John Rutherford (Jack O' Gibraltar) GORDON MC

GORDON, John Rutherford

Service Numbers: 159, Commissioned Officer, 250854
Enlisted: 20 August 1914, Morphettville, South Australia
Last Rank: Wing Commander
Last Unit: 3 Initial Training School (Kingaroy)
Born: Gilberton, South Australia, 18 June 1895
Home Town: Unley, Unley, South Australia
Schooling: Saint Peter's College
Occupation: Clerk
Died: Natural causes, Adelaide, South Australia, 11 December 1978, aged 83 years
Cemetery: Centennial Park Cemetery, South Australia
Memorials: Unley HB01 Town Hall*
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World War 1 Service

20 Aug 1914: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 159, Morphettville, South Australia
20 Oct 1914: Involvement AIF WW1, Sergeant, SN 159, 10th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
20 Oct 1914: Embarked AIF WW1, Sergeant, SN 159, 10th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Ascanius, Adelaide
25 Apr 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Sergeant, SN 159, 10th Infantry Battalion, ANZAC Gallipoli
21 Jun 1917: Embarked Australian Flying Corps, Lieutenant, Australian Flying Corps,

--- :embarkation_roll: roll_number: '1' embarkation_place: Melbourne embarkation_ship: HMAT Suevic embarkation_ship_number: A29 public_note: ''

21 Dec 1917: Involvement Royal Flying Corps, Lieutenant, SN Commissioned Officer, Royal Flying Corps, AFC / RFC operations Western Front / Middle East
21 Dec 1917: Involvement Royal Flying Corps, Lieutenant, SN Commissioned Officer, Royal Flying Corps, AFC / RFC operations Western Front / Middle East
21 Dec 1917: Transferred Royal Flying Corps, Lieutenant, Royal Flying Corps, No. 62 Squadron
14 Jul 1919: Discharged Australian Flying Corps, Lieutenant, Australian Flying Corps

World War 2 Service

5 Feb 1940: Enlisted Royal Australian Air Force, Flying Officer, SN 250854, Adelaide, South Australia
3 Jul 1945: Discharged Royal Australian Air Force, Wing Commander, SN 250854, 3 Initial Training School (Kingaroy)

World War 1 Service

Date unknown: Involvement 10th Infantry Battalion, Pozières

Awarded the Military Cross

For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty when, as observer on an offensive patrol, [on 26 March 1918] he shot down and destroyed three hostile machines. Previous to this
he had shot down two enemy triplanes, one of which
crashed to the ground in flames. He has also effectively and repeatedly scattered massed bodies of enemy troops by
accurate shooting from a height of 100 feet. His skill and daring have been of the highest order.

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One of several images attached is an AWM image showing Tom Whyte (L) and John Gordon sitting on the Great Pyramid at Giza in early 1915

John Gordon was born in Gilberton, South Australia, in 1895, the son of a politician, Hon David John Gordon.

John Rutherford Gordon enlisted initially with the 10th  Battalion at Morphettville on 20 August 1914 and embarked for Egypt on the HMAT Ascanius with his colleagues.  

As a sergeant No 1 section, A Coy, 10 Battalion he took part in the ANZAC landings at Gallipoli, Turkey, 25 April 1915.  He was a Sergeant with the Battalion Scouts who were among the first ashore. They suffered heavy casualties. He received his commission while serving at Gallipoli. In August, he was invalided to Australia with enteric fever (typhoid) and spent a year recuperating and serving as a recruiting officer.

He transferred to the Australian Flying Corps in May 1917.  After initial training at Point Cook for pilot training, which he did not complete due to a medical restriction, he travelled to the UK on the HMAT Suevic and joined the Royal Flying Corps. He then became an observer, and was posted to No 62 Squadron, RFC, in France in December 1917. His squadron flew the highly regarded two seat Bristol F.2b (Bristol Fighter), and Gordon teamed with Captain William (Bill) Staton, MC, DFC as pilot.  Staton was eventually credited with 26 victories, with several observers. The pair of Staton and Gordon went on to be credited with 15 victories with the aircraft’s single rear Lewis Gun. He was awarded the Military Cross for effective ground attack actions during the German March/April 1918 offensives.

In mid 1918, he returned to England to finally complete his flying training and then served as a pilot on the SE5a fighter. Later, while undertaking a Sopwith Snipe conversion, the war ended and he returned to Australia.  He joined the RAAF for a time.  Later he took guided buffalo hunting parties to the Northern Territory and worked for a time for the Vacuum Oil Company.

At the outbreak of the Second World War, he joined the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) as Recruiting Officer in Adelaide and subsequently took the first intake of the Empire Air Training Scheme to Canada. From 1942, he served as the Commanding Officer of the No 3 Initial Training School at Kingaroy, Queensland. He retired from the RAAF in 1945 with the rank of Wing Commander.

John Gordon is immortalised as one of the "Flowers of the Forest" - the group of nine young men who formed 1 section A Company of the 10th Battalion, among the first ashore at ANZAC.  He was a very serious looking young man - among the youngest in the group yet holding the rank of Sergeant.  His nickname was "Jack o' Gibralta" - he was a big strapping young man.

The Flowers of the Forest;

Arthur BLACKBURN (/explore/people/930)

Guy FISHER (/explore/people/373586)

John GORDON (/explore/people/198723)

Wilfid JOSE (/explore/people/173634)

Eric MELDRUM (/explore/people/55797)

Philip ROBIN (/explore/people/9135)

Francis STOKES (/explore/people/60171)

Malcolm TEASEDALE-SMITH (/explore/people/190689)

Thomas WHYTE (/explore/people/170704)


"In memory of my comrades of the 10th Battalion, 3rd Brigade, Signaller J. L. Lewis (cousin) Lance-Corporal P. de Q. Robin, Privates T. A. Whyte, F. H. Stokes, M. T. Smith, and G. V. S. Morphett, killed in action at Anzac, Gallipoli, on or about the 25th April, 1915.— J.R. Gordon, Lieutenant." - from the Adelaide Register 25 April 1916 (


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Steve Larkins Nov 2014