Michael Roach

Ship name / Flight number: Oronsay

Arrival date: 09/01/1953

My birth certificate of 25th January 1935 shows that I was born in the district of Hendon, sub district Edgware. My earliest and best recollections of my younger days was moving into a new home without electricity but warm due to a wood fire. My parents had hoped to settle in Colindale in Middlesex but had to move to rented homes; moving to Ivy Road and finally to Olive Road, Cricklewood.

I was the youngest son, having two brothers and we settled happily into our home at 131. My father, Edward, was employed by Gamages as a delivery driver and my mother was kept busy at home with three children. Dad had been in the Territorial Army based in Wiltshire and had met our mother Olive there during her work as a maid in the nearby country estate.

World War II arrived in 1939 and dad went straight into the army joining the R.E.M.E and mum started work at Smith’s Clocks. Smiths had commenced making instruments for our aircraft and other military vehicles. The Blitz in London caused much concern for mum and I was evacuated at the age of five years to Bristol to live with my aunt and uncle. My two elder brothers- one enlisted into the Royal Navy and middle brother was evacuated to Wales. I attended different schools from Bristol to London and back to Bristol when the flying bombs attacked at our house in Cricklewood. It was damaged and as it was a daytime raid I was home alone with my dog. The blast in the street behind Olive Rd blew in our glass windows and the front door was completely gone. Also my puppy never returned. As a result of this I suffered with bad nerves and once more I was welcomed back to my aunt and uncle in Bristol. I was so lucky to have such a loving family and the safe return home of my dad and brother.

I will not recount my war experiences, but as you can imagine my schoolwork had been impacted by the war and perhaps, I should have done better. My mother had progress from Smith’s Clocks to the telephone exchange in Cricklewood and she decided that her youngest should seek a better life with more opportunity than that in the United Kingdom. Life was still austere with war debts and shortage of better food. She was very clever in often suggesting that we travel into the city and then walked past the various state offices with colourful posters on display with beautiful rolling plains and hills, red, rosy apples and sunshine. You could say that my mother had the most influence in my wish to join BBM and go to NSW to work on a farm. On reflection it was a bold move from a city boy to a country lad not having any rural experience. I was fortunate that my application was accepted.

So here I am I am I, Oronsay 1952 arriving in Fremantle on 1st January 1953. You will gather that my father Ted did not actively promote the idea for my move to Australia but he was very loving in supporting the decision and he gave me good advice such as “look after your feet they are always important” and also to know that the family would miss me but to go with much love.

Upon arrival transferred to the Farm Training Camp at Liverpool and we were given instructions regarding milking and also riding a horse.

This was quite a shock for a lad from outer London, especially as I developed asthma from the horse hair.  The staff at the Farm ensured that I received treatment at Liverpool Hospital, and the Doctor then discovered that I was sleeping on a horse hair mattress. Remedy found!

I was selected to work at Yanco with the Watts Family, but my stay there was all too brief as asthma reared it’s ugly head and the family and myself were robbed by an itinerant worker. Mr. Watts felt I would be better off in the City, as I had asthma again,so I moved to the Hostel at Homebush.

This was a wonderful place, good company and excellent management by Mr. Waite.

I then worked for McKay Massey Harris from April 1953 to July 1954.  Very good employers and I enjoyed a happy time in the Service Department with Mr. Henry, a good Manager. I certainly learnt much regarding the geography of N.S.W. due to the need for urgent parts to go by Rail to the travelling service mechanics.

I played cricket for the Company social team and also soccer for a Church side.  Life in Sydney was good and a couple of us moved out to board with a family in Ryde and then Concord.

Our group regularly read the Sydney Morning Herald for job opportunities – we were young and adventurous! Then we spotted an advertisement for young men to go to Papua New Guinea as apprentice engineers with Gibbes Sepik Airways.  So, off we went to PNG bound for Goroka in the Highlands.

Much growing up took place; the company had a marvelous esprit de corps led by Bobby Gibbes a well known highly decorated RAAF Fighter Pilot WW2.  Bob offered me a job in the operational side of the airline and I progressed to be his Manager at Wewak.

I enjoyed the Airline Industry and progressed from GSA to TAA/Australian then Qantas.  I worked in airport dispatch, management, Marketing and Sales and Finance management.  The Industry was a wonderful and exciting one and I made many friends.

I met my Australian wife in Madang, PNG.  Margaret was a Sister at the Hospital and we married in 1965.  We have three children (two daughters and a son).  Our family can boast of having five grandchildren, namely 3 young lasses and two young lads.  A loving and happy Family and we have a close relationship.

One Daughter (single) and our married son live in Canberra.  Our second daughter is married and lives in Melbourne.  We like to think that we stay as fit as possible and lead sensible life styles. I am proud of my wonderful family.  I know that Australia is such a good and fair democratic country. I also have expressed this opinion in short talks with my Probus club in Canberra.

Thank you to our lovely staff at BBM in Sydney for the excellent communication skills and support. It is so good to hear of the good things still being managed by our BBM.


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