Stolen Years: Australian prisoners of war

Stolen YearsStolen Years: Australian prisoners of war tells the story of Australian prisoners of war - evocative, realistic, personal and often tragic - from the First World War to the Second World War and Korea.

It was a tragedy: the dying and the hating equally … but there emerged a sense of values which made the simple rich and profound.
Ray Parkin, HMAS Perth

A pilot in Turkey, a soldier in Germany, a nurse in Indonesia, a sailor in Japan: more than 34,000 Australians have endured captivity in wartime.

They spent months or years behind barbed wire. At first somewhat dazed, they were usually hungry and bored, often cold or sick; sometimes forced to work. Always under the control of their captors, many were treated badly or beaten; some tortured or killed.

Prisoners of the Japanese, the largest group by far, suffered most severely. The balance of this exhibition reflects their experience.

Captivity often confronted men and women with challenges to their self-worth. Though captivity was never a matter of choice, prisoners of war were often embarrassed by their fate. But for what they endured and how they survived, these men and women deserve our understanding, respect and admiration.

Captivity was a time when lives were interrupted, hopes put away and relationships strained. For all of them, these were Stolen Years.

Online Exhibition

An online version of the exhibition is available.

Stolen Years: Australian prisoners of war
Gallery City State Start Finish
Australian War Memorial Canberra ACT 08 November 2002 02 March 2003
Orange Regional Gallery Orange NSW 05 April 2003 11 May 2003
Shepparton Art Gallery Shepparton VIC 25 July 2003 31 August 2003
Queen Victoria Museum and Gallery Launceston TAS 19 September 2003 11 November 2003
Monash Gallery of Art, Wheelers Hill Melbourne VIC 05 December 2003 18 January 2004
Hervey Bay Regional Gallery Hervey Bay QLD 31 January 2004 14 March 2004
Queensland Museum Brisbane QLD 26 March 2004 09 May 2004
Rockhampton Art Gallery Rockhampton QLD 20 May 2004 21 July 2004
Hazelhurst Regional Gallery and Art Centre Sydney NSW 31 July 2004 26 September 2004
Flinders University Art Museum Adelaide SA 08 October 2004 14 November 2004
Museum and Gallery of the Northern Territory Darwin NT 26 November 2004 28 March 2005
Western Australian Museum Perth WA 15 April 2005 26 June 2005

Stolen Years Education Material