I visited museums when I was a schoolboy, but apart from digital visits courtesy of T’Internet, none since; but a review of an intriguingly-titled ‘On Their Own’, at the comparatively unknown V&A’s Museum of Childhood made me pause. I have written in cold and blistering anger more than once about the modern-day slavers, hiding behind the names of Councils, care homes, Religions and of nationally-known charities such as Barnado’s, who fed the insatiable appetite of the Empire with young British children, amounting to some 150-200,000 youngsters; over a period of some sixty-odd years up to 1967. They were lied to, their parents were lied to, they were literally shovelled aboard ships by the hundred without any idea of where they were headed, all because a clutch of well-connected do-gooders, civil servants, so-called charity founders: believed that any child who was either in a Council’s care, in a charity, religious or foundling’s home, sent or taken away from their parents for a myriad reasons, was in need of a ‘good upbringing in a British Empire or Commonwealth country’ where they would learn a trade and become useful members of that society.
So, the NEW transportations began, to Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the old Rhodesia, and the colonies welcomed the brand new influx of children from ‘the Old Country’, and everything in that far-off garden was just too f@+_**!ng wonderful for words. The children were literally spirited away, their parents were told they had died; THEY were told their parents had either died, or had signed them away: IT WAS ALL SIMPLE, UNDISGUISED BULLSHIT! They were a forgotten generation; the parents remembered them, but those memories grew thinner every year, the educational achievements of those parents did not include fighting bureaucracy; the kids were usually too young to have any fixed idea of where they were born, or of whose face was attached to the magic name of ‘Daddy’ or ‘Mum’; and so the years progressed.
Unfortunately, the years progressed a little too slowly for those unfortunates who were taken on to the books of the likes of the Christian Brothers at the infamous Bindoon home, or the equally notorious Fairbridge Farm School at Pinjarra; where the kids were raped, brutalised, or used as slave labour; especially at Bindoon.
The stories began to emerge after Margaret Humphreys, a Nottingham social worker, received a was working in the field of post-adoption support. She received a letter from a woman in Australia who said that at a very young age she had been sent to Australia with no birth certificate and she was looking for family in Britain. This led Humphreys to eventually uncover a vast network of “Home Children” who through various “schemes” or plans initiatives by patronizing people in the UK and their counterparts in countries in the British Empire, to eventually send 150,000 children away from their homeland in the UK. About 70,000 children were sent to Australia. These schemes stopped in 1967.
A Royal Commission sat, and everyone was terribly sorry, and crocodile tears flowed by the f**”#’’ing gallon, and a scheme was put in place to allow these ‘deported people’ to return to the land of their birth. Out of approximately 150,000 kids sent away, some 700 have been given financial support to return and find their families.
Yep, Seven Hundred down, only One Hundred and Forty-Nine Thousand, Three Hundred to go.