Cosimo Andretta (CI25250) was born in Naples, Italy, on 18 May 1907.[i] He moved to New Caledonia after a few years living in India in 1933. Once in New Caledonia, he established an export-import business with another Italian migrant – Alfredo Michelino. Cosimo married a French national – Olga Montel – in Noumea in 1939, and they had two children.[ii] He was arrested in September 1940 when Italy joined the war and was held at the Nouville Internment camp outside Noumea. He was later released and then, on 19 February 1942, he was re-arrested and the next day – with his business partner – put aboard the Cap des Palmes for transfer to Australia for internment.[iii]
On arrival in Australia, Andretta was taken to the Loveday Internment Camp. In mid-1944, Andretta was hospitalised for two months due to a ‘nervous condition’.[iv] In February 1945, he was transferred to the Tatura internment camp in Victoria, where he remained until his release in September 1946, three years after the Italian armistice. Cosimo had previously applied for release, but the application was refused on health grounds. While interned, he indicated he wished to be repatriated to New Caledonia, but the New Caledonian authorities refused his request, and he was released in Australia. After his release, Andretta worked as a process worker at a factory in Surry Hills, Sydney[v] and also as a waiter in the Dungowan Café in Martin Place, Sydney.[vi] However, Olga, who had come to Australia on a number of occasions with their two children, decided to return to New Caledonia, and Andretta joined her in 1947.
Archives de Nouvelle-Calédonie 34W2
NAA A367 C68658 Andretta Cosimo
NAA MP1103/1 MP1103/1 CI25250 Prisoner of War/Internee – Andretta, Cosimo; Date of Birth – 18 May 1907; Nationality – Italian
Additional information courtesy Cosimo Andretta’s eponymous son.
Author: Rowena Ward
[i] National Archives of Australia (NAA) MP1103/1 CI25250 Prisoner of War/Internee – Andretta, Cosimo; Date of Birth – 18 May 1907; Nationality – Italian.
[ii] Archives de Nouvelle-Calédonie 34W2.
[iii] NAA A367 C68658 letter to the Governor of New Caledonia from Cosimo Andretta dated 16 May 1944. While this letter states that Cosimo was rearrested on 19 February, another note gives the date as 14 February.
[iv] NAA MP1103/1 MP1103/1 CI25250 Prisoner of War/Internee – Andretta, Cosimo; Date of Birth – 18 May 1907; Nationality – Italian.
[v] NAA A367 C68658 letter to the Secretary, Department of Immigration, Canberra from Roland S. Browne, Acting Director, dated 16 December 1946.
[vi] NAA A367 C68658 letter to Director, Canberra from F.G Galleghan, Deputy Director dated 19 March 1947.