Finding Nonno

I have a firm belief that increasingly, the children and grandchildren of those Italians who were prisoners of war in Australia, will begin the journey to find traces and footprints of their ‘nonno’  or ‘papa’.

  Below I give you some ways to locate information on your father or grandfather. 

Finding Nonno AWM 3953293

Murchison, Australia. 2 March 1945. Group of Italian prisoners of war (POWs) interned in C Compound, No. 13 POW Group. Photo by Ronald Leslie  Stewart. AWM 030231/04

Family members can make the journey via the internet to locate documents and find answers.

1. Begin your research journey in Italy.  Apply to obtain a copy of  Service Records for your fathers/grandfathers, from the Office of State Archives in their region in Italy. This is very valuable as it contains discharge details.

2. In the National Archives of Australia, for each prisoner of war, there are two files available to view on-line. Finding these documents is just the start of research.  These documents have a wealth of information, but they are hard to decipher. The attached document  Finding Nonno. will assist Italian families with understanding the forms.

3. Una sorpresa… For some Italians, there is an extra Australian file: A7919 Victoria, A367 South Australia and Tasmania, K1174 Western Australia. This document: How to Order NAA will guide you through the process of obtaining a copy. c. $26.45 – $36.27 AUD. 

4. Australian War Memorial contains photographs of Italian prisoners of war and prisoner of war camps. Not all Italians were photographed. Search hints   Many names are typed incorrectly. 

5. The page POW Camps in Australia (found on the home page as a drop down menu) contains lists by state for the prisoner of war centres in Australia.  

POW Camps in Australia

6. Some Italian soldiers were sent to India first before coming to Australia. The document: italian-prisoners-of-war-in-india  will assist you to obtain some information  about the camps they were sent to. NB Due to COVID 19, this service is currently not available.

7. Further Reading  provides a number of links for India, England, South Africa as well as numerous places in Australia.

8. Vatican Archives  Archivio Vaticano
If a family did not hear from their son for a long time, then the parish priest might send a message through the Vatican to try to find this man.  Sometimes if the prisoner of war in Australia had not had a letter from his parents for a long time, he could submit a letter through the Apostolic Delegate in Australia who would send a letter to the Vatican. The Vatican would send a letter to the parish priest. (I think this is how it worked) I am told that it is expensive: 46  euro for a search.

9. Red Cross:   Croce Rossa di Ginevra, International Committee for the Red Cross is grossly understaffed. They have quotas for applications for a given period. When a new application date is announced, apply quickly.