Linda Mottus (1924-2006)
One of the longest serving Melbourne Nat Mappers
By Laurie McLean December 2018
Linda Mottus at Nat Map’s Dandenong office in August 1987 (Oz Ertok image).
Linda Mottus gave 39 years of dedicated service to the mapping of Australia with Nat Map. Linda joined the then National Mapping Section in the Department of the Interior on 20 March 1950. She retired from the Australian Surveying and Land Information Group in the Department of Administrative Services on 20 February 1989. Apart from senior technical officer Bob Foster (Nat Map 1949‑1991), Linda was the longest serving of the Melbourne Nat Mappers.
During her long Nat Map career Linda remained something of a mystery to many of her work colleagues. To some she was a very private person who was not that easy to engage in non-work conversations. Adding to Linda’s reserved nature was her strong European accent that made her somewhat hard to understand at times. Linda’s habit of virtually chain-smoking very smelly short, gold-tipped cigarettes (similar to the English Sobraine company’s Black Russians) also tended to encourage non-smokers and reformed smokers to keep their distance.
Linda was the first of several talented drafting officers and surveyors who had made their way from Europe after World War II and found careers in Nat Map’s Melbourne office. (Other World War II survivors also made careers in Nat Map’s Canberra office.)
Behind her mystique Linda was a very talented lady. As well as her native Estonian she could speak German, English and a smattering of Spanish. Linda loved socialising and was a frequent attendee at Nat Map’s Dandenong office Social Club functions. As well as being a gifted artist, Linda liked swimming and dancing. Linda was attracted to Australia by the warm weather and loved going to Melbourne’s beaches. Linda was also an avid reader especially of historical books.
At work Linda was valued as a draftswoman and particularly for her high-acuity stereoscopic vision that she applied to point-marking, checking material received from contractors, and other photogrammetric mapping tasks.
Syd Kirkby remembered Linda particularly for her great humour, zest for life and her friendliness over the years he worked in Melbourne and Dandenong with her. Bob Bobroff remembered Linda as a quiet and unobtrusive toiler who always gave her best to the task at hand.
National Mapping career summary 1950-1989
· On 20 March 1950 at age 26 years Linda was appointed as a temporary drafting assistant in the National Mapping Section of the Department of the Interior; located in the All Saints Anglican Church Hall (Gregory Hall) in Chapel Street, St Kilda East. At that time Linda was not an Australian citizen and thus could not permanently be appointed to the Public Service. Some images of Linda at Gregory Hall in the 1950s are provided at .
· On 4 November 1955 Linda was granted Australian citizenship.
· In a 1956 organisational change Linda’s workplace became the Division of National Mapping in the Department of National Development.
· In 1959 Linda moved with the rest of the Division’s Melbourne office staff from Gregory Hall to the Rialto Building at 497 Collins Street in the Melbourne CBD.
· On 22 June 1972 Linda was permanently appointed to the Commonwealth Public Service as a drafting assistant, grade 2 (Fourth Division).
· On 17 June 1976 Linda was promoted to draftsman (sic), grade 1 (Fourth Division) in the Contract Compilation Section of the Photogrammetric Drafting Branch.
· In April 1977 Linda again moved with the rest of Nat Map’s Melbourne office staff to premises at Ellery House 280 Thomas Street Dandenong. Here Linda worked as a draftsman, grade 1 in one of the Project Teams in the Topographic Compilation Branch.
· In July 1987 the Ellery House office became part of the Australian Surveying and Land Information Group within the Department of Administrative Services.
· 20 February 1989 Linda retired from the Australian Surveying and Land Information Group at age 65 years.
Early life in Estonia and Germany 1924-1948
Rosalinda Mottus was born on 21 February 1924 at Kodijärve in Estonia. Kodijärve is a small rural locality in Kambja Parish, Tartu County in eastern Estonia about 170 kilometres south east of the capital Tallinn and about 25 kilometres south west of the university city of Tartu; see map in .
University of Tartu, Estonia (Image by Ivar Leidus, 2012).
Unfortunately little else is known of Linda’s early life or of her family. When World War II formally began on 3 September 1939, Linda Mottus was 15 years old. As detailed in , Estonia was ravaged during the War and lost about 25 per cent of its population through deaths, deportations and evacuations. It was annexed and occupied by Soviet forces in 1940 and then occupied by German forces in 1941. The Soviets returned in 1944 and occupied Estonia until 1991.
