Passengers Arrivals

The National Archives of Australia (NAA) have made available online the list of passengers arriving by ship in Fremantle and other WA ports between 1921 and 1949, or arriving at Perth airport between 1944 and 1949.

The lists, consisting of 879,900 names, is part of the data included in the series K269. Unfortunately, the NAA ran out of funding before digitising the whole series. That’s why the list stops in January 1950.

This list is interesting for my project because, besides the passengers disembarking in Western Australia, it also lists the passengers who transited through Fremantle to reach other Australian ports. Among them, will be most of the former Italian POWs who returned to Australia. Excluded will only be those who arrived on a later ship or on a ship that didn’t transit in Fremantle. I expect them to be a minority, but, for the time being, I have no way of knowing it with any certainty.

Each record consists of the following fields:


The NAA was very helpful and sent me a dump of the database starting from the date 1947-01-01. As a result, I now have a text file with 203,813 records, in which the fields are tab separated. The latest version of Excel can load up to one million rows, which means that I will be able to filter out some records. I still have to do that.

The record above shows the return of Pietro Gargano, whose Service and Casualty Form is this:

I happen to know that they are indeed the same person, but normally a matching name wouldn’t necessarily identify a returning POW. I’ll have to use further cross-references to obtain reliable matches.

Notice that the name of the ship is “Napoli”, which is the Italian name of the city of Naples where Pietro’s return journey began. This is no mistake. Here is the only photograph of the ship I have been able to find:

It is included in the beautiful book Australian Migrant Ships 1946–1977, by Peter Plowman, Rosenberg Publishing Sydney, 2006. Notice the star on the smokestack, characteristic of the Achille Lauro fleet of merchant ships. The following information also comes from the same book.

Built in 1940 by Harland & Wolff Ltd, Belfast with the name Araybank; tonnage 8,082 gross; length 451 ft (137.5m); width 57 ft (17.3m); service speed 14 knots; propulsion Diesel/single screw.

Severely damaged in Suda Bay, Crete, on 3 May 1941, it was towed by the Germans to Trieste, seized by the British in 1945, and sold to Achille Lauro, who renamed it Napoli. In 1946, it was rebuilt in Genoa as an emigrant ship capable of carrying 656 passengers, 176 in cabins and 480 in dormitories. The rebuilding was completed in August 1948.

A journey between Genoa or Naples and Australia took approximately one and a half months. The trip with Pietro on board probably was its second one, and it made a total of fifteen round trips to Australia before being transferred to South American routes in 1951.

To return to the list of 200 kPassengers, to be able to find matches of POW names listed in MP1103/1, I’ll have to load it into a database, so that I can quickly make the necessary 18,420 searches (well, the computer will :-)


  1. My father arribed in Australia on this ship in May 1950

    1. That's nice! Was he a returning POW or a migrant who had not been in Australia before?