Sir John Grey Gorton
Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Pilot
19th Prime Minister of Australia 1968–1971
John Grey Gorton was born out of wedlock
is believed to be born September 9, 1911 in Prahran a suburb of Melbourne. He grew up in the Port Melbourne area until 1916 when his family moved to Sydney and attended several
schools. In 1934 he traveled to Spain and met and married American Bettina Brown.
8, 1940 enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) with service number 400793 at Lake Kangaroo in Victoria. He was trained at Essendon Airfield and Wagga Wagga Airfield before being sent oversea to England where he completed
training at RAF Heston and RAF Honiley with No. 61 Operational Training Unit (61 OTU) flying the Supermarine Spitfire. Afterwards, assigned to 232 Squadron flying the Hawker Hurricane and was selected for service in the Middle East and was transported by ship around Africa but after reaching Durban after the start of the Pacific War diverted to Singapore arriving January 13, 1942.
On January 21, 1942 in the morning Flying Officer Gorton took off piloting a Hurricane and was shot down and forced to land
on Bintarn Island off Palemberg on Sumatra. Gorton, who hadn't tightened his harness correctly
was slammed into the instrument panel, breaking his nose and causing facial injuries. He was
initially posted "Missing, Believed Dead". A week later, another pilot crashed on the same island and both were rescued and returned to Singapore.
On February 11, 1942 and became a passenger aboard MV Derrymore transporting RAAF personnel and military cargo bound for Batavia (Jakarta) on Java. On February 13, 1942 Gorton was among a group of RAAF personnel evacuated from Singapore as a passener aboard MV Derrymore hit by two torpedoes and sank. He and other survivors spent 24-hours aboard a crowded life raft before being
rescued by HMAS Ballarat (J184).
After being posted to Darwin with No. 77 Squadron (Kittyhawks), Gorton was involved
in his second air accident. Whilst flying P-40E A29-60 on September 7, 1942, he was forced to
land due to an incorrectly set fuel cock. Both Gorton and his aircraft were recovered several
John Gorton's final air incident came on March 18, 1943 after being posted to Milne
Bay with 77 Squadron. His Kittyhawk's (A29-192) engine failed on take off, causing the aircraft
to flip at the end of the strip. This left Gorton shaken, but unhurt.
In March 1944, Gorton was sent back to Australia with the Flight Lieutenant.
His final posting was as a Flying Instructor with No. 2 Operational Training Unit (2 OTU) at Mildura Airfield. On December 5, 1944 discharged from the RAAF with the rank of Flight Lieutenant.
Gorton became involved in politics where he served as a Senator for
the state of Victoria between 1950 and 1968; the Minister for the Navy; as well as Minister for Works
John Gorton became the 19th Prime Minister of Australia after the mysterious disappearance of Prime Minister Howard Holt. Gorton was elected Liberal Party leader on January 10, 1968 and officially
sworn in as Prime Minister on March 1. He then declared himself out of office after a tied vote
of confidence in his leadership on March 10, 1971.
Gorton remained in politics, including time as Minister of Defence until 1975.
On May 19, 2002 he passed away in St Vincent's Hospital in Sydney at age 90. He is buried at Melbourne General Cemetery in Prime Minister's Garden, position 3.
WW2 Nominal Roll - John Grey Gorton
National Archives of Australia (NAA) - John Gorton Biography
AWM Fifty Australians - John Gorton
FindAGrave - Sir John Grey Gorton (photos)
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