On their own - Britain's child migrants

Yvonne Radzevicius – someone to belong to

group portrait of nuns with young girls
Child migrants on arrival at Nazareth House in Geraldton 1953 – Yvonne standing third from left. Lent by Yvonne Radzevicius

"My lasting thought of Great Britain was being herded like cattle to board the New Australia. The nuns told me my parents were dead and I had no brothers or sisters."

Yvonne Radzevicius (nee O’Donnell) only learned her real name when she was handed a suitcase inscribed ‘Y L O’Donnell’ before departing Glasgow in 1953. For 10 years the nuns at Nazareth House in the suburb of Cardonald had called her Marie.

Yvonne grew up in a highly disciplined atmosphere at Nazareth House in Geraldton, Western Australia. After completing her schooling she worked in the Nazareth kitchen, preparing three meals a day for 200 residents.

Yvonne returned to Scotland in 1979 and discovered her mother was alive. Feeling traumatised and betrayed she spent the next two years in psychiatric care.

A tiny piece of paper

handwritten note on a piece of paper

In 1979 Yvonne visited Nazareth House in Glasgow to find out more about her early life. She was handed a tiny piece of paper with the briefest of details:

Yvonne Marie
Mother Bridget O’Donnell
Born Glasgow 11th Oct 1942
Baptised St Paul’s Whiteinch
Mother Housekeeper

Lent by Yvonne Radzevicius

 

Home | Contact Us | © Australian National Maritime Museum and National Museums Liverpool 2010