Somehow during the War Linda became a displaced person (a refugee). But she survived the War and by 1946 Linda was living in a displaced persons camp near Hamburg in northern Germany over 1,000 kilometres from Estonia. How Linda left Estonia and reached Germany is unknown but in 1944 over 200,000 people fled the Baltic countries (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) ahead of the advancing Soviet forces. For most of these refugees the only country they could head for was Germany. The then 20-year old Linda Mottus may well have been one of these people.
On 6 March 1946 at age 22 years Linda commenced the study of natural sciences at the Baltic University in Exile. This remarkable university was established by Baltic refugees at displaced persons camps in Germany to educate refugees from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania after World War II. It commenced teaching in March 1946 at Hamburg in the British Zone of Occupation. Hamburg was so heavily bombed during the War that some British officials called it the Hiroshima of Germany. Most of the city had been destroyed. The Hamburg History Museum, which was only partly damaged in the War, was given to the University for lectures. Two camps consisting of wooden barracks were given to students and staff for dormitories. The barracks were in bad condition but at least they provided a place to sleep.
Students hurrying to lectures at the Baltic University in the Hamburg HistoryMuseum circa 1946. Image from Camps in Germany (1944-1951) for Refugees from Baltic Countries website.
Entrance to the Displaced Persons University at Pinneberg circa 1948.
Image from Estonia-Paradise of the North website.
In early 1947, the University was moved to a former Luftwaffe barracks at Pinneberg about 18 kilometres north west of central Hamburg. This was a huge improvement as the large buildings available on the site were still in good condition. Every nationality was housed in one building, where they studied and slept and where they could organise some of their own activities. There was time for sports, dances and music.
The Baltic University started out with promise but soon problems appeared. Not everyone liked the idea of a university for students of the Baltic countries. There was some feeling that people from the Baltic countries could and should go home. The word Baltic was dropped from the University’s name, and it became the Hamburg Displaced Persons University. The British referred to it as a learning centre. As many of the staff and students had found homes in other countries the University was closed in September 1949.
Linda’s natural science studies between 1946 and 1948 included geography and geology as well as some cartography. She also did some work on map projections as well as some levelling. Linda’s own words on her studies at the Baltic University are provided at .
Migration to Australia 1948
At the end of July 1948, at age 24 years Linda Mottus left Germany to migrate to Australia as a displaced person under the auspices of the International Refugee Organisation. Linda embarked on the refugee carrier SS Wooster Victory at the port city of Bremerhaven on Germany’s North Sea coast about 95 kilometres west of Hamburg. The Wooster Victory then travelled to Genoa on Italy’s north east (Ligurian Sea) coast. The Wooster Victory departed Genoa on 6 August 1948 to travel through the Suez Canal to Sydney where she arrived on 6 September 1948. For a detailed description of the SS Wooster Victory please refer to .
Linda travelled alone from Germany to Sydney as one of 883 migrants comprising Balts, Poles, Yugoslavs, Czechs, Austrians and Ukrainians. The 6 September 1948 arrival of the Wooster Victory brought the sixth intake of displaced persons to Australia. At the time, this intake formed one of the largest contingents of displaced persons to reach Australia.
After their arrival in Sydney Linda and the other migrants from the Wooster Victory were conveyed in special trains to the Migrant Reception and Training Centre at Bathurst. Here the migrants stayed for about a month or more to be taught English and to become acquainted with Australian ways of life.
Bathurst Migrant Reception and Training Centre 1948
The Bathurst Migrant Reception and Training Centre was located on the Limekilns Road at Kelso about 8 kilometres north east of the Bathurst town centre. It was established as an Army camp in 1940. At the end of World War II the camp became a migrant reception and training centre for European refugees and displaced persons. It was one of the major migrant reception centres in Australia, accepting around 100,000 migrants between 1948 and 1952.
(Nat Mapper Con Veenstra also had his start in Australia at the Bathurst Migrant Reception and Training Centre after arriving with his parents and younger brother from Holland in late 1950. Con was with Nat Map from 1965 to 1987 and was the Division’s director from 1982 to 1987.)
The accommodation at the Bathurst Centre was in the basic Army surplus style of unlined, unheated iron sheds and timber barracks which were freezing in winter and hot in summer. The Army camp was used because there was a housing shortage in New South Wales and other states after the war and very little other accommodation was available for migrants. Many of the barracks were in very poor condition and needed constant repair. For single people, narrow iron beds set out in dormitory style made up their quarters while the married quarters were partitioned off into separate sections. There was no privacy. The rather primitive conditions at the Centre can be gleaned from the image below.
