An army has its medical and surgical unit, so it makes sense that it also has a pharmacy unit. This article honours those chemists who found themselves in the Chemist Reserve Unit in Libya. I would like to know further about these units and their operation as information remains elusive.
These chemists arrived in Australia on the Queen Mary 13th October 1941 and they departed on the Oranje 29th March 1943 as part of a mutual exchange arrangement with Italy.
They weren’t in Australia long enough to have their photos taken at the officers’ camp at Myrtleford and they returned to Italy before the Allies offence Operation Husky into Sicily in July 1943.
NB This list is not necessarily complete
Nicola Ferorelli from Molfetta [Bardia]
Giuseppe Allegri from Cassine (Alessandria) [Tobruk]
Mario Cassone from Alba (Cuneo) [Tobruk]
Mario Andreotti from Sorrento (Napoli) [Bardia]
Luigi Caione from Palena (Chieti) [Sidi el Barrani]
Rocco Giliberti from Avellino [Tobruk]
Romolo Lamberti from Roma [Bardia]
Valentino Mari from Torino [Agedabia]
Luigi Mutini from Mercatello (Pesaro) [Bardia]
Giorgio Polidori from Montemarciano (Ancona) [Halem Nibeua M.E. (9.12.1940)]
Celestino Riccardelli from Caserta (Napoli) [Agedabia]
Giuseppe Buono from Boscotrecase (Napoli) [Tobruk]
Vincenzo Troili from Genova [Bardia]
Raffaele Chiarelli from Torino [Agedabia]
Clerio Garrone from San Giorgio Canavese (Aosta) [Bardia]
Rocco Lo Faro from Favazzina (Reggio Calabria) [Tobruk]
Article 12 of the PW Convention, inter-alia, reads:-
“Clothing, underwear and footwear shall be supplied to prisoners of war by the detaining Power. The regular replacement and repair of such articles shall be assured. Workers shall also receive working kit wherever the nature of the work requires it.”
What the records tell us
All prisoners of war were allowed to wear their badges of rank and insignia on their uniforms.
Clothing items, except for pyjamas, could not be purchased from the Canteen.
1 hat (a)
1 hair brush
1 overcoat (a)
1 shaving brush
2 coats, medical detachment (a)
2 pairs of trousers, medical detachment (a)
2 pairs of short cotton underwear (b)
1 pullover, labour detachment (a)
1 pair of trousers, labour detachment (a)
2 pairs of woollen and cotton underwear (c)
1 pair of shorts (a) (b)
1 jersey pullover (c)
1 pair of shoes
1 safety razor with blade (d)
1 pair of laces
2 flannel shirts
1 pair of braces
2 cotton singlets (b)
2 pairs of woollen socks
2 wool and cotton singlets (c)
3 cotton handkerchiefs
(a) Dyed burgundy
(d)One new blade a week in exchange for old blade
N.C.O.s and other prisoners of war
This group received a free issue of clothing and necessaries.
All articles were replaced free of charge when necessary. Facilities were provided for repairs to shoes and clothing and prisoners of war employed as bootmakers, tailors, cobblers.
Prisoner of War Officers
Officers and men of equivalent rank must provide their own items and paid for at their expense. The clothing was manufactured in Australia and issued by authorities. Replacement officer uniforms were made after measurements were taken. Completed uniforms were made in a venetian grey material, and cost approx. £5 each. The exception was for Japanese officers who were supplied with magenta dyed Australian Military Forces uniforms only but were allowed to wear any national uniforms they had in their possession.
Camp 5B Myrtleford June 1943 ICRC V-P-HIST-03290-33A
Merchant Seamen Prisoners of War
Both officers and other ranks merchant seamen were provided with clothing and other items free of charge. Merchant Seamen officers and other ranks did not receive a payment as did other prisoner of war. When arrested, they had been in the employment of shipping companies. There was no agreement with the Italian government to provide a stipend (payment) for merchant seamen.
For this group, the seven first articles on the above list were replaced by a peaked cap, an overcoat, a vest and a pair of trousers suitable for merchant marines. The material used was a dark green cloth. The two flannel shirts were grey and had two collars each. A blue tie was also issued.
What do the photos from Myrtleford Camp tell us
Non regulation overcoat possibly made from government issue blanket (centre)
Group Number 27 Myrtleford Camp ICRC V-P-HIST-01882-27
Non regulation fleecy winter vestsGroup Number 23 Myrtleford Camp ICRC V-P-HIST-01882-32
Handmade plaited belt?
February 1945 Myrtleford CampICRC V-P-HIST-01882-19A
Regardless of being a prisoner of war, the officers wore their uniforms with pride