Leslie George Johnson (1891-1960)
Alice May O’Neill (1888-1960)

Jump down to the list of their children

Alice May O’Neill, known as May, was the second oldest of John O’Neill & Amelia Crimmins‘s thirteen children. She was born on 19 Jun 1888 at Guy Faux, Ebor, about 80km east of Armidale district (record 32434).

Leslie George Johnson, known as Les, was born on 02 Jun 1891 in Petersham (record 29016), his parents, Thomas Johnson & Matilda Maria Stokes.


May and Les married on 26 Dec 1917. The wedding was described in a couple of newspapers, including Freeman’s Journal on Thu 03 Jan 1918:

A pretty wedding was solemnised by the Rev. Father Carroll at the Bishop’s House, Armidale, on Wednesday week, when Leslie George, one of the late James and Mrs. Johnson (Ford-street, Petersham), and Alice May, eldest daughter of Mr. John O’Neill (George’s Creek), were joined in the holy bonds. Miss F. O’Neill, of Kempsey (cousin of the bride), was bridesmaid, and Mr. Harry Johnson attended his brother as best man. The wedding breakfast was served at Hardaker’s Tea Rooms. The happy couple left for the Blue Mountains.

Les was first appointed as a teacher in NSW on 01 Jun 1909; this date appears in every Public Service List. We are not certain of his appointments until 1919. He may be the Mr L. Johnson who taught at Trelowarren (Currajong) Public School in 1910, and was transferred on 02 Apr 1913 to Rockvale; he appears in the 1913 electoral rolls in Rockvale (Armidale).

From 1919 (or earlier) to 1923 he was a teacher at Chandler Public School at Wollomombi, not far from Hillgrove (about 30km east of Armidale) where May’s parents had owned a hotel, and not far from Georges Creek where at the time they ran a post office and an overnight facility for travellers (they had also transferred the liquor license from Hillgrove).

In fact in 1917 Les was on a list of men invested into the Masonic Lodge in Hillgrove (The Armidale Express and New England General Advertiser, Fri 09 Mar 1917).

By 1925 Les had been appointed to Garah Public School, just over 50km north of Moree – though they had a son born in Moree in 1924. He was still teaching there in 1927. In 1928 he is on a list in an article entitled School Notes in the Northern Star Sat 24 Mar 1928:

Leslie G. Johnson, Garah, English Literature.

In 1928 Les was transferred to Orara Upper Public School, about 13km west of Coffs Harbour. His name then appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald on Thu 20 Nov 1930:

Theses written by the following teachers with a view to promotion to first-class have been accepted: … Leslie G. Johnson, Upper Orara …

Their son Noel mentions this phase of their life in a letter he wrote, rightly excoriating the husband of his Aunt Pol.

On Wed 24 Dec 1930, Grafton’s Daily Examiner reported on the transfer of Les to Woodburn. As always he immersed himself in his duties as a head teacher, as well as in the activities of the town. When he was transferred to Mullumbimby, The Richmond River Herald and Northern Districts Advertiser described their farewell on Fri 26 Jan 1934:

Woodburn Farewell

The Oddfellows’ Hall at South Woodburn was well filled on Monday evening on the occasion of the public farewell to Mr. and Mrs. L. G. Johnson, prior to their departure for Mullumbimby, where Mr. Johnson takes up duty on Tuesday next as headmaster of the school. Mr. Johnson proved his worth at Woodburn in educational affairs, and parents and pupils alike genuinely regret the departure of a couple who have left the impress of their activity in the school work and some work of the town.

Monday night’s function took the form of a social evening, dancing and solos filling in a pleasant few hours. … Proceeding, the Chairman said that during the few years he had been in Woodburn Mr. Johnson had proved himself a very able teacher and a man who had carried out his duty conscientiously and well. He had been in as close touch with Mr. Johnson as any man in the town, and could testify that in everything for the good of the school or welfare of the pupils that gentleman gave his wholehearted support to the P. and C. and J.F.C. He had backed them up in their efforts, and proved his efficiency in everything he undertook, and because, of that the people were very sorry to see him leave. Mrs. Johnson had been a wonderful help to her husband, and given splendid help at all the school functions. On behalf of the parents he thanked both for what they had done, and wished them every success in their new home.

