Monday, 19 February 2018

100 Aciu - Julija & Algimantas Grigonis

Julija & Algimantas GRIGONIS

As is true for most of us, the biggest influences in my life as an Australian born Lithuanian, were my parents Julija and Algimantas Grigonis.
Most of my generation typically started school in Australia with no English but went on to become very articulate in English and to do well academically.

Mum and Dad's generation were all bilingual as a minimum, but many were multilingual before they even came to Australia with English becoming their 3rd, 4th or more language. Hearing a variety of languages from an early age may well have sparked my interest in later language study.
Going to Lithuanian school on Saturdays at Lithuanian House was not always what we wanted to do as some of the classes were not easy and we needed help with homework which was often very hard especially for History as I struggled to understand what we had to read.

How Lithuanian grammar works did not fall into place for me until I started Latin in high school when it all became abundantly clear.  I can still decline and conjugate much better in Latin than in Lithuanian, but I understand that this kind of thing is often typical of native speakers of almost any language when it comes to grammar.
We had to catch two buses each way to Lithuanian school which was quite an undertaking back in the 1950s when I was only 9 and taking my sisters with me on the bus.  Luckily, we sometimes had Mr Kubilius, Mr Pakalnis, or other Lithuanian drivers kind enough to let us out at Eastry Street past the actual bus stop and not always ask us to buy a ticket.

Dad had taken us the first couple of times to show us the way.  After that we got used to the going back and forth.
At some stage Dad bought a car and drove us there.  I still often take the same route along Payneham and George Streets to Sydenham Road and Gray Street.

My family had little by way of material goods, but Dad was a good musician and we grew up with lots of books and music.
Packages of books from Lithuania, especially from Senelis Matas Grigonis were special as were the postcards he sent. I still have several of mine on which he wrote poems and stories. His language was beautiful but then he was a known wordsmith with a lot of his work having been published in Lithuania.  Dad told us a lot about him and we had books such as Žemuogėlės, Algimantelio Metai, volumes of children's poetry.   Senelis Matas was Lithuania's first poet who wrote specifically for children.  He wrote many letters and articles for magazines.  I learned much more about his work as an adult but as a child I knew that Dad's Dad was someone special and that fostered my own interests in words, languages, translation and being a bookworm.   At age six I decided I wanted to be a teacher and Senelis wrote that I had made a good choice. Although it did not come to pass I have always been interested in education and have pursued language studies along the way.

I finished Lithuanian school in 1962 and still have the certificate.
Many of us still have friends from those days. We might not meet that often, but we remain friends.

I am also very glad to have had Ponia Jurgelionienė teach me how to weave and I still know how.
Dad played music every day.  He played violin, accordion, ocarina, mandolin but we mostly heard the accordion.

He also had a lot of records including Lithuanian 78s. Some are now collectors' items.
We often stayed late after Lithuanian School on Saturdays as Dad played music for folk-dancing practice which I loved to watch.

I got to know the music and dances well but was never in the dancing group as we did not have tautiniai rubai/national dress.

Dad taught us songs at Lithuanian school and at home, which was not always fun, but I still remember most of the melodies if not all the words.
It was also usually Dad who scolded us for not speaking Lithuanian at home. "Nesuprantų!" (I do not understand!)

We attended Vasario 16, Motinos Diena, Tremimo Minejimas, Tautos Šventė , Tevo Diena, Kariuomenės Švente and other events for many years.  Some of the speeches were very long but we loved the 'meninė dalis' especially the dancing.
Later on, we also joined ALSK Vytis and played basketball for quite a few years.
Volunteers took us to training and games as Dad did not have a car at the time.

Dad told us about living in Panevežys and his Dad being school principal at the various towns in which they had lived such as Rožalimas, Anykščiai and Panevežys.  Today there are plaques on the walls of the houses indicating that Poet, Author, Teacher, Pedagogue Matas Grigonis had resided there and the dates.
Dad hardly mentioned anything of his time as a Plechavičiukas. All we heard from him was that he was in and out of three armies within a year; Plechavicius for which he volunteered, German (conscripted) and Red (conscripted).  He deserted the Red Army and never went back to Lithuania even when it was possible, as the Red authorities had long memories and he was sure that they would lock him up. That was really sad as he had left home for the war effort at age 16 and never saw his family again.

