Tag Archives: S14 Morgan Hostel

Regulations for Photographs of Prisoners of War

The following information is from the Report on the Directorate of Prisoners of War and Internees (NAA: A7711, VOLUME 1 History: Report on the Directorate of Prisoners of War and Internees at Army Headquarters, Melbourne, 1939-1951: Volume 1 [pp1-279] and Volume 2 [pp280-476] [includes matters relating to internees, prisoners of war, war crimes, Prisoners of War Information Bureau in Australia and a report on the Cowra Breakout escape attempt by Japanese Prisoners of War in August 1944])

This document provides the regulations regarding the policy on PHOTOGRAPHS relating to prisoners of war. 

Following the regulations I have included photos and additional information relating to this history.

12. PW Regulations gave authority to Camp Commandants to arrange the photographing of PW for Identification and record purposes, Reg. 11 (2). These photographs were forwarded to the Prisoners of War Information Bureau for inclusion with other basic records.

13. Provision was also made to prohibit PW from having in their possessions any photographic apparatus, vide Camp Order No. 13, para 15 (a). Strict compliance with this order was demanded at all times.

14. The International Red Cross delegate was authorised to take photographs in PW Camps under the same conditions as applicable to internment camps, vide Chapter 20.  Approval was also given for representatives of the Department of Information to visit camps for the purpose of taking photographs for record purposes only and subject in each case to Command approval.  Press reporters and other photographers were not allowed to enter camps as published stories and pictures could quite easily create wrong impressions and cause unfortunate repercussions.

15. Group photographs of German and Italian PW held in camps, labour detachments or Hostels, and photographs of general camp interest in German and Italian camps, could be taken subject to the conditions hereunder, but group photographs of PW allocated through Control Centres for employment in rural industry were NOT permitted:

(a) Groups were to comprise not less than 10 PW

(b) PW were permitted to purchase two copies of photographs in which they appeared and two copies of photographs of general camp interest, for despatch to relatives

(c) All such photographs were to be taken by Army Photographers who visited camps for the purpose of taking other photographs for historical and record purposes.

(d) Prints were supplied at a cost of 1/6d. each

(e) Items of general camp interest photographed were to include only sports teams, gardens, chapels and theatres

(f) PW being photographed were to be properly dressed (in their national uniforms if possible) except that sports teams could be photographed in their sporting attire

(g) No camp security fencing or other security arrangements were to appear in photographs

16. As PW employed in rural industry had opportunity to have photographs of themselves taken at will, care was taken to ensure that permission was not granted under para 38 (1C) of Camp Order No. 13 for the despatch by them of photographs showing them in the company of women in Australia.

12. Photographs for Identification Purposes

The celluloid negatives for Western Australian Italian prisoners of war are archived in the Sydney branch of the National Archives.  Due to the fragility of and concern for the ongoing preservation for these negatives, a number of photographs have been developed.  They are part of the K1174 series of records.  If you father or grandfather was sent to work in Western Australia, check to see if his identification photograph has survived.

Aurelio CANESE PWI48413 NAA: K1174 Canese, Aurelio

13. PW prohibited to have photographic apparatus

Ermanno Nicoletti was a keen photographer.  His property statement indicates that a roll of film was taken from him upon arrival in Australia. According to the regulations, this roll should have been returned to him upon departure from Australia.

There is a case in India of an Italian prisoner of war constructing an illicit camera: Lido Saltamartini took 2000 photographs with this camera.

Do any families have stories about illicit cameras made in Australia?

Ermanno Nicoletti (NAA: MP1103/2 Nicoletti, Ermanno)

14. The International Red Cross delegate was authorised to take photographs in PW Camps

The archival records from the ICRC are invaluable in helping us ‘see’ this history 75+ years later.  Below is a photo taken at the Morgan Wood Hostel in South Australia.

Guerre 1939-1945. Camp de Hostel Morgan. Camp de prisonniers de guerre italiens.

