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Preserving Our History

The War Years

Loveday Internment Camp and the Death of Francesco Fantin

The Loveday Internment Camp was located near Barmera and was operational during the Second World War. The camp accommodated primarily German, Italian and Japanese internees from many states.

Francesco Fantin was an Italian internee at Loveday with strong anti-Fascist views. He was brought to Loveday on 28th February 1942 with 115 other Italians from the Gaythorne Internment Camp in Queensland.

One of the fundamental flaws in the administration of the Loveday camp was the segregation of the internees into racial groups rather than that of political affiliations. This being the case, Nazis and anti-Nazis, Fascists and anti-Fascists were interned together simply because they were of the same racial group. This lead to strong tension within the camp, leading ultimately to the death of Fantin, an anti-Fascist on the 16th November 1942. There are two versions of the actual event, one being that after an argument with Bruno Casotti, an Italian who had a strong Fascist attachment, he was pushed, fell over and hit his head. The other, that Casotti struck Fantin with a piece of wood, fracturing his skull and breaking his neck and ribs.

An investigation ensued and Bruno Casotti was sentenced to two years hard labour.

The end result of this case was a gradual change in internment policy in Australia. Notably, if anti-Fascists could satisfy the authorities that they posed no threat, they were released from internment.


Modus Operandi Branch, Criminal Offence Reports (Homicides)
SRSA GRG 5/46/1942/14757
Modus Operandi Branch, Criminal Offence Reports (Homicides)

Excerpt from report of the death of Francesco Fantin at the Loveday Internment Camp 1942.

Modus Operandi Branch, Criminal Offence Reports (Homicides)
SRSA GRG 5/46/1942/14757
Modus Operandi Branch, Criminal Offence Reports (Homicides)

Excerpt from report of the death of Francesco Fantin at the Loveday Internment Camp 1942.

Newspaper article in Advertiser 20th March 1943.
SRSA GRG 5/46/1942/14757
Modus Operandi Branch, Criminal Offence Reports (Homicides)

Newspaper article in Advertiser 20th March 1943.

 

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War Service Land Settlement Scheme

The War Service Land Settlement Scheme was aimed at giving returned service personnel a piece of land in compensation for their wartime services. At the same time, it allowed the Murray River region to be opened up agriculturally more than ever before. Following World War 2 more than 3000 returned service personnel applied for land and by 1965 over 1100 had successfully been settled across South Australia. Loxton was the site of the states largest solider settlement scheme opening up to 25000 ha of irrigated land. The scheme brought vineyards and orchards to Loxton, and changed Loxton from a small rural community dependant on the fortunes of wool and wheat to a thriving community of diverse agriculture.


Soldier Settlement Agreements no. 2282 Eric Brown excerpts from file
SRSA GRG 35/543/2282
Soldier Settlement Agreements no. 2282 Eric Brown excerpts from file.

Soldier Settlement Agreements no. 2282 Eric Brown excerpts from file
SRSA GRG 35/543/2282
Soldier Settlement Agreements no. 2282 Eric Brown excerpts from file.

Typical Soldier Settlers Home, Loxton.
SRSA GRG 7/69/4/270
Typical Soldier Settlers Home, Loxton c 1950's.

Eric Brown watering young citrus
SRSA GRG 7/69/4/271
Eric Brown watering young citrus c 1950's.


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