Dad was part of the group in Adelaide who started the local Lithuanian radio program. He worked on it for 15 years and created a complete archive of all the programs on tapes.  After his death a selected few ended up in the Mortlock Library in South Australia while his lifelong friend Vytas Patupas sent the rest (over 700) to Martyno Mažvydo Biblioteka in Lietuva/Lithuania. I heard the late Gabrielius Žemkalnis mention that they were there during one of his programs in which he spoke about the Mazvydo library.  Dad also sang in the choir for several years and was very involved with Adelaide's Lithuanian theatre group Vaidila, for which he prepared sound effects for many years.
Mum's maiden name was Žiukelytė. She told us about being born in Žiukeliškes (there were so many Žiukeliai that there was even a village named after them!) and growing up in Dūsetos.  When the lake froze over in winter she and her brothers watched horses in harness racing on the ice.  That event happens every year on the first Saturday in February even now and is know as Sartai.  Dusetos is on the shores of Sartu Ežeras/Lake Sartai.

Winters were very cold and Mum and her siblings had to cover up very well to prevent frostbite on the tips of their noses.
We learned about her older sisters Karūte and Marytė, brothers Vladas and Rapolas plus sister Elenutė who had died at age 20 from TB. Among the few possessions Mum had brought all the way from Lithuania via Germany was a photo album which she showed us. We learned about the people in them and what our grandparents looked like.  They both died just before WWII.  During our childhood the names and faces were only in photos and we never knew if it would be possible to meet our extended family.  We learned that Dusetos is in pretty countryside, very green and a lovely town. Mum went to live and work in Kaunas.  She worked in a bookshop and devoured books all her life.

Mum was a member of Moterų Sėkcija for several years.
One of my earliest memories of both Mum and Dad is from when we had moved from the city to Hillcrest.  I was not quite four years old . Mum taught me how to dance Suktinis while singing Bitutė Pilkoji, plus Klumpakojis and its song, with Dad's accompaniment on the accordion.

We also knew songs like Ant kalno murai, Ant kalno karkliai siubavo long before singing them at school.  Tautos Himnas was also in my head long before I really understood it but that happens with many songs and poems. When Dad took us for drives, we sang in the car. A favourite was Išėjo Tevelis į miška.

Childhood rhymes are still in my head eg. Lyja lietus per karaliaus pietus, Karalienė verkia, Karaliukai knarkia. (like It's raining, It's pouring).
I tried hard to speak Lithuanian but it wasn't easy when English dominated at school and with neighbours.  Plus when our brother Algiukas was little, those who supposedly 'know' advised that two languages in the home were delaying his speaking.  English had to take priority which was very disappointing for Mum and Dad. We all know that "Bilingual is beautiful"! Ironically when Algis grew up he understood Lithuanian quite well. The psychologist's advice was wrong.

Reasonable proficiency in Lithuanian language was a huge help on my first trip to Europe in 1975 when I met Mum's brother Vladas in Munich and spoke Lithuanian with him and his friends.  My German was limited.  Uncle Vladas took me to Lietuva where I met many people who had till that time simply been faces in photos.  Being able to communicate with them was wonderful and even though I made mistakes, Močiutė Jadvyga Grigonienė was amazed that I could speak the language at all.  She also remarked that I spoke old fashioned Lithuanian as the language over there had changed over the previous 30 years.
I am the only grandchild born in Australia who met Močiutė albeit for just 7 days.  While I was there, Uncle Kastytis organised a phone call to Adelaide and Močiutė got to speak with Dad once again.  Many years later Dad rang his brother Kastytis when Lithuania had regained independence in 1991.

I was so glad that I went to Lietuva back in 1975 and met so many members of the extended family on both sides.  I made a few more trips too, the last one having been in 2000 so I must go again.  Contact with relatives continues and quite a few are on Facebook!
I will forever be grateful to Mum and Dad for telling us so much about their lives and families before they came to Australia. They fostered my love and interest in my Lithuanian heritage, language, history, people and our culture, including great food.

Happily, Mum was able to see her sister Marytė again after 49 years when my sister Dana took her to Lietuva in 1993.
Much of my appreciation of being Lithuanian grew as I became an adult, but the seeds were sown right from the start as in the few examples I have outlined.

