Stories of Remembrance

Navy, Second World War (1939-45)Able Seaman Noel Jack Johnston DSM,

Although grievously wounded, Johnston took control of Motor Launch 1069 after the vessel had been fired upon and set alight by an enemy tank. He returned fire with the launch’s guns and safely returned the vessel to the jetty, saving the wounded crew.

 

Noel Johnston (1916–57), a farmer from Orbost, Victoria, enlisted in the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) on 31 January 1941. He volunteered for special anti-submarine work and after training in England, was posted to the cruiser HMS Cleopatra and sent to the Mediterranean. When Cleopatra was damaged by bomb attacks, Johnston was transferred to the Royal Navy (RN) motor launches serving in Tobruk Harbour.

Johnston was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal (DSM) on 10 November 1942 for his bravery in helping evacuate Allied personnel when Tobruk fell to Axis forces in June 1942. Although grievously wounded, Johnston took control of Motor Launch 1069 after the vessel had been fired upon and set alight by an enemy tank.  He returned fire with the launch’s guns and safely returned the vessel to the jetty, saving the wounded crew.

Johnston spent several months in hospital before being sent home to Australia. He was formally discharged from the RAN on 25 March 1946. Noel Johnston was tragically killed in a car crash on 26 January 1957 when returning from visiting his wife in hospital.

This Story of Remembrance was compiled through the research of the Exhibitions and Collections team at the Shrine of Remembrance.
 

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