Click for music





RMS Oronsay

Depart Fremantle WA June 28th 1937

Arrive London UK July 29th 1937





From Mums Diary 2nd trip to UK from June 28th 1937 (Monday).

AUSTRALIA TO LONDON per RMS Oronsay Fremantle June 28th’37.

Dear Mother,

Sailing day today!

After a nice lunch with the Allens at Fremantle we left for the boat, taking our friends on board to look over the ship. We had quite a few friends to see us off including Vera Sims, the Allens, Jack & Edna Penman & Kathie (Kath Flanagan)& family & her friends. We held streamers to them until we lost sight on the wharf. One of Vera’s lasted long after the others had broken. Being dark when we left we sought our cabin to find it very comfortable. We arranged the many nice flowers in glasses & proceeded to read our many telegrams, 15 in all, from you & Gordon mother, Will & Ad, Bob & Annie, Harry & Lil, M Robinson (I take to be old Mrs Robby at the Gums) Lorna & Johnny, Mrs Mitchelson, Jean Buller family, Weston, Hayes, Tom & Ruby Jordan family, Mrs Penman, Ethel & Bert Gard. The boys are very fascinated with the boat & are enjoying themselves immensely. We were very tired and retired to bed early.

Tuesday 29th The ship log being 264 knots for the 24 hours. Quite a bit of excitement at 7 this morning. A chap who had been disappointed in love jumped overboard. There was a scream & the bell rang & a lifebouy was thrown over. The ship turned back while a boat was lowered. The seas were high & it was a great sight to see the rescue made. However, the chap was put in hospital & found to be suffering from nervous breakdown & I suppose will be tried at Colombo. The day passed without any further excitement. A sports club was formed & tomorrow starts the round of games. After dinner dancing was in full swing but as I have a bad cold I did not join in but went to bed with my book. There is a very fine nursery on the deck & the children fill in most of their time in there & so far have not been a scrap of trouble. There is a laundry & ironing room available to passengers & we find the trip so far very comfortable. They are all British stewards & we are fortunate in striking a good chap. The food is good & we have a table for 4. The children do not have late dinner with us but are served at 5pm & are in bed before we have our dinner. There is plenty of fruit & nuts & biscuits always available. I have not opened the precious ones you gave us as I think perhaps a little later on we will be tired of ship fare & enjoy the homemade ones.

Wednesday 30th. A very dull rough morning spent the time on deck. Have not made acquaintance with anyone in particular, The crowd being very mixed, one has to be careful. There are a lot of foreigners on board. The log today was 389 knots & the tote won by ourselves –Lowfield-. The clocks are again retarded 15 minutes.

Thursday… Games as usual Log 365 knots clocks retarded another 15 minutes. Played bridge supper with friends. Played games during the afternoon & made acquaintanc with a Miss McIvor from Rockhampton. Pictures in the evening were quite a thrill.

TopDeck Swimming pool {Click to enlarge}Dad and Eric with lifebelt Walter with friend in water.... 2nd Photo Boys on side Dad in Water ocean in background behind boys

Friday…the boat still rolling a lot & getting very hot. The competitions are in full swing. Its quite a job finding ones opponents by number which is worn by each passenger. I have been lucky at bridge, Tennis & deck quoits up todate. The swimming baths filled today, the children had a great time paddling & wetting themselves all over. Won the second round of bridge this afternoon. Gala night tonight at dinner everyone received such a funny little hat & the decks were all decorated & we had a great night. Ship log was 384 knots & clocks retarded 15 minutes again.

Saturday. Very hot today. Done some washing but will iron later on when its cool this evening. The children are having a great time. They had a swim at 4 oc.. the log was 378 knots clocks retarded 15 mts. We had a swell race meeting. Gentlemen nominate the horses & lady jockey, they had a tote & everything connected with races. It was quite a thrill at the finish the winner of each race competed for a cup.

Sunday..Very hot and squally. We went to church in the 1st class lounge room and enjoyed it very much. The Captain took the service. Played bridge & won another match Sunday School for the children then a swim & in the evening wrote letters in the music room. Log was 376 & clocks retarded 15 minutes.