It is a major part of what makes me who I am.
An Australian friend once told me that I was so lucky to have this special cultural identity with its traditions.

I know! 

Juratė Grigonytė

Friday, 9 February 2018

100 Aciu - Vytautas Vencius

Vytautas Vencius

In 1949 after WW2, at the age of 22, Vytautas arrived in Adelaide Australia.
He became separated from his family Lithuania, yet he wanted to keep his precious Lithuanian heritage alive within him.
In 1955, he married and became actively involved with the fledgling Lithuanian community in Adelaide.

He felt a need to help establish and renovate the Lithuanian Catholic Centre and Church at St Peters.  This was a huge property that required extensive renovation and Vytas was there to work and help create the Adelaide Lithuanian Catholic Centre “Taryba Caritas Inc”.

The Catholic Centre has proven to be a focus of his life.

In the early 1970’s, his focus turned to dancing group Zilvinas at the Lithuanian House in Norwood, which was starting to attract many children and teens.   He first joined the Parents Committee and soon took on the role as manager/organiser to ensure the dancing group was running smoothly and more importantly, to keep the young dancers happy!  He organised cool drinks for them during rehearsals break and organised parties, very often in his own home, to keep the dancers together.  These certainly proved to be popular!  He helped the teachers to find interesting dances and went to great lengths to ensure there was music which was mostly live and at one time, a band of musicians! He made sure the dancers looked their best with lovely costumes and good footwear.   

For the dancers to showcase their ability, he organised for Zilvinas to dance at special events within the Lithuanian community in Adelaide, the bi-annual Australia wide Svente, the Folkloric Society events which were numerous and involved many ethnic communities, the pre-Easter show at Barossa and several times on centre stage at the Adelaide Festival Theatre.  At one point, there were 60 dancers! Thanks to Vytautas’ hard, untiring work and drive, Zilvinas indeed was the most popular it had ever been.

Vytautas was a representative for the dancing group with the Good Neighbour Council of Adelaide and then the Folkloric Society.  He was with Zilvinas, in so many capacities, for 20 years.

After Zilvinas, he joined the Adelaide Lithuanian Theatre Group Vaidila.  He started with small roles and quickly progressed to appear in major roles which were often complex, and which he portrayed with great conviction.  

In the meantime, Vytautas was the Treasurer of the Lithuanian Catholic Centre and after 40 years, he recently retired from this position.

With his love for the Lithuanian Catholic Centre in Adelaide and the Adelaide Lithuanian community, Vytautas regularly performs ‘odd jobs’ and ‘fill ins’, even to this day at the age of 90!

Thursday, 1 February 2018

100 Aciu - Regina Bajoruniene


My earliest memory of Mrs Regina Bay is from my childhood when I was about 8 or so. She had just married Andrius Bajorunas and they came to visit my parents.
Mum and Dad congratulated them on their recent marriage. Their surname was changed to Bay which was easier for Mr Bay in his work as a pharmacist when he often took on weekend shifts in addition to his usual weekday work. We came to call them Mr and Mrs Bay.

Regina became Pirmininkė/President of the Adelaide Lithuanian Women's Committee (Adelaidės Lietuvių Moterų Sekcija) after having been a member for a few years.
Among many activities, these women provided morning tea for all of us who attended Saturday Lithuanian School and prepared Christmas Eve supper/Kučios at Lithuanian House. They also catered numerous other events.  Among popular events were the fashion parades which started in the early 1960s and the annual Kartunų Balius or Cotton Ball also a fancy-dress event, which was held in late spring Sept/October. Prizes were awarded for the best dressed at the ball and a lot of effort went into making the prettiest cotton evening dress. I went to a few of these events when I was old enough to start going to a ball plus I even participated in a fashion parade in about 1963.

During much of this time we did not have a family car. Regina visited us often and had long conversations with Mum over a coffee or tea. Mum drank tea while Regina drank coffee.  She and Mum both had terrific senses of humour and there was a lot of laughter.
They also had deep heart to heart conversations.
Regina was always excited if we did well at school and encouraged us to continue and do better.

She also told us off if we did not speak Lithuanian at home but also understood that there was a specific reason for that, courtesy of an education department psychologist but that is another story.
Nonetheless she often reminded us that carrying multiple languages in one's head was not a heavy load.

