Hartlepool expat in Australia says he lived through the war but now life is worse

Joe over the years.Joe over the years.
Joe over the years.
Thousands of Australians are being put out of work with no prospect of ever returning because of the coronavirus, a former Hartlepool man has told the Mail.

Joe Richmond, 83, lived through the Second World War and thinks the crisis facing the world may be worse than it was then.

Joe lives in Perth in Australia and is a former resident of Brougham Terrace in Hartlepool.

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He was brought up in town during the years of the Second World War and still remembers ‘being dragged out of bed, in the middle of the night, as German bombers tried to blow up the ICI in Billingham, and the shipyards in Hartlepool’.

Joe pictured working on a welding project.Joe pictured working on a welding project.
Joe pictured working on a welding project.

He left school at 15 to become an apprentice welder in the shipyards before becoming a Gunner in the 2nd Royal Horse Artillery .

In the late 1950s, he got a job on the North Yorkshire Moors building a BMEWS (Ballistic Missile Early Warning Station). He later worked on jobs all over the country before being offered a job in 1986 in Western Australia as a welding instructor.

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He described what life was like at the moment in Australia and said: “We in Oz are surviving, having just experienced the two hottest summers on record.

Former Hartlepool man Joe Richmond.Former Hartlepool man Joe Richmond.
Former Hartlepool man Joe Richmond.

“We still got the UK Premier League football every Saturday night, and I still listen to the BBC 6pm news at 7am every morning in Oz.

“There was a very marked difference in living standards in Oz and the UK.

“But since the coronavirus outbreak, everything has changed, and not for the better.

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“Thousands are now out of work, with few prospects of ever going back.

Joe in his younger days in Hartlepool.Joe in his younger days in Hartlepool.
Joe in his younger days in Hartlepool.

“I visited the biggest shopping centre in Perth, at 10am on any day parking is a problem, but most of the car park was empty, as were most of the shops,

“In this shopping centre there were about 100 shops, now there are at least 12 less, all in a week.

“I grew up in the Second World War with food rationing from 1940 till 1955. I used to go to the beach and collect winkles, crabs, mussels, anything to eke out the starvation food rations.

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“I kept six chickens, and six rabbits, not as pets, but as a food source and as soon as they were big enough to eat, that’s exactly what we did.

“I think anyone brought up during the Second World War did not have it easy, but compared to what is facing this generation of kids, we may have had it easy.

“I don’t think anyone on Earth now knows that the future holds, I hope things improve, but from where I am now, in the best country on earth. I think we are all in for a very, very hard time, I hope I’m wrong.

“But if things look black for Oz, and they do, what will it be like for less fortunate countries?”

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Joe added: “The mood in Oz is very grim and people are afraid.

“In the War, most people thought it was grim and it was.

“There was starvation, food rationing from 1940 till 1955, but most never doubted we would win in the end.

“But under the Coronavirus, people are dying and we don’t seem to be able to do anything about it. I think most fear for their kids, and parents.

“I am now 83, I, like all others over 70, are confined to our homes. With fines or jail if we venture out.”

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There are now 5,358 cases of coronavirus in Australia with around 422 in Western Australia which is where Joe lives. There have been 28 deaths.

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