James Joseph Hamabata

James Joseph Hamabata
Service and Casualty Form of James Joseph Hamabata, a cook born in Onslow, Western Australia. It shows he spent time working in the wood-cutting camp at Woolenook. He was not finally released from internment until October 1946. NAA: MP1103/1, WJ17871, Prisoner of War/Internee: Hamabata, James Joseph; Date of birth - 25 March 1906; Nationality – Japanese.

James Joseph Hamabata was born in Onslow in Western Australia in 1906 to a Japanese mother; the identity of his father is unknown. He had a sister, known as Marie Kamzie Hamabata, later also as Marie Graham. Both siblings were Australian-born, indeed had never left Australia, but both were interned.

Before the outbreak of war Hamabata worked as a barman in Geraldton. An assessment of him by military authorities concluded:

This internee appears to be particularly pro-Australian and would be willing to join the AIF. As he considers that Australia is such a good country and it should be defended against such people as the Japanese. He had no desire to see the Japanese rule Australa nor did he wish to visit Japan. He is a fatalist and considers that death must come one day and he felt that nothing could be better than being killed defending your own country. … He appealed the day he was interned, but has not done so since as he does not think he would have much chance of being released even though he was not concerned as to what type of work he did or where he was sent.

In 1942 Hamabata again appealed against his internment. Aliens Tribunal No 4 met at the Loveday Camp in South Australia on 25 March 1942 but established within a few minutes that it did not have jurisdiction in the case – Hamamata was Australian born and claimed Australian nationality. He remained interned.

Joseph’s sister Marie was released from internment in 1942 and lived in Melbourne. When ill health prevented her working, Joseph sent her money from internment. He wrote to her from Loveday:

My Dearest Loving Sister

Miss Marie Graham

Just few lines,

I received your letter to-day very short line. I am sending one silk stocking for present to you Marie. Had good drop of rain here and still more rain about place, this is good for the gardens everything will spring up and lovely and green in morning. Weather is lovely and fresh in night. I’m quite well. I hope to find you in best of health. Please Marie can you send me one Dictionary and Pix. I will close with lots love and kisses. I will say good-bye.

The letter was intercepted by the District Censor in Adelaide and forwarded to the Deputy Director of Security in Melbourne, who made inquiries about the siblings. He learned that Marie had changed her name to Graham after her release from internment. Her brother was the foreman of a cutting party at the Woolenook Camp: ‘He is a member of the party referred to here as “The Gang” which consists of very anti-Japanese half-breeds, mostly Australian born. It is considered that Hamabata is definitely pro-Australian and thoroughly reliable.’

Eventually, in August 1946, Hamabata’s detention order was revoked and he was released in October on the advice of the Director-General of Security.



NAA: A367 C68689 James Joseph HAMABATA

NAA: MP1103/2 WJ17871 Prisoner of War/Internee; Hamabata, James Joseph; Year of birth - 1906; Nationality - Australian born japanese parents

NAA: MP1103/1 WJ17871 Prisoner of War/Internee: Hamabata, James Joseph; Date of birth - 25 March 1906; Nationality - Japanese

NAA: D1901 H3190 HAMABATA James Joseph

Peter Monteath, Captured Lives: Australia’s Wartime Internment Camps, Canberra: National Library of Australia, 2018.