She spoke Lithuanian, German, Russian, Polish and English. She had also always worked very hard from the time she and many other young Lithuanians 'conscripted' by the Germans to dig trenches as forced labour right through her years with Moterų Sekciją.
She had worked at the Adelaide Railway Station cafeteria and was quickly made manager. She also worked at the Government printing offices near Parliament House in North Terrace during her early years in Adelaide.

She loved animals and had been very upset when she had had to leave her home in Tauragė and could not take her dog with her. She saw her parents and neighbours shot by Russian army soldiers. She was just 13 when WWII started.
She often took my sister Nemira and me out or to her house and we had a lot of fun with her pets especially her budgie who was multilingual.  He could say 'Kur Andrius', 'Labas rytas', 'Andrius dirba', Auf Wiedersehen', 'silly rabbit' and many other things.

She was an excellent cook too, she led Moterų Sekcija for 17 years and worked very hard throughout. In addition to the actual work, after a day's food prep she would drive home women who had come by bus in the morning.
In preparation for a big event she would go to the market at the crack of dawn for provisions, plus she got to know smallgoods wholesalers in the area and as a regular customer got good deals on behalf of the community.
With her help we often helped Moterų Sekciją prepare various events such as weddings, balls and parties at Lithuanian House.

Lithuanian House was already a home away from home as it was for many of us in the community, but we also learned much from interacting with the older women who were exceptional caterers and a lot of fun.
This was a time of not only speaking Lithuanian but also coming to appreciate what had brought these people to Australia.

My own pacifist leanings were a direct result of learning about these people's displacement from their home land and the trauma of having to start all over again in a very different country like Australia. Most of us had relatives in Lithuania or elsewhere whom we felt unlikely ever to meet at least in those early years.
Participating in community events under her tuition added to our parents' encouragement of 'lietuvybė'.

Regina's commitment to the Adelaide Lithuanian community was exceptional and she was a wonderful role model for me for when I was older and able to be involved in various committees myself.
On a more personal level she lent me books about deportations among other subjects and I used some material in radio programs.

She was proud of us as if we were her own children when we did well.
She also thought the world of our Mum and was there when needed on the death of our sister Nemira.

Her love of Lietuva and passion for traditions which she worked so hard to maintain in our little Adelaide community certainly rubbed off on to me and others.
I remain grateful to this day for Regina Bajorunienė’s role in my life.

Submitted by Juratė Grigonytė

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

100 Aciu - Victor Baltutis

Aciu Viktoras Baltutis
We recommend Victoras Baltutis for recognition for his service and commitment to the Adelaide Lithuanian Community and also the wider Australian Lithuanian Community.

We believe Victor deserves the recognition for everything he has done without asking for anything in return.

Reason for recommendation:

Victor Baltutis has volunteered diligently and selflessly for the Adelaide and Australian Lithuanian Community since arriving in Australia in 1948 on the seventh boat of displaced people to arrive from Europe. A displaced person was the term previously used for what is currently referred to as a refugee. His achievements include creating the Australian Lithuanian Archives (a fifteen year undertaking) which is currently housed at St. Casimir's Lithuanian Parish at 6 Third Avenue Saint Peters. These archives are the history of the Lithuanian Community in Australia from arrival in the late 1940's as displaced people to current times. These archives are now of significant historical value and protected from export by the Australian government.

Although Victor Baltutis is over 90 years of age, he continues to be active in the community, helping organise and coordinate Saint Casimir's Parish to have a priest presiding over Holy Mass for the parishioners every Sunday. Victor continues to assist younger Lithuanians who contact him for guidance and advice around various Lithuanian matters. He wrote and edited the Adelaide Lithuanian Bulletin on his own computer for many years. He just recently reduced his workload due to health reasons. The Adelaide Lithuanian Bulletin comes out every fortnight and is the highlight for the elderly Australian Lithuanians who may no longer have easy access to their community or written language. Victor still contributes to writing in this and other national and international Lithuanian publications.

Due to Victor’s work in the Adelaide Lithuanian and Australian Lithuanian Communities, he is well known and highly respected in the Adelaide and Australian Lithuanian Community. In 2017 he won the Norwood, Saint Peters and Payneham City Councils Citizen of the Year Award for his work. Victor very reluctantly accepted this award, as he views his contribution to the Adelaide and Australian Lithuanian Communities as a “natural thing to do”. Victor has always been humble and working tirelessly to promote and maintain the Lithuanian heritage in Adelaide and Australia. He previously declined an Order of Australia award due to his humility and considers his thousands of volunteer hours he has contributed to Australian Lithuanian Community as a normal way of life.

