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British / Australian Internment: Dunera

We were there for quite a while but, after complaining and after the government realising they made a terrible, terrible mistake, with what they did to us; they sent a man out. A military man by the name of Leighton. He was a Captain Leighton, to sort us out. And the main aim was to make good what they’d done wrong, and invite us to join up and help in the war effort by joining the army. This Captain Leighton came in, his orders out and tried to get us to enlist. But the first thing he noticed when he came in… His own nephew was in with us! He was locked up with us in the camp- his own nephew who’d come from Germany! This is what a farce the whole thing was, you know. Anyhow, he did very well. He got most of the young boys to enlist.

[In Hay internment camp, Australia] Well yes we had boys who could really entertain us in all sorts of ways; singing and music and this that and the other. And people thought of all sorts of things. Like one chappie who was a teacher. He got himself a log of wood. We had always plenty of wood to fire in the kitchens - the ovens. It came in in wagon loads and we always had loads of wood there. And he found himself a nice piece of wood and he started hammering away. Made himself a beautiful violin! Beautiful violin! And he played! Beautiful. Hacking it out week after week, making it. Thinner and thinner at the top and then shaping it.

My two brothers were sent to Australia on the Dunera. And they were two years interned there, and then they were sent back. England realised they made a mistake, sending refugees abroad to Australia and to Canada. And my two brothers came back but, unfortunately, on the way back, the ship was torpedoed by Japanese and sunk and they never reached England. After survival, after all that, they didn’t come back to England. We were expecting them and then we got information from the War Office, War Office or Home Office, War Office, saying that the ship was torpedoed and they are presumed dead. That was it.

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