Fernand Charles Bentivoglio

Fernand Charles Bentivoglio
Fernand Charles Bentivoglio. Photo courtesy Ilma Martinuzzi O’Brien.

Fernand Bentivoglio was Professor of Languages at the New South Wales State Conservatorium of Music in Sydney when he was arrested on 14 August 1940 and interned. He was sent to Orange Internment Camp, and then to Hay. Finally, in June 1941 he was among the first internees to be housed in the new camp at Loveday, where many of the Italian community leaders were detained.

Bentivoglio was born in Turin in 1871, arrived in Australia with his wife in 1898, and was naturalised in 1905. He had four children, who distinguished themselves academically. In 1933, while teaching at the conservatorium, he published his textbook of 385 pages, Italian Grammar and Vocabulary.[i] At this time he frequently spent weekends bushwalking with a group of colleagues and friends. On 24 May 1940 some of these companions, who were described as ‘men of exceptionally high standing in the community’, were interviewed by the police in anticipation of Italy’s entry into the war, and they claimed that Bentivoglio expressed anti-British sentiments. Their statements are summarised in the dossier of 24 May 1940 (see below). Bentivoglio’s detention order was signed on 26 July 1940 by G A Street, Minister of State for the Army, and his arrest followed in August.[ii]

As a British Subject Bentivoglio appealed to the Advisory Committee against his internment and was sent to Long Bay Jail, where he remained for three weeks waiting for his appeal to be heard, during which time his health declined. He decided not to proceed with his case and was returned to camp.

When the new camp at Loveday opened, Bentivoglio was transferred there, and two months after his arrival he was assessed. At this time he occupied himself teaching English to other internees. The Senior Medical officer noted that Bentivoglio was ‘vigorous mentally and physically, has no complaints of ill-health and takes a long walk every morning. Outwardly he is one of the cheeriest men in the Compound. He lives in the Compound Hospital where he has a comfortable bed with sheets, good food, and such extra dainties as the Hospital receives. He is standing up to Compound life better than most I think, although this may be because he cherishes a hope of early release.’[iii]

In April 1942, at age 71 years, Bentivoglio again appealed to the Advisory Committee for release, and in his Statutory Declaration he stated the following:

I came from Italy over (43) years ago and lived ever since in Australia an honourable life with my family, winning the respect and the friendship of neighbours and of many Australians prominent in the cultured world of this country.

My children who have been educated here, have distinguished themselves all in their particular call of life, and, I am proud to say they are all an asset to this country and do her honour.

As to my activity as a professional man and as a citizen I do not think there is any action that may be reproached to me.

In April and May he was in Sydney for his tribunal hearing and returned to Loveday on 16 May 1942. He was advised that his appeal was unsuccessful. Not long afterwards his health began to decline, and he was sent to the Barmera Base Hospital on 6 February 1943. His release order was signed by W B Simpson, Director General of Security, on 11 March, and arrangements were made for his travel to Sydney. It was recognised that he had cardiac failure and possibly did not have long to live. His son, Dr. Enzo Bentivoglio, who was working in a Sydney hospital, travelled to Barmera to assist him, and on 23 March Bentivoglio departed from the Barmera Base Hospital by private ambulance in the care of his son.[iv] He died in Adelaide the following day.

Fernand Charles Bentivoglio
Bentivoglio’s application for naturalisation from 1905. NAA: A1 1905/3443 Fernand Charles BENTIVOGLIO – Naturalization.
Fernand Charles Bentivoglio
Summary of Dossier, in the Detention Order of F.C. Bentivoglio. NAA: MP508/1 4/703/487 Detention Order – F.C. Bentivoglio.
Fernand Charles Bentivoglio
Bentivoglio’s detention order from 26 July 1940. NAA: MP508/1 4/703/487 Detention Order – F.C. Bentivoglio.


NAA: A1 1905/3443 Fernand Charles BENTIVOGLIO – Naturalization

NAA: D1901 B992 Frederick Charles Bentivoglio – internee

NAA: MP508/1 4/703/487 Detention Order – F.C. Bentivoglio

Text by Ilma Martinuzzi O’Brien.


[i] F.C. Bentivoglio, Italian Grammar and Vocabulary: (grammatica della lingua parlata), Sydney: F.C. Bentivoglio, 1933.

[ii] NAA: MP508/1, 4/703/487, Detention Order, F. C. Bentivoglio,

[iii] NAA: D1901, B992, Frederick Charles Bentivoglio, (note mis-spelt first name) Fernand. p 9

[iv] NAA: D1901, B992, Frederick Charles Bentivoglio, (note mis-spelt first name) Fernand.