Brendan Mohide

Ship name / Flight number: Asturias

Arrival date: 29/08/1949

Arriving in Australia with a party of 19 other boys, Ben quickly settled down at the training farm, eager to learn all about farming. Tragically, after only nine days in Australia, he suffered a serious accident to his right hand, resulting in the loss of two fingers and severe damage to the third or middle finger. The boys held a funeral service.  Brendan remembers: “Whilst I was being carted off to the hospital one of the lads played: ” The last post on a comb and paper is the two digits”, so at least part of me is in heaven!”

In December 1949, with his hand partly healed, Brendan was posted to a wheat and sheep property near June. “Life in the bush was fine”, he went on, “I soon learned to write and how to hand handle a rifle”. In no time at all, he was making much-needed extra money selling rapid skins and dead wool on the side. “I need to!” The work was hard, the food, boring, and the pay up small. After about 12 months he had for Sydney and completed an apprenticeship as a painter. He later became involved in sales and eventually became sales director for a large swimming pool building firm.

After seven years with that company, Brendan started his own business which he ran successfully for 15 years until he was forced to retire following heart surgery. Ben served as president of the swimming pool association and later as vice president of the small business association.

In February 1989, Ben and his wife Barbara were travelling on the ill-fated United Airlines flight, 811 from Honolulu, when the cargo door ripped off causing death of nine passengers. Later, Ben wrote a book outlining the ordeal. The book “Hawaiian Nightmare” was published in 1993 and a copy can be found in the BBM library.

Barbara and Ben have two adult sons, and two grandchildren Ashley, age 7, and Anthony age 4. Now living in retirement on the New South Wales Central Coast, Ben sums up: “I had a good life in Australia despite those early setbacks. Especially after I met a beautiful Australian girl who has been looking after me for more than 40 years and we are still living happily ever after.

Footnote: After almost 46 years in Australia, Ben finally met up with one of his fellow Little, brothers, Barry Denny. Like Ben, Barry too only 16 when he arrived on the Asturias in August 1949. Barry stuck with life in the bush and finished up managing a large property. Later he learned to fly, and after some years building up, his experience, became chief flying instructor in Canberra still flying aeroplanes, Barry took some time off recently to meet up with his old buddy and Ben’s wife, Barbara. Neither of us have changed a bit, Barry said with tongue in cheek.

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