Monday.. Hot indeed today. Log was 383 & clocks again retarded 15 minutes. Played games all day and am now in the final at Bridge. Pictures at night quite a good show. Crossed the equator at 4 o’clock. Had souvenir menu’s at dinner.

Tuesday .. Hot again this morning. All looking forward to Colombo tomorrow, playing at bridge for the final this afternoon. Gala dance tonight to wind up the first round of sport the log today was 372 knots. Quite a spell on the deck this morning. The Chap who jumped overboard at Fremantle is gone this morning, he jumped over just at daylight. The ship stopped & went back but the seas were so high they could not find him. Poor soul, his troubles are over now. I was unlucky enough to loose at bridge, got second. Dancing and prize distribution tonight & Colombo in the morning…love Olive.

Wednesday (7-7-37) Colombo this morning. We set off on a trip to Kandy at 9am about 30 in a Charrie. Eric & the children came as well. The drive was just lovely. The beautiful green grass & trees astounded everyone as we did not expect to see everything so fresh in such a hot place.
Charabang Group to Kandy
We had a couple of stops on the way to cool the engine as it is a very steep climb being …..Ft above sea level. We arrived at the hotel about 1am (1PM) and had a delightful lunch. The children were treated like little Gods. The black waiters could not do enough for the "little Masters" & after lunch took them away to the Lav & washed their hands for them.
Group Kandi Tour {Click to enlarge}
Walter is quite thrilled & not a bit scared. We then explored the shops & bazzars & then the "Temple of Allah" & started on our return trip at 3.30. We stopped at a creek to see the performing Elephants, Walter had snaps taken on the Elephants. Next we explored Liptons Tea factory and then a native zoo. Had a hold up by a Native Police on the way, who took the name of a dark chap for riding on the running board. It was quite exciting and such a crowd of blacks crowded round. We had a bit of engine trouble & finally got back to Colombo at 7.40 & had tea at the G.O.H. which is a beautiful Hotel – after tea went bargain hunting – had quite a bit of fun.
Elephants - Rickshaws (G.E & Walt)Click to enlarge
We returned to the ship at 12 o’clock all feeling very tired but quite delighted with a good day ashore I got some little presents for all which I will be posting shortly. Thursday….The sea very rough and dreadfully hot & everyone jolly tired. A second sports committee formed of which I am a member & was put in charge of the bridge. Quite an easy job too. I got a partner who could not play so did not last long. Mrs Harris (a friend I have made) & myself, were so disgusted there had been nothing for the children so we arranged a little concert which every child had to do something. Started in a small way & was such a huge success we received £3--- in donations so gave each child a present & lollies & a cool drink. Everyone quite enjoyed it & want us to do it again but the committee were so sore over it we don’t think it worth while. However we were glad to give the kiddies a good time. I think this was the reason they elected me on the new committee. We had pictures in the evening but we went to bed as we were all tired out. The log was 102 knots – clocks retared 30 mins.
Friday… Still very hot. I got up early & done some washing before breakfast. Walter has prickly heat bad & they both have colds so I am not letting them go in the swimming pool again. Up to date they have been very good & not worried me at all. They very often talk of Granny & all at home. We got some little cards for Walters birthday I am sending you one for a souvenir. We passed several ships today outward bound. Played in several games but lost most of them. I feel too hot & fagged to be bothered. Played bridge this afternoon. Gala dance at night & had caps and balloons & lots of fun. Log 402 miles clocks back 30 minutes.
Saturday : A dreadful hot night but a nice breeze up on deck. Spent the morning chatting with one and another. Attended a committee meeting and arrangements made for a Gymkhana this afternoon on the boat deck. Later – sports were quite good. We all had a good laugh. Playing Housie Housie tonight and Eric has gone to a Masonic Lodge evening in 1st class. He is giving a song but blessed getting dressed up in the heat. Log 404 miles & clocks retarded 30 mins.
Sunday . A dreadful day. We got into a monsoon last night & are being battered to pieces – the ship pitched and tossed all day almost everyone of the passengers were sick. I had a wretched day & was sick at night. The boys kept up well. Loge was 375 miles.
Monday – Walters birthday July 12. The fairies brought all the parcels & wasn’t he delighted. The cake from Auntie & those pretty caps from Grannie they were delighted. Daddy got him a big Oronsay Sailor Boy and he loves it. Lots of friends gave him little presents and boxes of sweets. The day is a bit better than yesterday but still very rough. The children had a nice little birthday party in the afternoon & singing & games. A race meeting in the evening was quite a thrill. We finished up 1/6d in pocket & had a good laugh. Log today was 359 miles clocks back 20 mins.
