Remembrance Day Service at the Ossario in Murchison


Due to an agreement made in 1941 between the Governments of Australia & United Kingdom, over 25,000 Prisoners of War captured mostly following action in the Middle East, and many European Internees, were brought to Australia and held in custody until they could be repatriated as late as 1947. Over this time some died and as a result Australia has three War Grave Cemeteries – at Cowra in NSW (Japanese) and the other two in our local area – Tatura (German) and in Murchison (Italian).
The Italian Ossario stands in a quiet rear corner of the Murchison Cemetery. The Ossario is an attractive stone building of a distinctly Mediterranean appearance. This sancturary is the last resting place for 130 POW’s and Internees who died while on Australian soil. Remains of the Italians were brought from all over Australia to be buried in one place; from Kerang, Sale and Tatura in Victoria, Albury, Bathurst, Bourke, Hay and Mudgee in New South Wales; and Bridgetown, Corrigan, Harvey, Karrakatta, Katanning, Kondinin, Narrambeen, Narrogin, Northam, Three Springs and Wyalcatchem in Western Australia.
Two metal tablets record the names of those who rest in the Ossario; 92 were Soldiers, 2 were Seamen and 36 were Internees; one of the Internees was a woman who was transported from Palestine.
They met their demise for various reasons, from natural causes, war wounds, road accident, drownings; one jumped from the train at Seymour when being transported and was decapitated and another was murdered by his compatriot.
During the 1950’s when Italian immigration commenced in Australia, Murchison Cemetery became a place of pilgimmage and Mass was celebrated before a temporary altar draped with both the Australian and Italian flags. Since the Ossario was built and dedicated in 1961, Mass has been celebrated before a permanent altar of white Italian marble every Remembrance Sunday in November. In the area behind the forecourt where the altar is located the remains are housed behind an attractive timber façade, each labelled with the name of the person resting there.
This year on Sunday November 10th the annual pilgimage of hundreds of Italians took place. Mass was celebrated at the Ossario amidst much ceremony and then the visitors took advantage of the fine weather to picnic in the Riverside Gardens.
The 130 Italians, who, through circumstances of war have their last resting place in Murchison many thousands of kilometres from their homeland are not forgotten and are remembered in this way each year on Remembrance Sunday.
(Reference: Murchison, Bossence, 1965).

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3 Responses to Remembrance Day Service at the Ossario in Murchison

  1. I’ve always wanted to have a look inside. Must go one year (assuming its still celebrated?) Thanks for the info, especially about those who died. Very interesting and sad.

  2. Always a Mum says:

    The five Queensland Italian prisoners of war were originally buried in the following cemeteries: Nambour (Nicola Evangelista), Stanthorpe (Giovanni Ciccocioppo), Gympie (Agostino Naibo and Francesco Primiano) and Gayndah(Francesco Leone)

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