Another Fountain – Wakool Hostel

Guerre 1939-1945. Camp Wakool. Vue d’un prisonnier de guerre italien. World War 1939-1945. Wakool camp. Italian prisoner of war view.

Fountain at Wakool Camp 1 May 1945 ICRC V-P-HIST-01881-40

Guerre 1939-1945. Camp Wakool. Prisonier de guerre italien. World War 1939-1945. Wakool camp. Italian prisoner of war.

Wakool Camp ICRC V-P-HIST-01882-44

V3 Wakool on a Service and Casualty Form indicates that your father or grandfather, during 1943-1945 worked on ‘the largest and best equipped rice-growing farm in the Southern Hemisphere’.  This project was to grow rice on a large scale for military requirements.

The newspapers reported that ‘all prisoners of war, nearly 200 are on parole’ and that the place had no locks and the Italians worked under civilian supervisors.

The Italians arrived in September 1943, to prepare the ground for planting and to tend the crops. Another group of Italians were involved in construction work for the second 5000 acres to go under rice.

Guerre 1939-1945. Camp Wakool. Prisonier de guerre italien. World War 1939-1945. Wakool camp. Italian prisoner of war.

Wakool Camp ICRC V-P-HIST-01882-45A

“ The camp is conducted largely on the pattern of a military camp and is entirely self-contained, well-conducted and with a strict but reasonable discipline.  Some seventy men are engaged in various operations.  Much of the general labour of the farm is being done by Italian prisoners of war whom there are about 180 and mostly taken during the North African campaign. The men are on wages and working well.  The normal daily routine was first call at 6.30am, breakfast 7am and at 7.20am some 25 trucks carry the men to various jobs on the farm.  They return to headquarters at 11.45am and returned for the afternoon at 12.40pm  Work for the day ends at 5pm” (Wiluna Miner (WA: 1931-1947) Friday 8 December 1944, page 4 and 5)

Guerre 1939-1945. Wakool. Camp de prisonniers de guerre italiens.

Wakool Camp ICRC V-P-HIST-0329-18A

This rice farm was operated by the Water Conservation and Irrigation Trust of New South Wales with water for irrigation diverted from the Edwards River. It was the first rice production in the area and was situated on part of Tulla Station at Wakool near Barham.

The farm covered 5000 acres and by January 1945 was reported to have yielded 8000 tons of rice and 125,000 bales of rice straw. Rice straw was sent to paper mills. Bren carriers were borrowed from the Army to move bagged rice to storage.  About 100 acres were harvested each day.

Guerre 1939-1945. Camp de Wakool. PG Italiens au travail. War 1939-1945. Wakool Camp. Italian PG at work.

Italians at Work Wakool ICRC V-P-HIST-01880-11A

As a government project, finances were available to purchase machinery.  This project was highly mechanised: 47 tractors of the bulldozer and caterpillar types, 24 header harvesters reaping 25 tons per header per day, 14 seed drills and 18 disc seed drills, rice cleaning plant.  It was reported that it took two men working seven days a week to keep the equipment supplied with fuel.

Guerre 1939-1945. Camp de Wakool. PG Italiens au travail. War 1939-1945. Wakool Camp. Italian PG at work.

Italians at work Wakool ICRC V-P-HIST-01880-09A

Wakool Hostel

ICRC V-P-HIST-03290-16A; V-P-HIST-03290-15A;V-P-HIST-03290-14A; V-P-HIST-01882-02A

La Preghiera Del Legionario

This prayer is a patriotic poem inviting the Lord to save Il Duce’s Italy.

Dio, che accendi ogni fiamma e fermi ogni cuore rinnova ogni giorno la passione mia per l’Italia.

Rendimi sempre più degno dei nostri morti, affinchè loro stessi – i più forti – rispondano ai vivi: “Presente”!

Nutrisci il mio libro della tua saggezza e il mio moschetto della tua volontà.

Fa più aguzzo il mio sguardo e più sicuro il mio piede sui valichi sacri alla Patria:
Sulle strade, sulle coste, nelle foreste e sulla quarta sponda,che già fu di Roma.
Quando il futuro soldato mi marcia accanto nei ranghi, fa ch’io senta battere il suo cuore fedele.

