A Story on a Handkerchief

POW Handkerchief, 1941

This hand-painted handkerchief was created by Leonardo Parente (b. 1920) while he was an Australian Prisoner of War. It depicts a ship at sea and includes a simple map showing the route from Italy to North Africa and, after Leonardo’s capture as a Prisoner of War, the journey from Libya to Australia. The handkerchief also features text printed in black ink: ‘TO JEAN FROM PARENTE -L P.O.W./ FOR KEEPSAKE 9-11-45/ DORRIGO’. Floral motifs are painted in each corner of the handkerchief.

Leonardo Parente was born in San Severo in the Province of Foggia in southeastern Italy. He served as a Corporal in the Italian Army and was captured in Libya on January 4, 1941. He was transported to Australia on the Queen Mary and arrived at the Hay Prisoner of War Camp in July 1941.

During his time as a POW, Leonardo Parente was held in various camps in New South Wales. In October 1943, he was transferred to the POW North Coast Control Centre at Dorrigo. Due to a labor shortage in Australia, the government approved the use of POWs and civilian internees for work on specific projects near the towns where they were held. The PWCCs often provided labor to farmers in the dairy industry as well as on fruit and vegetable farms. Leonardo was assigned to work on George Winkley’s farm on Fernbrook Road.

The handkerchief serves as a personal memento created by Leonardo Parente during his time as a POW, showcasing his artistic talent and capturing his journey and experiences during the war.


What boat did Italian POW, Leonardo Parente , travel to Australia on?

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