History Matters || Italian prisoners of war in Glen Innes

Italian prisoners of war in Glen Innes

Several Italian Prisoners of World War II were sent to Glen Innes , however, there is a dearth of information recorded about individuals and where they worked.

Seen here wearing the distinctive maroon dyed army uniforms are three of them with Nancy and Arthur Rogers outside the Matheson church.

Recently Robert Perna from Michigan in America wrote to ask us if we could tell him something about his grandfather (or Nonno) Arcangelo or Angelo Perna.

"I am trying to get information about where my grandfather was sent while he was a POW during WWII.

"He was an Italian POW that was fighting in north Africa and was captured during Amba Alagi," Mr Perna wrote.

He'd been in Rome to pay property taxes when he was conscripted and sent to Africa without a chance to say goodbye to his family.

In 1944 he came to the Glen Innes N11 Prisoner of War Control Centre, beside the Grand Theatre as number PWI55833 and the Supervisor Captain J J Owen directed him to a local property.

"He told me he worked on a cattle farm there. First thing they did was mend a fence with the owner.

"So they packed up the cart and took off. It took over three weeks to walk the fence.

So they packed up the cart and took off. It took over three weeks to walk the fence.

"After that he worked there for a few years. Once it was time to go the owner begged him to come back and live there.

"My grandfather said 'no', he had a farm in Italy. He never said anything bad about being there in Australia.

"He said they were a nice family who treated him wonderfully".

By July 1944 there were 10,000 Italian POWs working on Australian farms to alleviate the manpower shortage in rural areas.

Employers were expected to provide rations and quarters and initially, to pay the Commonwealth £1 a week.

It is understood that there were Italian POWs employed by E D Ogilvie Ilparran,Matheson; David Lynn Spring Vale Grahams Valley; W D Cameron, Stonehenge; Norval Robson, Hillcrest; Ray Mitchell Ellerslie and at Furracabad.

We particularly want to find where Angelo worked, and would be very interested to hear anything at all about the local Italian POWs.