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Commonwealth Government Records about South Australia


Internment – enemy aliens and prisoners of war

In the interests of national security the Commonwealth Government interned thousands of men, women and children during World War I and World War II. Most of those interned were classed as 'enemy aliens', that is, nationals of countries at war with Australia. Internees were accommodated in camps around Australia, often in remote locations.

The Archives holds records about the development and administration of these camps, as well as the government policy that established them. The collection also includes records about the people who spent the war years in internment.

World War I

During World War I, the Commonwealth Government pursued a comprehensive internment policy against enemy aliens living in Australia. Initially only those born in countries at war with Australia were classed as enemy aliens, but later this was expanded to include people from enemy nations who were naturalised British subjects, Australian-born descendants of migrants born in enemy nations, and others who were thought to pose a threat to Australia's security.

Australia interned almost 7000 people during World War I, of whom about 4500 were enemy aliens and British nationals of German ancestry already resident in Australia.

The Torrens Island camp, 10 kilometres from Adelaide, housed around 400 German men during World War I. They lived in tents and slept on groundsheets rather than beds. Food supplies to the camp were irregular and internees were required to do their own cooking on camp fires. While the conditions were difficult, for the first few months internees made the best of their situation, making plans for a theatre and organising entertainment for themselves.

The situation changed in early 1915 with the appointment of Captain GE Hawkes, under whose command internees faced ill-treatment and physical abuse, as well as poor living conditions. After internees made their grievances publicly known, Captain Hawkes was removed from command, the camp closed and internees transferred to Liverpool in New South Wales. Two Courts of Enquiry were held into the matter.

Fort Largs was also used as a temporary camp for World War I internees. Wartime internment was a significant matter in South Australia because of the relatively high number of migrants of German origin residing in the state.

Selected series relating to internees and prisoners of war in South Australia – World War I
Canberra
Recorded by: Commonwealth Investigation Service, Central Office
Correspondence files of the Commonwealth Investigation Service, 1916–60 A8911
Canberra
Recorded by: Clearing Office (Enemy Debts) and Public Trustee
Returns of property under the Trading with the Enemy Act (record of property held, all states), 1916–20 CP176/13
Canberra
Recorded by: Investigation Branch, Central Office, Melbourne and Canberra
Personal and subject files, 1919–46 A402
Canberra, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide
Recorded by: 2 Military District, New South Wales
Album of identification photographs of enemy aliens (civilian and prisoner of war) interned at Liverpool Camp, NSW during World War I (with index), 1915–21 D3597
Melbourne
Recorded by: Department of Defence, Central Administration
General correspondence files, 1917–29 MP367/1
Adelaide
Recorded by: Headquarters, 4 Military District, Commonwealth Military Forces, Keswick, South Australia
Index cards to prisoners of war (internees), 1914–19 D2375
Nominal rolls of prisoners of war (internees), Torrens Island Concentration Camp, 1914–19 D2286
Security classified files, 1905–42 D845
Security classified general correspondence, 1942–46 AP613/1
Adelaide
Recorded by: Commonwealth Police Force
Register for prisoners of war on parole, 1916 AP70/2
Correspondence files (aliens), 1917–25 D1921
Adelaide
Recorded by: Investigation Branch, South Australia/Commonwealth Investigation Service, South Australia
Investigation case files, 1917–69 D1915
Investigation case files, 1938–60 D1918
Selected series that contain records relating to internees and prisoners of war in South Australia – World War I
Adelaide
Recorded by: Collector of Customs, Adelaide
Correspondence files, 1871–62 D596
Recorded by: Commonwealth Railways Commissioner
Correspondence files, 1913–83 B300
Selected items relating to internees and prisoners of war in South Australia
Melbourne
Prisoners of war and internees, 1915–24 MP1565/3, whole series
List of prisoners of war captured and interned in Australia, 1919–26 MP1565/2, whole series
'Keeping up the Kaiser's birthday' – internees at Torrens Island Camp, 1915 MP367/1, 567/3/2202 part 1
Captain GE Hawkes, 77th Infantry – Court of Enquiry – Torrens Island Concentration Camp, 1915–19 MP367/1, 567/3/2202 PART 2
Captain GE Hawkes, 77th Infantry – Court of Enquiry – Torrens Island Concentration Camp, 1915–19 MP367/1, 567/3/2202 PART 3
Captain GE Hawkes, 77th Infantry – Court of Enquiry – Torrens Island Concentration Camp, 1915–19 MP367/1, 567/3/2202 PART 4
Captain GE Hawkes, 77th Infantry – Court of Enquiry – Torrens Island Concentration Camp, 1915–19 MP367/1, 567/3/2202 PART 5
Captain GE Hawkes, 77th Infantry – Court of Enquiry – Torrens Island Concentration Camp, 1915–19 MP367/1, 567/3/2202 PART 6
Adelaide
Deported aliens – includes full nominal roll of prisoners of war (internees) interned in Australia during World War I, 1914–46 D1918, S149
Internment and treatment of enemy subjects, 1914 D845, 1914/55
Disloyal Germans and others in South Australia, 1918–19 D1921, 1918/52

World War II

Image 24: Japanese internees planting seedlings, Loveday internment camp, South Australia, 1944

Image 24: Japanese internees planting seedlings, Loveday internment camp, South Australia, 1944
Photographer: Hedley Keith Cullen.
NAA: Australian War Memorial, 123078
Enlarge image - View image gallery

During World War II internment of prisoners of war and enemy aliens in Australia was administered under the National Security Act 1939. The Act provided for civilian internees and prisoners of war to be accommodated in internment camps.