Tuesday…Glad to say we got out of the Monsoon last night and are feeling tiptop again now. Sports are in full swing again for the second half of the trip. We get to Aden at 12 noon. Its terribly hot. I went ashore with friends & bought a few shirts & pyjamas for Eric & the lads 1/9d for silk pyjamas & 9d for silk shirts. There is no duty here. We went for a motor drive round and then back to the ship at 5.30 & sailed at 6 o’clock. The temp was 120 in Aden. We had a fancy dress ball in the evening but I felt too tired after being ashore so we just looked on. Eric & the nips had quite a good time watching the natives doing tricks. Log was 406 miles & clocks back 20 mts.
Wednesday – a dreadfully hot day in the Red Sea, no breeze & all we did was lay about in our chairs & drink iced drinks. The boys were in the baths nearly all day. In the evening we had a scavenger hunt which caused a lot of fun. We had supper and drinks with Mr and Mrs Beetie & then bed. Log was 287 miles.
Thursday – A lovely breeze blowing everyone feeling much better. Played competition games all day got into two finals but was not lucky enough to win either. Had a chat with a lady from Perth who is going to Newport for a holiday, she offered to take anything back for me if I wished to send it so perhaps I may take advantage as she is staying awhile. Pictures at night quite a good programme. Log was 380 miles clock back 20 mts.
Friday – A nice breeze blowing again this morning. Have had my hair washed & set for 1/- by a girl passenger so am writing my letters while it is drying. We get to Port Suez at 4 in the morning & I am going with a party to Cairo. We leave the boat at 8am and do not get back to Port Said until 10-30 at night so it will be a long day. The childrens fancy dress parade this afternoon and a high tea. I have got the boys costumes out. They are in for a swim now. Presentation of prizes tonight and that winds up the sports for the trip. Log for Friday 386 miles….Posting at Port Suez love….Olive
   Click to enlarge
  Photos of G.O's trip to Cairo & Pyramids including camel ride.
July 17 Saturday….Dear Mother, arrived Port Suez at 6.30 had breakfast at seven and then off on the tender to start our trip to Cairo. Twenty cars left altogether. It was a pleasant trip through the desert, all bitumen roads. Halfway we stopped at Cooks Rest House for tea and sandwiches & then on to Cairo we got there at 11am. It is a wonderful city & many wonderful sights to see, one would need to spend days there to see it. We were first taken to the museum & shown the most important parts, mostly the discoveries of the tomb of King Tutancanna. From there we motored to the Cital, an ancient palace from the uppermost windows we had a great view of Cairo & the pyramids. After that we were taken through the native bazaar but did not have time to buy anything as much as we would have liked. Then went to the Victoria Hotel & had a nice lunch & on to the Pyramids. It was a lovely drive along the Nile & then all had to mount a camel on the trail to the pyramids. It was quite a thrill they are very wonderful and we were fortunate in having a good guide who told us all there was to know about the place. We then returned to a Houseboat on the River Nile & had a lovely afternoon tea & then to the station at 5 o’clock to get the train back to Port Said. We had reserved carriages & it was a very nice trip. We had dinner on the train . Egypt is a wonderful fertile country & there is vegetation all the way. Their water supply depends on the Nile. The lands are all irrigated from wells where bullocks pull a wheel around and around. We saw many funny sights & the day was not hot so our trip was really enjoyed. We arrived at Port Said at 9.30. Had a look round the town & then back on to the boat at midnight. Eric and the boys enjoyed the canal very much. The boys were most interested in all they saw. Eric took them ashore for a little while & they bought a Turks cap each. The log was 259.
Photo - Sea of Sand
Sunday – Lovely weather again now we are in the blue Mediterranean Sea, everyone is tired after their excursion yesterday, I slept nearly all day, had community singing in the evening. Log was 164 & clocks retarded 30 mts.
Monday – Another nice day again. Did some washing this morning & spent most of the time sitting on deck as we are passing an island with some interesting sights. Ironed after lunch & had a sleep. Captain presented the prizes at night & we had dancing. Log was 344 and clocks retarded 30 mts.
Photo –Wharf Naples Photo - Customs House Naples
Tuesday – Quite chilly this morning most people have coats on. We can see Italy & will pass the Straits of Messina at 4 o’clock &Stromboli at 11.30 tonight. The Matron is taking the children down to the engine room this afternoon. They are quite excited about it. We get to Naples early in the morning & spend the day there. We are going on a tour to Pompii & then its only one day trip to Toulone so the time seems to pass quickly now. Received letters from England by air at Port Suez. I am looking forward to a letter from home soon now.
Ships log was 344 & clocks retarded 30 mts again. Dancing and Bridge tonight. We cut out cake today and its just lovely. Eric says tell Gran it’s the best one she ever made. Its lovely & moist. I gave the steward a piece and he left a little note in the cabin saying how nice it was. Its such a treat we are so tired of ships fare. Posting now as mail closes for Naples love to all….Olive
