.  I found out about determination, endurance and perspective. A youth stolen from him by war. Starvation and deprivation as a Mussolini soldier. Prejudice experienced as a migrant family in the 1950s. Success with hard work. Strong family connections. A proud legacy.

Carmel Peck (Dywer) from Boonah told me that her family’s Italian POWs enriched their lives. This reflection holds true on so many levels and for so many Queensland families who welcomed the Italian POWs.

After interviewing Angelo in September 2017, I can honestly and humbly say that Angelo Valiante has enriched my life.

Walking in his Boots: Angelo’s Prisoner of War Journey

 

Cara Mamma

I am very grateful to Reinhard Krieger, a collector of military post, who has shared with me letters and postcards, written by Queensland Italian POWs to their families in Italy.

POW mail was censored but these letters to families still have much to tell us about the men who wrote them.

On 23.10.45, Umberto Liberto wrote a letter to his mother, from a farm in the Q1 Stanthorpe area.  Umberto was one of the youngest POWs who made their way to Queensland.  Born in 1922, he was 19 years old when captured in Libya in February 1941 and 23 years old when he wrote this letter. He had been working on a farm/farms in the Stanthorpe area since 27th October 1943.

Q1 Stanthorpe Liberto Umberto

 

Cowra, NSW. 16 September 1943. Group of Italian prisoners of war (POW) interned at No. 12 POW Group. Back row, left to right: 49731 A. Olivieri; 45651 A. Fazio; 49632 D. Mocchetti; 49373 U. Liberto; 46913 G. Villa; 49942 L. Volonteri. Front row: 45782 L. Gardini; 49884 I. Paniccia; 49436 L. Casinelli; 49792 A. Alessi. Note: The number is an assigned POW number.

(AWM, Lewecki, Image 030149/21)

23.10.45

Dear Mum

A couple of lines so as to not leave you without any of my news that thanks to God is good, as I hope is the same for you.  Last week my work employers sent you two packages.  I hope that they arrive there.  I have also sent you my photo and eight pounds Stirling but as yet have not receive a reply. Dear Mum, by now the worst has passed but there are still some months and then all will be finished.  Your mail takes 5 to 6 months to arrive and not so often just now and then some letters.  Anyway as for now it is not so important because all of this is coming to an end.  You will not recognise your son – five years has been a long time.  However, it could have been worse.

Finally hugs and kisses to share around.

Yours Berto.

(translation by Morwenna Arcidiacono, Stanthorpe)

Liberto, Umberto

Letter from Umberto Liberto to his mother in Italy 23.10.45

(kindly contributed by Reinhard Krieger, Brisbane)

 

 

Further Reading

India

A very good reference to life for Italian Prisoners of War in India can be found at Maddy’s Ramblings  Maddy also relates the story of Filippo Casella who had been imprisoned in India, returned to Italy then made his way to Australia.  The purchase of a small vineyard in 1966 was the beginning of Casella Wines and its well known brand Yellow Tail.

List of Camps in India

India and UK

Italian Prisoners of War and Internees in India

Indian Camp Currency

Bangalore

Italian POWs arrive in Bombay

Bairagarh

India: Ramgarh

Australia

The Italian Farming Soldiers by Alan Fitzgerald  published in 1981, it is the first comprehensive book on the subject of Italian prisoners of war in Australia

When Italian Prisoners of War Were in Australia

History of Directorate of Prisoners of War and Internees

Employment of Enemy PW and Internees

Remo and Romolo

South Australia

From Tobruk to Clare  is the story of Luigi Bortolotti as recorded in this diary manuscript.

Campbelltown

Victoria

GippslandColacFrancesco PonzoniNorth East VictoriaBete Bolong Orbost,

Victorian POW CampsBroadfordLeongatha and Adolfo AllariaMurchison,  Northcliffe, Graytown

Leongatha and Warragul

Umberto Cofrancesco’s biography covers fighting in North Africa, capture and treatment, life in POW Camp India, transfer to Australia, working in Victoria and repatriation.

Tasmania

North West TasmaniaQuamby BrookLulworth the story of Augusto Silvestri, West ScottsdaleBrighton Army CampLuigo Pezzotti

Queensland

Stanthorpe and the Granite Belt : Echoes of Italian Voices Family Histories from Queensland’s Granite Belt edited by Francesco and Morwenna Arcidiacono (a chapter on the Stanthorpe POWs)

Kingaroy: We Remember, Italian Prisoners of War 1944/45 by Docas Grimmet (collection of Kingaroy residents’ memories)

Q6 Home Hill Francesco Cipolla

Wallangarra German POWs from Kormoran

New South Wales

Don CaprezioNorth and North WestCowraMick CamardaIngleburn Hostel,

Bathurst Hostel Funeral and DeathsSt Ives Hostel and Rick Pisaturo, CoonabarabanCarlo Vannucci at Cowra , Mudgee  Connabaraban page 15 – 17

Toogimbie / Riley’s BendFrank Foster and POWsCanowindra Bruno Dell AmicoGiacomo Rizzello at WellingtonAlessandro Luciani at Inverell ,  Nunzio Marotta at Temora 

Lismore Koonorigan Wallace Jackson,   Pietro Gargano at Glen Innes Ch 6 Page 90,         Orange – Michele Ostorero, 

Western Australia

NorthamPrisoner of War Hut West Bruce RockRosemary Johnston ResearchNorthcliffe HostelKarrakatta

A book by Bill Bunbury, Rabbits and Spaghetti, tells the story of  Internees and Prisoners of War using local stories, experiences and memories.

Zonderwater South Africa

Zonderwater Prisoner of War Camp and Museum

The Story of Zonderwater