Significant achievements/contributions include:

 ● Lithuanian refugee from World War II – Migrated to Australia as part of the second group of Lithuanian refugees in Australia in the late 1940’s

● Coordinated the Lithuanian Parish and Community events

● Until late 2016, was part of the Adelaide Lithuanian Catholic Church Committee and has been for many years

● Was a Leader of the Adelaide Lithuanian Catholic Church Committee for many years

● Was the Secretary of the Adelaide Lithuanian Community and President of the Australian Lithuanian Community

● Volunteered as a Justice of the Peace for the Adelaide Community for 35 years

● Established the Adelaide Lithuanian Radio Programme in 1978 which continues to this day on 5EBI 103.1 FM every Saturday from 9 am to 10 am
● Established the Adelaide Branch of the Lithuanian Co-Op Credit Society ‘TALKA’ Ltd.

● Wrote and funded the publication of a book ‘Issinesem Tik Ilgesi” about the Lithuanian Community in Australia (in Lithuanian) and a book about Partizans in Occupied Lithuania “Akivaras”

● Wrote and directed a drama of Simas Kudirka 
NPSP Citizen of the Year 2017

● Created the Australian/Lithuanian archives
These books and the Australian/Lithuanian archives are an important resource for historical academic research of Lithuanians in Australian and their immigration to Australia.

● Taught Matriculation students the Lithuanian language

● Regularly contributes to the National Lithuania Newspaper ‘Musu Pastoge’ (Our Homeland)

● Organised and presided over a number of the Biennial National Lithuanian Cultural Festivals

● An inspirational leader and confidant for the Adelaide and Australian Lithuanian Communities

 Nominated by his daughters, Dana & Anita and son-in-law Craig Clarke.

Friday, 5 January 2018

Ačiū Jura Reilly

Jura Reilly (Jūratė Vitkūnaitė-Reilly)

Since her high school days in Adelaide, Jura has inspired other with her pride in her Lithuanian heritage. She has written 3 books about Lithuania, that have certainly shared her love of Lithuania with not only in South Australia, but throughout the whole world.

Jura was born in 1952 in Adelaide, South Australia. Her parents, Liuda and Alfredas Vitkūnas, came out from to Australia as refugees after WWII. They met and married in Adelaide. As guardians of their Lithuanian culture, they sent Jura, along with her brothers Rimas and Robert, to the Adelaide Lithuanian Saturday School.

Whilst Jura was at Adelaide Girls High school, and later Adelaide University, they encouraged Jura to teach Lithuanian language at the same Saturday School. She was also member of the Adelaide Lithuanian Scouts, and danced with the folk dancing group Žilvinas that was taught by Vytas Straukas.

After graduating from Adelaide University, with majors in English & International Politics, Jura married Ted Reilly, from Brooklyn Park: they moved to Victoria, where Jura completed her Diploma of Teaching at Rusden Teachers College.

They have 2 children, Anita and David, both of whom have been active members of Geelong Vytis Basketball teams. Jura taught History and English for 35 years in 3 Victorian high schools and completed post-graduate studies in Education Administration.

In Geelong, Jura re-established the Geelong Lithuanian Community's Saturday School, and helped out with the Lithuanian radio program. In 1991 she was invited by the Lithuanian Ministry of Education to teach ESL, and returned five times in a consultative capacity.

In 1983, Jura published a book of poetry, Lithuanian Lady. In 2013 she translated her Lithuanian aunts' memoirs of 37 years of exile in Siberia into English, and published it as a memoir, A Wolf At Our Door. This book has been translated into Russian and Spanish.

In 2014, Jura founded an International Baltic FaceBook group, Baltica. She also is the administrator for the FB group, Baltics in Australia. Through these groups, Jura regularly promotes South Australian Lithuanians' achievements and events, all over Australia and the world. She also promotes them in her role as administrator for the FB page, VilNews and The National Amercian Hall of Fame.

As a result, an American based FB group Lithuanian Traditions, now regularly highlights The Adelaide Lithuanian Saturday school's program.

