SCROLL

  • LOVEDAY INTERNMENT CAMPS

  • TATURA INTERNMENT CAMPS

INTERNMENT  CAMPS

Loveday Internment Camps

1940 - 1946

Down Arrow

Loveday was near Barmera, in South Australia's Riverland, approximately 12 kilometres from Renmark. It was selected as a suitable site because it was piped for irrigation; it was near a highway linking major cities; electricity and telephone communications were available; a train service form Adelaide ran near the camp and it was sufficiently far enough inland away from the seaboard. It covered 180 hectares of cultivated land and each of the three camps were built 1 ½ miles apart by civilian contractors.

 

Receiving its first prisoners in 1941, the Loveday Internment Camps were one of the largest war camp groups in Australia. At its peak in 1943, the camps held 5,380 prisoners and internees, as well as 1500 Military personnel. Their Group Commander was Lieutenant-Colonel E.T. Dean.

In total there were three camps in Loveday all established during the Second World War. Camp No. 9 and Camp No. 10, built in 1940 and Camp No. 14 built at the end of 1941. They were built to house the internees and Prisoners of War (P.O.W) that Australia had agreed to accept from the United Kingdom. Initially the majority of them were German and Italian nationals; and later those from Japan and other nationalities joined them.

 

There were fifteen-foot guard towers at each corner of the camp compounds manned by sentries with machine guns, rifles and bayonets with ground patrols operating between the towers.

 

Camp No. 9 housed local Italians, Camp No. 10 housed overseas Germans and Italians, and Camp No. 14 (comprising four compounds of 1000 each) housed Germans, Italians, Japanese and Chinese from Formosa (Taiwan).

 

As at December 1942, there were 634 Germans in the three Loveday camps. In camp 10 there were 447 Germans and 207 Italian nationals. In 14A there were 30 Germans together with 708 Italian and 48 Finnish internees, all housed in military tents. In 14D there were 157, the majority of them German Australians.

 

There were four mess halls, two kitchens, one football (soccer) field, and four tennis courts that were used constantly each day, a Library and a radio in every mess hall. Other types of sports available were volleyball, handball, hockey, table tennis and track and field athletics.

 

There was a music group and a male choir that gave concerts. Many of the facilities were built by the internees. There were three cafés, a laundry that was much too small, and two primitive latrines. Milk (only powdered milk was available), sugar, butter, marmalade and jam were in short supply. Fruit, both cheap and plentiful was available from the canteen. A percentage of the profits from canteen sales was used to purchase sports material and for other amenities.

 

Pocket money was made available by the German and Japanese Governments for their respective nationals. The Germans received £3 per quarter on signing to be true to the Reich and not to be repatriated to any other country than Germany.

 

Special printed paper coupons of several denominations were issued early on but in July 1943, specially minted token money replaced the coupons which were then destroyed. The metal tokens were in the following denomination: 5 shillings, 2 shillings, 1 shilling, 3 pence and 1 penny.

 

The internees in this camp (Camp 10) are housed in barracks. There are two sorts of barracks, the older type has room for 32 men and the newer one for 28 men. In the older huts the beds are in the middle of the room. They consist of double berths one above the other. In the new hats the bed frames stand along the walls and almost without exception have a half high dividing wall between them.

The beds had timber frames with wire stretched across them, covered with a hessian bag filled with straw, which served as a mattress. Each internee received four woollen blankets. The barracks were cramped with little room for storage. Luggage was stored elsewhere.

Internees were frequently permitted organised walks outside the compound in batches of approximately one hundred guarded by two sentries. They were allowed to wear civilian clothes inside compounds, but when outside the perimeter wire, they had to wear army issue items which had been dyed a burgundy colour. There were no mass escapes and few individual escapes. No escapee remained at large for more than three days.

 

Using internee labour to cultivate crops such as opium poppies and produce goods for the war effort was a new concept and was successfully carried out at Loveday. However, there is no evidence that the German internees were involved in such activities.

 

Many educational courses were on offer to the internees, taught by internees themselves, many of them qualified teachers. There were 62 subjects taught. Amongst other technical courses, there was a vocational course for civil engineers. Some internees completed the German Abitur (matriculation / university entrance exam) while in the camp.

On 20 November 1941, the Germans from Persia arrived at Camp No. 10 One of the internees who transferred from Camp 3 Tatura to Camp 10 Loveday on 10 February 1943, wrote in his diary:

“There were 450 Germans from Iran, 29 Italians, Russians, Finns, Hungarians and 42 Germans from Palestine, totalling 650 men, who spoke over 34 languages between them in the camp. The barracks were 20 yards (60 ft) long and 6 yards (18 ft) wide designed for 24 men. They were built of corrugated iron and only the roof was lined from the inside with insulation paper, otherwise they were totally bare.”

Camp 14 was of a different design to the earlier camps; octagonal in shape with four compounds inside one perimeter. Each compound was designed to hold 1000 occupants and a 120- bed hospital block to receive patients from all compounds was erected in the eastern corner of 14B compound. More serious cases were taken to Barmera hospital. The compound area was divided by roads running north/south and east/west, making four segments each forming a compound designated as 14A, 14B, 14C and 14D containing eighteen double sleeping huts, four large mess halls each capable of seating 250 persons, two large kitchens equipped with Wiles Cookers to cook for 500 persons, two latrines, two wash houses and ablution blocks, work and hobby huts.

 

The Germans from Iran were transferred from Camp 10 to Camp 14 on 12 January 1944. They were housed in 14A. In January 1945, all Germans were transferred to Camp 1, Tatura in Victoria.

Seven Germans died while detained at Loveday. All were buried in the Barmera War Cemetery – Internee Section, and later reinterred at the Tatura German War Graves cemetery.

The Loveday War Camps closed in December 1946.

"Written by Doris Frank and Pedram Khosronejad, 16/07/2020"

Dean, E T, Internment in S. A : History of Loveday 1940-1946, p 3.

NAA: D844, 73A/1/6 [F]: Military history internment in South Australia 1939-45 Loveday internment groups, p19.

PA AA R 41981 L941/ L270037- L270110: Records concerning German civilian internees in Australia – camps 1941-43, p 13, p 17.

13.02.1943, from the personal diary of Herbert Uhlherr (1906-1974), detained in Palestine on 3.09.1939. (P 36149)

NAA: D844, 73A/1/6 [F]: Military history internment in South Australia 1939-45 Loveday internment groups, p19.

PAA R 41981 L941/ L270037- L270110: Records concerning German civilian internees in Australia – camps 1941-43, p 13.

NAA: D844, 73A/1/6 [F]: Military history internment in South Australia 1939-45 Loveday internment groups, p19.

13.02.1943, from the personal diary of Herbert Uhlherr (1906-1974), detained in Palestine on 3.09.1939. (P 36149)

NAA: D844, 73A/1/6 [F]: Military history internment in South Australia 1939-45 Loveday internment groups, p17.

NAA: D844, 73A/1/6 [F]: Military history internment in South Australia 1939-45 Loveday internment groups, Appendix ‘A’.

© 2020-2023 Designed by P. KHOSRONEJAD

                     Dr. Pedram Khosronejad | Adjunct Professor

     Religion and Society Research Cluster | Western Sydney University

Fellow | Department of Anthropology | Harvard University

                      P.Khosronejad(at)westernsydney(.)edu(.)au