English lessons at the Bathurst Migrant Reception and Training Centre in 1951.
National Archives of Australia image.
To Melbourne and Nat Map 1948
Later in 1948, Linda made her way to Melbourne where for 18 months she lived and worked at the Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital. Located on the corner of Waterdale Road and Banksia Street in Heidelberg Heights, the hospital commenced in March 1941 as the 115th Heidelberg Military Hospital. The hospital was initially operated by the Army and also on the site between 1942 and 1947 was the 6th Royal Australian Air Force Hospital.
In May 1947, the hospital was handed over from the Army to the Repatriation Commission (now the Department of Veterans' Affairs) and became known as Repatriation General Hospital Heidelberg. The Repatriation Commission operated the hospital until 31 December 1994. In 1995 the hospital became part of the Victorian state health system.
In 1949 while on leave from the hospital Linda travelled to Canberra on holiday. While staying at a Canberra hotel Linda met a Ms G Owen, an older woman who was acquainted with Professor Armin Öpik who was Linda’s geology lecturer at the Baltic University. Linda discussed with Ms Owen her ambition to undertake mapping work. Shortly afterwards Linda received an invitation to attend for an interview from Rim Rimington, Nat Map’s Chief Topographic Surveyor in Melbourne. As a consequence Linda commenced work at Gregory Hall on 20 March 1950. Linda’s own words on how she came to Nat Nap are provided at .
Linda Mottus at Gregory Hall in 1953.
Extract from Nat Map group photograph.
Australian Citizenship 1955
In an advertisement in the Melbourne newspaper The Argus on Tuesday 30 November 1954 Linda Mottus gave public notice of her of intention to apply for naturalisation under the Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948. Her Australian citizenship was subsequently granted on 4 November 1955 by the then Commonwealth Minister of State for Immigration, Harold Edward Holt MLA who became Prime Minister from 26 January 1966 to 19 December 1967 (but disappeared in the sea on 17 December 1967).
Linda Mottus with other Nat Map staff at the Rialto Building office in 1965.
XNatmap image extracted from larger photograph.
Living in Melbourne 1948-2006
During her 58 years living in Melbourne Linda had several residential addresses. As listed below Linda’s residences included:
· Between 1948 and 1950 Linda lived and worked at the Repatriation General Hospital in Heidelberg.
· In November 1954 when applying for citizenship Linda resided at 14 Chestnut Street, Richmond.
· From Electoral Roll entries for 1967 and 1968 Linda was a draftswoman residing at 18 Ararat Street Newport West.
· From Electoral Roll entries for 1972, 1977 and 1980 Linda was a draftswoman residing at 341 Park Street South Melbourne. (1980 is the last available publicly searchable electoral roll.)
· Tricia Hatfield who commenced with Nat Map in the early 1970s recalled that just before retiring Linda was living at St Kilda. Linda was then concerned that her apartment was about to be redeveloped. Nat Map staff clerk Jan Trask was then assisting Linda to find alternative accommodation.
· From some time before her death Linda resided at the high-care Westgate Private Nursing Home located at 4 Williams Street Newport.
Nat Map retirement 1989
Linda Mottus turned 65 years of age on 21 February 1989 and under the then Public Service compulsory retirement rules she was obliged to cease work before reaching that age. Linda formally retired on Monday 20 February 1989 after 39 years with Nat Map.
To celebrate Linda’s service and to wish her well in retirement many of her work colleagues and friends held a ploughman's lunch on Friday 17 February 1989 in Linda’s honour. The lunch was held at Dandenong Park on the corner of Lonsdale and Foster Streets about 600 metres from the Ellery House office.
Linda received personal cards and retirement gifts. Des Young manager of the Project Team where Linda worked presented her with a crystal vase, a lace tablecloth and a beautiful arrangement of summer flowers. Former Nat Mappers Syd Kirkby and Bob Bobroff sent letters conveying their best wishes to Linda on her retirement. A report on Linda’s retirement farewell from the Natmap News and copies of Syd and Bob’s letters are provided at.
Linda Mottus with Diana Vlahovich and Des Young at her retirement function in 1989.
Linda Mottus was to enjoy some 17 years in retirement. During Linda’s retirement fellow Nat Mapper Tricia Hatfield kept in contact by sending birthday and Christmas cards to Linda. Tricia maintained this contact even after she, husband Andrew and their children moved to Canberra in the mid-1990s. Ominously the card Tricia sent to Linda for Christmas 2006 was returned unopened.
