Loveday, South Australia (1941–46)

A view between two rows of living quarters at Loveday
A section of the living quarters of internees and prisoners of war at Loveday (AWM 064876)

The Loveday camp was located near Barmera on the Murray River in the Riverland district of South Australia. The site was selected because of its nearby transportation (rail and road), its irrigated fields and because both electricity and telephone communications were available. Loveday held the largest number of internees during World War II.

Loveday was made up of four separate compounds linked by areas of land that were cleared and cultivated by the internees. Camp 9 housed local Italians, Camp 10 housed overseas Germans and Italians, Camp 14 (comprising four compounds of 1000 each) housed Germans, Italians, Japanese and Chinese from Formosa (Taiwan). The fourth compound was the General Headquarters. At its peak in May 1943 the camp held over 5000 internees.

The internees at Loveday were keen to undertake useful work. Many of them had professional scientific skills or were skilled tradesmen. They proposed growing vegetables, tobacco and pharmaceutical crops, woodcutting and charcoal burning. The idea of using internee labour to cultivate crops and produce goods for the war effort was a new concept and was successfully carried out at Loveday. The internees were paid for their labours. Internees also enjoyed leisure activities, including playing golf on the camp golf course.

Loveday camp closed in December 1946.

Japanese internees at Loveday seated on a seed planter, towed behind a tractor
Japanese internees at Loveday planting seedlings of the experimental crop guayule, thought to be a possible alternative source of natural rubber (AWM 123078)

Records

The National Archives holds records about the Loveday camp. A selection of these is listed below.

Collection references

Copyright National Archives of Australia 2017