Northern Territory Government

Roll of Honour

KANE, Joseph F

Don Isidro

Gutted by fire and raked by machine gun bullets, the Don Isidro was wrecked on the west coast of Bathurst Island.


Joseph F. Kane was born in Chicago on 20 September 1912, the son of Joseph Kane and Margaret, nee Byrne. His father, the son of Irish immigrants, was a paint merchant and later an interior decorator. Kane was the eldest of three children, and the only son. His mother died in 1917 when he was five years old, and his father remarried in 1921, to Elizabeth McNaughton.

An officer of 453d Ordnance Company, 2nd Lieutenant Kane (451402) was in Brisbane in January 1942, where he volunteered to serve as part of an armed guard for the blockade runner Don Isidro. The Don Isidro was a small passenger liner that had operated between islands of the Southwest Pacific; she was a fast ship recruited to break the Japanese blockade and deliver rations and ammunition to General MacArthur's troops in the Philippines.

Kane was chosen to command the unit by the toss of a coin; he and his crew of fifteen enlisted men armed the Don Isidro and left Brisbane on 27 January. Japanese aircraft attacked the ship north of Australia on 19 and 20 February, and she was beached on Bathurst Island, north of Darwin. A mine sweeper rescued the survivors, although eight of Kane’s unit were wounded.

Kane was seriously wounded in the leg and foot. He died in Darwin on 26 February 1942 from gangrene and was buried at Adelaide River. After the war he was reburied in Plot C111 at the Camp Butler National Cemetery, Springfield, Illinois on 8 April 1949.

He was the first member of the Ordnance Department killed in the Southwest Pacific; an ammunition depot in Geelong, across the bay from Melbourne, was subsequently named in his honour.

Can you tell us more about this person? Please contact us.