A captivated audience watched on as local historian John Gribben gave a special talk at the Shepparton Croquet Club last week.
Mr Gribben’s talk was focused on the region’s war history and the six prisoner of war camps in the area.
Shepparton Croquet Club publicity officer Trudy Serafini said Mr Gribben had everyone’s undivided attention and you could have heard a pin drop, it was that quiet in the clubroom.
The history talk was held as a fundraising initiative for the club. About 50 people attended.
Ms Serafini said many people were not aware about the number of Japanese and German soldiers sent to the area during World WarII.
‘‘The questions were remarkable from the crowd,’’ Ms Serafini said.
‘‘We just thought they’d taken away the Italians and Germans when the war started from families that were living in the area.’’
Ms Serafini said it was a big surprise to learn soldiers had been sent to camps and some had even died in the area.
Mr Gribben said he did not regard himself as a historian, but rather as someone who enjoyed telling stories.
‘‘I’ve been asked to do talks on this topic for some time,’’ Mr Gribben said.
‘‘I like stories and you hear lots of great stories in this area and its a bit unfortunate that not many people really know about them because there’s such a wealth of information that’s out there that not many people realise and I like to tell people about those stories.’’
As a child Mr Gribben developed an interest in the region’s war history because he knew people who owned the land where the camps were situated and had heard many stories about their history.
‘‘Over the years I’ve been asked to relay some of those stories I’ve heard and over the years and I’ve built up a bit of knowledge,’’ he said.
These days Mr Gribben does an annual tour of Camp One with the Tatura Museum and speaks at different community groups across Victoria.