Tag Archives: V25 Hume Hostel

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      

Waiting to Go Home

It is 1946 and Italian prisoners of war have been removed from farm work in preparation for repatriation. They have been brought into the camps: Hay, Cowra, Sandy Creek, Marrinup, Brighton, Murchison, Gaythorne and Liverpool. By May 1946 the prisoner of war camps at Brighton, Gaythorne, Marrinup and Sandy Creek had closed.

Loveday Camp which had been an internment camp is re-opened and men from Sandy Creek transferred to Loveday Camp.  Northam Camp is opened as a prisoner of war camp to accommodate the men from Marrinup Camp. Brighton prisoners of war are transferred to Murchison or Loveday Camp and Gaythorne men are transferred to Hay or Cowra Camps.

A small number of Italian prisoners of war were allocated to temporary hostels at Australian Military Forces (AMF) sites to undertake maintenance, repair and storage work at these sites. 

Many AMF camps had been built on private land leased by the Commonwealth Government.  With an end to hostilities, these sites had to be prepared for ‘hand back’ to property owners. Those sites which continued as AMF camps also required maintenance and storage work.

Some of these hostels were established as early as July 1945.

The type of work varied from site to site:

maintenance painting and general repairs

drainage, road and area maintenance

general labour duties

repair of vehicles

scraping and painting of marine craft,

placement of equipment into ‘dead’ storage condition

repair and maintenance of MT vehicles

receiving reconditioning, identifying, labelling, stacking signal equipment

barracks maintenance

demolishing camouflage works and preparing equipment for storage

demolishing barbed wire

general rehabilitation of land.

Some of these activities were photographed by the Australian Army photographers.

LIVERPOOL, NSW 1945-11-23. PRISONER OF WAR AND INTERNMENT CAMP. ITALIAN PRISONER OF WAR Q. DI-SAUTS PAINTING ONE OF THE ADMINISTRATION BUILDINGS. (AWM Image 123754 PHOTOGRAPHER L. CPL E. MCQUILLAN)

MOOREBANK, NSW. 1946-08-19. AN ITALIAN PRISONER OF WAR BALING BLANKETS AT 1 RETURNED STORES DEPOT (AWM Image 131270 Photographer Reginald Mervyn Barrett)

28.6.46 Italian prisoners-of-war constructing a drain at 3rd Base Ordnance Depot, Bandiana, Victoria (AWM Image 129831 Photographer Keith Benjamin Davis) Bandiana drew workers from V25 Hume Hostel.

BANDIANA, VIC. 1946-09-17. AN ITALIAN PRISONER OF WAR HELPS STACK JEEP TRAILERS IN DEAD STORAGE AT 1 AUSTRALIAN ORDNANCE VEHICLE PARK.  (AWM Image 13161 Photographer Keith Benjamin Davis) Bandiana drew workers from V25 Hume Hostel.

MOOREBANK, NSW. 1946-01-31. RITONDO MARCELLO PWI56356, AN ITALIAN PRISONER OF WAR CAPTURED AT BENGHAZI, HOSES A GARDEN AT NO. 5 AUSTRALIAN BASE ORDNANCE DEPOT (BOD) (AWM Image 125313 Photographer Ernest Mervyn McQuillan

LIVERPOOL, NSW 1945-11-21. PRISONER OF WAR AND INTERNEE CAMP. PRIVATE G. CARPENTERE , AN ITALIAN PRISONER OF WAR, MENDING BOOTS IN THE CAMP BOOT REPAIR SHOP. OVER 10,000 PAIRS OF BOOTS HAVE BEEN REPAIRED HERE FOR THE AUSTRALIAN MILITARY FORCES (AMF). PRISONER OF WAR LABOUR COSTS 1/7d (17 CENTS) PER PAIR OF BOOTS. (AWM Image 122180 PHOTOGRAPHER L. CPL E. MCQUILLAN)