Mr. J. Ormond said it was a pleasure to testify to the worth of the guests, but a matter of keen regret to say farewell to them. Mr. Johnson had been President of the Teachers’ Federation, and every one of the 26 members in that organisation regretted his departure. Up till he came here, it was thought the school would not be able to prepare children for the Intermediate exam, but Mr. Johnson had shown that it was possible, though the proof was only made possible by him giving up to the scholars a big amount of his spare time. He was now going to a school with 11 teachers and 400 children, which was a big promotion, and one that testified to his worth. As a friend and comrade there was none better than Mr. Johnson, and Mrs. Johnson, too. He felt sure Mullumbimby was only a step up the ladder that would be scaled very quickly after this.

Mr. R. R. Morison, Secretary to the function, said that the position of head master in Woodburn was a very responsible one, and one that called for the exercise of a lot of self-sacrifice in order to bring children on to qualify at their examinations. The work of a teacher was by no means finished at 3.30 when the school closed, and in Mr. Johnson’s case he devoted quite a large amount of his own time for the benefit of his young charges. He had been most helpful to the P. and C. Association, the members of which wished him God-speed and every success in his new sphere.

Rev. Trafford Walker said that Mr. Johnson had filled a most important position, and filled it ably and very conscientiously. He was a man who took his work seriously, and his work there had laid the foundation for the future success of very many of his pupils.

Mr. Roy Nelson, on behalf of the J.F.C., extended the good wishes of its members to Mr. and Mrs. Johnson. The boys would miss Mr. Johnson greatly, for he had been a splendid guide and the benefits of his teaching would be felt in the years to come. The J.F.C. at Mullumbimby were lucky to get a gentle man like him.

Mr. Giddy, on behalf of the Literary Institute, and Messrs. C. Wills and Verschuer, as personal friends, added their tributes.

The Chairman then made the presentation of a valuable dinner set.

Mr. Johnson, in returning thanks, said that lie felt he hardly deserved this recognition. His civic activities had been limited here, because of his school duties, and he had not been able to take part as lie would have liked in many of the social and sporting activities of the town. He desired to pay a tribute to his predecessor, Mr. Brown, who had left an indelible impress on the school. Also he would like to thank the school’s very capable and loyal staff, who had proved 100 per cent. willing over since he had been here. The Parents and Citizens’ Association deserved recognition, for it was their enthusiasm that had made the school and its activities such a success. Empire Day, the J.F.C. Show, and the annual concert all had had the Association’s best support. He would also like to congratulate the Woodburn parents on the well-behaved children he had met there. There had never been any serious misbehaviour from first to last, and each of four inspectors who had been at the school had paid a tribute to this phase of the pupils’ character. This only went to show the good home influence that must exist. He was glad to have heard the references to Mrs. Johnson, for without her help he could not have done much. Hers was the master spirit in the promotion of school concerts, and she had certainly worked hard. There were also citizens who had no direct contact with the school yet who had given invaluable help. For that he was extremely grateful. He desired to pay a special tribute to Mr. A. W. McDonald – a gentleman and a loyal friend – for his enthusiastic and loyal help throughout. Proceeding, Mr. Johnson paid a special tribute to the wonderful practical help and moral support that had been accorded the school and the J.F.C. from every possible direction. The status and the academic side of the school had progressed, and if some children had not succeeded as expected in exams that was not so much fault of the teachers as of the children themselves. He was going from Woodburn with very happy recollections of a pleasant place and people…

Les appeared in many newspaper items while was headmaster at Mullumbimby. The Tweed Daily commented on Sat 14 Jan 1939:


Mr. L. G. Johnson, who for the past five years has been headmaster of the Mullumbimby Rural School, was farewelled at a largely attended gathering on Thursday night, when eulogistic references to his qualities as a citizen, headmaster and a sportsman were made.

Mr. Johnson has received notification of his transfer on promotion to Sydney, and with his wife and family will leave Mullumbimby early in the year to take up his new appointment.

Messrs. H. Hungerford (President), D. D. Gibson (Vice-President ) and S. Harvey (Secretary) spoke on behalf of the Mullumbimby Bowling Club, and said that it was due to members of the calibre of Mr. Johnson that the feeling of good fellowship among bowlers was maintained. They expressed regret that Mr. Johnson would be severing his connection with the club. They wished him and his family every success in their new sphere.

