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The Dunera

The survivors of the S.S. Arandora Star were plucked from the Atlantic by the S.S. St. Laurent, a Royal Canadian Navy destroyer. After a week in an empty factory in Greenock, Scotland without fresh clothing and with little food, these 444 internees were herded onto the British transport ship, HMT Dunera.

During its 57-day journey to Australia, the 2,732 prisoners on board, most of them refugees, endured horrific overcrowding, starvation, refusal of medical treatment, beating, looting, intimidation and torture. Jacob Weiss watched as British soldiers ripped up the immigration papers he hoped would save his family in Europe. Distraught, he jumped overboard and drowned. The sailing of the Dunera became known as one of most notorious events in British maritime history.

Like Canada, Australia had accepted the pleas of Britain to accept “dangerous” enemy aliens for the duration of the war. Upon arrival, the Australians quickly acknowledged that these men were indeed refugees. They were sent to a series of refugee internment camps and by 1942 the “Dunera Boys” either returned to Britain or remained in Australia to contribute to the war effort. The British eventually compensated the internees for some of their losses, reprimanded the officers and court-martialled several guards.

A dossier of images about the HMT Dunera. Dossier

A collection of images relating to the HMT Dunera.

Accidental Immigrants
in the classroom


Accidental Immigrants
Students learn about how the “enemy aliens” journeyed to Canada and, through internee testimony, about how they were received upon their arrival in Canada.


A Perilous Voyage


Internee Testimony: An Enemy’s Welcome

Complete Teachers’ Guide to Enemy Aliens
PDF 7.8 MB

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