Italian POW identity card which belonged to Vincenzo Tigani.
Italian POW identity card which belonged to Vincenzo Tigani.

Help is needed to write local WWII history

COMMUNITY help is needed for researcher Joanne Tapiolas to complete her study of Italian prisoners of war provided as a labour force for Queensland farmers.

During 1943 to 1945 Italian POWs, under an arrangement with Britain, were transported from Libya, Egypt, Eritrea and Ethiopia to Australia.

They worked on dairy, pineapple, fruit and vegetable farms, and were in camps at Gaythorne in Brisbane, Stanthorpe, Nambour, Gympie, Gayndah, Texas, Kenilworth, Kingaroy, Monto and Boonah.

Ms Tapiolas has so far found records of 98 farmers who billeted 174 Italian POWs.

She is looking to jog the memories of local farmers and their families who may have stories and memorabilia from that period to help with her project, Footprints of Italian Prisoners of War in Queensland 1943-1945.

"They wore magenta-dyed army issues and were transported to and from farms in army trucks," Ms Tapiolas said.

"They were administered by AMF staff, who had their headquarters in the Diggers Hall Nambour, and their commanding officer was Captain Fletcher."

Ms Tapiolas hopes someone has an internment camp coin which was used to purchase supplies from the canteen truck which visited farms, or perhaps a farm building which was built by one of the POWs.

She is also looking for memorabilia such as photos of that period and letters or Christmas cards between farmers and the POWs. 

Ms Tapiolas has already unearthed a few of the stories including those of brothers Sabino and Alfonso Turturro who spent time in Nambour and of Alfio and Sebastiano Gorgone who were on a farm at Mooloolah.

The POWs worked throughout the district including Palmwoods, Glasshouse Mountains, Woombye, Buderim, Beerwah, Mapleton, Landsborough, Montville, North Arm, Bli Bli, Forest Glen, Eudlo, Mooloolah, Flaxton, Yandina, Nambour, Image Flat and some Italians spent time in local hospitals: Nambour Hospital, Maleny Hospital and Maroochy Hospital.

Anyone interested in helping Ms Tapiolas with her research should contact her at joannetappy@gmail.com.


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