Vic SirjataviciusHis greatest year in table tennis was 1953, when he became the first player in Australia to beat Michael Sabados, who had held 78 national titles and 13 world titles.
Thursday, 13 May 2021
Friday, 16 April 2021
Upon arrival in Australia, Česlovas Dubinskas, was sent to Woomera to work. He ended up working there for ten years. In 1992, he published a book entitled, I was with you all time. Written in Lithuania, these are some extracts from his time in Woomera.
50 Lithuanians flew to Woomera. The plane landed on site, near Philips Pond camp because the airfield in Kulemilka was not completed, only ground levelling works was still ongoing.
There was already a building where the project administration, an engineering department and a drawing room were located. I was assigned to live in a large military tent where Jonas Meškauskas, Kostas Tymukas and Algis Žilinskas were already located. The first night was very hot – about +30 C, so it was not pleasant to sleep.
In Woomera, when I arrived, the first impression was terrible because the heat in January was terrible and hard to bare, especially when during the physical work on railroad, sewer, plumbing, etc. There often were sandstorms, penetrating the mouth, eyes, nose. Cars had to stop because drivers could not see the road. When a storm struck us working outdoors, we had to hide under the floors of future buildings. Wooden houses were built on raised poles, so there was a space to hide under the floor. Sand was blown into our rooms and administration premises. After the storm finished, it was necessary to clean, dust the sheets, clothes, and everything else.
I became a friend with the pastor of the Anglican Church because I would donate flowers to the Church. Jonas and I planted flower beds near the administration building and our apartments. Our assistants cared for the flower beds when they have time, and we ourselves worked on them on Sundays. The flowers grew beautifully because we used sludge from the sewers, which was a very good fertilizer when it dried. We gave flowers to the Anglican chaplain to decorate the church. Farmers from Woomera and the surrounding areas visited our gardens and marvelled that plants in the desert grew so well.Life in Woomera was going normally. I had to meet people of different nationalities on a regular basis; many English and Australians worked there also, in addition to migrants. The whole social life took place in our club, mostly sipping beer. Fellow workers still lived in the Philips Pond camp. There was also Captain Bennett's camp, where several Lithuanians worked laying cables.
Thursday, 4 March 2021
Railton, Goliath Cement Company
Henrikas Šurkevičius worked as labourer for 18 months then as a professor of technology.
Also here worked, Vacys Morkunas Juozas Kriaučiunsas, Vladas Kozakas, Ceslovas Vistokas
Vytautas Kuncaitis, Mindaugas Petras Šumskas
Rossarden is an old mining town in north-east Tasmania, located 19 km from Avoca. The town came into being primarily because of the tin mining operations of Aberfoyle Tin Mining Company, which created a demand for employees.
Here worked Antanas Bartkevičius, Bronius Margevičius, Stasys Virbickas, Jonas Mališauskas.
Electrona Carbide factory, 40 km from Hobart. Physical work unloading large rocks of limestone, smashing them with sledgehammers and loading them onto wagons.
Her worked Adomas Stasytis, V. Stasytienė, Jonas Motiejunas, Grigaliunas
The Australian Newsprint Mills
Logs were extracted from areas around Fitzgerald and Karanja, the workforce camps provided comfortable but basic accommodation. Bushmen used crosscut saw and axe to fell timber and tractors, dragged logs to sidings, where steam haulers winched logs on to rail trucks. Spur lines joined the main railway to Boyer. In 1947 the township of Maydena was built as a base for logging in the Florentine Valley. Thriving communities developed at New Norfolk and Maydena, with company-built amenities including halls, football grounds and swimming pools. The workforce included many single men, often migrants.
Bell Bay Aluminium smelter
The Bell Bay smelter commenced production in 1955 as a joint venture between the Commonwealth and Tasmanian governments. The smelter was the first built in the Southern Hemisphere primarily to overcome difficulties importing aluminium during wartime. Bell Bay was chosen as the location because of the available hydroelectric power and deep-water facilities. Rio Tinto Aluminium purchased the smelter in 1960, when production was about 12,000 tonnes per year.
Australian Newsprint Mill company mill. About 50 Balts worked here from 1948 – 1951, they lived in single men’s camps on the site in huts.
Stepas Augustavičius, Ona Taparauskas (Cook)
British Titan Products (Tioxide) Burnie
Lithuanians worked on the construction of a new factory to make paint pigment from titanium oxide. The workmen’s camp was located on site, two roomed cottages that had been built specially for the migrants. There was a communal shower and laundry and a large dining room where meals were served.
