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.