Italian internees, Australia 1942…

Internees and tent at Western CreekItalian internees at the ‘secret’ Western Creek internment camp in 1942. My grandfather, Annibale (far right, standing) was 18 years old and working as a farmhand at Applethorpe when he was interned.

Those familiar with Joe’s Fruit Shop and Milk Bar will know that despite much searching I have to date been unable to uncover any document that officially shows this internment camp existed. This is despite much anecdotal evidence gathered from internees, a guard and residents of the nearby Queensland town of Millmerran. As well as photographs taken inside the camp (see tent to left) and a tiny newspaper article that appeared in The Western Star and Roma Advertiser in 1942.

4 Comments

Filed under australia, books + writing

4 responses to “Italian internees, Australia 1942…

  1. Similar things happened in Canada. 600 Italian Canadians were sent to internment camps, but there is little public awareness of this. The Association of Italian Canadian Writers (AICW) published a book in 2012 called ‘Beyond the Barbed Wire-essays on the internment of Italian Canadians’ and I just started reading it yesterday. How weird that we were on the same topic! Ciao, Cristina

    • Hi Cristina, yes, sadly this occurred in several countries as well as Australia. Unfortunately, official figures are unable to be determined due to a number of temporary camps aside from the official ones but it seems the internment was particularly rife here. The numbers range between approx. 5,550 and more than 8,000, which roughly equates to 15-20% of the Italian migrant population of about 40,000 in Australia at the time. Like you are finding in Canada, here there also remains a lack of public knowledge about this. I wanted to share that this happened, particularly as it touched our family in that both my grandfather and great-grandfather were interned. Zoe x

  2. Robert Mackenzie

    Zoe I have just read your book and as far as I know the cooking area as you described at Western Creek is still there I will try and get out there to check soon . I had always heard the area referred to as the barracks but no one had been able to tell me why now I know.

    • Hello Robert, I would be very curious to find out if this is the same one. It seems that such cooking areas were also used on some large scale properties in the past. Please let me know if you find it and the exact location that you visited to see it. Many thanks, Zoe

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