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Research Guides


Good British Stock: Child and Youth Migration to Australia


The Salvation Army

Image 8: Just completed the building of a dam, c. 1927.

Image 8: Just completed the building of a dam, c. 1927.
NAA: CP211/2, 74/9b
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It was the Salvation Army among the Protestant churches which was most involved with promoting migration, including youth migration, before World War II. The Salvation Army was founded in London by William Booth, a Methodist minister, who severed his connection with that denomination and set out as an independent evangelist. A tent meeting conducted by Booth in 1865 on a disused burial ground in Whitechapel – a desperately deprived area – marked the beginning of what was to become 'The Christian Mission'.

The Salvation Army evolved from this mission in 1878 and spread rapidly throughout the United Kingdom and worldwide. In the militant mood of the times, the newly established Salvation Army declared war on sin and poverty and formulated its structure on military lines. Consequently military titles and phraseology were adopted and are still used for its 'officers' (full-time ordained ministers) and 'soldiers' (lay men and women).

William Booth was deeply concerned about the grinding poverty in London and in a book called In Darkest England and the Way Out, 1890, Booth found the solution for the 'submerged tenth' of the population in emigration. The people should be given agricultural training and then sent out to British colonies. The colonies were 'pieces of Britain distributed around the world' so the emigrant would be quite at home.

The Salvation Army was assisting people to emigrate to Canada late in the nineteenth century, some of whom were young men trained on their Hadleigh Farm Colony in Essex and then helped to settle in Canada. The numbers grew substantially and by the turn of the century this organisation was playing a major role in the emigration of children and continued to do so until World War I.

Image 9: Learning how to mount and ride a horse, c. 1927.

Image 9: Learning how to mount and ride a horse, c. 1927.
NAA: CP211/2, 74/9e
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After the war and during the 1920s, the Salvation Army directed migrants to Australia. By this stage its efforts were directed to assisting families and settling farm boys, especially in Queensland. The Army worked closely with the Royal Colonial Institute and the Oversea Settlement Department within the Dominions Office. In Queensland, it established the special training camp at Riverview near Brisbane to give the farm boys some prior training. After-care was thorough and effective. The peak came in the late 1920s when on four separate occasions, the Salvation Army chartered the vessel Vedic to transport its emigrants from Britain to Australia.

After World War II, the Salvation Army as other religious denominations, was anxious to cooperate with the Government's mass migration policy. In 1948, Brigadier Winton took Minister for Immigration, Arthur Calwell, on a tour of the Riverview property which had become run-down during the war years. Winton hoped to make it a centre for child migrants but his understanding was that the 'child migrants' would be young men over fourteen years of age, more youth migrants for farm training. The Salvation Army was not involved with child migration, strictly defined, after the war.

Time passed; the Salvation Army organisation in Britain had cooled towards youth migration; renovations at Riverview took time; and the Big Brother Movement had become the organisation for youth migration. In the end only a few youth migrants, fewer than one hundred, passed through Riverview during the 1950s, and by the 1960s the Salvation Army was using the place for other purposes.

The Salvation Army's contribution to assisted immigration occurred mainly in the 1920s. The records provide some idea of the range of Army activities, but probably understate their impact. The main emphasis is on policy, finance, training and after-care; there is little to assist genealogists.

CORRESPONDENCE FILES, ANNUAL SINGLE NUMBER SERIES, 1903–38
Canberra
Series: A1
Quantity: 337.14 metres
Recorded by: 1932–38: Department of the Interior [I] (CA 27)
Salvation Army on Migration Activities, 1937 [28 pages]

This contains an attractive 20-page booklet 'Empire Migration and Settlement', 1937 which sets out the Salvation Army's policy and achievements in promoting migration, including the encouragement of child and youth migration. On policy, General W Booth had written, 1903:

I hold that Migration… (1) Must be advantageous to the country which the migrant leaves; (2) Must be acceptable to the country receiving the migrant; (3) Must be beneficial to the migrant… and to fail in any of these conditions is to fail in all'. The migration of boys was discussed on p. 17 in these terms: 'The Salvation Army's scheme of migration for boys includes a short training in elementary agriculture on their Hadleigh (Essex) farms under ideal conditions… Boys are also accepted for training at the Salvation Army farms at Riverview near Brisbane, and at Putaruru in New Zealand. Such boys are not given the training at Hadleigh, although they are assembled there for a short testing prior to embarkation. Overall, 6 000 boys have been trained.

