Ship name / Flight number: Orcades
Arrival date: 22/07/1949
*Left: Ronald and his family mid 1956
Ronald Edge’ 49
When I stepped ashore from RMS “Orcades” at Darling Harbour on 29th July 1949, I was one little brother who wished I had never heard of the BBM and I never wanted to come to Australia, but I had no say in the matter. I was never asked by my God-fearing, born again Christian control freak father. I was just told “you are going to Australia and that’s the end of the matter.”
My wish when I left school aged 14 was to join the Royal Navy as a Boy Seaman but my father had other ideas and told me I would work in an office like he did. He even got me a job as an office boy. It wasn’t long before I got the sack for being cheeky to a senior female staff person.
I was then told by my father that he had arranged for me to go to an agricultural hostel and I would be working on a farm. I was taught to milk a cow by hand which came in handy later on in Australia. I did not realise the hostel was in Preston, a far distance from my home in Liverpool and I would only be able to go home twice a month but each time I went I got Navy application forms from Lancaster and would give them to my father who would give me a thick ear and destroy them and tell me I would never wear a navy uniform.
On arrival in Sydney we all went to the BBM farm at Fairfield from there three of us were sent to different properties in the small and very cold town of Walcha. The farm I was sent to was a long way from town. Even the people next door so to speak of was quite a long way away. The boss of the property and his wife treated me well, however Walcha compared to my home town of Liverpool UK was not my cup of tea and It didn’t take long for me to decide that I would find some way of getting out of the place. I saw an advert in the paper for people to join the “armed forces” so I wrote requesting the application forms for the Royal Australian Navy.
To cut a long story short I was accepted and signed on for six years in March 1953. I was a member of the ships company of the aircraft carrier HMAS Sydney and we had just been told that we woulg proceed to the UK to represent Australia at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. I never told my UK family I was on my way. On arrival in Portsmouth I obtained a weeks leave and was soon on my way to Liverpool and my moment of triumph. I knocked on the front door of my parents’ house and the look of amazement on my father’s face was my reward. When he saw me standing there in the uniform he said I would never wear, with a look that said “how the hell did he get back here?”
Six weeks in the UK was long enough to convince me that home was now Australia, not England. I am now 90 year old, father of two boys and one girl, and grandfather of 5 and great grandfather of 9. My wife and I have just celebrated our 68th wedding anniversary. We have lived in Newcastle since 1965. It’s been a very good life even though it had a rocky start so far as Australia was concerned.
No one from the BBM ever contacted me or checked on my welfare and my so-called “Big Brother” never contacted me, nor anyone in Walcha representing BBM.
Contact Little Brother