Michael Halpin

Ship name / Flight number: Ormonde

Arrival date: 19/07/1951


THE 5 POUND POM                                                                     

At this time, I was employed by the Royal Bank of Scotland in the West End of London as a clerk. One of my duties was to travel each day by bus to the City taking there & and bringing back various documents, to and from various financial institutions.

The bus travelled past the London offices of the Commonwealth of Australia building which was situated at the end of The Strand. One day I decided to get off there to make enquiries about migrating to Australia. The receptionist at her desk directed me to the offices of the NSW Government, youth migration representatives. It was responsible for arranging migration of unaccompanied minors, which was necessary, for all persons under a certain age who wished to migrate under this scheme.

Following the formalities of supplying character references and a satisfactory Health Examination report together with the payment of 5 Pounds Sterling, I was accepted as being suitable. Later I learnt that the British Government paid the balance of the fare.

One day in June 1950, I was advised to attend Liverpool Station in London, to take a train to Tilbury where the vessel “SS Ormonde” was to sail the same day to Australia. It was an old steamer which was built to be a passenger ship in early 1900s.Upon the train’s arrival at shipside I was directed to a cabin with 6 bunks, in the bowels of the ship. The other 5 cohabitants were men much older than me. Other boys in the BBM group, were placed in other cabins. No air-conditioning was available only air pumped through ducting.

We were accompanied on the voyage by 2 adults who supervised & managed the “Little Brothers”, as we were known.

The first stop for refueling etc. was Port Said in Egypt, at the head of the Suez Canal. We were not allowed to disembark and after a couple of hours we entered the Canal.

A day or so later we stopped at Aden. Here we could go ashore for a couple of hours.

Next stop was Colombo, Ceylon, now Sri Lanka. Again, we enjoyed some time ashore.



First port was Fremantle, 7 days sailing time from Colombo. We were greeted by a group of ladies, being members of “The British Empire Society”. They had chartered a coach to take us on a tour around Perth and surrounding suburbs. Lunch was also provided at one of their homes.

Next port was Melbourne, where again we were taken on a tour, with lunch provided by another group of British Empire Society ladies. Next day we sailed into Sydney Harbour to disembark.

Firstly, we all needed to have a health checkup, another coach ride to a site at Kensington, a suburb of Sydney. Then, the group was split into 2 lots, one those going on the land- farming & the others destined for other vocations.

The farmers were taken to a training farm in the Liverpool district, the rest including me to a BBM hostel (house) in Homebush (Sydney suburb). At the hostel. there was a local person employed to find. employment & accommodation for the new arrivals.

I was very fortunate on both counts.

  1. I was accepted to live with a family in Castlecrag, a lovely suburb and the family accepted me as one of their own.
  2. I was offer and accepted a position with the National Bank.
  3. I stayed with the Bank for about 2 years during which. I was called upon to serve a mandatory 6 months as a Conscript (National Service).
  4. After returning to life as a civilian and the Bank, I was appointed initially to City and suburban branches in Sydney metro area, but also sent to Wagga Wagga. It was there that I decided to take a short trip back to London, with the definite intention to return to Sydney after 12 months. This I did but not before meeting a lady who became my wife. I returned to Sydney with her on the “P & O “Strathaird “
  5. I had no interest to return to work at the Bank & obtained a position as a production clerk. this proved to be unsatisfying.
  6. One day a read in the Sydney Morning Herald vacancy for a Sales Rep. Applied and was accepted. After 2 years I was appointed to the position of Victorian Manager. 5 years later I was offered a position back in the Sydney Head Office, which I accepted.
  7. In 1986, I started my own Import business, Which I am now closing at the age of 89 years.

I very much appreciate the initial help from BBM & to Australia for being so generous to me, by giving me the opportunities that I have enjoyed.

Every day, I remind myself How Fortunate I was.

God Bless Australia!






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