Italian Prisoners of War: Morgan Hostel SA July 1944 ICRC V-P-HIST-01879-22A

15. Group photographs of German and Italian PW held in camps, labour detachments or Hostels, and photographs of general camp interest in German and Italian camps, could be taken subject to the conditions hereunder, but group photographs of PW allocated through Control Centres for employment in rural industry were NOT permitted:

Q4 was the prisoner of war control centre at Gayndah in Queensland. The below photo was taken in the Gayndah district. It captures seven Italian prisoners of war with local ladies and children. There is no record of who took the photo.  Giovanni Cioffi is standing on the left and Marco Liscio is standing second from the right. They both worked on the farm of R.J. Mayfield north of Gayndah Queensland.

Group of Italian prisoners of war and local families Gayndah Queensland c. 1944-45 (photo courtesy of Liscio and Cioffi families)

15 (a) Groups were to comprise not less than 10 PW

Generally speaking, group photos consisted of 10 or more Italian prisoners of war.  There are photos of less than 10 Italians, most likely taken in the camps where officers and their batmen resided.

Murchison, Australia. 2 March 1945. Group of Italian prisoners of war (POWs) interned in D2 Compound, No. 13 POW Group. (AWM Image 030230/01 Photographer Ronald Leslie Stewart)

Murchison, Australia. 4 March 1945. Group of Italian prisoners of war (POWs) interned in D1 Compound, No. 13 POW Group. (AWM Image 030237/03 Photographer Ronald Leslie Stewart)

15 (b) PW were permitted to purchase two copies of photographs in which they appeared and two copies of photographs of general camp interest, for despatch to relatives

Massimo Gatti is the gentleman with the big smile on his face seated second from the left.  Massimo is one of many Italians who appeared to have taken advantage of the ‘two copies of photographs in which they appeared’ rule.  Massimo Gatti is in not one but five Cowra photos: Sept 1943 and February 1944. Technically, he could buy 10 photos of himself with different groups of friends.

Cowra, NSW. 16 September 1943. Group of Italian prisoners of war (POW) interned at No. 12 POW Group. Back row, left to right: 49515 A. Rosmini; 46586 C. Robbone; 46064 M. Matteini; 45737 B. Gambutti; 46297 O. Novi; 49535 P. Miglietta. Front row: 46096 A. Matteini; 45739 M. Gatti; 45006 B. Arbasi 45740 L. Guarnieri. Note: The number is an assigned POW number. (AWM 030149/16 Photographer Geoffrey McInnes)

15 (e) Items of general camp interest photographed were to include only sports teams, gardens, chapels and theatres

You will notice the model of the colosseum in the centre of the photo and the plinth with an Italian tank just at the right side of the photo. Anecdotal accounts of vegetable garden beds constructed between the barracks are verified by photographs of Hay Camp.  You will notice the care taken to wire off vegetables from rabbits and construct edging around the garden beds and statues. The first residents of Hay Camp were Italian internees. The internees departed for Murchison in May 1941 and the first group of Italian prisoners of war to arrive in Australia ‘marched in’ late May 1941. By the time this photograph was taken, Hay Camp is well established.

Hay, NSW. 1944-01-16 The craftmanship of the Italian Prisoners of War is illustrated by this garden at the 16th Garrison Battalion Prisoner of War Detention Camp. Note the model of the Coliseum in the foreground. (AWM Image 063365 Photographer Geoffrey McInnes)

15 (f) PW being photographed were to be properly dressed (in their national uniforms if possible) except that sports teams could be photographed in their sporting attire

How did the Italians procure sports shirts, shin guards and socks? Possibly they were provided by the YMCA, a group instrumental in providing sporting, music and craft equipment for the Italian prisoners of war.