Electrolytic Zinc Company of Australia, Risdon
The Electrolytic Zinc Works were established by the Electrolytic Zinc Company at Risdon beside the Derwent in 1916. Eighteen Lithuanians off the Wooster Victory worked here, residing in a new camp. The camp became known as the Balt Camp. Work included digging trenches, erecting fences, work in the quarry.
Here worked, Stasys Valaitis, Olegas Truchanas, Jonas Deckys, Ben Berzanskas.
Electrolytic Zinc Company of Australia, Rosebery
The company was allocated seven Lithuanians off the first ship carrying migrants to Australia. The camp consisted of six or seven tin sheds. The men were engaged in mineral explorations, cutting tracks, cutting roads.
Here worked; Karolis Maslauskas, Juozas Jablonskis, Salkunas,
Viktoras Kuciauskas, Leons Mikelans
Alex Gabas, Juris Princis, Juozas Stucas, Antanas Maražas.
Lithuanians here helped build dams, power stations, canals and erectednew villages. Workers were housed in camps at Butlers Gorge damsite, Tarraleah and later at Bronte Park.
Here worked Jolanta Kulakauskas and the Miežitis family.
Post Master General’s Department
Guilford Junction, 50km from Burnie and Hampshire. Men lived in tents, with no mains electricity.
Here worked Pranas Laurinaitis, Bronius Stankevičius
Royal Derwent Hospital (Lachlan Park Hospital)
Mental Hospital at New Norfolk, 25lm north west of Hobart. Nurse Aids, Birutė & Irena Kirlytė.
Friday, 19 February 2021
Bunbury, Western Australia
Main Road Board
Ten Lithuanians and two friendly Estonians. Living near the Bunbury forest in tents. Repairing roads, the work is not hard. Fortnight wage is around 14 pounds.
Everything they do themselves, cooking and cleaning. Vytautas is the cook who also has a radio. The evenings are spend listening to the radio, news from Europe. They receive newspapers from Germany in Lithuanian which they read and pass around. They were thinking of constructing a basketball court.
Bunbury and Manjumup Pemberton Brick Yards 20 Balts
Myalup, Forestry Department, via Harvey WA
It was known as the Balt Camp, a work camp for displaced persons from the Baltic States working for the Forest Commission.
The Balt Camp was in Bullarto, north of Blackwood. All that remains today are a stone chimney and concrete foundations of the huts. http://gdt.org.au/lerderderg-track/balt-camp-walk/
The Balt Camp was built by the Forestry Commission to give employment for young displaced persons from Northern Europe in 1946. The male workers were given the weekend off and either walked to Bullarto to catch the train or just walked through the forest to Daylesford.
Rushworth Migrant Camp
Lithuanians organised a national dancing group that performed for Independence Day 1950. The ensemble consisted of Bladzeviciene, Brazeliene, Gudeikiene, Gyliene, Jarenkeviciene, Karpalaviciute, Zdanaviciute, Burokaite, Starinskaite, Sutas, Kisielius, Matiulionis, Musinskas, Igaunis, Starinskas.
On Feb 22 1950 they performed at the Shepparton Sports Festival. They performed again on the 4 March for a camp concert and on 7th March at the Women’s camp at Shepparton. The group was invited to perform in Morupna, Vagambia, Rushworth. They did not have a Lithuanian musician so borrowed a Latvian. National costumes were borrowed from Lithuanians in other cities.
Three camps, 2.5 km, west, north, and east hostel. In the west and north camps, lived mainly unqualified workers and the east had various professions.
Most had their own room, some were two to a room. Each room has an electric radiator which they could leave on as much as they wanted as electricity was cheap. They had a food hall. The best accommodation was in the eastern camp. Here they had brick walls and a room each, which were cleaned daily. Two weeks cost £3 – 15.
The work was in a coal factory, brick factory and electricity. One could earn £15 – 25 a fortnight, the best wage was earnt in the coal mine and building as here overtime was available. The Brick factory had a lot of dust and soot, one could earn £16. It was hard to earn a good wage, carpentry earned the best at £30 fortnight.
There was not much to do in the town. Yallourn good place to live for a short time to save money, living was cheap and there was no where to spend money.
Monday, 25 January 2021
Many of the DP workers arrived on the third and fourth transports to Queensland to cut sugar cane. Resident in private houses with sperate rooms.