Quando passano i gagliardetti e le bandiere, fa che tutti i volti si riconoscano in quello della Patria:
la Patria che faremo più grande portando ognuno la sua pietra al cantiere.

Signore! Fa della Tua Croce l’insegna che precedeil labaro della mia legione.

E salva l’Italia, l’Italia nel Duce, sempre e nell’ora di nostra bella morte.
Così sia.

Myrtleford, Australia. 5 November 1943. Group of Italian officer prisoners of war (POW) interned at No. 5 POW Camp. Back row, left to right: Zubiani; Mantovani; Pellisetti; Gauthier; Pane; Primiano. Front row: Buonaventura; Di Grazia; De Rosa; Tocco; Morra; Misitano. (AWM Image 03152/10 Photographer: Geoffrey McInnes)

Virgilio Zubiani was an Italian army chaplain who arrived in Australia as a prisoner of war in 23rd August 1941. He was sent directly to Murchison Camp. From Murchison Camp he was sent to Myrtleford Camp:- a camp for Italian officers, but also spent time at V29 Puckapunyal Hostel, V12 Broadford Hostel and V3 Wakool.

When he left Myrtleford Camp in October 1944, a number of documents were found in his possession and the authorities were concerned:
“16 typed copies* of the “Legionnaire’s Prayer” and an original copy of same printed by hand in exactly the same style as that used in the extreme fascist camp newspaper “Patria”. The typed copies had obviously been prepared for distribution among ORs. An annotated map of the layout of Murchison camp.” (NAA: A7919 C98944)

Map of Murchison drawn by Virgilio Zubiani (NAA: A7919 C98944)

Was your father sent to India?

Today I wish to share a few images of Italians in the British Camps in India. It is a way to highlight the archives of the International Committee for the Red Cross.

Many families are already applying for personal documents from the Red Cross for their family members. There is also an extensive audio-visual collection available for viewing.

The ICRC’s historical archives comprise 6,700 linear metres of textual records and a collection of photographs, films and other audio archives. Tens of thousands of documents are available in digital format on the ICRC audiovisual archives portal.

While it is improbable that you will find a photo of your father, you will however view photos which will highlight aspects of the daily life and routine of Italian prisoners of war.

A picture is worth a thousand words…

Was your father a….

BAKER

Guerre 1939-1945. Indes britanniques. Camp no 21, aile 1. Prisonniers de guerre italiens. Boulangerie Word War II. British India. Camp 21, wing 1. Italian prisoners of war. Bakery.

PASTA MAKER

Guerre 1939-1945. Bangalore. Groupe I. Camp de prisonniers de guerre italiens. Préparation de spaghetti. Word War II. Bangalore. Group I. Italian prisoners of war camp. Prisoners preparing spaghetti

TENNIS PLAYER

Guerre 1939-1945. Indes britanniques. Camp no 21, aile 1. Prisonniers de guerre italiens. Equipe de tennis. Word War II. British India. Camp 21, wing 1. Italian prisoners of war. Tennis team.

SHOE MAKER

Guerre 1939-1945. Indes britanniques. Camp no 23, aile 3. Camp de prisonniers de guerre italiens. Cordonniers. Word War II. British India. Camp 23, Wing 3. Italian prisoners of war camp. Shoemakers.

TAILOR

Guerre 1939-1945. Indes britanniques. Camp no 16 de prisonniers de guerre italiens. Couturier. Word War II. British India. Italian prisoners of war camp 16. Tailor.

INSTRUMENT MAKER

Guerre 1939-1945. Indes britanniques. Camp no 21. Prisonniers de guerre italiens. Luthiers. Word War II. British India. Camp 21. Italian prisoners of war camp. Instrument makers.

ARTIST

Guerre 1939-1945. Indes britanniques. Camp no 23, ailes 1 & 2. Prisonniers de guerre italiens. Prisonniers peignant des portraits. Word War II. British India. Camp 23, wings 1 & 2. Italian prisoners of war. Prisoners drawning portraits.

MUSICIAN

Guerre 1939-1945. Indes britanniques. Camp no 23, aile 5. Prisonniers de guerre italiens. Orchestre. Word War II. British India. Camp 23, wing 5. Italian prisoners of war. Orchestra.

