Richardson, Rose, Fred and Graham

For Rose Richardson, see interview tape 79
For Graham Richardson, see interview tape 202

Rose’s only son was Fred Richardson, who was a wartime evacuee to Canada in 1940 when he was 13. He stayed there after the War. Graham is Fred’s son, and Rose’s grandson.

The following digital material relating to Fred, was emailed by Fred’s son Graham in the early 2000s.

(1) Some I have left in the ‘witham history / people’ folder as follows:
(paper copies filed in People files)
Name of file (as sent by Graham), and Details
Letter Aug 06 1940 – 1, Letter Aug 06 1940 – 2    Letter from Fred to parents, 6 August 1940, written at Eltham, London
Letter Aug 08 1940 – 1, Letter Aug 08 1940 – 2     Letter from Fred to parents, 8 August 1940, written at Eltham, London
SS Oronsay menu Aug 10 1940 – 1    Tea – Children’s menu
SS Oronsay menu Aug 10 1940 – 2    Luncheon – Tourist B Menu
Standard Telegrams    ‘Pacific Cable Board (Associated with Cable and Wireless) Children’s Free Telegrams’ – typed list of standard messages
Letters Aug 19 1940 – 1, Letter Aug 19 1940 – 2, Letter Aug 19 1940 – 3, Letter Aug 19 1940 – 4     Letter from Fred to parents, 19 August 1940, written at Halifax, Nova Scotia
Newspaper Toronto Telegram Aug 22 1940 – 1
Newspaper Toronto Telegram Aug 22 1940 – 2    ‘396 children board trains for Ontario’ and ‘Echoes to English Voices’ , and “Get your Head In, Buddy” Phrase Amuses War Guest” – stories and photos about children, not including Fred
Newspaper Toronto Telegram Aug 23 1940    ‘Liner arrives bringing 1,200 from England’ –report about liner arriving with children
Newspaper photos Aug 24 1940    ‘Ontario finding homes for War guests’ – various photos of children arriving, not including Fred
Newspaper Toronto Telegram Aug 24 1940    ‘“Where is your Gas Mask?”, Amazed Children Inquire on Arrival in Dominion’ – report about liner arriving with children
Newspaper Windsor Star Aug 24 1940    ‘Medical check-up’ – story about children being checked, not Fred.
Newspaper Dentist Windsor Star 6-9-40    Fred Richardson at the dentist
Newspaper Boblo Windsor Star 8-7-41    ‘Youthful British War guests take a trip to Boblo’ – photos of children visiting Boblo including Fred
Newspaper Windsor Star July 24 1941    ‘Child Guests love Canada’ – general story
BCHS article – 1, BCHS article – 2, BCHS article – 3    ‘Braintree County High School Magazine, No. 4 (new series), April 1948’, article by Fred about Canada.

(2) Others I have put in my M collection of photos, as follows:
Ref    Date of photo    Description
M2381    6 August 1940    Fred Richardson and his parents, taken before he went on the ‘SS Oronsay’ as an evacuee to Canada. Left to right, Fred senior (his father), Fred junior, and Rose (his mother).
M2382    6 August 1940    Fred Richardson and his mother Rose Richardson, taken before he went on the ‘SS Oronsay’ as an evacuee to Canada. Left to right, Fred senior (his father), Fred junior, and Rose (his mother).
M2383    August 1940    Drawing by Fred Richardson of the convoy in which he was sailing for Canada as an evacuee. This was convoy ZA, with batches D5, D7 and D8 of the evacuees. Fred was on the ‘SS Oronsay’, and the other evacuee ships were the ‘SS Antonia’ and the ‘SS Duchess of York’ (named on Fred’s drawing, though he has the Duke of York. He also names the Renown, the Empress of Australia, the Orion, the Georgic, and the Samaria, probably liners which were also in the convoy. There are also six destroyers marked. He has dotted lines round the Orion and the destroyers, and a note that they ‘left on Fri’.
M2384        Photo of ‘Orient Line, SS Oronsay, 21444[?] tons’. Probably a postcard originally. This was the ship that Fred Richardson went to Canada as an evacuee on, in 1940.
M2385    1940    Fred Richardson in ice hockey gear in Canada after arriving there as an evacuee.
M2386    1940 or 1941    Fred Richardson in class at Paterson Collegiate in Canada after he arrived as an evacuee.
M2387    1942-1946    Fred Richardson in his uniform of the Royal Canadian Navy.
M2388    1942-1946    Fred Richardson in his uniform of the Royal Canadian Navy.
M2389    22 July 1950    Fred Richardson and Lois on their wedding day.
M2390    1970s    Head and shoulders portrait of Fred Richardson.
M2391    July 2000    Fred and Lois Richardson on their 50th wedding anniversary.
M2392    July 2000    Fred and Lois Richardson and family on their 50th wedding anniversary.

