Category Archives: Western Australia Italian POWs

Dr Georges Morel

Georges Morel was a Swiss Doctor of Economics who was appointed to Australia as the officially accredited representative of the International Committee for the Red Cross, Geneva in February 1941.

Dr Georges Morel [1941 ‘HAS KEY TO CAMPS OF INTERNEES’, The Sun (Sydney, NSW : 1910 – 1954), 1 March, p. 2. (LAST RACE ALL DETAILS), viewed 07 Feb 2021, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article231204582]

He was responsible for visiting internees and prisoners of war held in camps in Australia and to ensure that the conditions of the Geneva Convention regarding prisoners of war were upheld.

With an understanding of ten languages, Dr Morel was free to enter any camp at will, reside in a camp if so desired and leave without permission. Internees and prisoners of war were at liberty to speak freely with Dr Morel and communicate any complaints.

His comprehensive reports were shared with the Australian Government via the Minister of State for External Affairs. All reports were written in French, the language of the ICRC.

Copies of Dr Morel’s reports are archived in the National Archives of Australia and three files covering the period 1942-1944 are available for viewing: search terms to use – Red Cross Dr Morel.

In May 1944 on a visit to Western Australia, he was reported as saying, “My main task is to visit the camps whether the POWs are Germans or Italians…in addition I must keep in permanent touch with Australian Government departments, the Army and various branches of the Red Cross. However the first task is to see that the convention is being strictly applied and from my observations elsewhere [in Australia]I can say quite frankly that the conditions in Australian camps are very good. The treatment, food and clothing are in fact, excellent. Australian officers and guards have tried to help in many minor matters as well as in more important subjects, and I have received 100 per cent co-operation at Army Headquarters, Melbourne and from the Government.

Naturally there are complaints at every camp and these are quite minor matters. The complains have been rectified. Australia actually applies the International convention very generously in regard to POWs and internees, and in all my reports to the International Red Cross Committee I have stressed that conditions in Australia are good.” [1944 ‘VISIT TO P.O.W. CAMPS’, The West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879 – 1954), 19 May, p. 6. , viewed 07 Feb 2021, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article44809894%5D

Hand in hand with the written reports are the photographic records of Dr Morel’s visits. These photos can be found at : Archives of the ICRC . You will need to register as a user but this process is easy.

Guerre 1939-1945. Nouvelle-Galles du sud, camp de Cowra. Camp A, Série B. Groupe 24 avec le délégué CICR. War 1939-1945. New South Wales, camp of Cowra, camp A, serie B. Group 24 with the ICRC delegate.

Cowra Camp A September 1942 Dr Morel seated centre with officials of the camp including Padre Lenti (ICRC V-P-HIST-01881-02)

Dr Morel died in October 1945 and his wife Eugenia continued his work temporarily until the arrival of Dr Pierre Descoeudres in May 1946.

It is with thanks to the Red Cross and the work of their delegates like Dr Morel that there is a comprehensive and neutral record of the internee and prisoner of war camps in Australia.

Milestone, Miracles and Magic

Today it is 4 years since I launched this website/blog. It is an important milestone.

With 207 posts and 12 pages, Footprints of Italian Prisoners of War in Australia is the most comprehensive documentation of this chapter in Australia’s history.

We are an international research project with Australians and Italians in 14 countries contributing a diverse range of items, insights and memories. We have built a community where information is share freely. We are unique because of the diversity of perspectives portrayed.

There are moments of sadness; moments of elation and moments of quiet reflection.

It is important that we try to place ourselves in the boots of the soldier and prisoner of war and walk through this history.

Four years ago, I had no knowledge of website building and blogging. Four years ago, I did not think that “Google Translate” would become my best friend. Four years ago I did not know the history of Bardia or Matapan nor did I know the geographic location of many of the regional Australian farming communities in this history.

Nino Amante from Catania accidentally found a photo of his father on the internet and wrote to me about the “Miracolo di Internet”.

I also believe that your individual passionate searches for your father or grandfather’s ‘lost years’ is part of this ‘magic‘.

Families cannot always find specific personal information about and connections to Australia families for their father or grandfathers. But in the sharing of information, there is the possibility to reconstruct the journey for your loved ones.

My family wonder when I will stop!

My answer is ‘I don’t know’.

Regardless of when I run out of energy, this website serves as a ‘virtual’ museum: a museum which can add items to its collection at any time.

