The true story of Thelma Healy

Thelma Healy was an ordinary Australian woman forced to do extraordinary things to feed, clothe and protect her 10 children in Brisbane during the Great Depression, World War II and the Cold War years. Poverty, domestic drudgery and an abusive husband were her constant companions.

Mother and son: Vince and Thelma on the front steps of their Wooloowin home

She did whatever was needed to survive: cooked night and day, grew vegetables, reared chickens, sewed and slaved, wasted nothing, recycled everything. Her first-born son Vincent, a strong, good-looking, generous lad, was the father the rest of the Healy kids never had.

When Vince was suddenly killed, fighting the communists in the Korean War, Thelma almost lost the will to live.

But her life took another dramatic turn and she embarked on a daunting 15,000km journey of discovery half way across the  world to Korea.

Passage to Pusan is the true story of Thellie’s life. It is based on letters and diaries from Thelma and oral histories from her four surviving children, Geraldine, Carmel, Peter and Monica, as well as her three surviving daughters-in-law, Tricia (Patricia) Peter’s wife, Eileen, the wife of deceased son John, and Cath,  wife of deceased son Jim.

They all delved into the backs of their wardrobes and deep into their memory banks to extract letters, photos, stories and snippets that allowed this book to be written.

There were many laughs and tears along the way as they generously and faithfully recalled treasured tales about living in Sandgate and Brisbane and about their beloved Thellie.

About the Publisher

Passage to Pusan is published by PB Publishing, an Australian company which specialises in historical books.

It boasts a flourishing custom publishing arm as well as acquiring a small number of manuscripts for commercial publication each year.

Established by journalist and historian Phillipa Butler, PB Publishing is passionate about documenting the small voices of history.

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