Dad got work on a market garden in St Ives owned by fellow Aeolian migrants, Sam and Fay Fraumeni. After one year he had enough money to send for us, and in August 1951 Mum and I boarded the Flotta-Lauro MV Roma, a 14,000 ton, 18 knot, converted US aircraft carrier on its maiden voyage to Sydney. According to newspaper reports, the conversion had cost 2 million pounds and the ship was “lined throughout with a new American-invented fire-resisting material”. Dad had sent us a total of ten pounds as spending money on the trip. Mum husbanded this, despite the pleas of her four-year-old son, me, who wanted an ice cream to relieve the heat in Port Said, Egypt, where we had stopped. The maiden voyage was eventful. The MV Roma lost a propeller in the Mediterranean and we limped into Port Said and waited there for 2 weeks while another arrived and was installed. The 4-week journey now dragged on for 6 weeks; the weather was stiflingly hot (no air-conditioning). Two children died on the voyage, and when we finally landed in Fremantle, Mum thought it was so wonderful that she just wanted to get off there and then. I have often wondered what it must have been like for the families of those dead children. The Mothers, already traumatized by their deaths, now had to face their husbands in Australia and tell them the horrible news.
Country of origin: