In April 1944 Dan McInnerney wrote to his cousin Irene O’Sullivan in Brisbane from a Prisoner of War Camp, in Germany.
Daniel had volunteered to serve with the 2nd AIF in June 1940 and trained with the Signals Corps at Lytton Camp, Brisbane before embarking for the Middle East in October that year.
McInnerney was immediately put to work, departing with the 1st Ammunition Park Company heading for Benghazi, in eastern Libya. Here the Australians were welcomed as they entered the city, after the 6th Australian Division, together with British units, pushed the Italian army back across Libya, fighting successful actions at Tobruk, Derna and Benghazi.
McInnerney was then returned to Amyria, Egypt to rejoin his own unit – 1 Australian Corps Signals. There was little rest for the men before leaving for Greece the next day, 20 March 1941.
Australian and New Zealand troops (ANZAC Corps) were engaged in the largely unsuccessful campaign in Greece fought in April 1941. As the allied troops began to retreat Daniel McInnerney was wounded. Cut off from his unit he remained in hiding until he was captured by the Germans on 10th May.
Soldiers evacuated from Greece, Crete, 1941.
In June the Australian Red Cross Society was provided with lists of those held in German POW camps which included Daniel McInnerney’s name.
The camp he had been taken to, Stalag 383 was at Hohenfels, which held over 6000 men.
The postcard that is held at the State Library of Queensland was written 3 years into his captivity. He wrote:
“Don’t ever show me barbed wire [again] – or else”
McInnerney remained interned until the camp was liberated in May 1945 by American troops. After spending four years in captivity Dan McInnerney was flown to England to the 1AIF Transit Camp, to await the first available transport home and freedom.
We know very little of Daniel’s life after the war. He can be found on the electoral roll residing at Mt Ossa, north of Mackay where he operated a cane farm. In 1948 he was reunited with a former POW, a British artilleryman with whom he had made a lasting friendship.
Dan McInnerney had nominated his friend W. Grant and his family as migrants, and were one of many who took the opportunity to make a better life for themselves on the other side of the world.
Dan McInnerney retired to Wynnum, where he died in 1982.
Read more …
- SERVICE RECORD: McINNERNEY, Daniel
- 6651 Daniel McInnerney Postcard
- A.I.F. WELCOMED IN BENGHAZI. The Sydney Morning Herald 12 February 1941 p. 12
- 96 More A.I.F. Men Known To Be Prisoners.The Telegraph 3 July 1941, p. 7
- Image: AWM C29199
Souda Bay, Crete. Some soldiers evacuated from Greece landed with their kits. They were the lucky ones. But they mostly landed without , kits had been abandoned on the forced march to the point of embarkation.
- FRUIT OF PRISON CAMP FRIENDSHIP Daily Mercury 22 October 1948, p. 2.
- ‘Auction sales’. Daily Mercury 12 August 1954, p. 19.
Marg Powell | Specialist Content Technician | Anzac Square Project State Library of Queensland