Tag Archives: Sandy Creek PW Camp

Brighton PW Camp: December 1943

Brighton Military Camp has an interesting history.  A military camp for training recruits, it became a prisoner of war camp during WW2 and then after the war it was a migrant hostel for newly arrived migrants from Europe. Details of this history has been written by Reg Watson: Brighton Army Camp History

But from December 1943 to 1946 (April/May) the complex was known as Brighton PW Camp No. 18. Army records state that it had a capacity of 600: two compounds of 300 each. It was the parent and administrative camp for all Italian prisoners of war sent to work on farms in Tasmania.

Professor Ian McFarlane’s research into the Italian POW workforce adds further details and personal experiences to this history: Italian POWS in North West Tasmania

Below is a diagram of the PW Camp drawn in October 1944.  With some concern over the security of the camp, changes to the boundaries had changed as resident numbers decreased. The original compound is indicated by the outer blue line.  The compound was reduced in size to the red line.  The second reduction saw the compound decreased in size to the a to b line.  The October 1944 proposed reduction of the compound at night was to the inner blue line.  This last proposal was rejected by Camp Commandant Captain A Pearson.  In a letter he reports that due to the number of years the Italians had been in captivity c. 3.5 years, they had developed ‘barbed wire complex’ and would struggle mentally if they were fenced in, in a small compound as many were becoming ‘mentally deranged.’  Captain Pearson wrote, “In conclusion, it is desired to emphasise that the forgoing is not submitted to molly-coddle PW, but with the sole purpose of keeping them mentally and physically sound and thereby have the maximum number available for employment and at the same time comply with intention of regulations issued relative to the control of PW.” NAA P617 519.3.159 PART 1 


NAA P617 519.3.159 PART 1 Page 35

Brighton PW Compound 1944

NAA P617 519.3.159 PART 1 Page 35

In  February 1944, the scheme of employing prisoners of war on Tasmanian farms had received the ‘thumbs up’ from farmers and further recruitment of farmers was sort from Department of Manpower.


1944 ‘ITALIAN WAR PRISONERS’, The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 – 1954), 14 February, p. 2. , viewed 30 Jul 2019, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article26018382


But by June 1944, right wing racism was being reported by ‘Smith’s Weekly’ which seized on any opportunity to discredit the Italian prisoners of war and their treatment.

1944 ‘PREFERENCE TO DAGOES’, Smith’s Weekly (Sydney, NSW : 1919 – 1950), 3 June, p. 1. , viewed 30 Jul 2019, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article235765497












The following two photos were taken of the Brighton PW Camp site in April 1943 when it was under the direction of Department of Army as an army training camp.  Little would have changed when it transitioned to a PW Camp.






By June 1944, Brighton PW Camp Tasmania had been abandoned and the Italian prisoners of war were transferred to Loveday PW Camp South Australia.

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Prisoners of War. Italian. Loveday (S.A.) & Northam (W.A.) Camps. NAA: A1067, IC46/32/1/9



Nonno’s Blanket

Salvatore Di Noia has sent me photo of a grey blanket with light grey stripes. This blanket is his nonno’s blanket from his prisoner of war days in Australia.

Nonno’s Blanket (courtesy of Salvatore Di Noia)

Salvatore Targiani departed Australia on the Oranje, a medical ship, on the 27th March 1943.  The Oranje was the first repatriation of Italian prisoners of war, under special arrangements. Salvatore worked in the 17th Hygiene Unit in Bardia.  His skills as a medical orderly is most likely the reason for his early repatriation.

In Australia, the Italian prisoners of war were issued with 4 blankets for their bedding.  An extra blanket was issued in winter.

The topic of blankets is interesting.

Italians at Sandy Creek Transit Camp in South Australia complained about the quality of the blankets they had been issued. It was claimed that the blankets were made India and were of poor quality.  They requested that these blankets were substituted for Australian made blankets which were of a better quality.

On 27th September 1946, a newspaper reported that the Italians being repatriated on the Chitral from Western Australia, had been given army blankets at Northam Camp but they were to return them to the Australian guards upon arrival in Naples. I see a logistical problem in this directive.  There were up to 3000 Italians repatriated on ships: 4 blankets x 3000 men = 12,000 blankets.  Was it possible that the Australia guards could count every blanket?

 Pasquale Landolfi and Vincenzo Di Pietro from the Home Hill Hostel in north Queensland used their army blankets for suits.  They were found 110 south of Home Hill outside the town of Bowen.  They were dressed in grey suits made from blankets.  There were five Italian tailors at the Home Hill Hostel.

Italian officers in Myrtleford Camp in Victoria made coats from blankets. The photo below shows a rather stylish yet practical coat.  Myrtleford is in the alpine country of northern Victoria: winters have maximum temperature 12 degrees C and minimum temperature 3 degrees C.

Guerre 1939-1945. Camp de Myrtleford. Groupe numéro 27. World War 1939-1945. Myrtleford camp. Group number 27.