Murchison, Australia. 2 March 1945. Group of Italian prisoners of war (POWs) interned in C Compound, No. 13 POW Group. Shown here are: 65915 F. Pieri; 65987 C. Rossi; 65209 G. Baffa; 65710 V. La Rocca; 65370 F. Carone; 65230 E. Baruzzi; 65197 A. Armeni; 65237 F. Battisti; 65300 L. Bruno; 65602 G. Furioli; 65398 S. Cavillin; 65864 A. Pacini. Note: The number is an assigned POW number. (AWM Image 030231/14 Photographer Stewart, Ronald Leslie)

15 (g) No camp security fencing or other security arrangements were to appear in photographs

Obviously the photographer of this photo was not aware of this regulation! Or possibly, because the photo was taken in November 1945, concerns over the photographing of security installations had been relaxed.

Liverpool, NSW 1945-11-23. Prisoner of War and Internment Camp. NX167806 Private L. Patchett on Guard in a searchlight equipped sentry tower. (AWM Image 123756 Photographer L. Cpl. E. McQuillan)

16. As PW employed in rural industry had opportunity to have photographs of themselves taken at will, care was taken to ensure that permission was not granted under para 38 (1C) of Camp Order No. 13 for the despatch by them of photographs showing them in the company of women in Australia.

The regulation was clear, ‘no fraternization with women’.  Farming families however did take photographs of the Italian prisoners of war with family members.  The Italians were photographed with family groups for Christmas, Boxing Day picnic at the beach, with grandma, grandpa and children of all ages.  Many farming families had the attitude: ‘no harm done’.

Ruby Robinson standing and Olive Munro (nee Robinson) seated with three men from the province of Lecce:  Antonio Colomba, Antonio Alfarano (Alfarno) and Giuseppe Vergine Robinson Family Orchard via Gayndah (photo courtesy of Avis Hildreth)

Morgan and Woolenook Hostels

Supply of wood to industries in South Australia was essential during WW2.   Italian prisoners of war were employed in two South Australian wood cutting projects. The Morgan Hostel : S14 PWCH (Prisoner of War Control Hostel) was overseen by the State Conservator of Forests and the Woolenook Hostel: S12 PWCH was overseen by the South Australia Department of Lands. A group of Italians began work at S14 Morgan from 15.5.44 and were transferred as a group to S12 Woolenook on 9.8.45.  Their experience from S14 Morgan would have been invaluable to the operation of S12 Woolenook.

S14 Morgan Hostel

S14 Morgan Hostel operated from 15th May 1944 through to 9th August 1945. The official date for closure was 4th August 1945. It is often recorded on the Service and Casualty Form as Hostel Morgan. The Employing Authority was the Conservator of Forests SA with the men employed for firewood cutting and accommodation was to provided by the Conservator of Forests SA.

Before May 1944, wood cutting was undertaken by a separate workforce of aliens*.  This group of workers, continued working until March 45.

Newspapers provide the following information about Morgan wood cutting camps and facilities.  There were two hostels: one at Morgan* and one at Mile End.  In 1943 a new railway siding was constructed 2 miles from Morgan to facilitate the loading of wood. The railway siding was 17 mile from the camp. Also mentioned is that the camp was 20 miles from town.  Saw benches were installed during 1943 to cut timber to domestic lengths.  Previously, the timber was used for industry only.  In 1944, green standing mallee timber was cut, as stores of all ‘ready made’ dead wood had been used.  Also mentioned is that 30 to 35 trucks were needed to cart wood to the railway siding.  In July 1944, with a decrease of the alien workforce (so that they could be used for fruit picking)  the Commissioner of Public Works acknowledged that “We are already using prisoners of war at the moment and do not expect them to be taken away.”

One incident relating to S14 Morgan was the escape of two POWs. In February 1945, two Italians escaped: Tommaso Mazzilli a farmer from Corato (Bari) and Antonio Ninu a miner from Silanus (Nuoro).