In 2016, Jura published an historical novel, Circle of Amber, which was loosely based on her maternal great grandmother Magdalena Vilkiene, and was set in Lithuania and Australia. Both books are available at the Adelaide Lithuanian House bookshop. 

Jura's latest novel, Sylvia's Book Smuggler, is due to be released online on 16 Jan. It is based on her paternal great- grandfather, Tomas Žičkauskas, who was a teacher and book smuggler from Marijampolė.

Her other interests include making amber jewellery, as publicised on the FB page, Amber by Jura. She is also kept busy visiting her two children & four grandchildren, and travelling around the world with her husband.

Nominated by her husband Ted Reilly.

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

100 Aciu 100 Thankyou's

February 16th is the most significant date in Lithuania’s history. On this day, we celebrate the restoration of an independent state of Lithuania. In 2018 it will be 100 years since the Independence Act was signed. It is a reason to celebrate and reflect the significance of the past.

The Lithuanians who came to Australia became the guardians of their tradition and culture. They were the family members, teachers, friends and leaders who instilled in the younger generation a little bit of Lithuania. They’re our community heroes. They may not have been famous, but they should be remembered.

In 2018, the Adelaide Lithuanian Community would like to celebrate at least 100 people who inspired pride in their heritage. We are asking community members to nominate a person who shared their love of Lithuania with you. They must have an Adelaide connection and can be a living or deceased. You are welcome to submit multiple entries.

To participate, write a short biography of the person followed by how they shared their love of Lithuania with you. It can be in Lithuanian or English. Include a photo or two. This need not be more than an A4 page. 

We will share these stories throughout the Lithuanian community.  

For further information or to send your completed person please email Daina Pocius on riverhorse at or call on 0427617214.

Say thankyou! Padėkok!

Adelaidės Lietuvių Bendruomenė
Adelaide Lithuanian Community





Monday, 27 November 2017

USAT General Stuart Heintzelman - 70 years

Yesterday at the Adelaide Lithuanian House we celebrated the arrival of the General Stuart Heintzelman ship 70 years ago.  Below is the speech presented at the event.

World War II for many in Europe brought sweeping changes. For the Baltic States their independence of 22 years was crushed by Soviet Russians, during the months of June and July 1940. As the war progressed, the German Army replaced the Russians and by 1944, the reverse happened, the Germans were replaced once again by the Russians. It was at this time that many people left Lithuania, making their way west, to Germany.

The refugees became known as Displaced Person’s, or D.P’s.  

The displacement was thought to be temporary, that they would soon be able to return home. When the D.P’s realised that their return would not be in the near future they considered immigration.

Australia’s vulnerability of foreign invasion was highlighted during the Second World War. This fear combined with the desire of economic growth saw the introduction of a large scale immigration scheme, proposed by Arthur Calwell, the Minister of Immigration at that time.

It was hoped the scheme would attract British migrants, but this was not to be, as they were still feeling the repercussions of war, other sources were sought. The search for similar compatible people was found in the refugee’s camps of Europe.

Between 1947 and 1951, 54 000 Lithuanians were resettled around the world. Just over 10 000 came to Australia, 9906 came under the Government scheme, while 140 came unassisted. 

The General Stuart Heintzelman was the first ship that carried Displaced Persons from war torn Europe to settle in Australia. 

The General Heintzelman was commissioned first in the US Navy as a troop transport ship for Army personnel. At the end of 1946 the ship was converted to the DP operations in Germany and Australia.

The ship is named after US Army General Stuart Heintzelman, born in November 1876. He fought in WWI and was promoted to Major General in 1921, the rank he held until his death in 1935.

At 4:00pm on the 30th of October the ship General Heintzelman left the port of Bremehaven in Germany.

The first transport brought 843 refugees to Australia, 87% were men, 13% women. Lithuanians were the largest contingent, numbering 439, followed by 262 Latvians and 142 Estonians. The oldest on board was 40, the youngest 12 years old. 

A 15 page booklet was produced on board to commemorate the journey. On page 1 it is written;

We have ceased counting the days, which have passed since we lost sight of the European coastline. With each hour more and more miles increase the distance between us and the hopelessness and idleness in Germany, bringing us nearer to a new worthy life in a new land. We are animated by gratitude for the rehabilitation, which we are offered by the Australian Government in conjunction with the IRO. We are determined to become good citizens of our new country and we fervently desire to take once more our place in a community, which will accept us as its members, each one of us working to the best of our ability with regard to our individual aptitudes.

