Waiting for rations at Torrens Island Internment Camp
Photographer: Paul Dubotzki. State Library of New South Wales MLMSS 261/1/17 a2924149
Torrens Island Internment Camp
Torrens Island Internment Camp opened on 9 October 1914. Hundreds of men – ‘enemy aliens’ – were interned on Torrens Island, in the Port River estuary near Adelaide. Sailors taken off enemy ships, foreign nationals living in South Australia, and even some naturalised British subjects found themselves behind barbed wire. Wartime censorship meant people outside knew next to nothing about internment or life in the camp.
Initially life in the Camp was uncomfortable, but not harsh. However, a new commanding officer was appointed in early 1915, and treatment of the internees became more brutal. An investigation into conditions resulted in the camp being closed in August 1915, with many internees being released, while others were transferred to a camp at Holsworthy in new South Wales.
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