ACTOR

Guerre 1939-1945. Indes britanniques. Camp no 23, aile 5. Prisonniers de guerre italiens. Troupe d’acteurs. Word War II. British India. Camp 23, wing 5. Italian prisoners of war. Theatre troupe.

CHESS PLAYER

Guerre 1939-1945. Indes britanniques. Camp no 5. Prisonniers de guerre italiens. Partie d’échecs. Word War II. British India. Camp 5. Italian prisoners of war. Game of chess.

BILLARDS PLAYER

Guerre 1939-1945. Indes britanniques. Groupe II. Camp de prisonniers de guerre italiens. Partie de billard. Word War II. British India. Group II. Italian prisoners of war camp. Game of billiards.

BOXER

Guerre 1939-1945. Bangalore. Groupe I. Camp de prisonniers de guerre italiens. Groupe de boxeurs. Word War II. Bangalore, Group I. Italian prisoners of war camp. Group of boxers.

TEACHER

Guerre 1939-1945. Indes britanniques. Camp no 14. Prisonniers de guerre italiens. Salle de cours. Word War II. British India. Camp 14. Italian prisoners of war. Class room.

FOOTBALLER

Guerre 1939-1945. Indes britanniques. Camp no 21. Prisonniers de guerre italiens. Equipe de football. Word War II. British India. Camp 21. Italian prisoners of war. Football team.

JOINER

Guerre 1939-1945. Indes britanniques. Camp no 22, aile 5. Prisonniers de guerre italiens. Menuisier. Word War II. British India. Camp 22, wing 5. Italian prisoners of war. Joiner.

BOCCE PLAYER

Guerre 1939-1945. Indes britanniques. Camp no 23, ailes 1 & 2. Prisonniers de guerre italiens. Partie de pétanque. Word War II. British India. Camp 23, wings 1 & 2. Italian prisoners of war. Petanque game.

Un’altra Coincidenza

Cowra, NSW. 6 February 1944. Group of Italian prisoners of war (POWs) interned at No. 12 POW Group. Back row, left to right: 57063 A. Belsito; 57300 G. Lettera; 57314 A. Limongi; 57317 G. Lucente; 57478 D. Ruggiano; 57363 L. Mastrota; 57120 A. Chiaradia. Front row: 57473 G. Rocco; 45281 M. Coiro; 57386 V. Messuto; 48003 G. Di Fazio; 57208 G. Farina. Note: The number is an assigned POW number. (Photographer Geoffrey McInnes)

Francesco Chiaradia was showing his friend photos and information he had uncovered for his grandfather Antonio Chiaradia and friends Lorenzo and Domenico. His friend was amazed, in the photo is also his great uncle Giovacchino Luciente: an ‘accidental’ connection.

Then another coincidence emerged.

In February 2017, I interviewed Joyce Dickenson in Kingarory Queensland. Joyce was newly married to Dudley Dickenson when they employed two Italian prisoners of war in 1944: Giuseppe Lettera and Giovacchino Luciente who are both in the photo above.

Identity Card for Giovacchino Luciente (NAA: J3119 98)

Joyce remembered: “they were young men, ordinary men with no will to fight or to be the enemy. They were terribly homesick and would look forward to receiving letters which came on canteen day once a week on a Monday… They slept in a room at the corner of two verandas of a Queenslander [typical house style]…. they were scared of frogs. The veranda was unsealed and the frogs would get in. The men would stuff rags into the corrugations of the roof to try to keep the frogs out. They would catch the frogs and take them away but two days later they would be back…Dud [Dudley] set up a ping pong [tabletennis] table for them. I suppose to give them something to do… They weren’t allowed alcohol but they used the oranges to make liquor, making a still out of a 4 gallon kerosene tin. I don’t think they had much success with the alcohol, so I don’t count the still as a breach in the rules… they weren’t with us long, but it seemed like a long time. It was long enough for them to become part of our family and for me to have fond memories of those times.”

Identity Card for Giuseppe Lettera (NAA: J3118 91)

A special thank you to Joyce and her daughter Robyn for sharing these memories and being part of this historical journey.

Three Distinct Del-Bo Paintings

Hugh Cullimore Assistant Curator: Art Section at the Australian War Memorial has uncovered another painting by prisoner of war Riccardo Del Bo.

