Supplementing the workforce in wartime
The Civil Aliens Corps (CA 680) was established on 3 May 1943 under the National Security (Aliens Service) Regulations to come under the control of the Director-General of Allied Works. War Cabinet had approved this step as a means of giving relief to Australia's worsening manpower shortage as the War progressed. Under the regulations any male refugee alien or enemy alien between the ages of 18 and 60 could be directed to serve in the Civil Aliens Corps.
Allied Works Councils, which came under the Director-General of Allied Works, were established in all states and the Northern Territory in February 1942 to administer the work of the Civil Aliens Corps and other works labour forces, such as the Civil Constructional Corps.
Aliens, who were required to register with authorities following the outbreak of war, were classified according to their nationality in the following categories: Allied, Neutral, Indeterminate and Enemy. Many of those who joined the Civil Aliens Corps were internees who were released from internment camps and sent back to their home states to await call up to the Corps. Out of some 15,601 registered aliens 1671 were accepted into the Corps.
Members of the Civil Aliens Corps were required to work on projects of a non-combatant nature managed by the Allied Works Councils. These included projects such as road construction, or the forestry industries.
The Corps was disbanded in May 1945.
The Civil Aliens Corps in Western Australia
Most of the work camps for Civil Aliens Corps members in Western Australia were established in the outer metropolitan area of Perth and the south west of the state as well as Kalgoorlie and Nungarin in the east. Unskilled members were paid a weekly amount of not less than four pounds sixteen shillings. Those with trades or other skills were paid more. Projects they were engaged on included road construction, timber and firewood gathering, charcoal burning and labouring.
Members were allocated a number with the prefix CA (to denote 'Civil Alien') followed by a letter for the state in which they enrolled. In Western Australia all members had a 'CAW' prefix to their numbers.
Selected records of the Civil Aliens Corps held in Perth
The Perth office holds Allied Works Council (CA 8132) records about the members, administration, camps and operation of the Civil Aliens Corps in Western Australia. Details of major holdings are provided in the table below.
Records in other offices of the National Archives
As aliens were sometimes moved between camps in different states you may find it necessary to consult records held in more than one office of the National Archives. In order to identify records of interest you will need to use the RecordSearch, which is available online in all research centres or the collections databases on this website.
Civilian Service Medal, 1939–45
If you served with the Civil Aliens Corps during World War II, or any of the organisations that undertook war works for the Allied Works Council you may be eligible for the Civilian Service Medal 1939–45.