I patiently await the next donation to this museum.

Ciao

Joanne

NB New donations coming soon: Geneifa Eggito and Yol India

Italian Prisoner-of-War Photos of a Moora District Family

Moora Mystery… thank you to Kyra Burns at the Norther Valleys News for publishing this article in the February 2021 Issue

Isidoro Del Piccolo worked on a Moora District farm together with Giuseppe another POW. Isidoro was given three photos from the farming family to take home to Italy with him; souvenirs of his time in Australia. Now 75 years later, his son-in-law Ermanno Scrazzolo hopes that someone in the district might recognise the people in the photos.

During WW 2 approximately 125 Italian prisoners of war worked and lived on Moora district farms.  Due to a chronic shortage of Australian farming labourers, a system was developed to place low risk Italian prisoners of war on farms. This scheme was called: Prisoner of War Control Centre: Without Guards. 

A Prisoner of War Control Centre (PWCC) was a shop, hall or commercial property located in a town like Moora, which was set up as offices to administer the Italian POWs in the district within a radius of 50 miles. There were seven AMF staff including a captain, truck driver and interpreter who liaised with farmers and the Italian workers.  The Moora PWCC operated from April 1945 to May 1946.

Ermanno Scrazzolo in Italy is searching for his father-in-law’s Moora farming family. Isidoro Del Piccolo was sent to a Moora district farm on 29.5.45 and departed the district on 8.5.46.

Isidoro was from the Friuli region north east of Venice and registered his occupation as a mechanic (radio). He was 31 years old, had been captured in Sidi el Barrani, Libya in December 1940 and spent 4 years in a British POW Camp in Yol, India before arriving in Australia.

Giuseppe from Bari, Unknown, Isidoro Del Piccolo (photo courtesy of Ermanno Scrazzolo)

Reverse of Isidoro Del Piccolo’s Photo (photo courtesy of Ermanno Scrazzolo)

Scrazzolo provides some background information which he hopes will help find Isidoro’s farming family:  I have some 90 letters that he [Isidoro] wrote home during his prisoner time which have been saved and about 30 of them have a Marrinup camp stamp. In one of the letters he says that he is in a farm far away from any town. In the farm there are four persons besides himself and the other POW, a barber from Bari. Isidoro only says that he made himself useful to the farmer especially in electrical things as he was very capable with anything electrical. The farmer gave Isidoro a foto of himself with the two Italians assigned to assist him. The back of the foto is signed by the farmer.” Giuseppe was known as Joseph and possibly Isidore was also given an Aussie name.

A second photo shows Giuseppe and Isidoro with two ladies.  The reverse of the photo identifies them as Barbara and Beryl.  Hopefully, someone will recognise the ladies. Quite possibly the young girl Beryl might still live in the district and have memories of the family’s Italian workers.  The word “Invernina” is also noted on the reverse and Scrazzolo wonders if this was the name of the farm.

Giuseppe, Barbara, Beryl, Isidoro (photo courtesy of Ermanno Scrazzolo)

A common memory for this history is the red coloured clothes the Italians wore.  Australian Army disposal uniforms were dyed a burgundy colour and issued to the Italian POWs. When away from the farm or in transit, the POWs wore these red uniforms. Another memory is the canteen truck from the PWCC which visited the farms on a regular basis and items from the canteen could be purchased by the Italians. Some children remember that the Italians would buy chocolate; a war time luxury and share it with them. Mail was also delivered via the canteen truck. All mail was censored, so any letters Isidoro wrote would be collected by the canteen truck and sent to Marrinup POW Camp for censoring.  The Italians in Western Australia could only register Marrinup Camp as their address.

Scrazzolo contacted researcher Joanne Tapiolas to assist him to reconnect with Isidoro’s Australian farming family and to get a glimpse of farming life during WW 2. He would also like to tell the Aussie family a little about Isidoro’s life after he returned to Italy and the memories of Australia he shared.

Tapiolas who is based in Townsville Queensland assists Australian and Italian families to understand the personal connections and memories of this vibrant and diverse WW2 history.Tapiolas says, “The aim of the ‘Footprints of Italian Prisoners of War Project’ is to document this history.  Photos like Isidoro’s are precious memories of the time prisoners of war worked on Australian farms.  These photos and letters have been kept safe for over 75 years and with the assistance of the internet, Italian families are now trying to piece together the journey of their father or grandfather as a soldier and prisoner of war.” The project’s research can be accessed at italianprisonersofwar.com. 

