Jimmy Chi was born in Broome in 1903 to a Chinese father and Japanese mother and grew up in the town. Although he was a British subject, Chi was arrested and interned in 1941 along with other Japanese living in Broome.

Jimmy Chi in taxi
Photo courtesy Pearl Hamaguchi

When the Second World War began, Chi was working as a taxi driver and owned a restaurant in Chinatown.  He is shown here with his taxi, which was commandeered for use by the Army when he was interned.

This military record relating to Jimmy Chi, indicates the various internment camps in which he spent the war years.

Chi was one of the few internees to return to Broome after the war.

He was met by a hostile community – his restaurant had been burned down and his belongings taken.

Jimmy Chi internment notice
National Archives Australia: MP1103/1, WJ18059

After the war I couldn’t go out on the street. They had meetings in the RSL hall and the Shire Council.

They used to say: “Send the bastard to Japan”. They gave me a hard time but I survived it.

Jimmy Chi, 1986 (Profile by David Lague)

Japanese style carved pearl shell
Donated by John Streeter.
This Broome pearl shell has been carved in a Japanese style.

Prior to the Second World War, Broome had a thriving Japanese community with many of its members owning businesses or working on pearl luggers.

More than 200 Broome residents were interned during the war. While some died in the camps, most were forcibly repatriated to Japan after the war.

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