World War II internee, alien and POW records held in Adelaide – Fact sheet 107

Internment in South Australia and the Loveday camp

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 (POW) 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–Australia line.

The Loveday Internment Group accommodated German, Italian and Japanese internees from the various states of Australia, and internees and prisoners of war from the Netherlands East Indies, the Pacific Islands, New Zealand, Britain and the Middle East. The 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 in internment in 1942, 528 were Japanese subsequently repatriated to Japan.

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

Records held in Adelaide

The National Archives Adelaide Office holds a range of records dealing with internees, aliens and prisoners of war during World War II. They include:

  • name indexes to internees
  • Loveday camp internee case files
  • Italian consulate records seized in 1941
  • records of the use of internees and prisoners of war as a labour source
  • case files of the Investigation Branch (Attorney-General's Department).

Investigation Branch files often reveal evidence of a subject having been under surveillance for many years before the outbreak of war. Internees had a right to have their cases reviewed and the conduct of appeals is sometimes documented on the Investigation Branch file. Details of major holdings are provided in the tables below.

Selected records of World War II internment held in the Adelaide Office

Investigation Branch South Australia (CA 905)

Headquarters, 4th Military District Commonwealth Military Forces (CA 3207)

 Title or description of recordDate rangeSeries number
SeriesSecurity classified correspondence1942–46AP613/1
ItemInternees education/correspondence courses1941–43AP613/1, 90/1/124
ItemPOW labour detachments on Trans-Australia railway1942–45AP613/1, 90/1/36
ItemNominal rolls of released internees1943–44AP613/1, 90/1/141
ItemSecurity and War Establishment – Loveday camp1943–45AP613/1, 150/1/56
ItemSecurity at Prisoner of War camp – Cook1943AP613/1, 162/1/36
ItemAttempted escape – P Eichneger at Loveday1943–44AP613/1, 90/1/44
ItemJapanese transferred Loveday to Hay1943–45AP613/1, 90/1/201
ItemEmployers of POW labour1944AP613/1, 130/1/25
ItemSandy Creek POW camp and PW Control Centres1944AP613/1, 196/1/450

Australian Customs Service, South Australia (CA 802)

 Title or description of recordDate rangeSeries number
SeriesCorrespondence files1871–1962D596
ItemCarl GH Bulau – German deserter from SS 'Aller' – internment camp 19401937–40D596, 1937/2530
ItemMonies credited to enemy subjects account1939–44D596, 1948/1931
ItemMemorandum – internee's cables1943D596, 1943/679

Commonwealth Railways Commissioner (CA 265)

 Title or description of recordDate rangeSeries number
SeriesCorrespondence files1913–78B300
ItemAdministration POW labour Trans-Australia Railway1942–43B300, 8247 part 2
ItemEmployment of enemy aliens – part 11943B300, 8352 part 1
ItemEmployment of enemy aliens – part 21943–44B300, 8352 part 2
ItemEmployment of enemy aliens – part 31944B300, 8352 part 3
ItemEmployment of enemy aliens – part 41944–67B300, 8352 part 4

For more information

As internees were sometimes moved between camps located in different States you may find it necessary to consult records held in more than one office of the Archives.

For other fact sheets with information on World War II internees see:

Immediately following World War II, a committee of officers and ORs, appointed with the approval of Brig. HC Bundock, the then Commander 4th MD, prepared the publication Internment in South Australia: history of Loveday, Loveday internment group, Barmera, 1940-1946, Adelaide, Advertiser Printing Office, 1946.

Copyright National Archives of Australia 2019