Northern Territory Government

Roll of Honour

ERICKSON, Reginald Hemming

Wharfies

Ships docked at Darwin Harbour.


Reginald Hemming Erickson was forty-one years old, with a wife and child living in Sydney. He was attached to the Australian United Steam Navigation Company in Cairns, having joined the company in 1920. He worked as a wharf superintendent. When the difficulty in obtaining wharf labourers and officials in Darwin was most acute, he was transferred and arrived in Darwin on 13 February 1942. Erickson assumed the position of supervisor and began his role in assisting in the reorganisation of the stevedoring vessels in Darwin Harbour.

On the eve of the raid on Darwin, Erickson ordered only five gangs of men to work on the wharf the following morning. This infuriated Union Secretary John Hynes as the wharf was often criticised for its notoriously slow work rate. Union Chairman Joseph 'Yorky' Walker persuaded Hynes not to pursue the matter. He had an ulterior motive for doing so: his gang was not rostered on until the afternoon and he wanted to sleep in. In convincing Hynes not to complain to the supervisor, Walker inadvertently saved his own life. Erickson was one of the first killed by the bombs.

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