Year after year, the old men disappear . . .

HMS Dunera carried about three thousand ‘Dunera Boys’ to Australia. I received this sad email today which I reproduce for anyone who’s interested below the fold.  The Dunera Boys, now mostly in their late eighties are down to around 80 with around 50 remaining in Australia. 

Dear Dunera Boys, Families, and Friends,

It is almost 70 years since the Dunera boys disembarked at Sydney and were transported by train up to Hay. Over the ensuing years a lot of effort has gone into recording the events which occurred, and to keep in touch with the Dunera Boys.

Until recently we felt secure in that there were Dunera Boys around to inform the members of their families and the general public curious to learn more details of the “Dunera Affair”. However, the number of remaining Dunera Boys is diminishing. Worldwide, we estimate that the total number of Dunera Boys still living may be about 80. About 50 of them live in Australia. All these gentlemen are past the age of 86.

The National Library of Australia in Canberra, and museums in Melbourne, Sydney, Tatura and Hay, have contributed enormously to our knowledge and records.

The Dunera Association (known by several names over the past 50 years) works away diligently, maintaining contact with people and organisations worldwide which are interested in the Dunera story. The Annual Melbourne lunch in November has been a focal point for well over 20 years, often attracting overseas visitors.

The Dunera Association, and the Hay and Tatura Museums, are run on shoe-string budgets, and all their committee members are un-paid volunteers. However, it costs money to run the Association, to compile, print and distribute the Dunera News, to maintain and improve museums, to organise and fund the lunches and other activities. Donations and subscriptions partly cover these costs.

The Hay anniversary weekend will incur costs for the Association. For example, we could not predict final numbers for the coach service from Melbourne, so it will be subsidised to enable members to travel to and around Hay.

The Dunera museum at Hay railway station is managed and maintained by the Hay Dunera Museum Committee, whose President is David Houston, a volunteer and a close friend of the Dunera Association. The museum, housed in two railway carriages, could expand into a third carriage which needs a complete makeover.

We need some financial as well as other assistance from our community to ensure the Dunera story continues as an important milestone in Australian history. Here are some areas in which you may help with or contribute to:

1. Sponsor the lunch or dinner at Hay

2. Sponsor the coach to Hay

3. Contribute to repairs to the 3rd carriage at Hay museum

4. Sponsor the Hay weekend

5. Contribute to the Tatura Museum

6. Sponsor the 70th Anniversary gathering at Tatura next year

7. Sponsor the Annual Dunera lunch in Melbourne in November

8. Sponsor the publication of the Dunera News

9. Sponsor a new Dunera plaque to be located on the Hay railway station.

There may be business benefits (not tax related) through recognition of the sponsorships or contributions to some of these suggestions.

Please ring us if you are interested, or have suggestions or queries.

We look forward to meeting many of you at Hay, and Darling Harbour, Sydney, early in September, as well as at our traditional Melbourne reunion lunch in November.

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13 years ago

What does HMT stand for?

13 years ago

Letter to the prime minister of Australia (from the files of the Australian Archives):
Honourable Sir,
I have heard on the wireless the news that Australia would be willing to receive internees from England. I beg to protest; we have enough of the scum here already, too many in fact. I am not a vindictive woman, these aliens are God’s creatures, just the same as we are. All the same, I sincerely trust that a U-boat gets every one of them.
Faithfully yours, M. Gibbs, Shenton Park, Western Australia

Steven Strauss, one of the Dunera boys who became a Family Court judge, died recently. This letter was quoted in his obituary:

13 years ago

HMT = His Majesty’s Troopship

HMT Dunera carried troops for the Madagascar operations in September 1942 and the Sicily landings in July 1943. In September 1944, she carried the headquarters staff for the US 7th Army for the invasion of southern France. After the Japanese surrender in 1945, Dunera transported occupation forces to Japan. Dunera remained a troopship until 1960 when the Ministry of Defence terminated Dunera’s trooping charter.

13 years ago

We have been researching the Loveday Internment Camp in S.A.
Did any of those sent to Australia on the Dunera end up at Loveday?
A book called “The Edge of the Diaspora” indicates that this was so.

Marianne Payten
Marianne Payten
10 years ago

My uncle Joseph Benedict McElhone was a medical doctor at Hay, from 2.12.1940, first at the Military Hospital and then at the Internment Camp Hospital up to about April 1941. Is there any record of him in the memoirs of survivors or other articles please?

Gerotrge J. Lederer
Gerotrge J. Lederer
9 years ago

George Lederer says: Dear Doctor’s Relative:
If your relative was a military man, (rank Captain or Major), who was active in Camp 7 at about Jan to April 1941, then I remember him well, as I was his patient. I don’t remember his name, but have retained a visual impression. Perhaps recognize him from a picture. Perhaps you could refresh my memory?
He hospitalized me as well as several other youngsters ( I was 19 at the time) for a slight hear murmur, which seems to have been acquired during camp time(maybe too much football or wood-chopping or maybe some slight viral infection). He must have had good ears or a good stethoscope, because most of the Drs. that came afterwards only heard it after I told them about it.

I never forgot the man, although I surely was but a number to him. But his diagnosis affected several major decisions in my life.
Wish I could tell him in person. Too late.
I remember him as a very good doctor.

Good luck to you! George J. Lederer