General Evangeline Booth sent a copy of the brochure to the Minister of the Interior, 14 May 1937:

We trust these principles will find favour with delegates to the Imperial Conference.

R H Wheeler studied the booklet and wrote a memorandum for the Minister, 14 July 1937, which included:

The forte of the Army was the attention paid to after-care… the Commonwealth was singularly fortunate in the selection of Salvation Army officers who controlled migration activities at this end… Brigadier Imrie and Brigadier Wright.

The Prime Minister commended the Army for its brochure and its long assistance with migration.

A1, 1937/10056
Salvation Army: Introduction from Holland of youths for farm work and domestic workers, 1938 [c.100 pages]

The Salvation Army Secretary for Migration, Mr O Culshaw wrote to Commissioner W R Dalziel on 3 March 1938:

At the request of Commissioner Vlas, the Territorial Commander for Holland, I went to Amsterdam a few days ago to discuss with Dutch authorities the question of emigration of Dutch nationals to Australia.

These suggestions and impressions were passed on to the Ministry for the Interior when Colonel Howard interviewed the Minister on 12 April regarding Salvation Army migration activities in general, including the proposal to bring some people from the Netherlands. Mr T H Garrett, wrote a short memorandum after the interview for the file:

The Minister indicated that under the migration policy the Commonwealth would welcome the introduction of Dutch people of non-Jewish race.

Howard was to place his proposal in writing. There are many copies of Howard's subsequent detailed proposal in the file. On 10 June 1938, Garrett replied. The Government approved the Salvation Army plan including the introduction of youths between 15 and 18 years of age for farm work:

The migrants introduced were not to be of Jewish race, and the Army was to be responsible for their reception, placement and after-care… and the repatriation to Holland of any who proved unsuitable during their first five years in Australia.

The war intervened before the plan could be placed into effect.

A1, 1938/8207
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, 1934–50<
Canberra
Series: A461
Quantity: 143.82 metres
Recorded by: 1934–50: Prime Minister's Department (Ca 12)
Immigration – Salvation Army, 1921–28 [c.150 pages]
This does not concern child migration, and only to a limited extent, youth migration. There is a copy of the agreement between His Majesty's Government and the Salvation Army, 19 August 1927 relating to migration and settlement in Australia of single women, boys, families, widows with families; the training of boys in Queensland; and the training of boys in the UK with a view to their migration as farm workers in Australia. There is the discussion of future subsidy arrangements with the Salvation Army; and a copy of The Homeland Club Review, October 1928 – a journal for the migrants sailing on the Vedic. There are two folios regarding the renewal of Salvation Army migration efforts in Queensland during the late 1930s.
A461, F349/1/1
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, MULTIPLE NUMBER SERIES, 1923–34
Canberra
Series: A458
Quantity: 49.77 metres
Recorded by: 1923–34: Prime Minister's Department (CA 12)
Immigration encouragement – Salvation Army, Financial 1923–27 [43 pages]

Much of this concerns discussions over Government subsidies to assist the immigration work of the Salvation Army. In a memorandum of 1 April 1924, the Deputy Director, Commonwealth Immigration Office, wrote:

… the only outside organisation handling migration to Australia in any effective way is the Salvation Army… invaluable work in after-care and welfare of migrants… recommend the £1500 grant… faithful service… wise expenditure.

However, not all agreed. Senator Wilson wrote to the Prime Minister, 15 April 1924:

… the claims of the Army are extravagant.

Meanwhile, the Oversea Settlement Committee (UK) was willing to pay half the ascertained cost of after-care up to a maximum of £3 per migrant: 1 140 migrants. In the end, the Salvation Army received £1,500 per year, 10% of passage money loans its officers collected, £5 per head for each boy received at Riverview and a further grant of £500 towards publicity and other expenses promoting migration in the UK. Three years later, the subsidy was reviewed.

A458, J154/4
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, SINGLE NUMBER SERIES WITH 'B' (CHILD ENDOWMENT) PREFIX, 1904–74
Canberra
Series: A885
Quantity: 7.92 metres
Recorded by: 1951–72: Department of Social Services (CA 32)
Salvation Army Homes Queensland – Institution, 1941–52 [c.100 pages]
This concerns the recognition of Salvation Army homes in Queensland for the purposes of the Child Endowment Act, 1 October 1941. There is little material on Riverview or youth migration.
A885, B96
GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE, 1926–30
Canberra
Series: CP211/2
Quantity: 23.94 metres
Recorded by: 1926–30: Development and Migration Commission (CA 243)
Training – Hadleigh – Salvation Army, 1927 [6 pages]

