DANGERFIELD, Geoffrey Phillip
English born Geoffrey Dangerfield was employed by the Commonwealth Railways as a foreman on the wharf. He owned a lugger called The Enchantress which he would use to go hunting and fishing with friends for dugong, trepang, turtle, crayfish, prawns, oysters and pearl shells. He would also fish for sharks for their fins. All seafood caught was sold to a Darwin agent.
During one trip on The Enchantress between Melville Islands and Bathurst, Dangerfield saw a massive crocodile attacking a dugout canoe carrying three Aboriginals. The crocodile took the woman sitting between the two men, snatching her right out of the boat.
The Enchantress carried a regular passenger called Pussy, the pet cat. The cat would be eager to leave the boat after several days out on the water, so it would jump out as soon as a jetty or wharf came near, then come to the edge as the boat arrived.
On one occasion Dangerfield stopped off at an island, which prompted the cat to jump out, swim to shore, then run frantically up and down the beach. The panicked animal then passed out. A group of nearby aborigines had been watching this spectacle, assumed the cat was dead and handed it to Dangerfield when he came on shore. He nicked the cat's ear with his pen knife, which caused it to flee back to the boat.
During the war Dangerfield lived with public servant Geoffrey Moss in a house on Railway Hill. After having his breakfast on the morning of the raid and seeing that his roommate had still not got out of bed, Dangerfield had the following fateful exchange:
"Get up, you lazy bastard! You’ll be late for work."
Moss reportedly replied, "What’s your hurry?" and, as a parting shot, "Watch out the Japs don’t get you."
At the wharf, Dangerfield predicted the arrival of the Japanese planes, saying to his colleague, James Yuen:
"I don’t like our chances today, Jimmy. That convoy’s back because the Japs chased it back. They know it’s here and they’ll come duck shooting."
(From Australia under attack p.67-68)
Dangerfield was killed when the section of the wharf that he was standing on was completely destroyed. His body was never found. Dangerfield’s widow, Betty (nee Litchfield), contacted his family in England and told them of his death. After the war she moved there and married his brother Harry.
Dangerfield Street in the Darwin suburb of Parap was named after him in January 1969.
Compiled with assistance from Janet Dickinson.
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