STASINOWSKY, Jennie Freda
Freda Stasinowsky was the youngest of four children, born on 30 June 1906 in Broken Hill, New South Wales, to parents Johann Gustav Stasinowsky and Karen Theodora Thorgersen. After Stasinowsky's birth the family moved from Broken Hill to Eudunda before finally settling in Morgan, in the Riverland of South Australia; they lived and farmed there for thirty years, during which time another six children were born.
Interestingly, Stasinowsky was known variously as Jennie, Freda or Fay, by different family members and work colleagues.
Her mother, Karen Stasinowsky, was born in Tonsberg, Norway and migrated to Australia with her parents, Mr and Mrs George Thorgersen of Moonta, in 1885. George became naturalized in 1918. After a few years at Moonta, Karen moved to Broken Hill, where she met and married Johann. Karen was an accomplished euchre and bridge player, often winning at tournaments held at Morgan; this was a pastime taken up by her daughter later, in Darwin. Stasinowsky’s father Johann died aged eighty-four and is buried in the Morgan Cemetery.
Stasinowsky joined the Postmaster-General (PMG) as a telephonist when she left school in 1925 and worked in Adelaide and country exchanges throughout her career. She had been in Port Augusta for only three months into her twelve month term when she was recalled to prepare for her new position in Darwin. She visited her parents in Morgan, South Australia before travelling up to Darwin to take up her new post. Stasinowsky was starting a new life for herself after the breakdown of a long-standing engagement.
In May 1941 Eileen Mullen and Freda Stasinowsky, both senior telephone operators, were chosen because of their experience to take charge of the newly upgraded Darwin exchange. They flew out 10 May 1941 on a Guinea Airways Hudson, the flight from Adelaide to Darwin taking 13 hours. Both of them had worked for the telephone exchange since leaving school, Mullen working in Adelaide and Melbourne exchanges, Stasinowsky in both Adelaide and country South Australia exchanges, including Port Augusta.
The Overland Telegraph Mess contained a library and a billiard room, where the Mullen sisters and Stasinowsky, 'Stazzo', would go for recreation. Stasinowsky was living at No. 2 residence, a stone cottage built in 1880 on The Esplanade. Eileen and Jean Mullen moved in with her on the morning of 19 February 1942 after they had been living in the Victoria Hotel in Smith Street.
When the air raid siren sounded the Post Office staff took shelter in the trenches that had been dug around the complex. The trench in which Stasinowsky sheltered received a direct hit, killing all the occupants.
Stasinowsky was buried in a temporary grave at Kahlin Beach, she was then re-buried at the Berrimah War Cemetery, and her final resting place is the Adelaide War Cemetery.
Freda Stasinowsky has a street in the Darwin suburb of Alawa named in her honour.
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