There are five black and white photos of the training the young men received at the Riverview training farm, and a booklet about the training they received at the Hadleigh farm, Essex Solving an Empire Problem, Part 1. Otherwise, the unsigned, undated report by a Welfare Officer on the Manilius is unsympathetic to the Army. The Welfare Officer gleaned his view after talking to 40 boys who were en route to Australia. He wrote of the regimen at Hadleigh, inter alia:

All the boys migrated under Salvation Army auspices have to go through the six weeks or more training at Hadleigh… some lads had prior farming experience… proselytising… money matters unsatisfactory… [On the other hand] a large proportion of boys applying at Australia House through the Labour Exchanges are below the standards of weight and height for age… they droop, slouch and smoke too much… for them, farm training is desirable.

There is no comment on this report in the file.

CP211/2, 74/9
Training – Riverview Farm – Salvation Army, 1927 [14 pages]

There is a copy of: Munro, J 'Snatched from the Grip of Giant Despair' in the War Cry, 19 February 1927, p. 3 containing much of the Salvation Army's philosophy surrounding migration. The article commences:

'Charlie' was a Sunderland lad, 16 years of age… On the liner Vedic, the party sailed from London on December 17, and Charlie's heart was gay with hope and strong in the knowledge of sin forgiven.

There is correspondence between L S Amery, the British Migration Representative in Australia, and Lord Stonehaven, the Governor-General, on the training and settlement of boys in Queensland. Government tended to be satisfied with the Army's work. On 20 May 1927, Mr A J Jones, the Acting Premier in Queensland wrote to the Lieutenant-Governor in Brisbane:

The Queensland Government has agreed to contribute to the Salvation Army one half the cost of the reception and settlement expenses of 100 boys per annum to be introduced by the Salvation Army and given agricultural training at the Riverview farm.

A useful three-page summary of the Government's funding for Riverview follows. There are 'Notes on Salvation Army Training Farm for Boys at Riverview, Queensland', which includes:

The two dormitories are light, airy, lofty and exquisitely clean… lecture rooms… night lectures… by Government experts… the boys have acquitted themselves very creditably at a subsequent examination… [Riverview was formerly used for the retraining of delinquent lads]… duration of the training is for three to four months… letters received from the boys already placed in work were not satisfactory… 2/6 per week pocket money… the boys' fares from the farm to their first jobs are paid by the Salvation Army… they are placed in the same district which facilitates after-care and visiting… the approved quota is (now) sixty lads per annum.

On 8 March 1927, an official wrote 'Supplementary Notes' in the file which have a more critical tone.

CP211/2, 74/12
Migration – Salvation Army boys, 1927 [27 pages]

This concerns financial arrangements between the Salvation Army and governments; and between the Army and the migrants whom it was assisting to settle in Australia. On 1 April 1927, Mr T C Macnaghten (OSC), wrote to Salvation Army Commissioner, D C Lamb:

The Oversea Settlement Committee is concerned at the Salvation Army practice of requiring the boys to repay part of their passage money… over two years… this is too long… it is not voluntary… it violates the Empire Settlement Act.

Otherwise, and pending negotiations on this, HMG did intend to renew the agreements made under the Act. There are summaries of the agreements made between the Army and the several governments. The general sense of the other correspondence is that the Salvation Army was doing a fine job of introduction and after-care, but may be being overpaid for the fine task which is being performed.

CP211/2, 53/83
Migration – Salvation Army girls, 1927 [2 pages]
There are two letters here, both from Brigadier James Imrie to the Development and Migration Commission regarding photos which he has sent them of 'young girls' which the Salvation Army has assisted to migrate to Western Australia. He wrote on 23 June 1927: 'What fine types of girls we are bringing into the country!'
CP211/2, 53/84
Training – Riverview, 1927–28 [32 pages]
The first item is a 10-page reprint of an article, 'Riverview Training Farm', from the Australasian, 3 September 1927, which gives a very positive view of the establishment. There are lists of the boys who arrived under Salvation Army auspices on the Ormonde, 11 July 1927, and the names and addresses of first employers (after training); and similarly for boys who arrived on the Vedic, 7 December 1927; and those on the Beltana who arrived 25 April 1928 and those on the Esperance Bay who reached Riverview on 27 August 1928. There is correspondence about Patrick Walsh, who drowned two days after his arrival at Riverview. Otherwise, there is sundry correspondence on financial matters, and a comparison between Riverview and the NSW Government Training Farm, Scheyville, via Windsor which prepared Dreadnought boys for the land.
CP211/2, 74/39
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, MULTIPLE NUMBER SERIES, 1922–68
Canberra
Series: A445
Quantity: 22.5 metres
Recorded by: 1951–55: Department of Immigration (CA 51)
Riverview Boys Home – Queensland – Salvation Army, Part 1, 1948–50 [c.150 pages]

In August 1948 Brigadier W Winton wrote to Immigration Minister, Arthur Calwell, regarding reviving youth migration at Riverview in Queensland. Calwell replied, 9 September 1948:

You will appreciate that any scheme of child migration by voluntary organisations must be controlled closely because of the possibility of the exploitation of the children.

