Interviewee: Mr Allen Veasey
Date of Birth: 6 June 1932
Interviewer: Meryl Gardiner
Date of Interview: July 2018
Verbatim Transcript: Meryl Gardiner
Synopsis: Meryl Gardiner
BOHG No: 2018-004
Total Length: 25 minutes 46 seconds
Allen Veasey migrated from England to Australia with his wife Iris and their three young children in June 1968. Their story is typical of the strength of character of British people and others who came out to us and became successful, and happy and quality citizens here.
Allen was born in Exhall, five miles from Coventry.
His early childhood was not a happy one. His father had died before Allen was six. His widowed mother took in washing to provide for Allen and his two brothers, Tom and Ron. They were poor and times were hard.
He was fortunate however, when a stepfather became his friend and wise mentor.
One day during his school-days he witnessed the sky ‘turning black’ with hundreds of heavy bombers flying overhead – it was the beginning of the big bombing attacks.
With his stepfather and brothers, he witnessed the burning of Coventry – not a sight for a young lad to remember. He re-counts the events vividly.
His Dad, as he now called his stepfather, counselled him to become an electrician, knowing that tradesmen would be in short supply and high demand once the war was over.
Allen had enlisted in the RAF at the age of seventeen and continued improving his electricians’ trade.
He and Iris met in their early teens and married very young, like so many war-time marriages.
Iris, however, did not enjoy good health and the stage was reached when they were advised to go to a warmer country.
The decision to come to Australia with their three children was made with a ‘round table’ discussion. Marilyn was at fifteen years of age and understandably did not want to come and leave her friends. The boys, Derek and Colin, three and six years younger, were keen. Majority vote won.
Then came the applications, health checks and all that migration entails.
The sea voyage out on the ship Fairsea was an adventure in itself and their arrival in Fremantle also. Each are detailed succinctly.
Luckily within two days, during which they were accommodated in the Waverley Hotel, Allen was interviewed by an Engineer from the La Porte Mineral Sands Refinery in Bunbury and was given employment there.
Travelling to Bunbury by the Australind ‘express’ train proved a further adventure, and a house in Carey Park had been allocated for them.
Work as an electrician began within two days of arrival and the sixty-eight dollars a week was the best wage he had ever had. Life looked good.
However, Bunbury seemed only a village and before long the family moved to the industrial centre of Kwinana, south of Fremantle. Allen, Iris and daughter Marilyn who was now in her later teen-age, were quickly and well employed.
Allen worked as an electrician, moving to various companies and improving their position steadily. At one stage he was contracting for O’Donnell Griffin at the Pinjarra Alumina Refinery, and still later becoming Foreman Electrician for Cockburn Cement in Kwinana, the largest cement company in the Southern Hemisphere. Housing steadily improved.
Iris’ health deteriorated, so early retirement to a new house in Donnybrook was arranged. Sadly, she lived only for a few short years. The three children, all married by then proved, supported their father through their grief.
A second marriage some time later, to Mavis, also a widow with adult children proved wonderfully successful. A strong connection to their church, a great involvement with a Social Club, and the outstanding success they achieved whilst managing the Seafarers’ Club in Bunbury for almost eleven years, is all included in their story. Helping others seemed to be their motto, love always their strength.
Allen and his family achieved so much through sheer endeavour, work and care and had proved themselves really worthy citizens of Australia when tragedy struck again.
Mavis also suffered ill health and, after more than twenty years of marriage, she died, leaving Allen again bereft.
Now in his late eighties, those of us who have known Allen, Iris, Mavis and the two merged families, recognise and admire the wonderful Australian family they have become.