If you can help Scrazzolo with information about the people in the photos, please contact Tapiolas at: joannetappy@gmail.com

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 fourteen 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 July 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

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 six states and Italian families in fourteen 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 fourteen 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 three 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!

Over 185 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 five and a half years of research, over 185 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 published 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.

 

the best and finest time was at Marrinup…

A resident of Marrinup POW Camp, Heins Doehmen, wrote to a Western Australian newspaper in 1947.

While Heins is German, not Italian, I found his letter very interesting and sobering and therefore a worthy inclusion. His record states that he is Catholic and his occupation is – Theology student. Heins was fighting in infantry when he was captured at Sollum 16th May 1941.

To the Editor.

Sir,- I take the liberty of writing you this letter, even if it is in bad English; but I am doing so in order not to lose connection with the land where I lived such a long time as a P.O.W.  I spent almost three years of six in Western Australia, the other time being in Victoria and South Australia.  But the best and finest time was at Marrinup.  Working there as swampers, wood cutters, or somewhat else, we did it mostly with great pleasure.

Today it is forbidden to me to think of the flesh-pots [pot of flesh or meat] of Australia, only to save my stomach and protect it from the convulsions of “hunger laughter.” My stomach is always-contra.  Shortly after my repatriation I weighted 200lb. Now it has been set back to 140lb.  It is no good to be burdened with too much fat, says the order of the day.  The bread, made of Indian corn, looks like cake, but is much better to digest by chickens than by men.  We are housed here in ruins, as you know well by pictures and magazines.  Morality is the same as your reporters have shown in your paper.  The children are mostly fond of debris, playing hide-and-seek or pirates in mysterious corners of empty cellars.  In the streets you hear all the day the click-click of the wooden shoes of our girls.  Leather shoes are going out of fashion.  But our women grow sadder day by day, providing a deplorable sight with their trouble about food, clothing and housekeeping.  Where is the future, and what will the time to come bring to us? Perhaps life, perhaps a castle in the air only, perhaps a burying-ground.

I am living with my old paretns and my sister in two small rooms, the last of our fine house, giving thanks to God that I didn’t see the last winter in Germany and praying for mild weather the next time.  Above all, I thank you and your folks for the fine time I have had in Australia. Never will I forget it.

Now I ask you to find out a person for me to correspond with, not only with the object of obtaining an acquaintance in the paradise called Australia, but also to have a connection with the outer workd and to learn good English. On the other side, I will give promptly a report of my country.  I am aged 30, and work as a clerk in a labour office.  Before the war I was a student of philospohy and mathematics.-

Yours, etc.,

HEINS DOEHMEN

22a, M-Gladbach/Rhl, Benderstr.

(1947 ‘German P.O.W. writes letter of Thanks’, Western Mail (Perth, WA : 1885 – 1954), 16 October, p. 11. , viewed 22 Jul 2020, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article52180042)

Heins Doehmen 41162

Murchison, Australia. 30 December 1942. Group of German prisoners of war (POWs) interned at No. 13 POW Group. Known to be are: 41944 Lance Corporal (L Cpl) Richard Wiedmann of Ludwigshafen am Rhein; 41061 Corporal (Cpl) Emil Baade of Ludwigshafen am Rhein; 41620 L Cpl Otto Niedhammer of Heidelberg; 41119 L Cpl Richard Brinkmann of Heidelberg; 41069 L Cpl Hans Naring of Unterkoettenich ueber Dueren, Rheinland; 41533 L Cpl Karl Lohoff of Sinsheim am Elsenz, Baden; 41618 Cpl Eugen Niederberger of Mannheim; 41162 Cpl Heinrich Doehmen of Gladbach, Rheinland; 41270 Cpl Emil Guenther of Altrip am Rhein; 41905 Cpl Josef Vieren of Witten, Ruhr. Note: The number is an assigned POW number. (AWM Image 30178/07 Photographer Colin Thomas Halmarick)

While it is unknow which man in the photo is Heins (Heinrich), what is known is that he is 5′ 9′ tall, weighted 157 lbs [1941] and has blond and blue eyes.  He was 26 years old when the photo was taken at Murchsion POW Camp in Victoria.  BUT in the group are 4 men 6′ plus tall, and only one man was shorter than Heins.

I wonder if Heins found a penfriend?

