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Ursula und Werner Alt

Ursula and Werner in front of Camp 13 display














Visitors from Germany

Aus "https://murchisonhistoricalsociety.wordpress.com" vom March 27, 2016

We have recently had visitors from Germany at the Heritage Centre, keen to know about Prisoner of War Camp 13.

Werner and Ursula Alt travelled especially to Murchison to discover some detail about the Camp as Werner’s uncle Friedrich Alt and Ursula’s father Heinz Ims were held in Camp 13 during the Second World War. We were able to show them items and documents relating to the Camp, and they were very interested in the art work by Hans Walter von Gruenewaldt.

Warwick Finlay was able to show them where the Camp was located although a close look was not possible as the Camp site is on private land.

Australian War Memorial website and also National Archives website can provide documents and photographs of POW’s from Camp 13 and we were able to introduce this source of information to our visitors which they had not known about previously. Both papers and photos are available for Friedrich and Heinz via these websites.

Werner and Ursula were delighted to find out so much more than they had known before and will now be able to fill in some detail about their family history.

Camp 13. January 1943. Murchison, Victoria. Courtesy of Tatura Wartime Camps Museum

The first occupants of prisoner of war Camp 13 were 4,000 Italian prisoners, sent to Australia on HMT Queen Mary, in early 1941 before the camp was ready. The only finished buildings were the cookhouses and mess-huts. Sleeping quarters for prisoners consisted of six-man tents with floors of raised tent boards and thin mattresses made of straw, which the prisoners made themselves. While they lived in the tents, the Italians and Germans who arrived soon afterwards, erected their own corrugated tin huts which were to serve as their wartime accommodation.

Murchison Prisoner of War Camp 13

Veterans Description for Public

Aus "https://vhd.heritagecouncil.vic.gov.au"

The Murchison Prisoner of War Camp No. 13 was established hurriedly in 1941 on 2.5 square kilometres of land, owned by the Hammond family, to accommodate thousands of Italian and German POWs captured in North Africa and Greece during the Second World War. They were later joined by Japanese POWs from Cowra, NSW and, in addition, 'Dhurringile' was operated as German Officer POW accommodation as part of Camp No. 13. The first prisoners, 4,000 Italians, arrived in early 1941, prior to the camp's completion and were housed in tents. They were joined by Germans and later Japanese in 1944. Many of the Italians were released in 1944 for local employment.

Little remains in terms of substantial above ground structures, of the former Camp No. 13, Crawford Road, Murchison, although the site potentially has archaeological evidence and artefacts. The high security camp consisted of an octagonal shaped plan, divided into four compounds. The entrance is marked by a stone gateway, consisting of two coursed rubble piers, approximately 1.8 metres high, hung with a pair of non-original Cyclone wire gates. Nearby, is located a small single-storey coursed rubble sentry box with gabled roof clad with corrugated galvanised steel. The only other extant structures above ground are two gaol and a concrete machine gun emplacement.

The gaol each comprises of two rows of cells flanking a central passage with only the off-form concrete walls remaining. The site also contains numerous concrete slabs (remains of the kitchen and ablution blocks and garrison areas); a stone and concrete culvert, a small octagonal concrete fountain, a large below ground concrete tank, a sunken fishpond, constructed of random rubble in a figure of eight composition and memorials constructed by the German and Italian prisoners.

The German memorial, erected by the crew of the raider Kormoran for their fallen comrades, comprises a random rubble stone cairn on a concrete plinth with an inscription in German, enclosed by a non-original post and wire fence. The Italian memorial comprises a pair of masonry obelisks with concrete surrounds, remnant garden beds and a lone Cypress tree, all enclosed by a post and wire fence. The remnants of camp access roads are also discernible.