Ald. W. E. Smith referred to the record of the Mullumbimby school since the appointment of Mr. Johnson five years ago, and said that this was largely due to the spirit of cooperation that had always existed between the headmaster and his staff and also the pupils.

Mr. S. H. Lee, President of the Mullumbimby Parents and Citizens Association, referred to Mr. Johnson’s work outside his official capacity as headmaster, but still in the interests of education generally. He said that Mr. Johnson had at all times shown an earnest desire to improve the conditions of the school children and the members of his staff.

Presentations were made by Mr. Hungerford (Bowling Club) of a set of cut glass goblets, and by Mr. Lee (Parents and Citizens’ Association) of a pen and pencil.


Responding, Mr. Johnson said that his family and himself had spent a pleasant five years in Mullumbimby, and he was highly appreciative of the references made, particularly in relation to his wife. He had learned to play bowls in the town, and he considered that while the present spirit was maintained among the members, the Club would continue to prosper.

He said that during the term he had been headmaster of the Mullumbimby School he had always endeavored to assist in any movement aim ing at the welfare of the school. He particularly mentioned the Parents and Citizens’ Association and the work it had accomplished. This had laid the foundation for the eventual raising of the school to the status of an intermediate high school, and he hoped that this objective would be attained in the near future.

The Sydney school he was transferred to was Glenmore Road Public School, Paddington. In the 1943 electoral roll Les’s entry for his place of residence was School Residence, Glenmore Rd (Alice simply put down 351 Glenmore Rd). They were still in residence there in 1954.

An amusing article was published by Sydney’s Daily News on Tue 30 Jan 1940 (together with his photo):

To-day’s Interview

Good Morning Dear Teacher!
One more day and we shall be,
Back to the gates of miser-ee;
Back to pencils, back to books,
Back to teachers’ ugly looks.

Remember it?

“Wrong. Definitely wrong,” says Mr. L. G. Johnson, with the voice of 30 years’ experience in teaching. Mr. Johnson is headmaster of Glenmore Road Public School, Paddington, one of the hundreds of schools throughout the State which to-day will re-open after the holidays.

“Children like school,” he contended, yesterday.
“They like to meet their mates again, they like the organised games, If not the lessons.
“Above all, they like the orderly routine of school life.
Mr. Johnson paused. Then . . .
“Let me put it this way,” he said.


“The world outside likes peace and order – a disciplined, regulated life.
“A school is but a miniature world.”
About 40 new inhabitants will arrive to-day in the “miniature world,” where Mr. Johnson is king.
Their ages will range from “Just five” to “six and a bit.”
How will they fare in this new life of theirs?
“It depends on the child,” said Mr. Johnson.
“Some will have the run of the place in a few hours.
“Others won’t even open their mouths for days.
“I remember one little girl who didn’t speak to her teacher for three months.
“Very good at her work, too.


“That’s the influence of the home.
“You know, this business of … ‘Now, if you don’t behave I’ll give you to the teacher.’
“Or the policeman.
“A good teacher is a good psychologist,” mused Mr. Johnson.
“He must be able to see things through the mind of a child.”

Mr- Johnson had been relaxing on his last day before school began.

A photograph?

Somewhat reluctantly, Mr. Johnson disappeared … came back transformed … with tie and coat, and hair neatly brushed.

He posed.

“Dad,” said his elder son.
“What about your cane?”

Les had retired by 1958; he and May then lived at 33 Wolger Rd, Mosman. However they both passed away in the St George area: Alice on 16 Oct 1960 at Rockdale (record 35955) and Leslie on 20 Jan 1967 at Kogarah (record 13136). A nephew, Darryl Kirkby (whose mother was May’s sister Bunty) explained this is a letter sent to the author recently:

My first recollection of May and Les Johnson was after our family moved from Moree to Sydney in 1941, I would have been 6 years old.

I clearly remember the old house on the school grounds at the Glenmore Road Public School at Paddington. It’s all still there, but the house has been renovated and looks quite nice, from the outside that is, and the school is just the same.

Les was headmaster at the school, and as such, occupied the house. Somewhat unique in “inner Sydney”. The school’s front gate was on Glenmore Rd, and the house “main gate” was on Cambridge St, at the rear. It was not a very big house, had a view of the harbour!!! Paddington at this time was a very plain old suburb, bit rough, not a good reputation, full of old two-storey Victorian terraces, all painted bland colours, not very inspiring. Paddo could be described as a rather poor socio-economic suburb!!