POW Camp 16 Marrinup

LG Hoey wrote an article June 1947 about the Marrinup Prisoner of War Camp Western Australia.  The equipment from the site was being sold at action which prompted the journalist to reflect upon the camp’s history.

Marrinup Camp was home to both Italian and German prisoners of war.  The Italians were sent to work on farms and the Germans remained at camp undertaking firewood cutting and collection in the local area.

Marrinup 2

Marrinup: Plan of PW Camp No. 16

(NAA: K121430/32/4)

LG Hoey writes about both the German and Italian prisoners of war:

During the day the camp presented an animated and colourful scene.  Trucks were continually arriving and departing with Italian prisoners, carrying the sick from the rural districts for medical attention at the camp and transporting further supplies of labour as replacements. Outside the R.A.P. a long line of men in burgundy would be awaiting the doctor’s ministrations; it was estimated that 10 per cent of these were genuinely sick.  Malingering was not unknown amongst the descendants of Caesar’s legionaries.

In spite of superficial differences between their respective cultures there was a strong fraternal bond between the two groups of Axis prisoners.  Often at night a German could be seen teaching his language to an Italian, shouting out lists of verbs and nouns through the dividing wire.  On one occasion, as punishment for some offence, the Italians were refused permission to attend the A.M.F pictures [movies]. The Germans immediately staged an impromptu concern for them from their side of the barbed wire.

Marrinup Italian

Marrinup, Australia. 29 July 1944. Two Italian prisoners of war (POWs) interned at Marrinup POW Camp. 48742 Domenico Chiono (left), and 59046 Giuseppe Andretta. Note: The number is an assigned POW number. (AWM Image 030213/06) Both are Lieutenants and Doctors.

On Saturday afternoons during the winter months soccer [football] matches were often played between the Germans and Italians at the siding. Before each match, the indispensable centre forward on the German side, who was also an habitual escapee, was required to give his parole [word] that he would not try to escape whilst outside the camp confines.

With Latin dash, the Italians would execute some remarkable feats during the game, obviously performing to the ‘house’, whilst their opponents, a heavier type in many ways, would fight back efficiently and stolidly.  Amongst the spectators, the Italians on the one side would dance with every move of the game, shouting and jostling, whilst the Germans opposite would permit an occasional “Wonderbar!” to pass their lips.

After the match the crowds of prisoners would swarm back to camp through the bush, and at its entrance the guards would discover them waiting.  At a work, the Germans would fall in and march to attention past the administrative buildings and the Italians would bring up the rear, cigarettes in mouths, an untidy, talkative rabble.

What memories have these men back in their wrecked homelands? Do the Italians remember the oft-cursed road, the darling of the C.O.? And the Germans, have they forgotten the lovely garden which they created at the drabness which is Marrinup siding: the vases hewn from stone and the terraces, the stream and the rustic bridge, the stone gate posts inscribed P.O.W.G.?

German POWs

Marrinup, Australia. 29 July 1944. Group of German prisoners of war (POWs) interned at Marrinup POW Camp. Back row, left to right: 35197 Walter Harms (Cook); 35185 Alfred Madaus (Sailor); 35268 Richard Pitscheneder (Cook); 35194 Walter Koniarsky (Seaman); 35321 Karl Vetter (Steward); 88021 Heinrich Peters (Engineer). Front row: 41632 Alwin Opitz (Miner); 42297 Hans (Johann) Meier (Gardener); 42179 Hans Ziegler (Baker); 42253 Friedrich Lindel (Coal Miner); 41817 Werner Schwarz (Student). Note: The number is an assigned POW number. (AWM Image 030213/36)

Many of the German prisoners of war had come from England as internees particularly those from captured ships. Some came to Australia onboard the infamous Dunera which also transported English resident England German Jews to Australia.

 

Where is my adored son?

From Tunisia, Salvatore Magaddino at 28 years old was an experienced world traveller: born Castellamore del Golfo Sicily, home address Tindja Tunisia, capture Amba Alagi Ethiopia, internment in India POW camps 1941-1945, travel to Melbourne Australia 1945, transfer to Western Australia and farm work in the Moora district 1945-1946, escape from Northam POW Camp Western Australia 17th  June 1946.

