Life Before the Army: Experiences of European ‘aliens’ who became Australian soldiers in the Second World War

Room 553, North Wing Arts West

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Alessandro Antonello

June Factor, University of Melbourne

Even in the best circumstances, emigration is a major enterprise. When it is the result of trauma and fear, sometimes involuntary, often organised hastily, with limited choice and even more limited knowledge of the destination, then settlement is unlikely to be easy. Torn from the familiar, separated from loved ones, infantilised by foreign tongue and foreign ways, it is hardly surprising that not everyone who arrived in Australia in the 1920s and 1930s was initially enthusiastic about the new land.

June Factor is an honorary fellow in the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies at the University of Melbourne. She is a writer and folklorist, and is currently completing a book about the ‘aliens’—non-British subjects—who served in the Australian army’s Labor/Employment Companies during World War I.

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