The Main book about the evacuation to the dominions is:
Michael Fethney, The Absurd and the Brave

Notes on interview with his mother, Mrs Rose Richardson, of 44 Church Street, 18 May 1983 (also see interview tape 79)

Her brother-in-law, i.e. her late husband Fred’s sister’s husband, lives in Bocking.
She married 1925 and lived in cottage next to present one.
Her son went to Canada when nearly 14 in War. Very clever. Went to Maldon Road school. Then High School. He came home from school and said the teacher wanted children to go to colonies and he’d said he’d like to go to Canada. Mrs Richardson’s husband had some people out there. Had to have written statement from parents and they sent it. Only one who went from Braintree County High School. They tried to get him back. She went to a relative for a holiday with the boy. Husband at home and got the letter for him to go and cycled off to post it and changed his mind and phoned. Surprise to all, Fred saying his son was going to Canada Her son wanted to go straight home but her brother couldn’t take her home – went in bus from Whipps Cross. Husband couldn’t read all the letter, some of it was handwritten. Fred Mellon and sister Win worked at County office but he couldn’t read it either. Win guessed it said tomorrow, Tuesday. Not to tell anyone etc. etc. Stopping the train at 12.30. Husband crying all the time while got him ready. Photos taken at Butchers. Not to tell anyone but did tell Mrs Pendle at the shop. Son not to get in touch with parents. Going to station  Station master said is this the boy that is going to Canada and were supposed to tell him. Just stopped the train in time. he told him to write but not say where he was Cried when he’s gone. Got letter with postmark on and decided to get him back. Tried various organisations through Mr s Pendle and spoke to him on phone at college where waiting to go, and he said all OK. Didn’t tell him they’d changed their minds. Did well. Then into Canadian Navy. They had to give consent. Could be deferred. But then to Research Labs. They thought it was on land but it wasn’t.
Son in sick bay there. Wanted to be a doctor. Then to London University, Ontario, into teaching. St Andrews Private[?] College, Aurora. She went on cheap trip in 1962 on the Queen Mary. Then he into Toronto. Husband went in 1968. Son principal since 1967. Lot of worry

First part of his trip on train, went to Eltham. He was friends with boy whose mother was mayoress at Maldon – Keeble. Those two older than the rest so allow4ed to go out. Wasn’t allowed to say where he went etc. or afterwards what ship. All his letters read. Cut out if could help the enemy. Took seven days to get there with six destroyers with them. They a big boat. Lots of children. Some also to Australia. Home for fist time in 1969 and didn’t say he was coming. Saw man getting out of car.
While he was in Canada as a boy she had to pay money for him every 6[?] months. Could pay more than minimum if liked. Every three months for clothes. Got lots of letters. Well looked after. Wouldn’t have gone if husband hadn’t phoned instead of writing. Still doesn’t know how picked out. Head gave talk and said he was ‘sunshine’. Mother called him sunny. She told him never to come back if the Germans took England and he promised. Works very hard.

Looked up ships on M2383, on site
Empress of Australia
Was started as the ‘Tirpiz’ in Germany in 1912,completed 1916 with the funnels not evenly spaced, then ceded to Britain after World War 1. Canadian Pacific bought her and called her Empress of China 1921-22, Empress of Australia 1922 onwards. Used as a liner, saved 3,000 lives during the Yokahama earthquake of 1923, served as a troop ship 1939-51, was scrapped 1952.

Notes on conversation with Graham Richardson, Fred’s son, on a visit to England on 12 July 2004 (also see tape recording)

He understood that there were two children sent from Braintree High School, his father and another.

His father went on the Oronsay which had been used for evacuating troops from Norway, and he remembered blood still on the decks. Graham thinks this was the last one before the Benares,  which sank

His father kept a notebook of his feelings on the ship, also made a record to send home, and had photos of himself and his parents taken before he went.

His father was housed with Bennett family. He got on OK with the father there, Cecil, but not with the mother and daughter; the daughter was disabled and he felt the mother resented him, Fred.

