Newspaper article Tweed Daily News (Tweed Heads, Australia)

The Boys; Dreadnought Boys: How NSW Imported British Lads with World War I Battleship Money

Newspaper article Tweed Daily News (Tweed Heads, Australia)

The Boys; Dreadnought Boys: How NSW Imported British Lads with World War I Battleship Money

Article excerpt

Byline: LOOKING BACK Di Millar

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown recently issued an apology to the thousands of British children who were sent to Australia under various migrant schemes.

For many, who suffered pain and indignity at the hands of those pledged to care for them, the apology has come too late.

For others who still live with the memories of an unhappy past the apology gives some measure of closure.

One early systematic youth migration scheme from Great Britain to Australia started in 1910 and involved boys aged between 15 and 19.

These lads were known as the Dreadnought Boys and they were considered to be the solution to the problem of what to do with money raised in 1909-1910 by towns, shires, organisations and individuals throughout NSW.

This money was raised in relation to earlier events.

In 1903 the Australian Commonwealth agreed to pay 200 pounds per year towards the upkeep of the Imperial Pacific Squadron even though Australia had no naval vessels of its own.

By 1909 Germany's naval expansion was threatening Britain's naval supremacy and the people of NSW decided to establish a fund to purchase a dreadnought (battleship) for Great Britain's navy.

It took about a year to raise around 90,000 pounds but by mid-1910 the Australian Government had decided to establish its own navy so a battleship for Britain no longer seemed necessary.

After money was returned to some donors there was about 80,000 pounds remaining.

Half was used to establish a naval college at Jervis Bay while the other half was placed in a fund known as the Dreadnought Fund and the money was used to bring city boys from Britain and train them as rural workers for NSW farms.

The first 12 boys arrived in April 1911 and by February 1915 more than 2500 boys were in the State.

The program recommenced three years after the end of World War I and when the last group arrived in the 1930s well over 5000 Dreadnought Boys had been brought to NSW.

The boys' rural training, initially undertaken at a state agricultural college at Pitt Town near Sydney, was rigorous.

They received a small amount of pocket money (wages were held in safekeeping) and the training had to be completed to the satisfaction of their manager. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.