Another of Evelyn’s letters reads:
‘I arrived in Brisbane on December 7th 1940 with a party of about 175 evacuees from the Baltic States Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. I came with 50 people from Estonia.
After a long and wearisome journey over Russia to Vladivostok we came by boat through Japanese waters down to Hong Kong. Here we were very glad to spend 2 days to visit the beautiful city with its fine scenery. From there we continued our journey past the Philippines down to Thursday Island. After spending some hours there we passed down the coast of Queensland to Cairns. We were very glad to have another break in our journey visiting the picturesque bright and clean-looking town. Everything looked very thriving and the shops most attractive. Many of us came back with delicious fruit – pineapples, pawpaws and in the town one could get very refreshingly cool drinks, which were much appreciated after the tepid water we had been having at table on board.
We all enjoyed seeing Cairns very much. The people were all so friendly. Just before leaving this town two Australians, a Mr Price of Queensland Tourist Board and another came on board to make enquiries about us all. This was a long business and took much time. Mr Price had arranged for accommodation for us at the various hotels in Brisbane, but it was no easy matter as he could not tell whether all the rooms would still be free on our arrival. We found him and his colleague Mr Buchanan of the Tourist Bureau most helpful and kind. We were granted an allowance of £2.10s a week and from that was subtracted the hotel bills. After spending two weeks at the hotel Astor I, with another of our evacuees, Miss Simpson, took a small furnished flat at 22/6 a week, which we shared. This was just a few days before Christmas and we ere fairly happy there for the next four weeks. After that Miss Simpson and I offered another of the evacuees, a Miss Halliday, a shakedown until she could find a job. Miss Simpson gave up her own bed – like the good-natured fool that she is – the young girl actually accepted it! After this, what with the heat and mosquitoes life in this rather shut in flat did not run so smoothly. The young girl seemed glad to economise by sharing our flat and putting us to inconvenience but did not exert herself much to get work.
Miss Simpson is a very nervous person and has the great disadvantage of being both deaf and lame. With these drawbacks it was very difficult for her to get work – she was worrying a great deal about not getting a reply from her brother whom she hoped to be able to join in Canada and make her home with him at least for the duration of the war.
During these two months we all received very much kindness from the Australians which I shall never forget. Invitations came in from many different quarters; we were invited to the St John’s Cathedral Christmas Party as well as the Y.W.C.A. The New Settlers League also invited us to a tea party. In fact, one of the secretaries of this league came to meet us at the Customs when we arrived in Brisbane and gave us her cards of invitation. At St John’s Christmas Evening Party we took part in a very large gathering at which the Dean and Bishop were present. The former addressed a few words of welcome to us saying that he hoped we should find employment but added that it might not be very easy. I called on the Dean later to ask him if he thought it possible for me to get teaching in one of the Church Schools. He kindly offered to say a word for me to the Mother Superior, which he did, but there was no vacancy just then. After this I called on Mr Fletcher of the Board of Education. He was very kind but said that all vacancies in schools would be filled up. ……….’
As we will see, in the second half of this letter, Evie’s efforts did not stop there.
You do leave is on tinderhooks. I’m happy it’s 1940 and 1941. This tale would have a different story.
🙂 Thanks a lot, Pat
I’m enjoying this story, Derrick, thanks!
I’m pleased, John. Much appreciated
Looking forward to finding out if Evie found a job.
🙂 Thanks a lot, Laurie
Poor Miss Simpson! There’s always somebody worse off than you are, no matter how unlucky you think you are !
Absolutely – you had to feel for her. Thanks very much, John
These old letters are priceless. I am looking forward to more of her story, Derrick.
Thank you very much, Lavinia
What a journey to safety!
It certainly was, Rosaliene. Thanks very much
I’m looking forward to the next installment, too. What stands out is how kind everyone is.
Yes – that was good to see. Thanks very much, Merril
Boy, your aunts were inveterate travellers
They sure were. Thanks a lot, Sheree
We have lost so much with the loss of the art of letter writing!!!
Indeed. Thanks very much, Luanne
I can see why Evie would be anxious for employment to get her out of the flat.
As trying as this process seems to be, the evacuees, and your sister in particular, Derrick, had a chance to take advantage of visiting and enjoying quite a few exotic places.
That struck me, too, Dolly. Thank you very much
You are very welcome, Derrick.
OhMyGosh! I’ll sit right here and wait to find out what happens next for Evie!!! I’m so glad she encountered kindness!!!
(In my sitting here, I’ll be quiet. You won’t even know I’m here. 😉 )
PS…It is such a joy to read what you share, Derrick. So glad the letters were saved!
Thank you so much, Carolyn XX
So even after my comments about the White Russians being here and your hint yesterday, I didn’t see that coming!
🙂 Thanks a lot, Gwen
There are about ten newspapers articles on the arrival of this shipload of refugees, including one very detailed account of the journey from Riga. Perhaps I should do a couple of blog posts to accompany this story. How would you feel about that?
I’d be very pleased, Gwen. I rather hoped you might do some of your excellent research. Thank you so much.
OMG Derrick. What a story. I will have to think about how to present it in a way that brings the reader along, but Evelyn was in the thick of fast-moving world events. Please remind me, was Mabel still with her in 1940? I should have a white board tracking their movements …
Mabel returned home in 1939, just before war broke out, and there is no record of what she did during the war years!! Thanks again
Ah yes, That’s all coming back to me now.
Evie’s perseverance is inspiring.
It certainly is. Thanks very much, JoAnna
This is most intriguing. As for the lass who not only accepted the bed but did little to contribute … there are souls like that everywhere. They are the Takers of the world, who take advantage of the Givers.
So true, Anne. Thank you very much
This must have been a difficult time for your aunt, Derrick, even though she did make the most of it.
It must have been. Thanks very much, Robbie
It is good that you have your aunt’s letters
Looking forward to part 2
I also had an aunt named Evelyn
She was not a blood relative and was sorta nice – but lackluster personality from hat I recall
Thanks very much, Yvette
She’s such a gracious soul.
Thank you so much, Alys
Thanks very much, Gwen. Will read and comment later
It is unfortunately the case that sometimes one’s generosity is taken for granted by selfish recipients.
Indeed. Thanks a lot, John
Beautiful story ?☺️ loved to read it ☺️????
Thank you very much, Priti
❣️?❤️??????My pleasure. God bless you ?☺️??❣️