In Canada his father eventually took up teaching which he was very gifted at. He first of all taught chemistry at the Royal Military College in Kingston, then St Andrews Private school in Aurora. Then he went into the public school system (13-18 year olds) and became Vice Principal of Runnymede College in Toronto, and from 1970 on was Principal of school in Toronto, (Burlington?). Retired in 1984. Main hobby was photography.

His father and mother met in 1946 and they married 22 or 23 July 1950. Their children were Julia born 15 July 1955, Cynthia born 17 June 1958, Andrea born 26 July 1960, and Graham born 24 May 1965. Because he himself had not had much of a family in his teens, his father was very dedicated to making time for his own children. In 1975 for their 25th wedding anniversary they took their first holiday without any children.

Graham’s grandparents, (Fred’s parents), Fred and Rose, were born in 1900 and 1904 respectively. They aimed to settle in Canada but Fred senior didn’t like it, was homesick, and they only stayed 10 months. Before they left they were at 22 Cross Road, then came back to Church Street. First at 42? Church Street. She looked after Mr Hasler and he eventually gave her 44 Church Street. Fred senior died in 1971. After that Rose visited Canada about every two years, went five times up to 1982.

At home they were friendly with Fred Hasler, Vivien Wood of the shop at 48 Church Street, and John Wood of Wood End Farm.

Email from Graham Richardson, 3 September 2004

From: “Graham Richardson” <>
To: “Janet Gyford” <>
Subject: Scanned information part 1
Date: Fri, 3 Sep 2004 11:35:07 -0600
X-Mailer: Microsoft Outlook Express 6.00.2800.1409

Thank you for your most recent email. I will send a note to the sound archives, as you suggest. We’ve received computers / scanners etc. now, so I’ve started working on the scanning etc.
Attached are the photos that my Mom wanted to send along to you. I’ve added a few more photos and 3 letters from 1940. In addition, I’ve included menus from the voyage to Canada, a list of “standard” telegrams that the CORB children could choose from, an article from the Braintree County High School magazine.
You had asked a couple of other questions while we chatted in Witham:
1) my grandparents immigrated to Canada in November 1946 and returned to Witham in Feb 1947. During that time, they stayed with my Dad at the Bennett’s (ie. Dad’s host family)
2) as you can see from the item above, Dad did return to Bennett’s after being discharged from the RCN (Royal Canadian Navy) in 1945
3) I’ve not been through all the letters, as yet. As such, I don’t have a lot of information beyond what we discussed. However, I will be on the lookout for letters that talk about Dad’s impressions of Canada etc.
There are some newspaper articles that I’ll scan another day and send to you, as well.
If you have other questions / clarifications etc., please don’t hesitate to ask.
PS. I have listened to the tape of my Grandmother and it is incredible. In that tape, my grandmother talks about deciding to try to get my Dad back from Eltham – and phoning there. You’ll note that in the Aug 8 1940 letter, Dad thanks them for their phone call. As my grandmother states on the tape, they heard that he was happy and so decided not to get him back.

Email from Graham Richardson, 6 September 2004

From: “Graham Richardson” <>
To: “Janet Gyford” <>
Subject: Re: hello again from witham
Date: Mon, 6 Sep 2004 10:36:37 -0600
X-Mailer: Microsoft Outlook Express 6.00.2800.1409

Thanks for the note. I think my Mom would be (and I know that I would be)
very pleased to have anything regarding my Dad mentioned in your book.
Please feel free to use whatever you wish (pictures / text etc.). My Mom’s
first name is Lois. Once again, I appreciate your interest in my Dad.
I checked out the web site and found some interesting
information there. I also found a picture of the Oronsay on line (see
attached). The ship was sunk in 1942, off the coast of Liberia, where it
was serving as a troopship. As I mentioned to you, I will continue to go
through the letters etc. that my Mom has lent me and forward anything
pertinent. Also, you’ll find attached a couple of scans of newspaper
photos of my Dad. The first is from Sept 6 1940, upon his arrival in
Windsor, Ontario. The second is from the following summer (July 8, 1941)
and shows a group of evacuees on a trip to Boblo Island. (Notice that Dad
is still wearing his BCHS cap). Boblo Island is an amusement park, in the
Detroit River, near Windsor, Ontario.
I will ask my Mom about submitting the photos etc. to the Essex Record
Office. I’m sure that she would be delighted – but I’ll check first. I’ll
confirm back with you.
I was looking through your book on Witham (again!) and noticed a picture
from the Maldon Road School that Dad attended. I wonder if other class
pictures might be available that might include my Dad? Please let me know
if you are aware of any.