We lived at Coogee and were frequent visitors to Cambridge St Paddo. Nunty and May were very close, no doubt strengthened by Bunty living with May and Les at Mullumbimby when their father and mother died at Georges Creek.

I don’t think May and Les had a car, but were frequent visitors to our little flat at Coogee for my father’s parties. Travelled by cab I suppose!!

Aunty May was a true O’Neill – soft as butter, loveable, hugs and kisses, never had a bad word about anyone. Smiling and chuckling away at some of father’s slightly “blue” songs and yarns and monologues. Les loved a beer or two, that’s about all, but he would loosen up and laugh with a “he he he” little laugh. Bunty and May would have their little private chats and usually ended in fits of laughter – probably about brother Pat’s latest “love tryst”.

Visits to Cambridge St were much quieter affairs, a nice afternoon tea was appropriate!!! – but still nice.

I think you will have plenty of material on the 5 Johnson boys and their notable achievements. I didn’t have much to do with them because I was much younger. My eldest brother, Ronald, was good friends with Brian, May’s youngest – had plenty of fun.

May and Les were unable to attend my wedding to Beth as May was in RPA Hospital, quiet sick, so we went to see her the next morning before departing for a honeymoon, and she was so happy, and we had some precious time with her.

I’m pleased we did because she died a few months after, so we didn’t see her again, as we were living in the bush.

I loved her – a really top aunty! – full of all that good O’Neill blood!!

Darryl Kirkby
22 Apr 2018

P.S. When Les retired, they bought a house at Penshurst. I don’t recall ever going there, but at this time I was living in the country – a rural boy!

Les & May Johnson an older Les and May

Les & May’s family:

01. Ronald Leslie (b. 15 Nov 1918 in Armidale, d. 1999 in Sydney)

02. Philip Noel (b. 25 Dec 1919 at Coraki, d. 02 Aug 1996 in Brisbane)

03. Kevin John (b. 30 Mar 1921 in Armidale, d. 23 May 2008)

04. Adrian Paul (b. 06 Dec 1924 in Lismore, d. 29 Oct 1995 in Mosman) known as Paul

05. Brian Bernard (b. 29 Apr 1930 in Coffs Harbour, d. 29 August 1966 in Goroka, Papua New Guinea)

 Johnson boys 2 web_Johnson boys

Johnson boys; Paul, Noel; Kevin, Brian, Ronald

Generation 2

01. Ronald Leslie Johnson enlisted at Brisbane in the 2nd AIF, service number NX154199, but we do not have access to his records at this stage. His engagement to Patricia Ruth Ward was announced in The Sydney Morning Herald on Sat 24 Apr 1943:

JOHNSON – WARD. -The Engagement is announced of Patricia, eldest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. A. A. Ward, Rose Bay, to Ronald, eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. L. G. Johnson, Paddington.

He and Patricia married at Woollahra in 1945.

In the 1943 electoral rolls he is shown to be living at 20 Cambridge St, Glenmore; every electoral roll describes him as a bank officer (with the Bank of NSW, see below). They show up at 54 Waratah St, Oatley, in the 1949 rolls, and at 8 Oatley Pde, Oatley, in the 1958 rolls. Finally, they were back in Paddington in the 1977 and 1980 rolls living at 30 Duxford St Paddington.

There is a death notice in The Sydney Morning Herald of a Ronald Leslie Johnson, “late of Kensington”, who had died on 24 Apr 1999. It shows Patricia as his wife and lists two sons and five grandchildren, but until we hear from the family we will not assume this is the same person.

02. Philip Noel Johnson, known as Noel, married Alice Frances Mary Morrisey in Sydney in 1948. Alice was born in 1922. Alice and Philip were, in fact, second cousins, once removed: the number of cousins is simply one less than the (minimum) number of generations back to the common ancestor(s); if there are unequal numbers of generations then their difference is the number removed. In Philip and Alice’s case these are the generations back:

Lulham relationship


Like his older brother Ronald, in the 1943 electoral rolls Noel is shown to be living at 20 Cambridge St, Glenmore and is described as a bank officer. In the 1954 and 1958 rolls the couple lived at 37 Alfred St, Campsie; Noel was still described as a bank officer. In the 1963 roll, however, the couple had moved to 61 Hickey St, Casino, and Noel was described as a storekeeper. Then in 1968 they had moved back to Sydney, living at 2 Lord St, Roseville; Noel was described as a clerk and Alice a shop assistant. By 1977 (and still in 1978) their address was 1/66b Prince St, Mosman; Alice was then a manageress and Noel a supervisor. An Ian Leslie John Johnson also lived at that address; his profession was stated as army. (In the group photo, Noel is on the left and his parents on the right.)

