Oral History

The hidden story behind a drawing

My mum and dad arrived here as refugees in WWII and were in the same refugee internment camp, but on different sides of the fence. Mum was nine years younger than dad but I always knew she had caught his eye when they were there.

Years later I was shown a drawing an artist in the camp had made, his daughter said it was of my mother and father flirting across the barbed wire. But the true story is more intriguing than that, and one that I wouldn’t have known except that I happened upon an interview my mother had done for an exhibition related to the Dunera, the boat my father arrived here on. In that interview she says that she was standing at the fence very often, but in fact she was flirting with someone other than my father! She says that dad always said to her that, while she was flirting with the other guy, he was falling in love with her.

I feel so lucky to have happened upon the drawing and the news story, it brings her back to life for me every time I listen to her telling the story