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Wednesday, 9 May 2018
Page: 3440


Mr MARLES (Corio) (13:32): Alfred Gordon Johnson left high school at the age of 16 to join the Royal Australian Navy's communication branch, beginning his training as a telegraphist in 1940. His first sea posting was with HMAS Hobart, at a time when control of the Mediterranean sea was hotly contested between the Allied and Axis forces. He served in Singapore, Java, the Coral Sea, Guadalcanal and the Pacific theatre, earning the rank of petty officer. Gordon served alongside the father of former US ambassador to Australia John Berry, a young Marine at the time, helping to ensure his safe landing at Guadalcanal and in Papua New Guinea, for which John and his family were very grateful. Gordon was 19 years old when he fought in the battle of the Coral Sea. It was equally as important as Kokoda and Gallipoli and stopped the Japanese from invading Port Moresby by sea. Mr Johnson was a telegrapher aboard the light cruiser HMAS Hobart during the battle of the Coral Sea and the Guadalcanal actions, which saw ships from the United States and Australian navies take on the Japanese between 4 and 8 May 1942. During these campaigns, Gordon filmed and photographed life at sea using personal camera equipment, preserving an enduring visual record, later shared with the Navy's Sea Power Centre, which now forms part of the Royal Australian Navy's historic reference collection. Gordon Johnson died on 27 April this year. His funeral is today and, in amazing symmetry, former ambassador John Berry will be delivering the eulogy for Mr Johnson today. May he rest in peace.