Alice passed away on 9 Jul 1993 and Philip on 17 Aug 1996; both are buried at Southport, Gold Coast City, Queensland.

Noel’s mother May had a sister Phyllis O’Neill who married a pretty unsavory character by the name of Scamp White. Philip attended Scamp’s funeral, and later wrote this (undated) letter when he was resident of a Residential Care Home at Arundal near the Gold Coast.

I would have been 8 or 9 years of age when I first set eyes on this evil minded man and the year was 1928 or 1929. My dad was Les Johnson and he was the school master at a little village called Upper Orara, which sat on the Orara River, about 10 miles inland from Coffs harbour. (My mother (née May O’Neill) had three lovely sisters, Aunt Norn Rafferty, Aunty Bunty (Stella Kirkby) and Phyllis O’Neill who was single at the time of 1928/29. She was very young and beautiful, and we boys, Ron, myself, Kevin, Paul and Brian idolised her. Phyllis was always known as Aunty Molly to we boys, and having no home at the time virtually lived with us.

Scamp White was forever stalking Aunty Molly and that was the reason why he landed on our front veranda in 1929.

He had a pilot’s licence and owned his own plane. I can remember he landed his plane on the beach at Coff’s Harbour and somehow made it to our home, where Aunty Molly was staying at the time. I can distinctly remember seeing this out-of shape rather grotesque looking man standing with Dad, their backs to an open fireplace in the study of our home. He wore a long leather coat down to his shins and a leather cap, similar to that worn by aviators. He was a short very stout man maybe 5 6”, but he was very broad across and his large head sat upon those massive shoulders with hardly any neck to separate them. He resembled a clothes peg in that area of his body. All the time I was still intrigued by his long leather coat and a leather belt about 4/5 inches wide tightly wrapped around his very large girth. I would have thought his age would have been about 33/35. Behind all this exterior of Scamp White, everything about the man, to me, appeared evil. He had rather small eyes which were a very dark brown, very piercing a cruel looking, as which could be seen as unforgiving. His nose and mouth were set into a rather round head with grey hair beginning to sprout across his temple and his ears. He also wore spectacles. His mouth was almost lipless, comprising of a long, straight cavity, at the ends of which was a vertical 90’ drop of approximately one inch .

He stayed that night and I can’t remember seeing him next morning, nor whether I can remember whether he took Aunty Molly with him. However, the memory of his visit will and has been everlasting.

They would not have been married for Aunty Molly used to come back and stay with us at Woodburn, but I think they married about 1934 while Dad had the school at Mullumbimby. Between Orara and Mullumbimby, I can remember that Scamp stole nearly all the cattle which belonged to the O’Neill boys families in the Georges Creek area and various other parts of the New England area, and there was much hostility. He still pursued Aunt Molly – by now called Aunty Poll.

