I was working with the granddaughter of Nicola Capitummino to trace the journey of her grandfather in Australia when I read about the bomb blast at N33 Bathurst Hostel in June 1946.
There were a number of POW hostels set up at Australian military complexes in 1946. The role of the Italian prisoners of war was to assist with ‘general duties at AMF
Camps and Schools, clearing and maintenance of ammunition depots etc.’
One such hostel was at Bathurst where 3 Australians and 2 Italians were killed by a bomb blast. Adelmo Rondinini’s legs were severed above the knees and he also lost his left eye in the explosion.
In reference to the burial of Sapper Michael Freeman in Bathurst, the following was written:
The Italian prisoners of war from the Bathurst Army Camp on Limekilns Road made a large V-shaped wreath of greenery which was placed at the Military Cemetery. Their card read: “Michael Freeman from your Italian friends. For the kindness and understanding shown to us”…There was a single cortege for both the soldiers and the Italian prisoners.
Solemn: Sapper Michael Freeman’s Funeral passes onto Steward Street from Keppel Street on June 5, 1946.
5 Die in Bathurst Camp Explosion
Bathurst, Monday. – Three Australian soldiers and two Italian prisoners of war were killed in the Bathurst military camp today when a fragmentary mortar bomb exploded amongst a working party of Australians and Italians.
At Bathurst Hospital to-night doctors were battling to save the life of a third Italian who lost both legs and has little chance of survival.
The victims of the explosion were: –
Sgt. Thomas Dickenson, AIF
Sapper Arthur Murray, AIF
Sapper Michael Joseph Freeman, AIF
Pietro Monfredi, POW
Stefano Mola, POW
The injured man is Adelmo Rondinini a POW.
Sgt. Dickenson, Freeman and Stefano Mola were killed instantly while Murray and Monfredi died in hospital hours later. Ronlinini’s legs were severed above the knees and he was rushed in a critical condition to hospital, where blood transfusions were given him throughout the day and to-night in an effort to save his life.
Luck favoured Cecil Snudden, of Bathurst, who was standing about 10 yards from the working party when the explosion occurred. Fragments of metal passed between his legs, carrying away portions of his trousers near the knees, but he was not injured.
Bathurst police investigating the tragedy have been told the explosion occurred at 10.30 a.m. while the six victims were working on the site of an ash dump at the camp.
The bomb, it is believed, lay hidden under some ashes and according to one report the explosion resulted when an Italian cutting wood struck the bomb with his axe.
“5 DIE IN BATHURST CAMP EXPLOSION” Northern Star (Lismore, NSW : 1876 – 1954) 4 June 1946: 1. Web. 11 Oct 2018 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article99118261>.