At this point, Colonel Dean of the Army's Public Relations had to write to Calwell that 'Brigadier Winton is a Retired Officer and has absolutely no authority to represent us or to act for us in this matter'. Meanwhile, on 27 September 1948, the Salvation Army lodged Group Nominations 'for 36 males up to 15 years of age for training at Riverview Farm' with the CMO, Brisbane, Mr H Longland. He was advised by Sir Tasman Heyes, 26 October, that:

… when a voluntary organisation (such as the Salvation Army) revives its interest in child migration after the lapse of a number of years, it is desirable for a report to be submitted as to the present circumstances and capacity of the organisation (now) to accommodate, train and care for its proposed nominees.

An inspection was arranged promptly and Mr R Minto reported, 18 October that the Army was interested in taking youths for farm training, not child migration as such, and that:

… they are not prepared to pay wages to boys during training, but would like the Government to make some allowance to both their organisation and the boys… discipline is strict.

This strictness was related to the presence of some delinquent lads at Riverview, and on these grounds, the British High Commission Secretary, Mr W Garnett, indicated that Riverview could not be considered an 'approved organisation' until the young delinquents were sent elsewhere. It was at this stage that State Child Welfare Department Secretary, W D Smith, commented that Queensland delinquents would compare favourably with any British trainees 'as to character and intelligence'. Understandably, there were delays in granting Riverview 'approved status'. There is much correspondence over this delay and tactful arrangements to pacify the British High Commission over Mr Smith's comments. As Mr A L Nutt, Immigration Department commented:

In this clash of personalities the interests of Queensland in securing child migrants do not seem to be well served by its State officers.

Meanwhile, necessary renovations were occurring at Riverview, promises were made that delinquent and subnormal boys would be removed and Mr W Garnett agreed, 31 January 1950, to raise no objections to Riverview being approved as a place suitable for the reception of British child migrants.

A445, 133/2/49
CASE FILES, ANNUAL SINGLE NUMBER SERIES, 1946–
Brisbane
Series: J25
Quantity: 1652.67 metres
Recorded by: 1946–74: Department of Immigration, Qld Branch (CA 958)
Child Migration – Child and Youth Organisations and Salvation Army Riverview, 1947–62 [c.250 pages]

The Salvation Army was involved with youth migration during the 1920s, and in August 1948 Brigadier W Winton of the Army's Sydney office wrote to Immigration Minister, Arthur Calwell whom he obviously knew well to say that he had inspected the Army's home at Riverview and felt that it could be modernised to take farm trainees, boys 14–18 years of age, not schoolchildren, (ie child migrants). An inspection at Riverview was arranged, 18 October 1948: it was being used to care for delinquents and some intellectually-handicapped children and was somewhat run-down. Mr W Garnett at the British High Commission commented, 27 October 1948:

Overall the scheme is good… but reports are not too happy… All the [church] authorities appear to be rushing into this business [child migration] without first getting their houses in order to receive migrants… not prepared to approve Riverview… the delinquents and intellectually handicapped would have to go first.

Time passed – two years almost, during which renovations were commenced at Riverview and the Salvation Army began canvassing for suitable boys in the UK for the scheme. In April 1950, Sir Tasman Heyes noted that the Army was having difficulties recruiting suitable young men and renovations at Riverview were proceeding slowly. Newspaper cuttings sympathetic to the scheme are scattered through the file. The formal opening of the Riverview renovations occurred on 19 August 1950, by which time eight boys were 'on the water' bound for Queensland. There were problems on board with some of the boys – the Surgeon on SS Chitral reported of one:

How this boy ever managed to obtain a berth on this ship remains a mystery.

During the 1950s, fewer than one hundred boys came to Riverview under the Salvation Army scheme, and by 1960 the Army had to consider other options for Riverview. The agreement with the British Government was terminated.

J25, 1958/3052

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