Loveday Internment Camp Display
The Loveday Internment Camp Display is housed in the Barmera Visitor Information Centre.
Come and read the history of this camp. Set up in 1941 it was one of the largest in Australia. It covered approximately 180 hectares of cultivated land and held 5380 internees and POWs at its peak and over 1500 AMF personnel. Loveday was selected as a suitable site because it was piped for irrigation; it was near a highway linking major cities; electricity and telephone communications were available; a train service from Adelaide ran near the camp and it was sufficiently far enough inland away from the seaboard. A very important part of Barmera’s history.
What was an Internment Camp?
An internment camp housed international residents who they thought were a threat to Australia during the war. Such as Japanese, Chinese, Germans and Italians. They were rounded up and taken to internment camps for the duration of the war.
The internment camp was established in 1941. The site was chosen as there were pipes for irrigation, it was near a highway that was linked to major cities with electricity and telephones, a train service was also available from Adelaide which was very close and was far enough inland away from the seaboard.
The internment camp was approximately 440 acres and four camps were incorporated.
Only one internee escaped through the perimeter fence, nine escaped from working parties outside the compound. There was also a tunnel dug by some Germans that was discovered before it was fully completed. Jimmy James the famous black tracker was used to recover escapees.
The Loveday Internment Camps were closed in 1946. The campsites were divided into small privately owned properties. Some of the buildings were retained by the Government to be dismantled and used as sheds on new soldier settlement properties.
Internees did not have to work but were paid for there labours. Pocket money was made available by the internees respective government and they were paid a shilling a day in money tokens. They could work in or around the compound in the poultry farm or piggery. They could also join wood cutter gangs, empty toilet pans, pick up garbage or attend the water filtration plant.
Playing grounds for tennis, football, baseball and bowls were provided in all camps. All nationalities made artefacts , using mallee stumps for carving, and tins for a range of metal trinkets. The Germans conducted 33 different classes to fill in their days and ease boredom. The Italians loved music and started up their own orchestra.
Lieutenant Colonel Dean was the Group Commander of all camps, while each of the three camps was administrated by a Camp Commandment.
How and Who built It?
The Loveday Internment Camp was mainly built by internees. But the fencing and housing was built before the first internees arrived by government officials.
The people in the interment camp grew mainly seed mainly tomatoes, beans, beetroot, lettuce and cabbages 20865 kg was produced. 130 tons of tomatoes supplied to the Berri Packing Union providing 72737 L of canned juice for allied forces overseas. 85 000 tons of wood were cut down and sold mainly to pumping stations. 10 tons of Pyrethrum flower heads were harvested for sale to insecticide firms. Over 1200 pigs were sold to the market for bacon. 30,000 eggs and 2800 dressed birds for army and hospital use. More than 49896 kg of soap made from surplus fat and distributed to army units. 30 to 35 tons of poppies which provided more than half of the Morphine requirements of the AMF for 1944.