Sadly Linda Mottus died on 10 May 2006 at the Westgate Private Nursing Home, 4 Williams Street Newport. She was 82 years of age. (Now called Westgate Aged Care the establishment is a high-care Commonwealth-funded facility.)
Linda died as a pensioner. As she did not leave a will Linda’s estate was administered under the laws of intestacy by the State Trustees Limited (a state government owned company).
Linda’s funeral service was held in the chapel at Ern Jensen and Sons Funeral Home on the corner of Bruce and Mary Streets Preston on Monday 29 May 2006. The service commenced at 2 pm. Afterwards the funeral proceeded to the Fawkner Memorial Park Cemetery. There Linda’s remains were interred in the Estonian Lutheran section near the cemetery’s southern boundary. (Linda’s specific grave location is at FA-EST*B***1337.) It is not known whether any Nat Mappers attended Linda’s funeral.
With Linda’s passing the ranks of the early Nat Mappers were sadly further depleted. Linda is still fondly remembered by all Nat Mappers who got to know her during her 39 years of service.
About World War II Estonia
Today Estonia is the northernmost of the three Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania). Estonia’s mainland area over 42,000 square kilometres and there are also over 2,000 Estonian islands and islets in the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Finland. Around 50 per cent of Estonia’s land area remain forests and about 5 per cent of the country is wetlands. The estimated 2018 population of Estonia is about 1.3 million people.
Estonia has been dominated by foreign powers through much of its history. In 1940 it was incorporated into the Soviet Union as one of its constituent republics. Estonia remained a Soviet republic until 1991, when, along with the other Baltic states, it declared independence. The Soviet Union recognised independence for Estonia and the other Baltic states in September 1991. Soon after Estonia became a member of the United Nations and set about transforming its government into a parliamentary democracy and reorienting its economy toward market capitalism. Estonia also sought integration with greater Europe and in 2004 joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the European Union.
Map of Estonia.
Image from old.wordtravels.com website with annoatation by Paul Wise.
Start of the World War II horror 1939
The Estonian people suffered some horrific times and over 50 years of repression following the start of World War II. In August 1939, when Linda Mottus was just 15 years old, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union signed a non-aggression pact that divided Eastern Europe into spheres of influence with Estonia belonging to the Soviet sphere. Shortly after the Soviet Union delivered an ultimatum demanding that Estonia sign a treaty of mutual assistance which would allow Soviet military bases into the country. The Estonian government felt that it had no choice but to comply and the treaty was signed on 28 September 1939.
Soviet Annexation 1940
In May 1940, Red Army forces were set in combat readiness and on 14 June 1940 the Soviet Union instituted a full naval and air blockade of Estonia. The Soviets presented an ultimatum demanding completely free passage of the Red Army into Estonia and the establishing of a pro-Soviet government. The Estonian government complied and the Soviets occupied the country. On 6 August 1940, Estonia was annexed by the Soviet Union as the Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic. The Soviets established a regime of oppression under which most of the high-ranking civil and military officials, intelligentsia and industrialists were arrested and mostly executed soon afterwards. Soviet repressions culminated on 14 June 1941 with mass deportation of about 11,000 people to Siberia.
German Occupation 1941
When the German Operation Barbarossa started against the Soviet Union in June 1941 about 34,000 young Estonian men were forcibly drafted into the Red Army, fewer than 30 per cent of whom survived the war. Soviet destruction battalions initiated a scorched earth policy. Political prisoners who could not be evacuated were executed by the People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs (known as the NKVD). Many Estonians went into the forests and started a guerrilla warfare campaign. In July 1941 German Wehrmacht forces reached southern Estonia. The Soviets evacuated Tallinn in late August 1941 with massive losses and capture of the Estonian islands was completed by German forces in October 1941.
Many Estonians were hopeful that Germany would help to restore Estonia's independence but that hope proved to be in vain. A puppet collaborationist administration was established and occupied Estonia and its economy were fully subjugated to German military needs. About a thousand Estonian Jews who had not managed to leave were mostly killed in 1941. Numerous forced labour camps were established where thousands of Estonians, foreign Jews, Romani, and Soviet prisoners of war perished.
German occupation authorities started recruiting men into small volunteer units but as the military situation worsened a forced conscription was instituted in 1943, eventually leading to formation of the Estonian Waffen-SS division. Thousands of Estonians who did not want to fight in the German military escaped to Finland, where many volunteered to fight together with Finns against Soviets.
