George Hurst – Leaving England

I have always considered myself to be very lucky in the early 60’s I was a young teenager and pacifist and went on the Aldermaston ban the nuclear bomb marches to London. When I went to the interview to be a BBM as a mere 17 1/2 year old, we were told that BBM boys will not need to enroll for conscription, which had just been reintroduced in to Australia.

Upon hearing that, I was glad to pass and looked forward to the trip.

We left Southampton on the 27th December 1964 via the “Fairsky”, like all Sitmar line trips we passed through the Red Sea and it was in Aden that I saw abject poverty for the very first time.

Overall, I remembered the voyage to be fun, and I found that, unlike many others, I did not suffer from seasickness!

Upon arrival in Sydney we were taken to the BBM hostel situated at 4, Wood Street, Randwick, NSW.

It was run by Mrs Van? and it was good there. Myself and 3 others left after a month or so to rent our own place nearby and have fun.

It worked out really well, as I got a job with ICI within a week of arrival, at Circular Quay and commuting was straight forward and it meant I was able to broaden my scope of friends.

After a year or so I discovered we were misled at Australia House in London and we DID have to put our name in the hat for the conscription draw lottery.

We did not have passports so I could not leave the country but my number didn’t come up thank heavens as Vietnam was not a place I wished to visit.

After 6 years I thought it was a good idea to pop back to England and see my family again.

This time I caught a French semi cargo ship Messargeries Maritimes “MV Caledonian” and had an incredible 10 week voyage via French Pacific islands, Panama, Gibralter, Marseilles and train/ferry to London.

I never told my parents and 2 sisters I was coming back, and gave a supply of letters to a friend in Sydney to post once a week to avoid parental worry.

I will never forget my mothers face when she opened the front door for me.

I reflect now and realize I could very easily have caused a heart attack!!

Anyway, having lived on the other side of the world, I felt there were no geographical boundaries, so I was only back in London for about 2 years and then went over to Canada to live in Toronto.

After several years and twin daughters, I now live in Hobart, and would love to connect with the chaps I sailed on the “Fairsky” with and shared accommodation in Sydney


George Hurst

Fairsky – 1964

20th September, 2016

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