Among the passengers embarking were a group of children aged between 6 years and twelve. They had left Southhampton as child migrants in mind November the previous year as winter was approaching and were dressed accordingly.
The temperature that day was 107 degrees Fahrenheit. Their destination was the Lady Northcote Farm School at Glenmore, Bacchus Marsh. The children were driven in cars owned by prominent Melbourne businessmen.
The object of this scheme was to make farm labourers of the boys and domestic servants of the girls. What lofty ambitions for these migrant children! As time was to reveal, they became pilots, accountants, nurses, authors, school teachers, a professor of English, diesel mechanics, a couple of business millionaires and radio experts, but all sent out as farm labourers and domestics.
On arrival, the children were placed in cottages of twelve in charge of a middle aged sppinster sent by the employment office, as all able bodied men and women were in the war effort.
The regime during the school holidays was work in the morning and play in the afternoon.
Meals were very basic, but were planned by dieticians and we grew on that monotonous diet. We all thought we were badly done by, but from an adult's aspect we were not.
Cubs, Scouts, Brownies and Guides were available to us but not compulsory. An excellent school and farm library was provided. A debating club was voluntary and concerts performed in the Marsh were always played to full houses. Physical training had to be attended every morning, winter and summer, in bare feet.
Boys never seem to have appetites that can be satisfied, and the storeroom was raided a lot. The store manager was an elderly Scot who knew what went on, but he never reported the boya because the Principal, a retired Army Colonel who used to be head of a military prison, was fond of administering severe doses of the strap.
Middle aged spinsters should never be in charge of children, unless they have degrees in child psychology and child care. Mental abuse is far worse than physical, as it leaves lasting scars.
As a closing note, the boys soccer and football teams and the girs' hockey and netball teams were never defeated. Needless to say this did not endear the 'Pommie Kids' to the locals. The teams were very fit as spare hours were spent catching rabbits which were sold to professional trappers. There was a rabbit plague and catching rabbits earnt much needed pocket money.