A man who believed he had been abandoned by his parents after he was shipped to Australia as a child was heartbroken to discover his father was denied access to him by the institution where he was beaten and abused.
Dorian Thomas Reece, 77, was placed in a Birmingham orphanage as a baby after his unwed mother was forced to give him up, and from there he was sent to live in Western Australia when he was eight-years-old.
He had grown up believing his parents had either abandoned him or died and was excited by the chance to live in what was described as ‘a great camp with lots of boys to play with’.
He was one of the thousands of children sent from orphanages in the UK to former colonies in Commonwealth countries as part of the child migrant programme in the middle of the 20th century.
While growing up in Australian boys’ homes Dorian endured horrific abuse, recalling being beaten by a man called Mowen – who would punish boys before sexually abusing them.
Appearing on this evening’s episode of ITV’s Long Long Family, Dorian found that his late father had not only been paying for his upkeep, but wanted to reunite with both him and his mother.
Dorian Thomas Reece, 77, was placed in a Birmingham orphanage as a baby after his unwed mother was forced to give him up and as an eight-year-old boy (pictured) was sent to live in Western Australia
Appearing on this evening’s episode of ITV’s Long Long Family, Dorian found that his late father had not only been paying for his upkeep, but wanted to reunite with both him and his mother
According to the Mirror, Dorian said in the episode: ‘They didn’t have the right to intervene in such a manner, but they did. The consequences were that the likes me went to places that weren’t good to grow up in’.
Dorian was among the 130,000 children sent unaccompanied to countries including Australia and Canada from the 1920s to 1970s under the promise of a better life.
The children, aged between three and 14, were taken from England’s ‘orphan and waif class’ to the colonies to take up land as white settlers.
In reality many found themselves in badly-run institutions where they were poorly educated, and suffered neglect and often physical and sexual abuse, whilst all ties to their families and home country were severed.
Dorian’s father, George Thomas, had been born in 1892 and died in 1981. He had fought in the First World War before working as a chemical engineer and had even been awarded an OBE
Dorian had been living in an orphanage run by Father Hudson’s Homes when he and his friends were told they would be travelling to Australia for a new life.
He was sent to the Castledare boys’ home, a residential college in Wilson run by the Christian Brothers religious order, where he remained for three years.
An inspection of the home in 1948 found the bedroom floors were stained with ‘urine which had dropped through the continually saturated mattresses’.
In 2017, an inquiry looking into abuse in England and Wales found the home was like ‘a legal paedophile ring’ where residents were forced to endure ‘sadistic’ beatings and sexual abuse.
At the age of 11 Dorian was sent to Clontarf Boys’ Town in Perth, also run by the Christian Brothers, where he was routinely beaten by a man named Mowen.
Dorian discovered he had two late siblings and managed to find his niece Anne, and her son Pete, living in Lancashire, who travelled to London to meet their long lost family member
Dorian is pictured with presenter Davina McCall after appearing Long Lost Family: Shipped to Australia which airs on ITV tonight at 9pm
He recalled how some of the boys were so terrified of the man they would urinate with fear and how children who broke the rules were sent to his bedroom for punishment.
‘You’d go in there, he’d give you some punishment, then he’d try to console you, sit you on his lap. I’ll leave the rest at that,’ said Dorian
‘Who do you turn to? I’m not the only one that this situation happened to. Some are better, some are a damn sight worse. Lives destroyed by what they came through.’
As an adult Dorian left Australia and returned to London, where he met his wife Kay
Despite having no idea whether she was alive, Kay encouraged Dorian to try and track down his birth mother – who they discovered was alive and had a stall on Whitechapel market.
He says being reunited with his mother was ‘magnificent’ and it was through his mum that Dorian discovered his father’s identity.
Dorian was delighted to discover more about his history after believing he had been abandoned or that ihs parents had died when he was a child
Upon meeting Anne and Pete, Dorian said: ‘I thought I’d be able to compose myself, but… I was a bit apprehensive but when I got that hug, I felt so much more at ease’
Dorian’s father, George Thomas, had been born in 1892 and died in 1981. He had fought in the First World War before working as a chemical engineer and had even been awarded an OBE.
George had separated from his wife in 1938 and nine years later met Dorian’s mother.
When his mum died, Dorian made a Freedom of Information request to the British care home he lived in as a child – soon discovering that his father had been desperate to reunite.
He found that George had written to the Birmingham care home saying he wanted to care for his son and his mother – but was told by the home: ‘The kindest thing you can do for her is to think of her no more’.
Dorian discovered he had two late siblings and managed to find his niece Anne, and her son Pete, living in Lancashire, who travelled to London to meet their long lost family member.
Upon meeting Anne and Pete, Dorian said: ‘I thought I’d be able to compose myself, but… I was a bit apprehensive but when I got that hug, I felt so much more at ease.
‘You want to know where you’ve come from and who your family are. Finding my father’s family, it’s filled a really big gap. It does feel good.’
Long Lost Family: Shipped to Australia airs on ITV tonight at 9pm