A caricature of Lt Colonel Brown is housed in the Australian War Memorial.  It was attributed as a caricature painted by an Italian prisoner of war which,  “depicts a profile portrait caricature of Lt. Colonel Montague Ambrose Brown (1899-1975) wearing a cap and uniform, who served as Group Commandant of the Cowra prisoner of war camp during the Second World War. During his time at Cowra, Lt. Colonel Brown became friendly with a number of the Italian POWs interred there, before returning to civilian duties in 1947. The Cowra prisoner of war camp was constructed in 1941-42 to house Italian POWs captured by Allied Forces during the war. By December 1942, some 2000 mainly Italian prisoners and internees were housed in the camp.”

Caricature of Lt Colonel Montague Ambrose Brown 1943 by Riccardo Pietro Edwardo Del Bo (AWM ART92902)

The signature of the artist appeared to be RDel-Bi, which was thought to be an abbreviation and not identifiable.

A little luck; a little magic and RDel-Bi is Riccardo Del-Bo. Confirmation came from grandson Riccardo Del-Bo in Italy, “..it is confirmed that the technique used is that of my grandfather and also the signature I found on other works. I always thank you for your interest.” The Del-Bo family is planning a ‘Retrospective Exhibition: Maestro Riccardo Del-Bo’ and is always interested in finding more evidence of Riccardo’s art. Other examples of his work can be found at this link : Maestro Riccardo Del Bo – 1914/1997

Riccardo Del-Bo’s legacy in Australia is two portraits and one caricature.

 Riccardo was at Cowra Camp from October 9141 to October 1943 and Lt. Colonel Brown was at Cowra Camp from March to August 1943. This is the period when he painted Lt Colonel Brown. How many other caricatures did Riccardo paint while in Cowra?

Riccardo then left his mark at his next placement: a farm outside Stanthorpe, Queensland. He painted a young Janette Jones. The portrait of Janette’s sister Dorothy, unfortunately has been lost. Click on the link for this article: Del Bo the painter

Portrait of Janette Jones (photo courtesy of Joanne Tapiolas)

The third Del-Bo portrait was rescued by Jennifer Ellis at a second hand shop in country Victoria and purchased for $2.00. Riccardo spent almost two years at the Murchison Prisoner of War Camp in Victoria; pointing in the direction that this portrait was painted in this camp. Click on the link for this article: Another Del-Bo

Portrait of a Lady by Riccardo Del-Bo (photo courtesy of Jennifer Ellis)

Three distinct prisoner of war placements; three distinct portraits.

The Italian prisoners of war were more than captured soldiers in burgundy coloured uniforms; they were individuals who amongst the backdrop of ‘imprisonment’ found a way to shine.

coincidenze

Antonio Chiaradia, Domenico Rugiano and Lorenzo Mastrotta were soldiers with the 16th Fanteria Reggimento when captured at Sidi Omar, Libya on 22.11.41. They were from the same area of Cosenza: Antonio and Lorenzo were from San Lorenzo Bellizzi and Domenico was from Cerchiara Di Calabria.

They were together when processed at Geneifa Egypt with their Middle East Numbers being: 175100, 175247 and 175238. They were part of a group of 507 Italian POWs who left No. 12 POW Camp Bairagarh India for Australia, departing Bombay on 9th December 1943. They arrived in Melbourne, Australia onboard the Mooltan 29.2.43 and ‘marched in’ to Cowra Prisoner of War Camp 12 (a) on 30.12.43.

It is not surprising that Domenico, Lorenzo and Antonio are standing together in a Cowra photograph taken 6th February 1944. They are the three men standing on the right. Six days later, the three men were placed on a farm in the Canowindra district of New South Wales. 

Cowra, NSW. 6 February 1944. Group of Italian prisoners of war (POWs) interned at No. 12 POW Group. Back row, left to right: 57063 A. Belsito; 57300 G. Lettera; 57314 A. Limongi; 57317 G. Lucente; 57478 D. Ruggiano; 57363 L. Mastrota; 57120 A. Chiaradia. Front row: 57473 G. Rocco; 45281 M. Coiro; 57386 V. Messuto; 48003 G. Di Fazio; 57208 G. Farina. Note: The number is an assigned POW number.