Email from Graham Richardson, 6 September 2004

From: “Graham Richardson” <>
To: “Janet Gyford” <>
Subject: More Info
Date: Mon, 6 Sep 2004 19:55:33 -0600

Enclosed are a few more articles from Toronto and Windsor newspapers. Most deal directly with the arrival of my Dad’s group, while one is more general in nature. I thought you might be interested, because they indicate some of the impressions of the kids, upon their arrival in Canada.
I suppose that I should ask whether you want me to send you this information or not. It is no trouble for me, since I’m scanning a lot of photos, articles, letters etc. – but if you have everything that you need, just let me know.
By the way, I don’t know when your book will be published. Perhaps you could give me an approximate timeframe so that we can be first in line!

Email from Graham Richardson about the two pics of postmen with Mrs Rose Richardson (my numbers M2186 and M2187)
From: “Graham Richardson” <>
To: “Janet Gyford” <>
Subject: Re: postmen
Date: Mon, 20 Dec 2004 13:19:21 -0700

It is good to hear from you again. You must be pleased that your book is now completed and with the publishers.
Thanks for the information on the the photos. I can provide a bit of clarification about dates etc. My grandmother only worked at the post office during the war (although she helped out at Christmas time after the war). The photo has 1941 written on the back of it – although I suppose that a later date is possible. She did not work in the post office until after my Dad was evacuated, so the very earliest date would be late 1940. I seem to recall, however, that she did not start there until 1941. My grandparents lived at 46 Church St. from 1925-1930 then 11 Cross Road from about 1930 until 1946 when they emigrated to Canada. When they returned from Canada (1947), they lived in Silver End until Mr. Hasler offered my Grandmother a job cleaning his home at Elms Corner (near Elm Farm, which is the address you refer to below I believe) later in 1947. They moved to 44 Church St. in 1953 (the row of cottages was owned by Mr. Hasler, I believe). As such, at the time of the photo, Grandma’s address would have been: 11 Cross Road.
I remembered you saying, when we met, that photos during the war were “few and far between”. In going through photos with my Mom, I have quite a number of my Grandparents during that period. Most of them were taken in the back of their home in Cross Rd.
I mentioned to you that I had located the notebook from Dad’s crossing to Canada. Over the years, I had also asked Dad to draw me a map of Witham with notations about his early experiences. I asked him to do this a number of times – but he always managed to put off doing it. Finally, about a month before he died, he told me that he had written down some items. To make a long story short, my Mom and I found that as well when I was in Toronto last month. There is probably not a lot that would be of interest to you (although it certainly is to me!) – but if you would like a copy, I would be happy to scan it and send it along.
My mailing address is as follows:
Graham Richardson
424 Mt. Cascade Pl. S.E.
Calgary, Alberta
T2Z 2K5
Thanks again for your interest and help!
I hope that you and your family all spend a very Happy Christmas.
—– Original Message —– From: “Janet Gyford” <>
To: <>
Sent: Monday, December 20, 2004 3:05 AM
Subject: postmen

Hello Graham
Now my book is at the publishers I have time to catalogue some of the photos that I have received recently including your two postmen pics. I’m gradually improving the list of names; the latest assessment of the group is, left to right: (1) Harold Pease (Guithavon Road). (2) Bill Oliver (lived in Maldon Road next to Rowley’s garage). (3) Rose Richardson (lived Rickstones Road near track to Little Elms farm, and later in Church Street). (4) — Rudkin. (5) — Emmens (lived in Church Street).
If you look in my photo book, page 78, you’ll see later pictures of (1) and (2). If these ones in the book are really late 1950s as I was told, then the men are a good deal older than in yours, aren’t they. I wonder whether yours could have been as early as 1939 when the Post Office was first built, or did ROse only go there during the 1939-45 War, I can’t remember. I generally assume that photos couldn’t have been taken actually during the War unless they were special events, but I might be wrong.
Would you mind giving me your postal address some time, I like to put that in my lists in case anyone needs it in future. Maybe I already have it, if so I am not sure where it is !
I hope you all have a lovely holiday.
Best wishes from Janet