It was 13 years since I next encountered Scamp White. I was 23 years old and he and Aunt Poll, now married, were on one of his 3 properties – Eskdale, a really a magnificent place. My holiday fell due in the Bank which I was employed, and Aunty Poll, with Scamp’s permission asked me to visit them. I caught the Moree mail train, thence the mailman took me in his van to Goondiwindi, then train to Toowoomba, and cattle train to Esk. I was the only human passenger on it. – only 25 miles but it took about 2 ½ hours. I remember staying at people named McDermotts until Scamp and Aunty drove in to pick me up. He seemed to want to ignore me. I was dressed in a very nice double breasted pencil stripe navy blue suit, plenty of black wavy hair and polished shoes. I wanted to impress him but I soon convinced myself that he was not of that ilk. So I went to him and told him my name and who I was. He said “So you are the cleric.” I didn’t like that and I stumbled for an answer. He said “Suits aren’t worn around these parts, especially on my property“. I told him that “I had plenty of work clothes and looked forward to doing plenty of work during my stay with you” . “Can you ride a horse?” “Yes, but I haven’t been on one for quite a while.” “I’ll see how good you are at 6.30 in the morning.” I didn’t like the sound of that. At 6.30am he got one of his black slaves to saddle this horse who was frisky. Aunt Poll yelled at Scamp “Don’t you give that horse to Noel, its too wild!” But Scamp, evil man that he was, insisted. I mounted and he gave the horse a sharp smack across its rump and it took off. Well, I swear to this day that for every 20 or 30 times the horse’s hooves hit the ground my arsehole hit the saddle once. Fortunately I managed to keep control of the stirrups and that saved my life. The horse finally stopped down near the stables and I patted him on the neck, and he cantered back to where we started. Aunt Poll was in tears, Scamp was laughing. I am sure I would have been killed if I had lost the stirrups. What he did to me was characteristic of Scamp White. Despite this very traumatic event which took place, our relationship began to improve slightly, for I worked hard for him and became a very willing servant for him. There was always things to do, and I was constantly under his supervision. However, an incident occurred one day which angered him immensely and I thought he was going to make me pack up and give me the boot. He, two blacks and I went mustering cattle to bring them back for tick dipping. I had a good horse. We set off and he told me what gully to follow and round up as many as I could. After riding for about an hour along the gully which twisted and turned and over a ridge or two, I thought I had enough cattle to bring back. Next thing I realized … I was disorientated and completely lost, and no cattle. “Shit” I said. I gave a few Coo-ees to no avail. Fortunately the horse know where he was, and I gave him the rein. He got me home and Aunty Poll sighted me … I had gotten lost. In about 2 hours time Scamp and his two fellow stockmen arrived back with hundreds of cattle, looked up at the veranda and I heard him say “There’s the fuckin bastard!” I knew I would be in for it. Well he abused the shit out of me. I explained as well as I could how I became lost but he was not at all sympathetic to my cause. “Tomorrow, you and I will go out and get those fuckin cattle” he said.

I saw Scamp White whip a dark employee and gave him a horrible hiding. He had a gym at his home which he used to work at every day with his gloves. He used to belt the darkies. And on this day a darkie landed a good punch on Scamp which stunned him. In revenge he tied this unfortunate fellow up and thrashed him until the poor screaming fellow lay in a heap on the Gym floor. I never forgave it.

Scamp White, ever the schemer and evil-doer had a couple of good race horses. His best was named Auburn River in Sydney where the big money was, but more often than not he used to run it dead, especially when it was short priced. The evil man used to wait when the horse was 10/15/20 to 1 on the market betting. He would not appear on the course, but my being in the bank, he used to give me thousands of pounds, take it out to the course and put all the money on when a good price. I used to take a fairly big bag out with me to carry the winnings. This was around the years 1946/7/8. Sometimes the bookies did not have enough money to pay me and was given tickets to be settled at Tattersalls on the Monday. However the A.J.C caught up with Scamp and he was summoned to appear before the full committee on charges relating to the running of his horses and reversals of form. He failed to appear on numerous, occasions, sending down medical certs stating he was too ill to attend. The inevitable occurred and Scamp was barred for life off all racetracks in Australia. There were no boundaries to this rascal’s dirty, nefarious tricks. Scamp’s cattle were as good, if not better, than any in the land. Big cattle sales were scheduled to be on at various saleyards throughout Q’Land. Hearing of this he booked and hired every Railway truck in the state to ensure that it was only his cattle that got to the yards. All other property owners were denied ever making it to the yards. He made a fortune.

Now, Scamp, the Sleuth. To my surprise, he one day told me to go into Esk – approx 8/12 miles from the property. I was to drive the utility there, get a new tyre for the rear wheel put on and also an extra one for spare, together with a 44 gallon drum of petrol filled up. I was happy to do all this for I thought that he was growing in confidence in my trust and ability. I got to Esk and told the garage Prop. what I wanted done, on behalf of Mr White. I can remember not speaking in glowing terms of Scamp, but business was business. Not having had a beer since I left Sydney, I went over to the pub to put in the time I had to spare. While in the Pub I felt uneasy about being there, for knowing Scamp he was the sort of man who would spy on me. Sure enough, all my expectations were proved correct for he sprung me, nice and sweet. Well, once again he abused the living shit out of me all in front of the patrons and publican. Any explanation from me proved futile however and we proceeded back to the garage where they had finished what they had to do. We drove back home, he following me. Each day my hatred for this man grew stronger and stronger.