Soviets Return 1944
The Red Army reached the Estonian borders again in early 1944, but its advance into Estonia was stopped in heavy fighting near Narva for six months by German forces including numerous Estonian units. In March 1944 the Soviet Air Force carried out heavy bombing raids against Tallinn and other Estonian towns. In July 1944 the Soviets started a major offensive from the south forcing the Germans to abandon mainland Estonia in September 1944 and the Estonian islands were abandoned in November 1944. As German forces retreated from Tallinn, the last pre-war prime minister Jüri Uluots appointed a government headed by Otto Tief in an unsuccessful attempt restore Estonia's independence. Tens of thousands of people, including most of the Estonian Swedes, fled westwards to avoid the new Soviet occupation.
Overall, Estonia lost about 25 per cent of its population through deaths, deportations and evacuations in World War II. Estonia also suffered some permanent territorial losses as the Soviet Union transferred border areas comprising about 5 per cent of Estonian pre-war territory to the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic.
Thousands of Estonians who opposed the second Soviet occupation joined a guerrilla movement. This armed resistance was heaviest in the first few years after the war but Soviet authorities gradually wore it down through attrition, and resistance effectively ceased in the mid-1950s. The Soviets initiated a policy of collectivisation but as peasants remained opposed to it a campaign of terror was unleashed. In March 1949 about 20,000 Estonians were deported to Siberia. Collectivisation was completed soon afterwards.
The Soviet Union later began the Russification of Estonia. Hundreds of thousands of Russians were induced to settle in Estonia. This process eventually threatened to turn Estonians into a minority of the population in their own land. In early 1945 Estonians formed 94 per cent of the population but by 1989 their share of the population had fallen to 61.5 per cent.
Heavy industry was strongly prioritised by the Soviets but this did not improve the well-being of the local population. Instead it caused massive environmental damage through pollution. Living standards under the Soviet occupation kept falling further behind nearby independent Finland. Estonia was heavily militarised with closed military areas covering 2 per cent of the country. The Estonian islands and most of the coastal areas were turned into a restricted border zone and required a special permit for entry.
Estonian independence 1991
The introduction of Perestroika in 1987 made Estonian political activity possible again and started an independence restoration movement. (The literal meaning of perestroika is restructuring. It referred to the restructuring of the Soviet political and economic systems in the late 1980s and early 1990s under the openness policies of then Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.) Estonia declared restoration of independence on 20 August 1991 and Soviet authorities recognised Estonian independence on 6 September 1991.
How I came to Natmap
By Rosalinda Mottus
Before I start to relate, how I came to work at National Mapping, I have to go back to post-war Germany.
As everyone knows; we, the war refugees from eastern Europe were taken care of by the International Refugee Organization (IRO), which included free education for young people, including studying at German Universities. But in the beginning of 1946, the Balts, Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians got the idea of establishing our own University with our own professors. An American officer Mr Riegel gave us all the support. Then it was established in Hamburg in February 1946, under the support of IRO. In 1947 we moved to Pinneberg [about 18 kilometres north west of Hamburg].
I went there to study natural sciences on 6 March 1946. I was mainly interested in geography, which I studied under Prof E Inari and geology under Prof A Öpik, both being my countrymen (Prof Öpik was an internationally known scientist). Studying geography by Prof Inari, we also had a small course in cartography and did some map projections. We had to work with simple instruments. I remember I was able to buy a small drawing set on the black market, exchanging cigarettes for it. Did also a bit of levelling by simple methods. Anyway I became interested in mapping.
Then at the end of July 1948 I left Germany and arrived in Sydney, Australia in the beginning of September.
About at the same time Prof A Öpik was called here by the government and got a position at the Bureau of Mineral Resources in Canberra.
After working in hospital for 1 year, I got my holiday and went to Canberra. Stayed in a hotel, where I met an older lady Ms G Owen, who was also acquainted with Prof Öpik.
She started asking me, what my future ambitions were and told her that I would like to go into mapping business. After a few weeks I got a letter from Mr R. Rimington, who was the Assistant Director of National Mapping then, asking me to come to an interview. I took my drawings, which I did in Hamburg with me and went. I thought then that the drawings were rather nice. Later on I had to laugh about it myself, since the actual work was done in the different way altogether. But I think, they liked the way I acted: very brave and got the job.
Started at National Mapping 20.3.1950 and have been here ever since.
