AN EMERY DOWN UNDER
Alfred Sydney Emery
Thanks to Les Emery of Booragoon, Western Australia, for his memories of his father.
My father, Alfred Sidney Emery, was born on 6 June 1921 and grew up in Balmoral Road, Westcliff leaving school to work in a local laundry.
In 1940, at the age of 19 Alf decided to voluntarily enlist in the navy, rather than wait and perhaps finish up in the army, where three of his older brothers were already.
Alf was posted to the Royal Naval Patrol Service and spent his early time at Littlehampton in Sussex, where aboard Patrol Boat “Rosabelle” he participated in the successful rescue of allied fighter pilots shot down during “dog fights”.
In 1942 he was transferred to the RNPS training base HMS Europa (also known as the Sparrow’s Nest) at Lowestoft, before being placed aboard the Arctic Hunter, a trawler converted to operate as a minesweeper.
Between 1942 and 1945 Alf saw continuous service as a Seaman Gunner on board the Arctic Hunter, including mine clearance operations before and during the Allied invasion of Europe on his birthday in 1944 (“D Day ”). On 1 January 1945 he was Mentioned in Despatches for distinguished service and was discharged in March 1946.
Alf re-entered the civilian workforce as a plastic press operator at E.K.Cole.
He met my mother (Beryl May Thring of Westcliff ) during this time and they were married on 8 July 1950. Alf and Beryl produced three sons in the UK (me being the eldest) and for the next 11 years we lived in Electric Avenue, Westcliff, whilst Alf was employed at the Ford Motor Company at Dagenham.
In 1961, in search of a better life, they emigrated to Australia and in Melbourne Alf took up employment with the Ford Motor Company of Australia.
Life in Melbourne, although better than that in the UK at that time, was still challenging and after a chance contact with some old wartime acquaintances Alf and Beryl headed to Western Australia. This was no mean feat as it involved driving over 3000 km on mostly unsealed roads to the township of Norseman, a small gold mining town about 200 km south of the world famous gold mining city of Kalgoorlie.
Western Australia was just entering a mining boom comparable to those of the famous rushes of the 1800s, but this time not only gold shone but also nickel and many other minerals. Employment was for the asking and the pay was much better than in the cities.
Alf worked for one of the local mines as an operator in the rock crushing section, before he moved to the drilling division of the neighbouring gold mine where he worked on the drilling rigs.
It was during their time at Norseman that their fourth son was born, giving the family their first real “Aussie”. Life in an outback town was good and many happy years were spent there until finally the family moved to Perth and expanded as the sons each married and grandchildren started to arrive.
Sadly, Alf passed away, after a short illness, on 8 July 2003, my parent’s 53rd wedding anniversary.
Although a naturalised Australian and a resident for over 40 years something happens when I return to Leigh for a visit, it is as though my ancestors are there saying ‘welcome home” !
If any reader has any other information, photographs etc of Les' ancestors he would welcome their correspondence and can be contacted through firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alf with his parents Arthur Sidney and Louisa (Loveday) Emery