Wednesday 21st Naples – Arrived about 10 o’clock a very hot morning. Bid goodbye to a few friends leaving for the continent. We then joined a party Mr & Mrs Beatie & family to see the ruins. It was all very wonderful & the drive through Naples (16 miles) was most interesting. We took several snaps of different parts & had a drink at a quaint little hotel, on the return journey we were shown over the Coral Factory & saw them making beads etc. We each purchased a small article for a memento of Naples. Back to the boat for lunch. Quite a lot of hawkers came on the ship just before we sailed, several drunken sailors came on deck and had an awful fight in front of the passengers. Lots of excitement on the "Orient line". We sail at 5 o’clock. Pictures in the evening saw a very good show. After the pictures more thrills. A young woman drank lysol and tried to commit suicide. However a friend of mine (Miss Doherty) gave the alarm & they got her in time. She is getting on alright but is under arrest & will be handed over to the police in England.
Thursday – Quite a nice day again traveling very fast & arrive at Toulon in the morning. Write a few letters & felt very homesick all day. Did some washing & ironing. Dancing in the evening Log was & clocks retarded 30 mts.
Boys in their Sailor Suits (click to enlarge)
Friday – Toulon – A very pretty sight pulling in to see the shops right on the waters edge. We set out to walk & found the Post Office posted the packets with french stamps & hope they arrive safely. We then went to a shop & bought the boys a nice sailors suit each & I bought a sweet blouse. There were some lovely shops there but as they closed at 12 & we sailed at 2 we did not have much time to look about. Shoes were lovely & very cheap at Toulon. The boys are very delighted with their sailor suits & Walter wishes Granny could see him in it. I will send a snap of them. Spent the afternoon sleeping & dancing at night.
Saturday – Getting in the war zone now & all the water tight doors & portholes are closed. We have to wander through the dinning room pantry and kitchen to get to our cabin. They are closed in case of striking a floating mine. We are traveling at top speed. Spent a quiet day, had a concert at night organised by the Masons. It was quite a success Eric & I both gave a song.
(Eric’s note : I remember this part of the trip having to come up through the kitchen pantry to get on deck in the evening and seeing the fires on land on the Spanish side where the war was being fought at that time.)
Sunday – arrived at Gibralta at 9.30 went ashore with Mr Ball & Bill Jones & got a car & drove all over the rock & saw all there was to see. Eric bought me a lovely evening bag, all beads inset with pearls. Its very sweet. We had a great feed of grapes. The boys thought it great to have the little baskets of fruit. There is great unrest all around here. We saw battleships & hospital ships of all nations & heard all sorts of war talk. A town 5 miles across from Gibralta was bombed, the night before we got here. We were escorted by a British ship, we sailed again at 1 o’clock & had quite enjoyed our morning ashore. Now on the last stage of the trip & going full speed ahead. Log was & clocks retarded 30 mts.
Monday – Getting quite cold we are out with wool coats on today & everyone looking forward to seeing England soon. Seen quite a lot of ships of all descriptions. Saw General Franco on a ship passing right beside us today. Did some washing and ironing again, played bridge with Mr and Mrs Chalenger at night. Log was & clocks put back 20 mts bring us up to 1 hour daylight saving in England.
Tuesday – In the Bay of Biscay this morning & quite rough. Very cold this morning. Have started to pack up our things ready for London. Had a most interesting afternoon, four of us were taken by Mr Scott (Chief Engineer) all over the interior of the ship. After going all over the engine room & seeing the propeller shaft working we went to the refrigerator rooms & then to the cold storage & storerooms. It was marvelous , we thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon.
That is where Mum finished her letter writing, on the last few days she did not include the number log miles run. My recollections of the end of the sea voyage is that we arrived at "Tilbury Docks" being met by my fathers brother, Uncle Stanley, who quickly organised our transfer from there to the main railway station in London to catch the express train to Newport. He wanted to give us all the thrill of traveling on the undergound railway and having put us all on the tube went off in a taxi with our cases to the main station. Unfortunately he wasn’t all that familiar with the undergound himself and put us on the wrong train, so that instead of going into central London we actually went further out. When what had happened was realised, I recall us getting off the train and hurrying across to the other side of the tracks to catch the undergound train going back into London Central. Dad was furious when we eventually arrived at the station and were rushing across the overhead bridge only to see the Newport express, with all our luggage on board, steaming out of the station. We had tea and buns at the station refreshment rooms as we had to wait an hour for the next train which wasn’t an express and stopped at a number of stations enroute from London to Newport. Granddad and Grandma met us at the station several hours later than our luggage and took us to their home ‘Kingsmore’ for a short holiday before we moved on to Swansea in Wales to live. Dad (George Eric Meacock) obtained work as a Bar Mill Superintendent at the Duffryn Steel Works, Gravesend Steel and Tin Plate Company Gorseinon nr Swansea. His brother Donald Meacock was a Managing Director of a tinplating steel works in the area.