1948 900 Balts engaged in cane cutting. Allocations were: Hambledon110. Mulgrave 40, Goondi 32,
Mourilyan 20, South Johnstone 43, Tully 90. Macknade 61, Victoria 48.
Forests belong to the Forest Department; camp is about 24 miles from Gympie. There are three Lithuanians here. We live in tents, food storage is a cupboard, no kitchen meals you cook yourself. Favourite past time is a river where we swim. 24 workers, which will increase to 150. Earn about L6.19.8 per week. One can save up to L20 per month. The forests are cut and what is left is burnt. New trees will be planted suitable for building material.
Derrier Creek Camp, Queensland
Workers are all new migrants, 64 workers in tents of whom eight are Lithuanian. A small township is 8 miles away, nothing else but forest.
Barakula Sleeper Mill, via Chinchilla, Qld
Alfonsas Penkaitis, Juozas Stuksis, kazys Simkunas, Jonas Savickas
Sunday, 10 January 2021
Dr Juozas Briedis was an agronomist who worked in Alytus, Seiniai, Ukmerge and Biržai before WWII. He specialised in the economics of animal husbandry, deciding the most suitable type of breeds of stock for varying conditions. He always had an interest in music and singing, such that he studied singing from 1937 – 8 at Kaunas Music School and later at the University of Bonn. He led many choirs and vocal ensembles in Lithuania, Germany and the USA.
On arrival in Australia, Juozas was sent to work as a labourer on the Metropolitan Water Sewerage and Drainage Board project, building the Warragamba Dam, which provides water supply to Sydney.
When his two-year contract with the
was almost complete, Juozas sought work in his profession. He sent letters seeking employment to CSIRO and Sydney University. The University would have employed him, but they could not offer remuneration equal to that of a camp steward of £12 per week.
The construction of the dam was a large-scale operation that meant the establishment of its own town, houses with modern facilities. Unmarried workers got a bed in a dormitory at a cost of 4 shillings per day. New arrivals got to stay in tents until a house become available. There was a communal refectory, but one could choose to make your own food. There was post, some shops, and a cinema that showed films three times per week.
The surrounding area is a eucalyptus forest three miles long, ending at Wallacia where there is a hotel, shops and restaurant. The closest train station is Penrith, 16 miles away, from there to Sydney is another 30 miles. Come the weekend the town empties of men who make their way to Sydney for the weekend.
Work varied, from constructing barracks, excavating soil, digging tunnels, blowing rocks and concreting. The work week was 40 hours, some areas worked in three shifts. A worker could earn £8-10 in a week depending on the work.
Of the first Balts who arrived on 16 June 1948, four were Lithuanians. The town kept growing and reached 3,000 workers, mostly migrants from Europe. The dam has been renamed DiPi Dam, based on Displaced Persons.
With Juozas’ love of music and singing he organised a Lithuanian Men’s choir of seven men from the camp. In 1949 he conducted the Regents Park Lithuanian Men’s Choir. In September 1950 in Penrith, Juozas sang at a United Nations International concert in the Dungowan Theatre. The choir organised a concert in Sydney of Lithuanian folk songs which they sang in national costumes. It was broadcasted over radio.
He became involved in the Lithuanian community in Sydney. He was Chairman of the Board of Lithuanian Catholic Centre and wrote for Mūsų Pastogė. In 1951 he was Vice President of Krašto Valdyba.
In 1952 he moved to Chicago where he again became involved in the Lithuanian community there. On leaving Australia he asked that people donate money to the church rather than the community hold a tea for him. In 1960 he was Lithuanian School Choir leader in Lemont Illinois and participated in USA and Canada Song Festivals. He owned his own paint business in Lemont.
He died on 2 February 1991 in Chicago.
Photo 30 Nov 1978 Dirva
Monday, 28 December 2020
The Australian Government had an agreement with the International Refugee Organisation to settle at least 12,000displaced persons a year, from camps in Europe. In exchange for free passage and help on arrival, new post WWII migrants agreed to work for the government for two years.
Between 1947 and 1953 the Australian Government assisted over 170,000 Displaced Persons to migrate to Australia.
All assisted migrants aged over 16 had to work. Regardless of qualifications men were classified as labourers and women as domestics.
So, what did they actually do?
The men were often sent to remote country places to work on the railways, work in the forest industry, cutting cane, building dams or work in mining.
Here is a list of some places, certainly not all and with names attached if known. If you can add places, please comment below.
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