|Country of Origin||England|
|Date of Birth||C1875|
|Year of Arrival in Australia||2/14/1949|
|Submitted by||John Davenport|
My father was in the British Army and served in South Africa in the Boer War in 1898 and returned to England in 1902. He was wounded in the fighting. He finished his service in 1908 after 12years. He went back to Preston where his girlfriend lived. Both his parents died when he was in S.A. so he decided to get married. The chances of finding work were slim so he moved to Manchester which was a big city with more chance of finding work. They found a place to live. It was in the slum area but was all they could find. Dad found work with a construction company which was building a Power Station not far from where we lived. The Depression had started to develop, work was hard to find and food was getting expensive. Over this period of time they had 7 children – 4 girls and 3 boys. I was the second last boy. One day mother got a letter telling her dad was in an accident and taken to the infirmary. She went to see him and was told they do not think he would live. They wanted to take his left leg off but he would not let them, he told the doctor to patch everything up and he would walk out of there on 2 legs and he did after a long time.
It was very hard for my mother, no money coming in and she had a family to feed. She started to make lavender out of flowers, put it in small envelopes and go to the houses where the wealthy lived and asked for 2 pennys. She was a dress maker and asked for alteration or dress making work, the amount she got was not much help. All this cause a lot of stress and she became ill and was put in hospital, she had a stroke and was paralysed on her left side then 2 weeks later she had another stroke that killed her. April 1924. Because we had no money the council had to bury her and was put in a paupers grave no home-no number no identification at all only the grass was mowed.
Dad had no compensation in those days, he had to get legal aid to fight it for him. I was 4years old when he had the accident and I was 13years old when he got it, the longer you waited for it the less you got. He spent it well, we moved in to a better house, the girls got their own room and bed and the boys the same. All the girls were working as was my older brother we were a lot better off. Work was still hard to find and pay not very good. I left school in 1933 but I could not find work. I wanted to be a cabinet maker, I was good at it at school. I made a bedside table out of oak for my dad and a foot stool but it was hopeless to find a job. In 1938 it looked like a war could start in Europe. Germany had built up a strong army with the best guns and tanks ever made. They started taking over small countries on their borders. So Briton had to start arming & this brought plenty of work. I started in aircraft components. In 1939 I joined the R.A.F. as a aircraft engine fitter, spent the first 7 months in a technical college and after was posted bomber command 102 squadron. I served 7 years in the war in Britain, Egypt, North Africa and Italy. I was discharged in July 1946.
After I was discharged from the Air Force, I had 3 months paid leave owing to me so I did not have to find work immediately and my job was there for me at the Aircraft Factory so I decided to find out about emigration at the New Zealand Embassy. New Zealand was my first choice but I had 12months to wait.
I was depressed when I came home, 2 sisters were still at home and the others married and I had lost contact with all my pre war friends. My sister used to go to St.Bridgets Social Dance on a Thursday night every week and she always asked me to go with her I always said no but this week I agreed to go with them. She had 4girl friends always together when we got there I had a couple of dances with them then I sat down. After the next dance finished my sister said do you remember who this is so I looked up and said of course I do I would never forget that happy smiling face. It was Eileen the girl I always liked very much before the war. So we had a chat on catch up talk, then we had the last dance and I walk her home, I said good night and I may see you again, I did want to asked her out but I thought it was to soon. A week later I was home when a knock on the door, I went to see and it was Eileen she had a message for Lizzie from her mother, I said she is not at home she has gone to church, I said come in, I asked her to have a cup of tea she said she had no time so I asked if she would like to go in town for tea on Saturday and a movie after.
Docks to get my luggage off the docks. The next day I went looking to see if I could find job. And I got one on the railway construction doing the maintenance on the machines. They were building a new underground railway. This was the start of life in Australia.