Italian Prisoners of War Monto and Gayndah 1944 - 1945
I am interested in making contact with locals who might have a memory of the Italian Prisoners of War who worked for and were billeted with farmers in the districts of Monto, Gayndah and Kingaroy. These Italians were not Queensland residents who were interned, but were soldiers captured in North Africa and East Africa who were then shipped to Australia from Libya and Egypt or via India.
Dorcas Grimmet compiled a comprehensive record of the Italian POWs in Kingaroy in her book We Remember: The Italian Prisoners of War 1944/45 but there were also prisoner of war control centres in Monto and Gayndah.
These Prisoner of War Control Centres: Without Guard (PWCC) were set up in 1944. They were known as Q4 Gayndah, Q8 Kingaroy and Q9 Monto. The AMF would have set up their office with some short term accommodation in an office or vacant shop space in the town and then administered the allocation and transport of the Italians to and from farms and to and from hospitals.
The POWs were billeted to farmers 2 - 3 and lived with the families. They were magenta dyed army issues (clothing) so that in itself could jog memories.
Records indicated that in Gayndah there were at least 60 employers (farmers) who billeted 118 Italians from 6 July 1944 to 30 November 1945. These farms were in the areas: Gayndah, Reed's Creek, Woodmillar, Mundubbera and the Italians spent time in local hospitals: Gayndah Hospital and Mundubbera Hospital. Q9 Monto: at least 33 employers (farmers) who billeted 91 Italians from 4 August 1944 to 30 November 1945. These farms were in the areas Monto, Kapaldo, Abercorn, Mulgildie, Dawes and some Italians spent time in the Monto Hospital. Q8 Kingaroy : at least 83 employers who billeted 190 POWs from 18 March 1944 to 1 December 1945.
These farms were in the area of Reedy Creek, Wattlegrove, Tarong, Murgon, Kumbia, Tingoora, Cloyna, Goodger, Haly Creek, Wondai and Wooroolin and some spent time at the RAAF, Wondai and Kingaroy Hospitals.
It is over 70 years since the POWs left Queensland, but while it is a brief history, I believe it is an important part of Queensland history and deserves to be recorded and preserved.
My research encompasses all 10 POW centres in Queensland : "Footprints of Italian Prisoners of War in Queensland 1943 - 1946" and am now in my final stages of collecting local information from the ten centres in Queensland where the POWs worked in the primary industries to fill a gap in the labour shortage of the rural communities.
This part of my research is to collect and record the memories and stories of the families of your community who billeted the Italians with also the possibility that there might be photos of these men with their host families or letters that were exchanged once the POWs returned to Italy.
I am hoping that there is still a memory of this brief time in your community's history or that this history has already been recorded.