Antonio’s grandson, Francesco is researching his grandfather’s time in Australia and discovered a newspaper article about Adriano Zagonara who worked on a Canowindra farm in 1945.

Swiping through the photographs in the article, Francesco found a photo titled “Jock Davidson at Mooroonbin with Antonio, Lorenzo and Domenic”.

Jock Davidson at Mooroonbin with Antonio, Lorenzo and Domenic

(photo from  Cowra Guardian April 17, 2018)

Was this a coincidence that the names of the trio of Italian prisoners of war matched that of Francesco’s grandfather and his two friends?  Lorenzo was not a common name and there was only one ‘Lorenzo’ who was assigned to a Canowindra farm in 1944.

Francesco contacted Paola Zagonara, daughter of Adriano and Paola put him in contact with  Robert DavidsonFrancesco has been able to confirm that the trio of Italians are Antonio Chiaradia and his two friends: “Buona sera, volevo ringraziarla e farle sapere che sono entrato in contatto con la famiglia Davidson, il signor Robert mi ha confermato che in ha confermato che in quella foto era mio nonno, mia ha anche detto che sua zia di 93 anni se lo ricorda, spero presto di condividere con loro ulteriori informazioni, vi rigrazio molto, a presto.”

This history is full of magic; when something extraordinary happens. Documenting this history; sharing stories, memories and photos; making this history easy to access via the project’s facebook group and website; all contribute to the most comprehensive and valuable history of Italian prisoners of war in Australia. 

Italian families from 14 countries have helped make this magic happen.

Mille grazie a tutti voi.

Per non dimenticarlo

“Our dead are never dead to us, until we have forgotten them.” George Elliot

Vito Eliseo has a passion for local history and undertakes research trying to reconstruct the stories of all those from his village who died during WW II. Vito believes that is important to make these stories known to future generations. He is concerned that in Italy there are still children who do not know what happened to their parents.

One of the Italian prisoners of war who died in Australia during WW2 was  Martino D’Aniello, a relative of Vito. 

Vito explains, “Unfortunately no one is left of Martino’s immediate family, there were 2 brothers and a sister… I could not find any grandchildren.” Vito has written, In memoria di Martino D’Aniello which you can read at the end of this article.

Martino, a waiter from Serre (Salerno), was 20 years old when he was captured at Tobruk, Libya on the 22nd January 1941.  He was 24 years old when he died at the Waranga Hospital [28 Camp Hospital], Murchison Camp Victoria on 3rd December 1944.

This is the sadness of war; regardless of where a soldier died: Libya, Egypt, India or Australia; regardless of whether the man died in battle, in a field hospital or in a prisoner of war hospital; the death of a young man is a tragedy.

List of Italians laid to rest at The Ossario (Photo courtesy of Alex Miles)

The government records offered up a little information about Martino’s death.  Martino died 3 days after being sent to hospital for “Acute Nephritis” and then he was buried at the Murchison Cemetery on 5th  December 1944. In 1961, his remains were exhumed and he was re-interred at The Ossario* Murchison on 6th September 1961 and his name is on a bronze plaque at its entrance.

There is some comfort in knowing where Martino now ‘rests in peace’. There is no comfort though knowing that your loved one died on the other side of the world without family and friends.

A series of extraordinary and unconnected circumstances, has brought to light an invaluable insight into the funeral of Martino.  Martino’s funeral was photographed by a representative from the International Committee for the Red Cross.

Guerre 1939-1945. Murchison. Enterrement du PG Daniello Martini. War 1939-1945. Murchison Camp. The funeral of prisoner of war Daniello Martini.

Funeral of Martino D’Aniello 5th December 1944 (ICRC V-P-HIST 01184-10)

On the 5th December 1944, under an Australian summer’s sky; surrounded by Cypress pines and eucalyptus, Martino’s compatriots stand solemnly at his graveside. He was far from home, but Martino was not alone.

Guerre 1939-1945. Murchison. Enterrement du PG Daniello Martini. War 1939-1945. Murchison Camp. The funeral of prisoner of war Daniello Martini.

Funeral of Martino D’Aniello 5th December 1944 (ICRC V-P-HIST 01184-11)

Australian soldiers from the Murchison Camp together with Italian prisoners of war respectfully farewelled Martino.  Vito reflects, “it is a consolation for his family to know that Martino did not die alone, he had the comfort of his companions and the generous people near him who considered him a guest and not a prisoner.”