1. Linda’s above article was published in the Dandenong office Natmap News No 58 in April 1987.
2. The International Refugee Organisation (IRO) was an intergovernmental organisation founded in April 1946 to deal with the massive refugee problem created by World War II. A Preparatory Commission began operations 14 months earlier. In 1948, a treaty establishing the IRO came into force and the IRO became a United Nations specialised agency. The IRO assumed most of the functions of the earlier United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration. In 1952, operations of the IRO ceased and it was replaced by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
3. The Baltic University in Exile was established in the displaced persons camps in Germany to educate refugees from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania in the aftermath of the Second World War. The University was established at Hamburg in the British Zone of Occupation in March 1946, with aid from the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, the Lutheran World Federation, and other groups. In early 1947, the University was moved to a former Luftwaffe barracks in Pinneberg. The Estonian astronomer Ernst Öpik became the University’s first rector and the Lithuanian archaeologist Jonas Puzinas was rector from April 1948 to September 1949. As many of the staff and students had found homes in other countries, the University was closed in September 1949. A total of 76 students graduated from the Baltic University in its short existence: 53 were Latvian, 16 Lithuanian, and 7 Estonian. Many others went on to complete their studies at other universities.
4. Armin Aleksander Öpik (1898-1983) was born at Lontova, in the Province of Viru, Estonia on 24 June 1898, into a family prominent in politics and public service. He graduated from the Nicolai Gymnasium (semi-classical high school) as laureate with a gold medal in 1917 (which he later sold to buy food for his family). From 1922 to 1926, he studied geology and mineralogy in the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural History at the Estonian State University at Tartu. After obtaining the degree of Magister Mineralogiae (1926), he was appointed as Reader in Geology and Mineralogy (1926-1930) and went on to obtain a Doctor Philosophiae Naturalis (1928) and a privat-docent (PD) which gave him the right to academic teaching without supervision in 1929. In 1930 he was appointed Professor of Geology and Palaeontology at Tartu University and Director of the Tartu Geological Institute and Museum; which positions he held until the Russian occupation of 1944. In 1944, Öpik left Estonia and between 1945 and 1948 lived in displaced persons' camps in Germany, first at Neustadt north of Lubeck. Subsequently, he assisted his astronomer and astrophysicist brother Ernst Julius Öpik (1893-1985) in organising a university for camp youths at Pinneberg, near Hamburg, where he was instrumental in teaching geology. In April 1948, Armin Öpik and his family arrived in Melbourne helped by the efforts of Curt Teichert, senior lecturer in geology at the University of Melbourne, who put him in touch with Harold Raggatt, director of the Bureau of Mineral Resources, Geology and Geophysics. Employed by the BMR, Armin Öpik began his first major Australian work, on the palaeontology of the Silurian rocks of the Heathcote region of Victoria. Moving to Canberra with the BMR in 1949, Öpik studied the local stratigraphy, often in his own time. He published memoirs and maps that were not only of theoretical interest but also were useful to engineers in the rapidly developing Australian Capital Territory. Öpik sparked controversy when he suggested that the region’s relatively unconsolidated gravel deposits dated from the late Palaeozoic period rather than from the Tertiary and that Mount Ainslie was the remnant of a volcanic centre. From 1952 to 1982 Öpik published 27 monographs and papers on his palaeontological studies of Cambrian and early Ordovician rocks of northern Australia. He described ninety-four new genera and 294 new species of Cambrian trilobites. Öpik was naturalised in 1955 and retired in 1964. Armin Öpik died on 15 January 1983 in Canberra at age 84 years.
5. The American officer Mr Riegel mentioned above by Linda may have been a Robert C Riggle who was working for the UNRRA in Hamburg in 1945 and became an enthusiastic supporter of the University.
6. No references could be found for the Professor E Inari who Linda studied geography under at the Baltic University.
7. George Robert Lindsay (Rim) Rimington was the officer-in-charge of Nat Map’s Melbourne operations from 1948 until 1962. Rim had the designation chief topographic surveyor (later supervising surveyor) from May 1947 until promoted to assistant director in July 1961.
About the SS Wooster Victory
SS Wooster Victory at Cape Town in 1949.
Image from ssmaritime.com website.
SS Wooster Victory was one of 97 Victory ships built by the United States as troop carriers. A total of 534 Victory ships were built during World War II and up to 1946; mostly as cargo vessels. Victory ships were larger than the war-time Liberty ships.
