Arthur John Alexander

Ship name / Flight number: Largs Bay

Arrival date: 01/03/1929

Arthur was almost17 years old when he arrived in Australia. He was born on a farm in Cuttenham, in Wiltshire 29th March 1912. He was the fifth child of ten, born to Jesse and Mary Ann Alexander. They lived most of their married life in Chirton near Devizes, Wilts. His younger sister is still there, also many of the younger generation.

Arthur left England 22 January 1929 on the Largs Bay for Melbourne, arriving on the 1st of March 1929. His Big Brother was Alban Henry Wills. Unfortunately, Arthur passed away in 1951, however, Arthur was part of the family until he died. We still have a close friendship with Mr. Wills’ son, his wife and family.

Arthur went to Orbost to work on a dairy farm. He was never keen on dairy farming, so he left after two years for a promised job on an orchard in Doncaster, Victoria. However, because it was the height of the depression, that job didn’t eventuate. He responded to an advertisement to accompany a young man who had an old utility truck to come North to do rabbit trapping, as rabbits were very plentiful in the country north of Swan Hill.

Arthur and the young man had a long arduous journey from Melbourne to Kyalite, NSW, with many breakdowns. A very memorable time although not very funny at the time. While there were plenty of rabbits, it was not very profitable, at one penny per pair, at the freezer which was quite a distance away.

Finally they decided to make their way back to the Nyah area where it was almost time for dried fruit harvest. They slept under bridges etc. along the Murray River and eventually got work on a dried fruit block owned by a Mr. Ross in Nyah West area. Arthur was given a permanent job and after Mr. Ross died, he managed the place for Mrs. Ross. Early in World War II he was called up in an early draft for National Service and spent some time at Seymour but then returned to Mrs Ross farm as it was an essential industry.

Arthur eventually bought the property of 22 acres. 15 acres of sultanas vies and 3 acres of oranges. Like all farming, there were poor years, but when times were hard, he gathered up his tools and found odd job carpentering, which was his chosen hobby.

In 1949, I met Arthur and we were married later that year at the Oakover Methodist Church in Preston and so I came to Nyahwest to live. We had two daughters and in 1962 sold the property. It was then that Arthur decided he should take myself and the two girls to England to meet his family.

In February 1963 we arrived back in Australia and in May bought a Newsagency and mixed business (drapery, wool etc.) in Nyah West. We were there for 13 years and towards the end of that time, bought a nice piece of land in Nyah, quite close to the Murray River, where in his spare moments, Arthur built us a very nice home. We had 14 years of happy retired life. Arthur loved odd job carpentering. This kept him busy as did his fishing and another special love of his, lawn bowls.

We had several trips overseas and within Australia. One was to Northern Queensland in 1975 and on our way back, we stayed in Sydney to attend the BBM reunion. Arthur had kept good heath and was only really ill for the last five weeks when he died of lung cancer. He was then quite ready for God to “take him home” (his words).

He was a gentle, unassuming man who had worked hard, but was happy with his lot, because that was his nature.

(Written by Mrs Nita Alexander, 1991)

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