The main internment camp in South Australia was located at Loveday near Barmera on the River Murray. It was supported by control centres at Bordertown, Clare, Lameroo, Maitland, Mount Gambier, Mount Pleasant, Morgan, Murray Bridge, Naracoorte, Tumby Bay, Willunga and Woodside (1943–45), and a transit camp at Sandy Creek near Adelaide (1944–46). Italians deployed as farm labourers were administered from these centres. In addition, Italian and Japanese internees were detached as paid labour to harvest wood at Katarapko, Woolenook and Moorook West, and 300 Italian internees were employed as railway workers at Cook on the Trans-Australian line.

The Loveday Internment Group accommodated German, Italian and Japanese internees from Australia, and internees and prisoners of war from the Netherlands East Indies, Pacific Islands, New Zealand, Britain and Middle East. The Loveday camp comprised six compounds and accommodation for personnel of the 25/33 Garrison Battalion, who provided the camp guard. The maximum number of internees (3951) was reached in March 1942. Of those interned in 1942, 528 were Japanese subsequently repatriated to Japan.

One prisoner of war and 134 internees died at Loveday. Many of the deaths were due to illness or infirmity brought on by old age, although there were several deaths by suicide and at least one homicide. A further two prisoners of war were killed during an escape attempt while being transported to Loveday.

Selected series relating to internees and prisoners of war in South Australia – World War II
Sydney, Adelaide
Recorded by: Headquarters, 4 Military District, Australian Military Forces, Keswick, South Australia
Correspondence files, 1931–64 D844
Adelaide
Recorded by: Headquarters, 4 Military District, Australian Military Forces, Keswick, South Australia
Security classified general correspondence, 1942–46 AP613/1
Sydney
Recorded by: Security Service, South Australia
Letters from the translating room, 1942–45 D2376
Censor's return of mails treated and of interest, 1942–45 D2287
Melbourne
Recorded by: Prisoners of War Information Bureau
Registers containing 'Service and Casualty' forms of enemy prisoners of war and internees held in camps in Australia, 1939–47 MP1103/1
Dossiers containing reports on internees and prisoners of war held in Australian camps, 1939–45 MP1103/2
Adelaide
Recorded by: Security Service/Investigation Branch/Commonwealth Investigation Service, South Australia
Investigation case files, 1917–69 D1915
Investigation case files, 1938–60 D1918
Correspondence records (confidential), 1929–41 AP501/2
Loveday internment camp internees files, 1939–47 D1901
Nominal index cards for internees at Loveday camp, 1939–46 D4028
Property statements for Italian internees, 1941–43 D2283
Alphabetical register of Italian prisoners of war (internees), 1943 D2285
Investigation case files, 1942–46 D1919
Prisoner of war (internee) nominal rolls and mail censorship abstracts, 1942–45 D1920
Police reports relating to the loyalty/suitability of persons seeking to employ prisoner of war labour, 1943–46 D2378
Correspondence relating to discipline of prisoners of war in rural employment, 1944–46 D2377
Correspondence relating to prisoners of war (internees), 1944–46 D2380
Prisoners of war (internees) casualty returns and transfers, 1944–45 D2284
Nominal roll of released internees, 'Manpowered', 1945 D2379
Adelaide
Recorded by: Collector of Customs, Adelaide
Correspondence files, 'Z' (National Security Regulations), 1939–45 D1975
Selected series that contain records relating to internees and prisoners of war in South Australia – World War II
Canberra
Recorded by: Commonwealth Investigation Service, Central Office
Prisoners of war files, 1939–45, 1951 A7919
Canberra
Recorded by: Investigation Branch, Central Office, Melbourne and Canberra
Alien land transfer files, 1940–46 A12217
Sydney, Adelaide
Recorded by: Department of Immigration, South Australia Branch
Correspondence files, 'SA/S', 1948–66 D400
Adelaide
Recorded by: Commonwealth Railways Commissioner
Correspondence files, 1913–83 B300
Selected items relating to internees and prisoners of war in South Australia – World War II
Canberra
Aliens Classification and Advisory Committee – examination of internees at Loveday internment camp, 1944 A373, 9787
Adelaide
Control of German adherents outside Germany, 1932–43 D1915, SA22393
Security file – Pastor JW Juers, 1939–55 D1915, SA15585
Children in internment camps, 1942–43 D1919, SS1078
Japanese internees for repatriation – includes diary kept by an internee in Japanese and English translation, 1942–43 AP613/1, 90/1/101
Court of Enquiry at Loveday inquiring into the attempted escape of internee P Eichneger, 1943–44 AP613/1, 90/1/144
Military history – internment in South Australia, Loveday, 1946 D844, 73A/1/6 [F]
Escaped prisoners of war – lists and photographs, 1947–52 D1915, SA19910

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Chapter 17
Security and intelligence