President of the Jarrahdale Heritage Society Diana Henniker said the site of a prisoner of war camp in Jarrahdale is a rare historic site with a fascinating history.
Established in 1944 during WWII Camp W20 initially housed 100 Italian prisoners, eventually growing to hold 200 by late 1945.
Ms Henniker said the men who were sent to Camp W20 were considered to be malingerers and escapees otherwise considered unsuitable for rural work.
“It also became a strict discipline camp for troublemaking prisoners,” she said.
“Interestingly there was no fence and the bush surrounds were considered adequate.”
Ms Henniker said her interest in history has been with her all her life.
She has been a voluntary curator for 12 years and her knowledge and insight into the past is priceless.
“The camp was commanded by an officer with a company sergeant major as his off sider and an army interpreter was also employed,” she said.
Ms Henniker said Camp W20 was a work camp so the prisoners worked an eight-hour day in the forest cutting firewood.
“Foresters from Jarrahdale supervised their work,” she said.
“They were Ernest Heddington and Neil York.”
The camp housed the prisoners in huts under the terms of the Geneva Convention and 50 interns slept in two man tents.
It was officially closed on April 30, 1946.
Ms Henniker said generally the men were treated well although the food was basic.
“All the prisoners were repatriated back to Italy but some chose to return as migrants,” she said.
Camp W20 is included in the Jarrahdale Guided Walks.
For more information visit jarrahdale.com.au/walks-and-parks-of-jarrahdale