Guerre 1939-1945. Murchison. Enterrement du PG Daniello Martini. War 1939-1945. Murchison Camp. The funeral of prisoner of war Daniello Martini.

Funeral of Martino D’Aniello 5th December 1944 (ICRC V-P-HIST 01184-13)

Guerre 1939-1945. Murchison. Enterrement du PG Daniello Martini. War 1939-1945. Murchison Camp. The funeral of prisoner of war Daniello Martini.

Grave of Martino D’Aniello 5th December 1944 with temporary marker front right (ICRC V-P-HIST 01184-12)

As men, we are all equal in the presence of death.

Publilius Syrus (Roman Writer c. 100 BC)

In memoria di Martino D’Aniello by Vito Eliseo

Martino D’Aniello nasce a Serre il 13 ottobre 1920 da Valentino e Michelina Mennella, un ragazzo come tanti altri, frequenta la scuola fino alla V elementare, e come tutti i suoi coetanei viene chiamato alla visita di leva il 6 giugno 1939, ed essendo di sana e robusta costituzione, per di più patentato, viene arruolato per poi essere chiamato alle armi il 1 febbraio 1940.

Viene assegnato al 1° Reggimento Fanteria G.a.F. (Guardia alla Frontiera) del XX° C.A. in Napoli, dopo la vestizione ed il necessario addestramento il giorno 8 marzo si imbarca per arrivare a Tripoli il giorno 11 marzo 1940.

Assegnato al XXXV° Settore di copertura, già dal successivo 11 giugno, viene a trovarsi in “territorio in stato di guerra”, la successiva assegnazione al 6° Autogruppo di Manovra lo condurrà a Tobruk, ed è su tale città che si stà concentrando l’attenzione degli inglesi per l’importanza strategica del suo porto.

La città cinta d’assedio dovette capitolare e fu occupata il 21 gennaio 1941, con la conseguente cattura di tutti i militari italiani che vi si trovavano, ed è in tale data che inizia l’odissea di Martino, con la sua tragica conclusione.

Gli inglesi a seguito delle positive vicende belliche in nord-Africa si ritrovarono a gestire alcune centinaia di migliaia di prigionieri che dovettero inevitabilmente smistare lontano dalle zone di guerra, e Martino, in questa moltitudine, si ritrovò prima a Ceylon e poi a Bombay in India, da qui ancora un altro trasferimento, a bordo del piroscafo Mount Vernon, che lo vede sbarcare il 26 aprile 1944 nel porto di Melbourne in  Australia.

In Australia viene internato nel campo prigionieri di guerra di Murchison nel distretto di Vittoria, dove ai prigionieri è permesso anche di andare a lavorare fuori presso terzi, cosa che, dal 27 giugno 1944, inizia a fare anche Martino andando a lavorare presso mr. Kyneton, un allevatore di ovini,  questo lavoro durerà poco, fino al 2 settembre, perché si ammala di una grave forma di nefrite, e rientra al campo.

Per l’aggravarsi delle condizioni il 30 novembre viene ricoverato nell’ospedale di Waranga, però il male è incurabile e muore il giorno 3 dicembre 1944 ed il giorno 5 dicembre viene sepolto nel cimitero della città di Murchison, poco dopo i compagni di prigionia provvidero a costruire una tomba più dignitosa che non il mucchio di terra che si vede nella foto.

Purtroppo le sue traversie ancora non erano finite, infatti il settore del cimitero dove era sepolto negli anni 50 subisce un allagamento, e questo episodio fece si che un italiano, che viveva nelle vicinanze, desse inizio ad una colletta tra i tanti italiani emigrati e con i fondi raccolti fu costruito un MEMORIALE, ove nel 1961 furono trasferiti i resti mortali di tutti i prigionieri italiani deceduti durante la prigionia.

Ogni anno il tale MEMORIALE, la domenica prossima all’ 11 novembre vi viene tenuta una cerimonia di commemorazione.

Carro Armato di Hai

A special thank you to Nicola and Daniele for sharing this carro armato.