Magaddino 5

His feisty mother wrote to the commanding Officer of Marrinup POW Camp expressing grave concerns for her son:

Tindja Tunis

November 28 1946

“Gentlemen, – Once more I return to beg of you a favour.  It is six months since I have had news of my son Salvatore Magaddino.  I would like to know if he is still in Australia or if he has returned to Italy. Please give me some news about him because I am in a state of mortal anxiety.  Dear sirs, for the love of heaven let me know what has happened to my adored son as soon as possible.  Here is the latest address for my son: Magaddino, Salvatore: No 67655 Camp 16 P.O.W. Camp Marrinup, W.A.

I beg you to excuse me for for disturbing you and I thank you in anticipation of your kindness.  In hopes of an answer from you, receive by deepest regret. Mrs Margharita Magaddino c/o Pietro Magaddino, Maison Moltisanti, Tindja, Tunis. 

1947 ‘MISSING SON.’, The West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879 – 1954), 21 February, p. 7. (SECOND EDITION.), viewed 12 Jul 2020, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article46264224

AND SALVATORE LISTENED TO HIS MOTHER

“THIS IS ME”

Identifying himself with a photograph published in “The West Australian” last Friday, Salvatore Magaddino, one of 13 Italian prisoners of war at large from internment camps in Western Australia, walked into Western Command headquarters yesterday and surrendered himself.  he said he had read the published letter written by his mother in Tunis, Italy, to the army authorities and he had decided to return to her although he was anxious to remain in Australia.  Magaddino reported to Lieut. David Compton shortly after 11 o’clock.  He carried a copy of the newspaper in which his description was given and in halting English said: “This is me.” …

1947 ‘NEWS AND NOTES.’, The West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879 – 1954), 25 February, p. 7. (SECOND EDITION.), viewed 12 Jul 2020, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article46265423

 

 

Parcels to Italy

World War 2 affected Australians directly in many ways.  We had rationing of essentials such as petrol, food items and clothing. There were numerous attacks on our shores: Darwin, Townsville and Mossman. Children of the time remember air raids, air raid shelters and drills, reduced school hours or doing lessons by correspondence.

For Italians living in invaded and bombed areas of Italy, life was one of deprivation. Food shortages, roads and railways destroyed, rumble littered streets, disappearance of residential areas  and displacement of people.

Young Boy in Naples July 1944 Lt Wayne Miller

A young boy, dressed in tattered clothes and bearing a poignant smile, in war-torn Naples Italy July 1944. Photo by Lt Wayne Miller

A Western Australian farmer who had employed Italian POWs wrote to the Western Mail, encouraging other Australians to send parcels to their Italian POW families and explaining  their circumstances.

Helping former P.O.W. farm workers

… I have been sending frequent parcels to an Italian P.O.W. who worked for us…

Many farmers in this State were appreciative of the help given by prisoners of war during a period when labour was scare and I am sure that if they knew the tragedy of these men’s lives on their return to Italy many farmers would gladly send assistance to them now.

Most of the parcels take as long as six months to reach Italy and the quickest delivery of all those that I have sent was just over three months.  Two parcels I posted in April reached Naples at the end of October. Our G.P.O. informed me that there are three groups of parcels, namely food, toilet articles and clothing and these goods must not be mixed.  Clothing must we secondhand or if new duty must be paid by the receiver in Italy.  Toilet articles can include soap, shaving gear, toothbrushes etc and food which seems to be the most appreciated is spaghetti in tins, vermicelli, baked beans, milk and jam, dipping, dried fruits, tinned cheese and tinned meat.  Clothing is very badly needed as the winter is commencing in Italy and clothing of all kinds is very scarce.

Girl Holding Toddler Italy. Naples 1944 Lt Wayne Miller

Girl holding a toddler, Naples, Italy 1944. Photo by Lt Wayne Miller

My P.O.W.s family had not seen toilet soap for five years until they received my parcel and they had not had an egg for three years. Incidentally they consider themselves among the more fortunate Italians despite the fact that they often receive only one meal a day.

The weights of parcels can be 3, 7 or 11 lb. each including the wrappings. I pack mine in light cartons and sew them up in unbleached calico and so far they have arrived in good condition. The 7lb. parcel seems to be the best size.

APPRECIATIVE.

(Western Mail (Perth, WA: 1885-1954), Thursday 27 November 1947, page 67)

Refugees, Italy 1946 UNICEF Romagnoli

In 1946, in Italy, children carry rocks from a war destroyed building to help rebuild their town. UNICEF/Romagnoli