Morgan Ninu

1945 ‘2 ITALIANS LOST IN BUSH’, News (Adelaide, SA : 1923 – 1954), 10 February, p. 3. , viewed 10 Apr 2020, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article127294816

Further information on S14 Morgan Hostel remains elusive.

*Parallel to the wood cutting undertaken by the Italian POWs was also a Civil Aliens Corps (CAC)  group of Italian aliens who also worked for the Woods and Forestry Department.  This CAC camp was known as No. 4  Camp Morgan. The Civil Aliens Corps was established as a labour corps of alien Australian residents.  As ‘aliens’ they were directed to work in ‘essential’ industries.  In March 1945, it was reported that 36 aliens were at Morgan and 52 aliens were working in the Bundaleer, Wirrabara and Mt Burr forestry.

Doctor Enrico Frego from Tornaco (Novara) was assigned to wood camps of  S14 Morgan Hostel and S12 Woolenook Hostel. (S14 22.6.44 to 31.8.44 and 23.6.45 to 9.8.45) (S12 9.8.45 to 28.8.45)

Doctor Mario Sano from Torino was assigned to  S14 Morgan Hostel (31.8.44 to 226.6.45)

S12 Woolenook Hostel

S12 Woolenook Bend Hostel operated from 9th August 1945 to December 1945.  The date set for closure was 30 November 1945, but the majority of Italians left in two groups: 4.12.45 and 12.12.45.  A small group of Italians were posted to this camp from 3.1.46 to 11.1.46.

It was a camp which had previously been occupied by Japanese internees from Loveday Camp.  The camp and hostel buildings, plant and equipment were owned by  the Department of Army.  The Japanese internees vacated the camp on 6th May 1945.

The letter below, provides some of the details of the S12 Hostel and its operations. the camp site was about 12 miles past Renmark on the bank of the River Murray. The Minister of Irrigation acted as Employing Authority and the Italians were to be engaged in woodcutting, trellising, distribution of fencing posts and mill timber etc.  The employing authority used the existing facilities on the site on a lease arrangement with the Department of Army.  The hostel was allocated 1 Italian medical officer and 2 protected personnel for hygiene and RAP duties.

Doctor Enrico Frego from Tornaco (Novara) was assigned to wood camps  S14 Morgan Hostel and S12 Woolenook Hostel. (S14 22.6.44 to 31.8.44 and 23.6.45 to 9.8.45) (S12 9.8.45 to 28.8.45)

Doctor Paolo Di Bella from Castelvetrano (Trapani) was assigned to wood camp S12 Woolenook Hostel.( 13.9.45 to 4.12.45)

Woolenook

The stack of cut wood at the edge of the river in the photo below illustrates the size and scale of the work at this hostel.

Woolenook AWM

Woolenook, South Australia. A 400 ton stack of firewood cut to length by internees at Woolenook Camp, one of the Loveday Internment Camp group in the Barmera area. (AWM Image 122975 Photographer Hedley Keith Cullen)

S12 Woolenook Bend consisted of 18 prefabricated huts for communal purposes and accommodation was in tents.  The auction notice for Woolenook Bend includes details of some of the other items for sale.

Woolenook Sale

The photo below shows the Woolenook camp when it was occupied by the Japanese internees.  The Hop In Centre+ in the foreground was the Salvation Army  Recreation Centre also known as Red Shield Centre.  The accommodation tents are in the background.

Woolenook Tents and Hop in

WOOLENOOK BEND, MURRAY RIVER, SA 1944-02-03. LOVEDAY INTERNMENT GROUP. THE TENT LINES OF THE AUSTRALIAN GUARDS AT THE WOOD CUTTING CAMP SET UP IN 1942.  (AWM Image 122946 PHOTOGRAPHER SGT H. K. CULLEN)

+The background to the Salvation Army Hop In Centres  is an interesting part of military history.  Today, ‘ Sallyman’ vans still operate on military bases in Australia.

The Salvation Army was outlawed by the Italian government in October 1940 with property being confiscated and members imprisoned.