Australia

Australia occupies an interesting space in the landscape of Pacific internment. The Japanese did not reach Australia, so unlike the other countries/regions listed in this category, there were no Japanese-run camps for Allied prisoners. Australia was a frequent destination, however, for evacuees and emigres (and a number of people started as the former and became the latter).

During my archival research at the National Library of Australia in Canberra, I learned the frustrating but valuable lesson that there is no fixed method of collecting and cataloguing the experiences of Allied internees; the terminology and taxonomy depends very much on the country and its experiences both during and after the war. Any child internee narratives that I found were accidental discoveries that were tucked within larger narratives of immigration to and settlement in Australia. Even with the assistance of the intrepid research librarians, I was unable to find any records that foregrounded the experience of child internees in the Pacific–though I did find some records that mentioned such internment in a longer autobiography. Keep that in mind as you read the interviews; I focused only on the parts that discussed child evacuation experiences.

The interviews with Mr. Smith and Mrs. Dortland listed below are from the recordings at the Imperial War Museum, London.