Ricordo-del-Prigioniere in Australia Campo Hai Marzullo-Giovanni

(photo courtesy of Daniele Marzullo)

Giovanni Marzullo from San Giorgio del Sannio (Benevento) arrived in Australia on the Queen Mary, 27.5.41.  He was one of the first group of 2000 Italian prisoners of war transported directly from Egypt to Australia.

The group photo below lists the names of the men.  The names do not correspond with their position in the photo.  Giovanni was quickly identified by his grandson Daniele; he is in the back row, first on the right.  Giovanni is 34 years old.

Daniele Marzullo from Rovereto says, “When I was a child, I always played with the tank made by my nonno during his imprisonment.”

Hay, NSW. 9 September 1943. Group of Italian prisoners of war (POW) interned at No. 6 POW Group. In this group are known to be: 46181 Giuseppe Musto; 45685 Bartolomeo Fiorentino; 46799 Angelo Scoppettuolo; 46188 Giovanni Marzullo; 47941 Donato Cendonze; 45519 Giuseppe Dello Buono; 45174 Andrea Cavalieri; 45290 Carmine Cogliano; 45363 Pasquale Cappello and 47996 Mario Cioccolini. Note: The number is an assigned POW number. (AWM Image 030143/10, Photographer Lewecki)

Giovanni was assigned to Camp 8 Hay. In March 1943, Camp 8 has listed under a heading: other barracks: a chapel, a barracks used for canteen in one half and administration in the other half, and a barracks used for recreation and manual work.

Engaging the prisoners of war in activities within the camps was a way of keeping them busy.  Schools were set up; classes were taught; men had an opportunity to complete the Italian schooling curriculum; learn English; undertake tuition in a trades course.

The men worked with wood or metal, worked on a lathe to make chess pieces, turned silver Australian coins into rings; made belts from the cellophane from cigarette packets.

Giovanni worked in wood and crafted a tank.  The level of skill in the carving of words on the bottom of the tank and the details of the tank reflects his occupation: carpenter.

Carro Armato di Hai, Marzullo-Giovanni (photo courtesy of  Daniele Marzullo)

In contrast is a tank made by Rosario Morello. Rosario was a baker and his tank reflects that his passion was not working with wood.

Carro Armato made by Rosario Morello (photo courtesy of Esme Colley (nee Townsend))

Icons of war were common themes used by Italian prisoners of war.  A statue at Camp 8 Hay features another much larger tank.

Guerre 1939-1945. Nouvelle-Galles du sud, camp 8 de Hay. Médecin prisonnier de guerre et à droite un tank oeuvre des prisonniers de guerre italiens.

Camp 8 Hay March 1943: Italian Prisoner of War Doctor standing beside a tank made by Italian prisoners of war . (ICRC: V-P-HIST-01881-05)

What wood or metal items did your father bring home from Australia?

Attori e Artisti

A series of remarkable events has contributed to a greater understanding of the staging of a play at Cowra Camp June 1946.

Background

A special thank you to the following people and their contributions:

Hugh Cullimore: Assistant Curator- Art Section, Australian War Memorial Canberra, for his knowledge of Cowra artists Carlo Vannucci and Eliseo Pieraccini;

Francesca Maffietti: from Ospitaletto di Cormano (Milano) granddaughter of  Ippolito Moscatelli for the photos of the Cowra Chapel;

Marco Lucantoni: from Napoli, son of Stefano Lucantoni for a program from the play ‘L’Antenato’ staged at Cowra 28th June 1946.

The Play

In Cowra POW Camp on the 28th June 1946, a group of Italian prisoners of war staged L’Antenato [The Ancestor] a Commedia in 3 Atti by Carlo Veneziani. This play was first staged in Genoa 1922 and in 1936 a film based on the play was produced. Click to read the script for the play.

The carefully designed and produced program highlights the efforts the men made for their production. If the quality of the program is a reflection on the efforts of the men in staging this play, then this production must have been excellent.

The play was directed by Guerrino Mazzoni, the sets created by Eliseo Pieraccini and Carlo Vannucci. Construction and equipment were by Stefano Lucantoni, Renato Bianchi, Felice di Sabatino, Luigi Proietti, Armano Mazzoni and Cesare Di Domenico. Program design (screenwriter) was by Giuseppe Carrari.

