Private Eddie Albert was a member of the 51st Militia Battalion and among the first to enlist on the outbreak of World War Two. Eddie joined the 2/15th Battalion, Australian Imperial Force and was one of many soldiers captured following a short but vicious action against German armour during a battle near Derna, Libya in April 1941. He was interrogated in Benghazi and then sent to the prisoner of war (POW) camp at Sabratha, near Tripoli. He was later transferred to a camp in Capura, Italy.
Eddie spent two years in various Italian POW camps before escaping from Campo 106, Vercelli, Italy in early September 1943. Crossing the Alps was not an option due to a particularly bad winter, so he remained on the loose until 25 April 1944 when he and six other Allied soldiers were discovered near Biella in the foothills of the Italian Alps. Three of the seven soldiers were immediately executed before their Italian captors realised the men were escaped POWs. Eddie and the others were handed to the Germans and transferred to Stalag 7A near Munich until the cessation of hostilities.
Five of Eddie’s eight children have served in the ADF and his post-war experience is the ongoing inspiration to his grandson, artist Tony Albert. In 2012 Tony became the first Indigenous Australian to be appointed as an official war artist by the Australian War Memorial. His NORFORCE exhibition will open on 9 July 2014. Tony has also been recently commissioned to create a sculpture in Hyde Park to honour the sacrifice and bravery of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander service men and women. The artwork will be unveiled prior to Anzac Day 2015.
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