|Country of Origin||UK|
|Date of Birth||5/11/1948|
|Year of Arrival in Australia||1955|
|Submitted by||Richard Pittman|
I was a Church of England Child Migrant. My mother and grandmother were of the opinion that Australia would be a better place for me. I recall a Miss Swan telling me how wonderful Australia would be and that I would be going to a place with lots of boys and girls. I should explain that I was illegitimate, which was a bad thing in those days but I never found out until I returned to England in 1981. My father died when I was three or four. We lived in Great Yarmouth at a tobacconists called Pittmans. My father had six or eight other children in the Orkneys and a wife. I really don’t know how they coped, they were much older than me. I met one in 1981 and he recalled that we left Yarmouth and went to London.
The Orontes was an old ship but I did not know that then. I was berthed with about thirty children and a couple who, I think, looked after us. My Uncle David was a merchant seaman and he filled my head with ship stories so I found the voyage very exciting. I remember the Red Sea, the Bay of Biscay when we went through a storm and I remember Colombo and a museum that I found fascinating. I was befriended by a man called Taffy. Years later I found a picture of my father who was a deep sea diver whose nickname was Taffy. The coast of Fremantle was very flat, no mountains and I think I was a little disappointed, having had a big build up. We landed in June of 1955 and I was met by A. Roy Peterkin of Swan Anglican Homes. I was one of two children who disembarked, the rest went to the Eastern States. This was the start of an eleven year stay at SBO, (Swan Boys Orphanage) that has a great effect on my life.
My impressions on arrival at SB0 were mixed. I was more or less told to do as I was told and follow the rest of the boys. I cried a lot but received little sympathy so I stopped after six weeks and learned the hard way that no one cared and you never showed weakness because the boys would exploit it unmercifully. Our Housemistress was Edith Thompson and she was a strict woman. I guess she had to be. By August my feet toughened up (no footwear allowed), my chilblains were festering (no pockets) and the mosquitoes were about to pounce. I was sent to Middle Swan Primary and put in Grade One. I remember Mrs Thornton, who showed me much kindness. Despite all this I made friends and learned and played. I was fed very well, clothed cleanly and sent to church each Sunday.