 Performers were Bruno Pantani, Guerrino Mazzoni, Carlo Vannucci, Tarcisio Silva, Bruno Dell’Amico*, Luigi Giambelli, Renato Bazzani, Marcello Molfotti, Alvise Faggiotto, Stefano Lucantoni.

The Actors

The roles were played as follows:

Il Barone di MONTESPANTO Bruno Pantani

L’ingegnere Guiscardo MONTESPANTO  Guerrino Mazzoni

La Signora LEUCI Carlo Vannucci

VANNETTA figlia della signora Leuci  Tarcisio Silva

GERMANA fidanzata di Guiscardo Bruno Dell Amico

FANNY nipote di Egidio Luigi Giambelli

Il Cavalier BERGANDI Renato Bazzani

SAMUELE GANGA l’usuraio Marcello Molfotti

Il domestico ASCANIO Alvise Faggiotto

Il custode EGIDIO Stefano Lucantoni

Reflections

Marco Lucantoni shared this program with me in October 2018, but its true value was not realised until the pieces of this historical puzzle were patched together.

Marco remembers, “My father [Stefano] often told me about his friend, this great artist who was Carlo Vannucci, creator of the Viareggio carnival floats.”  

Carlo Vannuci, Tascisio Silva, Bruno Dell’Amico and Luigi Giambelli played the female roles. Males playing the females is a recipe for a highly comedic and hilariously funny performance.

These men came from all walks of life; some were single, others were married; their ages ranged from 25 to 34 years; and two brothers were part of the group.

The historical context of the play’s performance is that the majority of Italian prisoners of war were withdrawn from farm work by February 1946 with a promise of ‘going home soon’. Italian prisoners of war from Queensland and New South Wales were brought into the camps at Cowra, Hay and Liverpool to await repatriation.

L’Antenato was performed in June 1946; a little reprieve from the boredom and angst associated with the wait to return home. It would be 7 months for most of the Italian prisoners of war before they landed at Naples.

Fourteen of the seventeen men sailed on the Alcantara, departing Sydney on 23.12.46. Renato Bazzani left Sydney on the Moreton Bay on 30.7.46 while Lugi Proietti and Luigi Giambelli departed on the Ormonde from Sydney on the 31.12.46.

A quiet reflection from the great bard Shakespeare:

All the world’s a stage,

And all the men and women merely players;

They have their exits and their entrances;

And one man in his time plays many parts…

The Italians were sons, fathers, husbands, soldiers, prisoners of war, international travellers, letter writers, multi-linguists, diary keepers, actors, artists and eventually ‘FREE’.  

The Cast and Crew

I include the details of the cast and crew in the hope that their families will find this article and this personal connection to the past.

Marcello Molfotti 1912 Mechanic Quesa Lucea (Quiesa [Lucca]) [Navy]

Stefano Lucantoni 1914 Plumber from Roma

Eliseo Pieraccini 1914 Clerk from Viareggio (Lucca)

Renato Bazzani 1915 Milano Policeman

Tarcisio Silva 1916 Clerk from Milano

Renato Bianchi 1917 Carpenter from Milano

Guerrino Mazzoni 1917 Clerk from Bologna (brother to Armano)

Alvise Faggiotto 1917 Verona Farmer

Cesare Di Domenico 1917 Farmer from Capistrello (Aquila)

Luigi Proietti 1919 Butcher Roma

Giuseppe Carrari1919 Clerk from Piombino (Livorno)

Felice di Sabatino 1919 Blacksmith Roma

Bruno Pantani 1919 Butcher from Roma

Luigi Giambelli 1920 Mechanic Milano

Bruno Dell’Amico* 1920 ELETTROTECNICO Carrara

Carlo Vannucci 1920 Decorator from Viareggio (Lucca)

Armano Mazzoni  1921 Clerk Bologna (brother to Guerrino)

*Bruno Dell’Amico: soldato, prigioniero di guerra, sindacalista e politico socialista, cineaste. Bruno’s son Evandro has written 3 books about his father: L’Uomo Tornato da Lontano, Il Viaggio Australe, L’Artigiano dell’Immagine and 1 book about his uncle Evandro who was a prisoner of war in Germany: In Mio Nome, Mai Piu

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)