Northern Territory Government

Roll of Honour

BROWN, Gus

Wharfies

Ships docked at Darwin Wharf.


Gus Brown worked as a labourer on Darwin Wharf. His life in Darwin prior to the bombing was a colourful one. Local newspaper accounts suggest that Brown had no permanent home, as there were various reports of the difficulties he had with thieves while living in camps. In 1934 he was camped at the residence of a man named Neil Madsen when he was witness to a suicidal poisoning of a man by strychnine. In 1935 he was involved in an accident on the wharf while discharging cargo from the SS Mangola: large steel plates used in the building of oil tanks were being unloaded from the ship and placed against the side of a truck; the truck tipped over, causing Brown to be thrown against an iron light standard, and he sustained severe bruising to his thigh.

Gus Brown was on No.1 wharf gang on 19 February 1942. The first lot of bombs landed in the water of Darwin Harbour. The second lot hit the right angle of the wharf, destroying a large section of the decking and severing access to the land. Immediately afterwards, the recreation shed was destroyed, knocking Brown into the water. Apparently he was uninjured as he was seen swimming back to the wharf by workmate George Tye; however, before he could reach safety Brown was then killed by a falling wooden plank after another blast tore apart the decking.

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