Francesco Fantin Banner

was held on Thursday 31st October 2013
cnr Victoria & Russel St. Melbourne

We paid our respects to Francesco Fantin
on Sunday 10th November 2013


Francesco Fantin banner at the Murchison Ossario

We return
at 10am
Sunday 10th November 2019

(Willoughby St, Murchison VIC)
Bring food & drinks
for a picnic by the river at Murchison after the ceremony

2019 commemoration

2017 commemoration

melbourne to Murchison map

download info sheet here

The bones of Francesco and over 200 Italian prisoners of war and internees who died in Australian camps during the Second World War are deposited in an Italian War Cemetery at Murchison, in Victoria.

On the Sunday nearest Armistice Day (10th November) people from around Australia come to pay their respects. The crypt is opened once a year after a ceremony (Mass organised by the Italian government and community). This year, for the first time, a small contingent of anarchists and supporters will be going to the ceremony to pay their respects.

Francesco Fantin immigrated to Australia in 1924. The young anarchist fled Italy two years after Mussolini’s fascists seized power in 1922. Fearing for his life he fled to Australia. He threw himself into anti-fascist activity in Australia and with the aid of Francesco Carmagnola and Valentino Ciccotti, opened the Matteotti Club in the Horticultural Hall in Victoria Parade, Melbourne in March 1927 to act as an anti-fascist centre (Matteotti was a parliamentarian killed by Mussolini’s fascists).

When the club closed as a consequence of the depression Francesco Fantin moved to North Queensland working on farms and saw mills as a labourer. He continued to identify as an anarchist and with the help of other Italian anti-fascists he made life difficult for fascist officials in Australia who were trying to recruit Italians living in Australia into their ranks. The outbreak of World War Two resulted in the internment of Italian fascist sympathisers and Nazi sympathisers. The racism endemic in Australia in the 1940’s meant that nearly every Italian immigrant was considered to be a fascist.

Fantin was arrested as an enemy alien in February at Edmonton (outside Cairns) and arrived at Camp Loveday, in South Australia, on the 28th February 1942. Over 350 Italian fascists were interned with about 60 Italian anti-fascists. Fantin was marked for special attention by the fascists and was regularly attacked and beaten for his anti-fascist views. On the 16th November 1942 while stooping down to get a drink from a tap, Fantin was beaten to the ground by a man wielding a 4x2x2. When he fell to the ground the beating continued. He died several hours later of his injuries. Giovanni Casotti was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to two years imprisonment for Fantin’s murder. Fantin's body was buried in a grave outside Camp Loveday. In the mid 1960's his body, with the bodies of other Italian prisoners of war and internees who had died in Australia during World War Two, were disinterred and placed in an ossuary at Murchison in Victoria.

Fantin he had no children. His two brothers, Alfonso and Luigi, are long gone. His sister-in-law, Mrs Ines Gavioli, his only living relative was 90 in 2007 when she was interviewed over an eight year period by Dr. George Venturini, for his book Never Give In which looks at the lives of three Italian anti-fascist exiles in Australia. Fantin was described as “a kind, rigorous, restless, gentle but determined human being”.

Francesco Fantin lives in our hearts, his ideas live in our hearts. One day we will create that new world in Fantin’s heart.

Rest in Peace Francesco Fantin. We will not forget your sacrifice.

Dr. Joseph Toscano / Convenor Anarchist Media Institute