{{Click on following photos to enlarge}}

Family in Garden   Eric & Walter trainset from Graham Newport 1937 photo sent to Iris & Les Kerr Severn Bridge
"Kingsmore" in Newport.       Flat in Tycoch Swansea         Sketty Rd School
Walter and I attended the Sketty Road Junior Primary School, which was immediately across the road and opposite the Flat above the Midland Bank named "Lwyn Arosfa" where we lived for some months until we moved to a cottage named 'Silvermere' at 10 Lonmafron Avenue where we remained until leaving to return to Australia.
Silvermere (1981),    Friends from the Avenue,    Entrance Mumbles Pier.
While living in this cottage we made many trips to Mumbles Beach and several trips to Newport, including Christmas in 1938 with all the family present.
Christmas 1938 Family Photos -Last Walter, Auntie Iris, Eric.

Mumbles Beach & Peir {some taken in 1981 by REM}
Swansea Bay Mumbles, Oystermouth Castle, Yacht Eric won Fremantle WA c.1936
World War 11 was about to start, a family air raid shelter was built in the yard while public parks and gardens all had public shelters constructed in them and the population was being issued with gas masks before the family sailed back to Australia, leaving UK on the P & O liner "Mooltan" returning through the Suez Canal to Ceylon (Sri Lanka)and across the Indian Ocean to Fremantle arriving on the 7th March 1939. George Eric with friends on ship.
Travelling by train to Salmon Gums I remember remarking on the way the Australian trains swayed from side to side when compared with the UK trains, caused no doubt by the use of the narrow gauge lines here. The family stayed in the Kerr Family Home at Salmon Gums for some 6 to 8 months, with us boys attending school and dad (George Eric) working on the goldmines in Norseman, while a modest, Asbestos and Iron, 2 bedroom house was built on the block purchased at 26 Mildura Street Norseman. The house finished the family moved in with a minimum of cast- off furniture from other family members, beds mattresses etc., shipped out from England as passengers luggage & Glady's Olive's iron framed player piano, which had been stored while she was away in UK in its large wood case, in the garage of her brother William Kerr at 125 Princep Street.
  26 Mildura St c.1945
George Eric was back diamond drilling for the goldmines and from April to June 1940 was at Beria via Laverton and then back to Norseman and other goldmining areas. On 15th April 1941 his endeavour to enlist in the R.A.A.F. was successful. Earlier that month returning to Norseman from Perth interviews, he announced to Olive that he had purchased a wooden table and chairs from "Bairds", as he wasn't going to sit on boxes etc., any longer. This did not please Olive who had been saving up to buy the kitchen setting she wanted. After some heated discussion telegrams were sent to cancel the order and the more modern chrome cream and green kitchen setting was bought with the money.
George Eric & Jim Dillon in Melbourne Vic.GEM Wedding 1973
George Eric's RAAF dossier has been obtained from the defence archives. He served as a guard at Pearce and Cunderdin in WA. Service Police at Exhibition Buildings Melbourne Victoria and Mt Gambia in South Australia before being returned to WA for discharge.. medically unfit 21-8-1944. During the 3 years of war service the marriage between G.Eric and Olive, which had been on very rocky ground from as early as 1935, finally broke down completely. George Eric did not return to the family on discharge but moved back to Victoria where he worked in numerous capacities including- Steward at the Masonic Hall, living in Melbourne and Dandenong before moving to