Tag Archives: Queen Elizabeth October 1941

Ricordo della prigionia in Australia

A gardener from Tursi in the province of Matera, Salvatore Targiani was in Australia for less than two years.  He arrived in Sydney on the Queen Elizabeth on 15th October 1941 and departed from Sydney on the 29th March 1943.

His grandson Salvatore Di Noia has shared with us a wool embroidered portrait of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Portrait of Sacred Heart of Jesus

(photo courtesy of Salvatore Di Noia)

This is our ‘virtual’ museum’s first embroidered item sewn with the word Australia. Before Salvatore sent me this photo, it appeared that embroidery was only done in the camps of India. Every day, I learn something new about this history.

Salvatore has not only embroidered the words Benedico questa famiglia a me lontana: Ricordo della prigionia in Australia but he has also embroidered his Middle East prisoner of war number: 69876.

Queen Elizabeth disembarked 948 Italian prisoners of war on 15th October 1941. There were 25 Italian officers among the group.

The National Advocate (Bathurst NSW) reported the arrival of the Queen Elizabeth:

NERVOUS OF PLANE

WAR – WEARY ITALIAN PRISONERS

Another Batch in Sydney

Sydney Tuesday-

War weary Italian prisoners thrust their heads nervously out of their train windows after they had been landed at Sydney when they heard a Brisbane-Sydney air liner overhead.

Ragged ill shod and with sullen eyes, they looked even more dejected and wretched than earlier arrivals who had also been rounded up by the AIF in Libya.

Some still wore their field grey uniforms. Others not so fortunate wore drill overalls and others still less fortunate were dressed in old trousers and odd coats or jackets.

Some stepped out boldly in their march from ferry to train in hobnail boots on which still lingered the dirt and grime of the Libyan desert.

Some wore sandshoes or sandals while others shuffled along in makeshift footwear.

Their headgear was also of a wide ranger, including sun helmets, caps, berets, and pieces of blanket fashioned into queer shapes.

Apparently to help pass the time on the voyage to Australia an artist had decorated his sun helmet with drawings of ancient Athens, the Acropolis, a woman’s face and two hearts.

Goatee beards were popular. One soldier sported an excellent moustache of 1900 vintage.

There was a small number of German prisoners all of whom were officers.  They were well dressed and contrasted sharply with the Italians. [1941 ‘NERVOUS OF PLANE’, National Advocate (Bathurst, NSW : 1889 – 1954), 15 October, p. 1. , viewed 19 Apr 2021, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article160507243%5D

This group of Italian prisoners were sent by train to Cowra: Cowra November 1941