Email from Graham Richardson when he sent the drawing of the convoy out of the diary
From: “Graham Richardson” <>
Subject: Re: drawing of the oronsay convoy
Date: Thu, 3 Feb 2005 15:41:29 -0700

It is good to hear from you again. I expect that your book will be published imminently. I believe that you had indicated February as the date.
Enclosed is the sketch of the convoy from Dad’s notebook. There are a couple of items of note:
– the ships circled with a dashed line are noted in the bottom right corner as having “Left on Friday”. This aligns with “The Absurd and the Brave” which indicated that the convoy destroyer escorts left part way through the voyage. The “Orion” apparently also left part way through the voyage.
– the convoy designation was ZA and sailed on 10/8/40 (so the Friday noted above would have been Aug. 16). It arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia on August 19,1940 (vs. Aug 21 noted in “The Absurd and the Brave”
– Dad’s notations for Aug 16th (earlier in his notebook) are: “Friday August 16th Had P.T. Destroyers left us after 2000 miles. Still had “Renown”. “Orion” also went East had troops on. “Empress of Australia” made zig-zag course.
Let me know what you decide to do. We’d be very pleased if this drawing makes it into your book.
Best regards,
PS. I’ve attached two versions of the drawing with different contrast levels.
—– Original Message —– From: “Janet Gyford” <>
To: <>
Sent: Thursday, February 03, 2005 7:14 AM
Subject: drawing of the oronsay convoy

Hello Graham
I might possibly have a chance to squeeze an extra picture into my current Witham book. I was wondering about your father’s drawing of the convoy – if you are interested in my trying to fit this in, would you be able to email it to me asap?
I hope all is well with you all.

PRO (TNA) DO 131/108
Children’s Overseas Reception Board.
Case file, Frederick Roland Richardson
Some is printed, I have put the printed part in italics:393
Name: RICHARDSON, Frederick Roland.    Dom. Canada
Birthday: 23rd Sept. 1926    Sex: M    Denomination: Protestant
Parents’ Name:    F C Richardson.         Occupation: Metal Window Maker
Mrs R Richardson
Address: 11 Cross Road, Witham, Essex.
Next of Kin: Mrs A V Goodey, 43 Broad Road, Bocking, near Braintree. Essex.
Address and Name of Host    N. or U.    Date.        Reason for Change
Mr and Mrs C N Bennett        N        Sept 1940
840 Parent[?] Avenue        (relatives)
Windsor. Ontario. Canada
684 Devonshire Rd.,
Walkerville, Ont.
School: Taking course at Wayne University, Detroit, Dec. 1943.
Employment: Gelatine Products Laboratory Jan. 1944
General:     Boy would have remained at School until 17 sitting for S L or Matriculation. Then trained for work for which he is most suited. Matter not discussed with relatives with whom he is now living.
Parents wish to settle in Canada.
Parents wish Frederick to return home (35)
Parents agree to his taking a job in Toronto for duration (38)
Joined R C N (Sept 44)

Bocking electoral register 1939 and 1945
Albert Victor Goodey and Rose Alice Goodey of 43 Broad Road, Bocking South Ward.

Overseas Evacuation

There had been other evacuations at the beginning of the war, but with the evacuation of Dunkirk, by the end of May 1940 the first spontaneous offers to take British children began to pour in from Canada and within a few days similar offers came from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the United States. On the 7th June the British Government set up a committee to consider these offers and on the day that France fell the ‘War Cabinet’ decided to set up the Children’s Overseas Reception Board. By the 4th July, when the public had to be told that no further requests could be handled, 211 000 applications for evacuation overseas of children aged between five and sixteen had been received.

Even in the beginning the Board found it difficult to secure enough accommodation on British passenger-carrying ships and when on 10th July the ‘War Cabinet’ decided it was impossible to take warships off anti-invasion duties to provide convoy escorts the official scheme for sending children overseas was held in abeyance. Exit permits for children being sent privately were still granted so long as parents chose to accept the risks involved.

On September 17, 1940 a U-boat torpedoed the evacuation ship “City of Benares”, with the loss of 256 lives including 77 out of 90 child evacuees. This brought an abrupt end to the official scheme.

The Children’s Overseas Reception Board had safely evacuated 2 664 children, 1 532 to Canada, 576 to Australia, 353 to South Africa and 203 to New Zealand. Precise statistics are not available, but it is believed that another 11 000 children went by private arrangement, over 600 to Canada and the remainder to the United States.


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