Queensland Gold Coast where he worked as a Bank Steward and eventually as a partner in a newsagency before retiring to live at Berleigh Heads as a pensioner. He sought and obtained a divorce on 9th September 1969 in the Supreme Court of Queensland, but did not marry his long time companion,Mrs Ruth Hollumby, the couple driving across Australia returned to Western Australia in c.1970 living in Victoria Park until Ruth passed away. George Eric then lived as caretaker in units at Osborne Park, Gosnells and in the Salvation Army "old men's" home at Seaforth on two occasions, before finally settling into the Masonic Homes in Mt. Lawley where he met and married Mrs Elsie Ford. The couple had two holiday trips home to England and returned to live at Mt Lawley until his sudden death on 11th June 1977. Gladys Olivia (Olive) never spoke of her marriage break down to Jane Kerr (her mother) or any other family member, although it is generally thought that she confided in the family doctor at the time (Dr John Downing, a great friend of hers). She was known to have commented over the years when asked about her husband "that she had lost him during the war", a truth that was generally accepted by people with sympathy and never enlarged upon by Olive. During the war and for some years after Olive was the Secretary and then President and a driving force in the Norseman Red Cross, she received her 25 year Long Service Medal, number 4961, before retiring from Norseman Branch. They did sterling work to provide hospital support and fund raising- knitting for the forces etc. About 1942 Olive worked as accountant/under manager of "Blizzards Drapery" a position she continued to hold until 1947, when, with her brother William as a silent partner, she bought "Pritchard's Drapery" in Robert Street Norseman, renaming the business "Meacock's". Walter recalls he was studying at the convent doing his sub-leaving when Olive took over "Pritchards" and old Mrs MacCorkill coming over from her small shop near the Roads Board Offices, to help Olive and himself scrape the jarrah floor boards clean. The business flourished and was run by Olive until her retirement in late 1969. During this period Olive also did a lot of dressmaking, first for family and eventually for many Norseman weddings and the annual Red Cross Debutantes Ball. She was also in charge of the Dressmaking Classes at the Norseman Tech for over 20 years, at one time teaching from 7pm to 9pm five nights a week. These evening classes at the State School resulted in hundreds of Norseman women learning dressmaking.
Walter & GO 1953, Una & Jeff Cousins 1953,  with Bonnie Martin NewPlymouth NZ 1954
One evening in c.1958 after the class was dismissed and she was locking the school yard gate she fell and broke her thigh, and lay for several hours before being discovered by the Headmaster and taken to hospital. A pin was inserted in her thigh and she remained in hospital first in Kalgoorlie District and then the Norseman hospital for some six months. Olive also caught hepatitis when an epidemic hit Norseman and suffered a blood disorder from this which eventually led to her death.
Meacock's Drapery c.1950  Inside Olive & headgirl neice Iris Kerr  
100 Women of Goldfields Honour Board includes Olive Meacock for her community work in Norseman over the years including dress making
In the 1960's Olive made numerous holiday trips, including sea voyages in the pacific and on her retirement visited England once again for a holiday before taking up residence at 52 Williams Road Melville where she lived until her death on 16th Feb. 1974.
Sitmar Cruise   Aunty Lil, Lyn, Olive 1960's Norseman.  Eric & Carolyn at Grave.