MOOREBANK, NSW. 1946-08-19. ITALIAN PRISONERS OF WAR WHO ARE WORKING AT 1 RETURNED STORES DEPOT UNLOADING A TRUCK INSIDE ONE OF THE QUANSON HUTS (AWM Image 131220 Photographer Reginald Mervyn Barrett)

MOOREBANK, NSW. 1946-01-30. NO. 5 BASE ORDNANCE DEPOT. BRUNO ZAMMUNER PWI55918, AN ITALIAN PRISONER OF WAR (POW), WHITEWASHING A GARDEN FENCE. POW’S DO A LOT OF SIMILAR WORK AT THE DEPOT. (AWM Image 125223 PHOTOGRAPHER L. CPL E. MCQUILLAN)

LIVERPOOL, NSW 1945-11-21. PRISONER OF WAR AND INTERNEE CAMP. TWO ITALIAN PRISONERS OF WAR ADMIRING PHOTOS OF PIN UP GIRLS ON THE WALLS OF THE TENT REPAIR WORKSHOP. (AWM Image 122179 PHOTOGRAPHER L. CPL E. MCQUILLAN)

LIVERPOOL, NSW 1945-11-21. PRISONER OF WAR AND INTERNEE CAMP. ITALIAN PRISONERS OF WAR REPAIRING AUSTRALIAN ARMY FURNITURE IN THE CAMP CARPENTERS SHOP. (AWM Image 122178 PHOTOGRAPHER L. CPL E. MCQUILLAN)

LIVERPOOL, NSW 1945-11-21. PRISONER OF WAR AND INTERNEE CAMP. LEFT TO RIGHT: PRIVATE (Leonardo) ARENA AND PRIVATE (Angelo) PAGLIARI, ITALIAN PRISONERS OF WAR, WORKING IN THE ENGINEERS SHOP. (AWM 122181 PHOTOGRAPHER L. CPL E. MCQUILLAN)

In May 1946, Easter Command requested a list of Italians and their trades from Hay PW Group as per below. It was an effort to match the skills of the Italians to relevant projects.

The list for Camp 8 Hay:

Souvenirs

souvenir: an item that is kept as a reminder of a person, place, or event

Eugenio Talamo had a little over two years in Australia as a prisoner of war.

He arrived in Melbourne 29th December 1944 on the Melon; part of a group of 991 Italian prisoners of war from India and the second last group to arrive in Australia.

Upon return to Italy 19th February 1947 on the Otrontes Eugenio had three Australian souvenirs.

A button with a map of Australia is a reminder of the prisoner of war uniforms the Italians wore. These uniforms were second-hand Australian uniforms. 

POW Uniform Button

(photo courtesy of Laura Demartino)

A 1945 Christmas Card is a reminder of the six Christmases he spent as a prisoner of war. The YMCA Australia [Societa Giovenu Cristiana Australia] provided for the Italian prisoners of war: books, sports and musical equipment and Christmas Cards. 

1945 Christmas Card Issued to Italian Prisoners of War

(photos courtesy of Laura Demartino)

A copy of Propagation of the Faith Year Book 1945 is a reminder of the importance of the Catholic faith to the Italians.  As best can be found, it is a book about the work of Catholic Missionaries in promoting the Catholic religion. Money was raised and used to support missionary programs. Two such programs were in Papua New Guinea and aboriginal communities in Australia.

Propagation of the Faith Year Book 1945

(photo courtesy of Laura Demartino)

Most ex-Italian prisoner of war rarely spoke about their trials of being a prisoner. Some kept a few souvenirs of Australia.

Eugenio’s souvenirs have added three more items to the collection of relics for this history.

Each relic assists families to have a greater understanding of the everyday life of an Italian prisoner of war in Australia.

It is with special thanks to Eugenio’s granddaughter Laura, that these souvenirs have been shared.

souvenirs… memories… family legacy

Nonna and Nonno Talamo (photo courtesy of Laura Demartino)