Northern Territory Government

Roll of Honour

SHEPHERD, Herbert John (Jack)

HMAS Gunbar

The Royal Australian Navy on boom defence duty at Darwin harbour. Looking from the Eastern Gate Ship, HMAS Kari Kari, towards the Western Gate Ship, HMAS Gunbar in the background.


Ordinary Seaman Jack Shepherd (F3384) was born in Port Augusta, South Australia, 2 January 1923, to Herbert James and Margaret Isabella Shepherd. He was the youngest son with four older siblings: Gwen, Elsie, Roma and Harold.

Before the war, Jack Shepherd was a timber worker and resided with his widowed mother at 12 Gresham Street, Victoria Park, Western Australia. He joined the Royal Australian Navy on 17 February 1941.

The Gunbar was originally built for the North Coast Steam Navigation Company of Sydney, coming to Australia from Scotland in April 1912. She was requisitioned for war service as a minesweeper, moving to Darwin in January 1942 for mine-sweeping, cargo-carrying and boom gate duties.

At the time of the attack HMAS Gunbar was acting as a Water Carrier. At 9:57am on 19 February 1942, Japanese Zeros hit the Gunbar as she went out through the boom gate,

"…turning my ship into a colander, with their machine guns", said her Captain, Norman Muzzell.

HMAS Gunbar was the first vessel to be attacked. She suffered eighteen separate attacks from ahead and astern.

Eighteen times the enemy planes swept down on her, knocking out her single machine gun. HMAS Gunbar limped back into the harbour, discharged five wounded and then stood by the stricken merchant ship Portmar while evacuating her crew.

Nine were wounded in the attack, with Jack Shepherd later dying of his wounds on board HMAHS Manunda at 02:05  on 21 February 1942. He was nineteen years old. He was buried at sea at 11 am. on 21 February 1942 at Lat. 12°37’ S Long. 128° 00’ E.

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