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Western Australia - Archival Item

Overseas Children Scheme - Record of custodians and children (Western Australia) (1940 - 1943)

Reference No
A659, 1943/1/4132
Legal Status
National Archives of Australia Reference Number

'Overseas Children Scheme - Record of custodians and children' is an item from the National Archives of Australia that can be read online. It gives information about British children who were evacuated to Australia during World War II.


Access Conditions

Open with exception.


This file refers to the Children's Overseas Reception Board Scheme (CORB), as it was called in Britain. Through this scheme, 577 British children were sent to Australia during World War II. Its purpose was to keep children safe from harm at a time when authorities thought Britain was going to be invaded. It was called the Overseas Children Scheme in WA. In this file, the names of children and their family addresses in Britain and names and addresses of their 'custodians' (the people they stayed with in WA) are listed, and there are progress reports on the children, who were all placed in family homes in WA.

Around 3,000 children were sent to Commonwealth countries and it was hoped that many more would go but the evacuations were stopped when two ships to Canada were torpedoed with 77 children's lives lost.

From the information in the file, it is possible to give some summary information about the children and young people who came to WA under this scheme.

About the children

  • 62 children and young people came to WA under the Overseas Children Scheme.
  • 31 children came with a brother or sister(s).
  • 31 children came alone, with no brothers or sisters.
  • There were 28 girls and 34 boys.
  • The three youngest children were 5 years and the two oldest were 15 years when they left Britain.
  • Of the others, two children were 6 years old; four children were 7; seven children were 8; four children were 9; eight children were 10 years old; nine children were 11; there were nine 12-year-olds; nine children were 13; and five children were 14 years old.
  • Only two children did not have their religion listed. Of the others, 37 children were Church of England, two were Church of Scotland, three were Methodist and 15 others were 'Protestant'; and three children were Roman Catholic.
  • 19 children came to relatives or friends of their parents.

Leaving Britain

The children came from all over England and also from Scotland, with most coming from the eastern counties of England.

  • 16 children came from what would now be the Greater London area.
  • 5 children came from Edinburgh and another 5 from Glasgow.
  • Children's fathers had all sorts of occupations, including 2 bus conductors and a trolley-bus driver; 4 labourers and a dock labourer; 3 fitters, 2 fitter & turners, and a locomotive fitter; 2 engineers and a motor engineer; a baker and a baker's salesman; a card grinder; two gas workers; a bootmaker; a caretaker; a civil servant, two clerks and a solicitor's clerk; a doctor; a gardener and a market gardener; a male nurse; a cloth designer; a contractor; 2 policemen; 2 postmen; 2 painters; a school janitor and a school attendance officer.
  • 12 children had their mother's name listed instead of a father's. Four of these children had mother's listed without an occupation. Of the remainder, 2 mothers were arsenal examiners; 2 were aluminium workers; two were firemen; one was a cycle and furniture dealer and one was deceased.
  • 46 children arrived on the MV Batory.
  • 4 children came on the SS Diomed.
  • 9 children sailed on the SS Nestor.

School and work in WA

Fifty six of the children had been to Western Australian schools since their arrival, and by September 1941, another 6 young people had jobs. Mostly, the children attended separate schools but there were some exceptions.

  • North Perth Government and Infants' Schools had a total of 8 children from the Overseas Children Scheme.
  • 3 boys went to Perth Boys' School.
  • 2 children went to Claremont Central State School, 2 to East Fremantle Government School (Plympton), 2 more to Subiaco Infants' School and another two went to West Leederville State School.
  • In regional WA, 2 children went to Bullsbrook Government School, 2 others to Bunbury Government School, 2 to the Collie Government High School, 2 to Gnowangerup Government School and one boy each to Merredin and Morawa Government Schools.
  • Other metropolitan government schools attended by children in the scheme were: Claremont Infants' School, Cottesloe State School, Herne Hill Government School, Inglewood Government School, Kent Street Central School, Kent Street Government School, Leederville Government School, Midland Junction School, Mt Hawthorn Government School, North Inglewood Infants' School, Perth Girls' School, Perth Junior Technical College, Princess May School (Fremantle), Redcliffe, Perth Senior Technical School, South Perth State School, Swanborne Government School, Victoria Park Government School, and Wembley State School.
  • Country government schools with one child each were: Boulder Central Government School and Boulder High School and North Kalgoorlie Government School.
  • Private schools were: Perth Ladies' College, Scotch College, the Convent School at Narrogin and Victoria Square Ladies' College.
  • Places where young people worked were Boan's Ltd, Gordon & Gotch Ltd, the Metters Foundry and Manning's Store, Narrogin. One boy was a farm worker and one girl seemed to be a domestic help, but the file is not entirely clear on the nature of those arrangements.

Hospitals and other Institutions in WA

A few of the children spent time in hospital in Perth. One girl had a traffic accident, two boys had diphtheria, and there were a range of other childhood ailments.

  • Three children were admitted to the Children's Hospital in Perth, which we now know as the Princess Margaret Hospital for Children.
  • Two boys went to the Infectious Diseases Hospital in West Subiaco.
  • One girl was admitted to St John of God Hospital in Subiaco.
  • Two children spent some time at Lady Lawley Cottage by the Sea in Cottesloe.
  • One girl was quarantined in a hostel when she arrived at Fremantle with measles.

Chapter 3 of the NAA guide Good British Stock is a good source of additional information about these records.

Related Legislation

Related Organisations

  • Lady Lawley Cottage by the Sea (1903 - 2020)

    Children from the Overseas Children Scheme (evacuees from wartime Britain) were sometimes sent to the Lady Lawley Cottage after an illness.

    Date: 1940s

  • Metropolitan Infectious Diseases Hospital (1938 - 1956)

    The archival item 'Overseas Children Scheme - Record of custodians and children (Western Australia)' shows that two boys from the Overseas Children Scheme (evacuees from wartime Britain) were admitted to the Infectious Diseases Hospital.

    Date: 1940s


Online Resources

Sources used to compile this entry: Child migration, National Archives of Australia,; Coldrey, Barry, 'Chapter 3', Good British Stock: Child and Youth Migration to Australia, National Archives of Australia, 1999,

Prepared by: Debra Rosser