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Fred Jordan, German Migrant, 1954

Shipboard Newsletter - Seelen Spiegel

Image: Shipboard Newsletter - Seelen Spiegel

Source: Museum Victoria

Fred Jordan migrated to Australia from Hamburg, Germany, on the MV Fairsea with his mother and step-father at the age of 17. They departed Bremerhaven on 4 December 1953 and arrived in Melbourne on 9 January 1954. Following World War Two Fred spent time in the Assembly Hostel in Bremen.

Fred's mother had married a merchant seaman who had been interred in South Africa during World War Two and repatriated to Germany. Liking the 'British' way of life and looking for more opportunities the family decided to emigrate, and had a choice between Canada and Australia. The family came by assisted passage, with Fred's stepfather signing the standard two year government work contract.

Fred's recollections of the journey over are that of a rough ride around the Portuguese coast, having come from Bremerhaven via Genoa and Pirrhaeus. He recalls an ear infection from the pool and two Christmas celebrations - one Christian and one Orthodox - the Crossing the Equator Ceremony and the Diving for the Cross. He remembers the voyage as an adventure, especially the journey down the Suez and the Strait of Messina. There were a mix of people on board and everyone had to get along. There were plenty of activities available during the voyage, although Fred was not interested in the English classes, preferring the shipboard sports.

On arrival in Melbourne Fred recalls the moment of looking longingly towards the shore and then being shunted straight on to the Bonegilla train. He remembers hardwood burning smells and the Jolimont railway yards as they waited to head towards Moonee Ponds. He recalls seeing the State (now Forum) Theatre and thinking it was a Muslim place of worship. He remembers passing through Kensington, seeing grubby houses and abattoirs and thinking it was the Wild West.

Fred stayed at Bonegilla for one month, then moved to Nyah West on the Murray for two months fruit picking. He was then billeted at Broadmeadows Hostel and was recruited by a painter in Kew. Fred's step-father, who was a plumber by trade, became a fitter and turner and worked for various companies.

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