Wooster Victory was built by the California Shipbuilding Corporation at Wilmington in the Los Angeles harbour region in 1945 as Hull No 779. Her construction commenced on 9 February 1945, she was launched on 2 April 1945 and delivered on 25 April 1945. As with other Victory ships, Wooster Victory had a length of 455 feet and a beam of 62 feet. Her service speed was 15-17 knots powered by geared steam turbines from oil fired burners through a single screw. (Some Victory ships had other propulsion systems including diesel engines.) As a passenger ship the Wooster Victory had a crew of about 220 people. She was named for the College of Wooster, a private liberal arts college in Wooster, Ohio.
Upon completion, the Wooster Victory was handed over to Great Britain on Lend Lease terms. However, as the war in Europe ended in May 1945 she returned to the United States to be used to repatriate United States troops under the management of the General Steamship Corporation. On 10 May 1945 she was sent to the Pacific region and visited Melbourne on 25 May 1945. On 4 May 1946 the Wooster Victory was laid up, first at Hampton Roads Virginia and then in the James River at Baltimore.
SS Wooster Victory was sold to Alexandre Vlasov in January 1947 and was re‑registered in Panama but retained her original name. In 1948 she was refitted at Baltimore to accommodate 890 displaced persons in segregated quarters.
Russian-born Alexandre Vlasov (1880-1961) fled Russia in 1917 and immigrated to Italy where he became a citizen. He entered the shipping business in the 1920s. In 1937, Alexandre Vlasov founded the Sitmar Line (Societa Italiana Trasporti Marittimi) a Monaco-based public company that ceased trading in 1988.
With other companies the Vlasov Group had contracts to transport displaced persons for the International Refugee Organisation to countries that were willing to take them, including Australia. On 6 August 1948 the Wooster Victory was transferred to Alvion Steamship Corporation of Panama (a subsidiary of Alexandre Vlasov).
Wooster Victory departed Genoa on 6 August 1948 with 883 displaced persons as passengers, including Linda Mottus. These refugee migrants comprised people from the Baltic states, Poles, Yugoslavs, Czechs, Austrians, and Ukrainians. They formed what was then one of the largest contingents of displaced persons to reach Australia. Wooster Victory was the sixth ship to carry displaced persons to Australia after World War II. She arrived at Sydney on 6 September 1948 and after disembarking the passengers the Wooster Victory returned empty to Europe.
The SS Wooster Victory again departed Genoa in October 1948 on her first official voyage to Australia under the Vlasov (Sitmar) name but under the auspices of the International Refugee Organisation who had staff on board, including a doctor and a number of nurses to take care of the refugee passengers. In November the ship arrived in Sydney where 892 persons disembarked. Between September 1948 and October 1949 SS Wooster Victory made six voyages from Europe to Australia.
The Wooster Victory was given another refit in Genoa commencing in January 1950 and renamed Castel Verde. She was laid up and sold in April 1957 to the Spanish Line headquartered at Madrid. She was later renamed Montserrat and in 1973 was scrapped at Castellón on Spain’s Mediterranean coast.
Images of Linda Mottus at Gregory Hall in the 1950s
Linda Mottus (centre rear) on a morning tea break with colleagues in 1951. XNatmap image.
Linda Mottus with colleagues in 1951. XNatmap image.
Linda Mottus with colleagues on the tennis court in 1952. XNatmap image.
Linda Mottus on another morning tea break with colleagues in the early 1950s. XNatmap image.
Nat Map Gregory Hall staff on the tennis court in 1953. XNatmap image.
Back Row (L‑R):Alan Thomson, Len Bently, Bert Reaby, Bill Trevena, John Evans, Ted Caspers, Jim Saunders, Phil Lennie, Bob Foster, Dave Hocking.
Centre Row (L-R): Bob Robinson, Keith Waller, Ken Johnson, BenKongings,Bill Stroud, Bill Dingeldie, Reg Ford, Joe Lines.
Front Row (L-R): Jeanette Phillips, Terry Kennedy, Jennifer Cowle, Norah Phillips, Rim Rimmington, Claire Mather, Vi Palmer, Linda Mottus.
Farewell for Linda (February 1989)
Workmates at the Australian Surveying and Land Information Group (formerly the Division of National Mapping) Thomas Street, Dandenong chose a novel way to farewell Miss Linda Mottus.
Linda officially retired on 20 February after 39 years with the department, and friends on the staff held a ploughman's lunch in Dandenong Park on 17 February in her honour.
