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.
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.
Dicembre 13th 1946
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