First of the Fifth Fleet


The first ship in the Fifth Fleet was the USAT General Stuart Heintzelman, which left Bremerhaven with 843 passengers on 30 October 1947 and reached the Western Australian port of Fremantle on 28 November 1947.

Some people know this voyage as the one which finished with the arrival of the HMAS Kanimbla at Port Melbourne on 7 December 1947.  By now there were only 839 passengers, as four had been returned to Europe on the Heintzelman when they were found, in Fremantle, to no longer meet Australia's health or security requirements.  The 839 had stayed in Perth for four days while waiting to board the Kanimbla.  At Port Melbourne, they waited overnight on the Kanimbla before boarding two special trains which took them to inaugurate the Bonegilla Migrant Reception and Training Centre on 8 December 1947.

I have transcribed the full passenger list.  Now it has been uploaded to the Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild site.

As the daughter of one of the passengers, Agnes Tündern, I am writing a book about the voyage, why it occurred and what happened to the passengers after their arrival in Australia. 

It has been quite easy to find some of the passengers, as the Minister for Immigration at the time, Arthur Calwell, had instructed that they be sourced from the three Baltic States only--Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

Others among the passengers settled in the isolated communities where they were first sent to work or married Australians and lost contact with their ethnic communities.  These I am still trying to locate, so that their further contributions to Australia can be recorded.

If you or a parent or grandparent came to Australia on this voyage, I would love to hear from you.  Either post your message to our
forum so that others can read and respond or e-mail me with your story.

If you read Latvian, you can access the book written by one of the passengers on the First Transport to Australia, Emils Delins, about his voyage and the year after, here.

Speaking of contributions, Emils Delins founded the Latvian language newspaper in Australia, which he ran for 50 years, and eventually became the Honorary Consul-General for Latvia in Australia and New Zealand.  And Delins' wife and helpmeet, Nina, was another First Transport passenger.

There is a good biography of General Stuart Heintzelman on the Arlington National Cemetery site.

Ann Tündern-Smith

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