A cameraman's story
I was assigned to film the arrival of the Polish children refugees who had come from the other side of the world. Most of them were orphans or had lost their parents, so they were assigned foster mothers for the journey. These women were 30 to 50 years of age. Many New Zealand locals wanted the children, either because they were unable to have children themselves or because they felt sorry for the plight of the waifs.
Nothing could have prepared me for the sight of these little children, each carrying a pathetic little bundle – all they owned in the world. It brought tears to my eyes then as it does now. I shot hundreds of feet of film from which a clip of a few minutes was selected for Movie News and it is possible that the original footage may still exist in the National Film Archives. I hope our country continues to welcome desperate people who have lost everything.
It was a fine day on the Wellington waterfront. Thousands of people were there to welcome the Polish children into their new land of promise. The ship had two gangways. I was positioned at one and a fellow by the name of Stan Weyms covered the other gangway. They were streaming off the ship, wondering no doubt what sort of world it would be. There was no cheering that I can think of, but a solemn silence as the emotions of the Kiwis went out to the children. As a cameraman, I was visibly disturbed and I still feel it. After the film was edited, the footage was rolled up and stored in the archives.
A moment of anticipation and apprehension for the Polish children as the USS General Randall, their home for the past two weeks, docks in Wellington on 1 November 1944. This photo is a still from the film