End 1941 were 1095 POW's shipped from North Africa to Australia. In addition with the prisoners taken of the ships "Komoran" and "Ramses" and the 166 men of the merchant marine, who got the POW-status in 1942, approx. 1600 prisoners of war were in Australia. The highest rate was indicated with 1658 men and this number hardly changed by prisoner exchange, cases of death (8 deaths were reported and of this number 4 suicides) or escapes during the whole captivity. [Details]
The largest camp was located in Murchison at the Waranga Basin, now called Waranga Lake and today an irrigation reservoir and water sports center. Furthermore was a labor camp in Graytown and a camp for civilian internees in Tatura. The officers were accommodated in Dhurringle and for a short time in Tatura as well. The ICRC made a note of "PW company 14, Loveday" and "PW Karrakatta Hostel". [Details]
Deployment of labor:
The POW's worked mainly at Murchison area in the agriculture, road construction, a cement factory and in a sawmill. In Marrinup they worked as lumberjack. The deployment of labor was insignificant in Australia.
The food was amply and no cuts like in the USA for e.g. are known. About the medical and the sanitary facilities was reported positively. The shirts had to be inked wine-red ("bourgogne") and that annoyed the prisoners in the beginning.
Not just sports but an active teaching-system was built up in the camps. The YMCA and the German Red Cross took care of the needed books. Primary the YMCA supported the camps very well and, compared with the other custody countries, arranged even the most unusual things. Musical instruments, stage material for a theater, seeds for kitchen gardens, equipment for beekeeping or little chicks and ducks to fatten them for the Christmas-dinner. Particularly grateful were all POW to Mr. Moodie who was YMCA secretary. Supposedly in Murchison was even a parrot. He was removed from the camp because he allways shouted "Heil Hitler" and since that day he croaked only a curse in English.
Because of the large distance to the native country the prisoners paid an impact send their letters by air mail transport.
The prisoners were transported with the ship "Orontes" to Germany on January 22nd, 1947. During the journey of 5 weeks were only meager rations.
The conditions of life were extremely good in Australia and the former POW are still particularly grateful for this. But also "a gold-painted barbed wire is just barbed wire", though ". The seclusion and idleness lasting for years in the far of the distant continent also lead to problems, however. Despite hopeless prospects of reaching the native country the prisoners escaped. Five prisoners were able to stay in Australia after the repatriation-day.