1-6-43 Myrtleford Officers Camp (ICRC V-P-HIST-01882-27)

Domenico Modugno’s souvenirs from Australia were blankets. Domenico was sent to Tasmania for farm work and then was sent to V25 Hume Hostel to await repatriation.  His daughter Lucrezia recalls, “From captivity, my father brought home grey-black blankets date 1945 which we used as children in the cold winters.”

A report on a group of Italians from Liverpool Camp mentions that the men were taking home items such as soap, cotton and wool goods purchased from the canteen.  These items were in short supply in Italy. Wool army blankets would have been an appropriate and practical item to ‘souvenir’.

The men boarding the Moreton Bay repatriation ship in 1946 found many ways to strap their blankets to luggage or to make a swag to hang from shoulder to waist.

4-8-46 Repatriation of Italian prisoners of war on the Moreton Bay      

Sandy Creek: July 1944

Sandy Creek Camp No. 17 July 1944

Camp Organisation

The camp was established on April 24, 1944. It is a camp-depot from which the prisoners of war are directed in the various centres of control, according to the constant needs.

As of July 12, 1944, the strength of this camp was as follows: 423 army, 1 navy, 4 protected personnel = 428

The men of confidence of this camp are:

Camp Leader: Sergeant Major Ferrara, Luigi 45690

Deputies: Sergeant Scabari Antonio 46729, Sergeant Pisido Francesco 46538

Soldier Ventresca Ercole 58996


The houses of this camp consist of barracks and tents. The electric light is installed in the barracks, while in the tents the lighting is in oil.

The prisoners of war are staying in tented dormitories which house six men each. The tents have a wooden floor. The bedding includes a protective cloth, a bench and 4 blankets. There is no furniture. The doctor has an room in the infirmary. It has an iron bed base,  a mattress, a pillow, pillowcases, sheets and 4 blankets.


Prisoners of war would like to have better protection against rain and they would like to have  beds. The military authorities have informed us that the Australian troops have identical tents and have no beds. In addition, the authorities have promised to examine the possibility of providing wooden beds to camp prisoners of war or, where appropriate, to provide them with equipment for making these beds. In addition, the authorities have pointed out to us that the prisoners of war are in this camp in a temporary manner and that soon almost all will be employed on farms.

The prisoners each have 4 blankets of Indian manufacture. They would like to have Australian-made covers that are of better quality and, if possible, an additional cover.

The authorities made us know that they will exchange these covers for Australian-made covers. The issue of additional coverage will be considered with kindness.

The infirmary of the camp is in a hut and has 10 beds.

Kitchen and Mess

The camp has 2 refectories, furnished with long tables and benches and heated in winter.

A special barrack is reserved for the canteen.

The kitchen of the camp includes a room for the ovens, a room for the meats and 3 rooms for the provisions.


Ablutions and Laundry

The camp has a barrack containing 28 cold showers and 12 hot showers. There are also two barracks for ablutions with 20 cold water taps each. Prisoners of war have hot water every day.

The camp has two barracks containing latrines. Each barrack has 12 seats. There is no pipeline, and the tanks are transported every morning out of the camp. There is also a large urinal.

The laundry room contains a boiler, 3 sinks and hot and cold water faucets. However, the majority of prisoners of war do their laundry in the ablutions facilities.

Sandy Creek


Recreation and Sports

The camp has a barracks serving worship and recreation.

This camp has no organized school. This camp does not have a library.

An orchestra of 7 musicians has been organized and concerts are given from time to time.

The camp has a large sports field. Practical sports are football and basketball.



The prisoners have left in India sums of money credited to their individual accounts. They would like these credits to be transferred to Australia as quickly as possible.

The authorities have informed us that these credits will be transferred shortly and that the finance department is actively involved.


Many prisoners have been without news for a long time. We offered them our services [Red Cross ] for the transmission of family messages and news via cable.

The envelope below was posted from Italy on 23.1.44 and sent to Gino Graziani Bombay.  From India, Gino was sent to Murchison, and arrived in Sandy Creek Camp on 10.6.44.  Mail did take a long time and a circuitous route.

Presitge phil


By the end of the war, Italian prisoners of war were withdrawn from farms and placed in camps until repatriation to Italy was organised.  Italian POWs from around South Australia and Tasmania transited through Sandy Creek PW Camp before onward movment to Loveday PW Camp.

On 14th January 1946, approval was given for hutments from Sandy Creek Camp to be transported to Roseworthy Agricultural College.

Sandy Creek 1946

1946 ‘P.O.W. ON FARMS RECALLED BY CANBERRA’, Chronicle (Adelaide, SA : 1895 – 1954), 21 February, p. 25. , viewed 01 Aug 2019, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article93153986

By May 1946, Sandy Creek PW Camp had been abandoned and all Italian prisoners of war were accommodated at Loveday PW Camp.

A1067 IC46.32.1.9

(NAA: A1067 IC46/32/1/9)