These abilities and aptitudes are a heritage from our native countries on the shores of the Baltic Sea, our only native countries for which there will always be a feeling of longing and reverence in our hearts. We are all sons and daughters of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania and such we will remain, remembering with pride the prosperity and achievements that once were ours. The fate and sufferings of the Baltic peoples are known to the greater part of the world, to the rest we shall untiringly tell them until the day our native countries regain their freedom and independence.

This ship is a link between our distant native country and our new refuge. 

The booklet continues about daily activities on the ship

The days pass, one very much like any other, sunny and bright. Mealtimes with their inevitable queues, clatter of metal plates and thronging in the mess hall have become milestones in the course of each day. English lessons, choir rehearsals, basking in the sun and the mild wind fill the other parts of the day, and in the evening, we suddenly realise that one more day has passed.  

We can always be assured that each day our reliable engines are bringing us 400 miles nearer to our destination, where a new life and new responsibilities await us. We shall arrive there refreshed, tanned and imbued with renewed self reliance in our strength, impaired by the years of despair and misery in Germany. (Page 5)

On board, the Lithuanians formed a choir, published a news sheet called Baltic Vikings and commemorated All Saint's Day, and the Lithuanian Armed Forces Day on 23rd November. 

Before the departure of the first transport for Australia, Borisas Dainutis was authorised by both the Lithuanian Scouting movement and the International Scouting Bureau to organise and lead Lithuanian scouts in Australia. A scout leaders' committee meeting was held on 9 November 1947, on board the ship. The following day an order was created to establish a Scout Rovers troop (Skautų Vyčių Draugovė) incorporating all scouts. 

The first meeting of the Division was held on deck on 10 November 1947 with strong, emotional words. Dainutis reminded listeners of their purpose in Australia, of the importance of maintaining high scouting ideals for the sake of their homeland. The echoes of scout and folk songs resonated across the waves of the Red Sea, uniting all in friendship.

At a meeting on 15 November, the leaders discussed practical matters. It was decided to document personal and scouting details of all scouts and guides. Each scout unit was to study scouting theory and were to prepare a joint campfire with the Latvians and Estonians.  

25 years old Antanas Kanisauskas, was onboard that ship, he wrote a diary on the journey.

Antanas made Adelaide his new home. 

Shortly into the journey he wrote.

We are sailing on the Mediterranean Sea and only sea water and water, nothing else around us. Australia is still 3 weeks away. I am not certain I am doing the right thing, travelling so far. We will have to start from scratch.

On the 26th November, the day before arriving in Fremantle he wrote;

We will start a new life in a foreign country. This is something that I never thought of, to travel and live so far away.

Today my fellow travellers are cleaning up, showering and shaving before disembarking and tonight they organised a dance in the mess hall as a farewell. All the young people are dancing, happy to disembark in their new home country to be.

My mind always yearns for my own dear Lithuania where my family live. I will never forget my birth place, where I grew up.

The following day;

Thank God the journey has ended. Today in the morning we reached the shores of Australia. At 10:00 o’clock we disembarked. Almost immediately my thoughts have changed when I saw how people lived. Now I think that it was not a mistake to come to Australia.

The ship docked in Freemantle where the migrants spent a week before being placed on the ship Kanimbla sailing to Melbourne. Here they were met by Immigration Minister Arthur Calwell. Calwell told them that they would be undertaking hard jobs that Australians didn’t want. From the ship they were placed onto a train bound for the processing camp at Bonegilla.

The Lithuanians did not forget their homeland, this house where we meet is a testimony to that.

I can only imagine what it would be like to leave everything behind, to start again in a new country, with a new language, new culture. But this is what 10,000 Lithuanians did. They did not forget their homeland, their roots and their culture. They survived and prospered. And 70 years later, their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren say Aciu, thankyou, we are proud of you and we will not forget out roots.


Attending the event were four men who were on the ship. From left Jonas Kildisas,
Algimantas Pranckunas, Aleksas Saulius, Juozas Doniela


Below are some of the Lithuanians from that transport who settled in South Australia.