Research in the archives

When I spend time in the National Archives of Australia, I find interesting information about the 18 veneti who migrated to Australia in the late 1920s. In Melbourne recently I found documents relating to what happened to some men in the Second World War when Italians were known as “enemy aliens” after Italy joined the war with Germany in June 1940.

Giovanni Santin – civilian registration card 1942 p 2

In 1943, Italian men between the ages of 18 and 60 were conscripted to the Civilian Aliens Corps. They were called up and required to work in non-combatant services that related to the war effort. This could have been working in the railways at Port Augusta or along the lines west or north, cutting wood at Naracoorte, managing salt pans at Dry Creek or on Yorke Peninsula. Some worked on railway camps in the Northern Territory.

Vittorio Marchioro-application for leave from Civil Aliens Corps 1945

Several Veneto men were required to work on these kinds of jobs which took them away from their wives, families and the market gardens.

The Government sent out letters instructing men to arrive at the Adelaide railway station within a week of the date on the letter. This did not allow much time for the men to make arrangements with their wives and other friends for continuing work on the market gardens. Some men were allowed to stay and work on their market gardens but they had to agree to grow vegetables for the armed services in the south-western Pacific.

The men who were conscripted to the Civil Alien Corps were issued with equipment like soldiers and were paid a modest amount which was sent to a nominated relative in Adelaide. The Civil Alien Corps was disbanded in 1945.

Vittorio Marchioro – issue for equipment for Civil Alien Corps 10/1/1944

Those who lived in Adelaide were required to register at the local police station on a regular basis. Italians were not permitted to move out of their suburb without written permission from the police. Some of the veneti were fined when they were caught by police outside their suburb without written permission.

Some Italians were interned and were sent away to prison camps. Nearly 5,000 Italians were interned in Australia during the war. It is difficult to believe that the Italian people were treated with suspicion, and in some cases, hostility during the war years.


Madeleine Regan

7 July 2019

Ricerca negli archivi

Quando passo il tempo negli Archivi Nazionali di Australia, trovo informazioni interessanti su i 18 veneti che emigrarono in Australia negli ultimi anni del 1920. In Melbourne ho trovato documenti su questi uomini durante la Seconda Guerra Mondiale quando gli Italiani erano riconosciuti come “nemici amici” dopo che l’Italia si è alleata alla Germania nel giugno 1940.

Giovanni Santin – civilian registration card 1942 p 2

In Australia nel 1943, gli uomini Italiani tra i 18 e i 60 anni erano coscritti al servizio civile degli alieni, “Civil Alien Corps”. Erano richiamati e dovevano lavorare nei servizi che supportavano la Guerra. Qualche esempio di questi lavori erano: lavorare nelle linee ferroviarie, spaccando legno, collezionando sale, lavorando nei campi ferroviarie. Certi uomini veneti erano stati  richesti per lavorare in questi lavori e dovevano lasciare la famiglia per mesi e mesi.

Il governo spedì delle lettere instruendo gli uomini di arrivare alla stazione ferroviaria di Adelaide nel tempo di in una settimana dalla data della lettera. Questo non lasciava molto tempo per mettere a posto gli affari familiari e per chiedere agli amici di sostiturli nel lavoro di orticultura. Tante donne sposate con famiglia sono stati costrette a mandare avanti l’azienda e famiglia da sole.

Vittorio Marchioro-richiesta di congedo civile, nel marzo 1945

Certi, però avevano il permesso di stare a lavorare nella orticultura però dovevano coltivare verdure per le armi nella zona della Pacifico Sud Ovest.

Gli uomini che erano costritti al Corpo Civile degli Alieni ricevettero equipaggio come i soldati. Erano pagati una modesta paga che poi mandarono alla famiglia in Adelaide.

Quelle persone che vivevano in Adelaide erano richieste di registrarsi alla stazione della polizia regolarmente. Gli Italiani non potevano andare fuori dalla loro zona senza un permesso scritto della polizia. Certi veneti sono stati multati quando sono stati presi dalla polizia senza permesso.

Certi italiani sono stati internati e mandati in campi di internamento come prigioneri di guerra. Infatti, erano quasi cinquemila di Italiani in Australia che erano stati internati durante la Guerra.

È difficile a credere che gli Italiani siano stati trattati con sospetto e in certi casi, con ostilità, durante gli anni della Seconda Guerra Mondiale.

Madeleine Regan

7 July 2019

One thought on “Research in the archives”

  1. Hello Madeleine, I was eager to read about the fate of many Italian residents in Australia who were conscripted to the Civil Alien Corps to work for the government during the 2nd W War. It was a matter that I hardly heard of when I was young. Probably the Veneti men, who were basically peaceful and law abiding citizens, must have lived through that situation in great discomfort. So when I was a lad in Adelaide this subject was unknown to me. Only after we returned to Italy, my uncle Alberto once told me that during the war he and my father were allowed to continue their market gardening, although obliged to sign regularly at the local police station. As he told me his story, it must not have been much of an issue for him, as he said the policemen treated him and my father with great respect.

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