Donald Merritt

Ship name / Flight number: Fairsky

Arrival date: 09/11/1960

Above: Former Little Brothers travelling on board of the Fairsky, November 1960

I was born in London on 6 July 1942, when the Germans were dropping their bombs. My brother, Brian, came too years later. Unfortunately, our father died of a brain tumour in 1955 when he was just 40 years old. With two young boys and no means of financial support, my mother took us to Wimbledon Park to live with her younger sister, Ann.

My mother got a job as a shorthand typist at a bank and I was sent to Pierepont House, a boarding school in Surrey. I came home on the train at half term and in the holidays. It was bloody awful. I hated school, but I put up with it. I left when I was 16 years old and got a job at the post office, first as a telegram delivery boy and then as a postman.

At the cinema they used to show short films and news reels before the main feature. There was a short film about the BBM, and I decided that I’d go to Canada. Then I realised how cold it would be there in the winters and chose Australia instead. After passing my interview at Australia House (where they asked questions like, ‘how many states are there in Australia?’), I was ready to leave on the Fairsky. My mother didn’t like the idea of me leaving, but she agreed. At this point, we’d lost contact with my brother, who had joined the police force and moved to Hong Kong.

I sailed into Sydney on 9 November 1960. I was homesick at times, but never, ever sorry that I came. Because I’d worked in the post office in Surrey, the BBM got me a job in the Post Master General’s Department as a postman, based in Woollahra. In Surrey, the landscape is flat, but Woollahra is full of hills and I found the walking too much. I was transferred to the stores department where I provided parts for the post office vehicles. I am crazy about cars, so I loved this job. I stayed there for 39 years, eventually becoming manager of the parts store. I retired in 1999.

In 1975 I went back to England for the first time in 15 years. I stayed for two months, reunited with my brother and saw my Mum again. She had come out to Australia to visit me four times before that. Back then, we could rent a place for $16 a week!

In 1980, after I’d had three more trips back to Surrey, my Mum moved out to Australia permanently with her younger sister, Ann. I sponsored their migration. The move wasn’t a great success, and they returned to England, but then immigrated again within two years so they could keep their pensions.

Although my Mum and her sister were close, they didn’t always get along. Ann bought a caravan and moved to Landsdown. Sadly, she died of cancer in 1991 when she was only 79 years old.  Mum and I moved to Casa Paloma caravan park and lived in vans next to each other. My brother bought Mum a mobile home so she was very comfortable. When that caravan park bought by developers, we moved to the Four Lanterns Estate in Leppington in 2002. All the residents in our section used to meet for coffee at 10 o’clock, but most of them have gone now. Mum loved living here. She was now 93 years old and I cared for her. I adored looking after her. She died in 2006 and I’ve lived on my own since then.

About 10 years ago, I bumped into a mate I used to work with in the post office. Tony and I are very good friends and I see him most days. He drives an ex-postie van with a red and white roof and sliding doors. I drive a Mercedes Benz ex-ambulance that my brother bought for me. I had three rides in an ambulance as a passenger before I got to drive one! I have a lung condition as I smoked cigarettes for over 30 years.

Even though I missed my family at times, I never regretted coming to Australia with the BBM.

Below: Donald Merritt, 2024

Contact Little Brother

Contact Little Brother

    Your Name *

    Your Surname *

    Your Phone *

    Your Email *

    Your Message

    Join our Mailing List



    Search BBM Youth Support