Participant Info

First Name
Last Name
The University of New South Wales, Canberra
Website URL
Australia and the Second World War, Italian Australians in the Second World War, Mediterranean theatre (WWII), race relations, oil and the wartime economy,
Additional Contact Information

Personal Info

About Me

Nicole is a PhD candidate in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. Her doctoral research examines Australian involvement in the Mediterranean and Middle East Theatre of Operations during the Second World War, with the aim of re-evaluating the prevailing assumption that the war in the Mediterranean was a sideshow that both detracted from the war in Europe and the Pacific, and contributed little to the defeat of Nazi Germany.

She recently graduated from Monash University, where she completed a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) specialising in Archaeology/Ancient History, and History. Her Honours thesis,  Identity at War: Race, identity and belonging within the Italian-Australian community during the Second World War, examined the ways in which the Italian-Australian community defined their identity and sense of belonging in light of their enemy status, as well as how the Australian government and public reacted to the apparent ‘enemy in their midst’. This study included an examination of Italian-Australians who enlisted in the Australian Military Forces during the Second World War.

Nicole has worked across a variety of cultural institutions in Australia, including the Italian Historical Society in Melbourne, Monash University, the National Archives of Australia, and the Australian War Memorial, where she was awarded a position as Summer Scholar under the Memorial’s Summer Vacation Scholarship Scheme. Her broader research interests include the Second World War, Australian-French foreign relations, Irish military history, conflict archaeology, and the protection of cultural heritage sites in war zones.

Recent Publications

Conference presentations

Nicole Townsend. ‘Fuelling the nation: Oil, the Australian economy and the war in the Mediterranean’. Paper presented at UNSW Canberra Postgraduate Symposium, UNSW Canberra, Canberra, 31 October 2018.

Nicole Townsend. ‘Identity at war: Italian-Australian experiences of ‘otherness’ during the Second World War’. Paper presented at Diaspore Italiane – Italy in Movement: Living Transcultural Spaces Conference, Italian Historical Society, Melbourne, 4-8 April 2018.

Nicole Townsend. ‘They fought like demons’: The British Eighth Army, the Australian 9th Australian Division and the disaster at Ruin Ridge, July 1942’. Paper presented at the El Alamein: 75 Years On: The war in the Mediterranean and the Campaign for North Africa 1942 Conference, University of Wolverhampton, Wolverhampton, 6-8 September 2017.

Nicole Townsend. ‘Road to Ruin: Australians at the first battle of El Alamein, July 1942.’ Paper presented at the Australian War Memorial Summer Scholarship Scheme Conference, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 16 February 2017.


Nicole Townsend, More than a sideshow? Australia and the war in the Mediterranean, 1940-1943, PhD thesis (currently completing)

Nicole Townsend, Identity at war: Race, identity and belonging in the Italian Australian community during the Second World War, thesis, Monash University.


Nicole Townsend. ‘First Alamein: Ruin Ridge.’ Wartime, July 2017.

Nicole Townsend. ‘Fraternising with the enemy: British-Italian prisoner of war relations, 1939-1947.’ Italian Historical Society Journal, vol. 22 (2016): pp. 15-26.

Media Coverage
Country Focus
Expertise by Geography
Australia, Mediterranean, Middle East
Expertise by Chronology
21st century
Expertise by Topic
Economic History, Race, World War II