The sun shone, champagne corks popped, and the guest-of-honour was inundated with good wishes for her future leisure time.
She received personal cards and retirement gifts, and Des Young, manager of the section where Linda worked, presented her with a crystal vase, a lace tablecloth, and a beautiful arrangement of summer flowers.
It was a wonderful day in a beautiful setting. I will remember the occasion for the rest of my life, said a delighted Linda.
Linda was born in Estonia where she attended High School and after the Second World War, she studied natural sciences at university in Hamburg.
Because of the turmoil in her own country Linda decided to migrate to Australia by herself. She was 24 and one of the reasons she chose Australia to make a new life was because the warm climate attracted her.
For 18 months she lived and worked at the Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital. In 1950 she obtained a job with National Mapping and stayed with the department for the remainder of her working life. She first came to Dandenong 12 years ago.
A talented artist, Linda speaks Estonian, German and English and also has a smattering of Spanish. She loves sociability, swimming, and dancing, and reads avidly, especially historical books.
She hopes to make the most of the remainder of any warm weather Melbourne provides. I just love the beaches, she said.
(Reprinted from The Dandenong Journal in the Natmap News No 64, April 1989.
Cogill Road, Buderim 4556, Q.
13 February 1989
Dear Nat Mappers
The disappearance of such a permanent fixture as Linda from the daily scene is sure to leave a hole and may turn some minds inward with the realisation that nothing is really permanent - today Linda, tomorrow me! Because of the noise they make, we are mostly aware of the more vociferous people around us and tend to overlook and take for granted those quiet and unobtrusive toilers who keep plugging away at soul-destroying tasks year after year. Yet, these are the people who carry the load of any group and with whom empires are built and mountains moved. Rosalinda Mottus is one of these. Within her abilities, she always gave her best - a workman worthy of her hire. I wonder how many of us fall into this category?
Retirement is often regarded as the end of the road and many dread it. Certainly, by that time, most of us have used up a large part of our allotted span, but that should only spur us on to appreciate what is left even more, particularly since we can then do almost anything we wish, whenever we so desire. Fortunately, my working life was interesting and rewarding, but I still regard it as the means to an end - the investment which enables me now to bury myself in what many people would consider to be inconsequential trivia but which, to me, is my real life. I can do what I like to do, when I want to. It’s a wonderful feeling and, take it from me, it doesn't fade with the years it grows and grows.
So, all of you, look forward to your eventual retirement but start now to lay the foundations for those things which you really want to do. Once you retire and start doing all those things you want to do, you will wonder how you ever had time to work!! Sadie will back me up in this - our days are too short!
I am sorry that I shall not be able to be with you on the 17th February but Sadie and I both send our very best wishes to Linda for a long and happy retirement.
We both send our best wishes to you all for a happy and healthy 1989.
OJ (Bob) Bobroff (Nat Map senior surveyor and supervising surveyor 1958 ‑ 1983 and Linda’s branch head for some years.)
From the Natmap News No 64, April 1989.
48 Biarra Street
YEERONGPILLY Q 4105
14 Feb 1989
I have just had a notice from Darryl Williams inviting me to your farewell on your retirement next Friday. Unfortunately, I cannot be in Melbourne for it, but wish to join your many other colleagues and friends in wishing you a long and happy life in retirement.
I'm sure you would not remember, but I first met you when I came out to talk with Mr Rimington and Keith Waller at the old Natmap Office in the church hall at Chapel Street before my first Antarctic trip in 1955. I remember you particularly from that visit for your great humour and zest for life and friendliness for over all the years since that has continued to be my picture of you. It was a pleasure to work with you.
From then I was impressed, in fact almost awestruck, at what Natmap was achieving with that tiny little team of most dedicated and capable people. Today I am still sure that anyone who was associated with Natmap through those years of the initial air photo cover and photomaps, then the astro control and the 1:250 000 series, the geodetic survey and the Aerodist and APR/laser profiler surveys, the 1:100 000 photo control and compilation has every right to feel proud of their work. And you, more than most, because you were devoted to it for so long. In fact, you can fairly claim to have helped during Australian mapping from almost the stone age to the space age.
It is an era that has passed, Linda, and no-one will ever have that sort of career again, so I hope it brings you the pride and pleasure it should.
Good luck, good health and a full and happy retirement.
SL Kirkby AO MBE (Nat Map senior surveyor, supervising surveyor and assistant director 1959-1984 and Linda’s branch head for some years.)
From the Natmap News No 64, April 1989.
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