Scamp was forever and perpetually in conflict with the Dept of Taxation. He seemed to be continually under investigation. The cunning devil got word that a posse of tax investigators were coming out to his home with bagfuls of incriminating evidence enough to convict him of a prison term and of fines totalling thousands of pounds. To get to Scamp’s home one must cross this bridge over the little stream which supplied the property with its water. Scamp, not to be outdone, blew the bridge up with dynamite and so thwarted the attempt by the tax chaps. They were powerless to carry out their investigations for the bridge was on private property.

Scamp was a very cruel and merciless character and would never have used, or known of the word “love”. Ulterior motives with criminal tendencies was ingrained right throughout his veins and sinews. Here is an incident which typified this man’s mind. When he and Aunty Poll went down to Sydney (once or twice a year) they would stay at the Hotel Australia. He always brought Aunty Poll with him and used to get her to do some dirty tricks on his behalf. Something happened that went wrong and he flew into a raging temper, bashed Aunty Poll and grabbed her by one leg and suspended her from the window of the 8th floor of the hotel. We were living at Paddington where Dad had the school. My mother went into town to see her sister who had fainted during this awful ordeal. He shot through and scampered back to Esk. Aunty Poll stayed with us a few days before she too went back to Esk.

Now at the end of the war in 1945, Ben Chifley, the then prime Minister of Australia and one of the best Australia has ever had, decided to pull into the Treasury all pound notes which were of high denominations, 1000 pound and 500 pound notes. Well this news got Scamp immediately up off his arse. He got to work on his combination locked safe at Esk and pulled out bag fulls of all in high value notes, packed Aunty Poll off to Sydney and my being a teller at the Haymarket Branch of the B.N.S.W., I was used as the intermediary to change them into small denominations. We met every day for a fortnight for these transactions I remember until her big notes were all changed. For my efforts I didn’t get a cracker, although Poll gave me 20 Pounds. He didn’t even send me a letter of thanks or kiss my arse. Really I can’t recall this sinister rascal to have one redeeming feature in his character. Evil to him who evil thinks – when translated from French [honi soit qui mal y pense].

Now finally to my summing up in this process, thesis or miniature biography of this person. He never called me by my name – Noel. He wouldn’t bring himself to say it. He treated me with utter distain and perhaps I can count myself lucky that I was not black. He would not allow me to dine with him and Aunty Poll. He was the master and was known and called Master by all on his property. I used to call him Sir or Mr White. My first sighting and impressions of this scoundrel, and my last sighting of him had unique and grotesque similarities. I saw this bad man dead in his coffin which lay on a bier in Kinsella Chapel at Taylor Square, Darlinghurst. As he lay there dead, many thoughts surged to my mind. I could still see this rogue in that long aviator leather coat with with a matching 4/5 inch leather belt wrapped around that ugly girth of his. I looked for some signs of compassion in that dead face but there was none, just like there never was. That lipless cavity still was there and I was so pleased to see his eyes were closed forever. It was a pleasure to know that from that point that no soul on earth would ever suffer again this man’s hands.

I believed he died an ignominious man’s death with Aunty Poll at his side. He died of cancer and was in a raving rage until such time when he succumbed. I was the only Johnson who attended his funeral, but it wasn’t out of sympathy why I went. I wanted to see him dead, after which I found a pub and got pretty drunk. There were no tears, just memories of the most villainous, treacherous, evil minded man upon whom I’ve come across in my life.

Noel Johnson
Room 1C – 29 Melbourne Rd
Arundel (Q) 4214

03. Kevin John Johnson also enlisted (Service Number 60893), but we don’t have access at this stage to his papers. We have found a reference to his being one of a number of “airmen appointed to commissions on probation with the rank of Pilot Officer with effect from 9th September, 1944” (Commonwealth Gazette, No. 223, 09 Nov 1944, page 2519).

Kevin married Helen Teresa McKay in Sydney in 1956 (record 7287).

In the 1949 electoral rolls Kevin was described as a student living at 20 Cambridge St, Paddington (the address his brother Philip was at in 1943). After the war it appears that Kevin became an engineer. The first electoral roll we can find them in is in 1968 when they lived at 30 Lucretia Ave, Longueville; they were at that address right through to 1980. Kevin passed away on 23 May 2008; there is a record of a Helen Teresa McKay who died on 08 May 2011; both are buried at North Ryde.

04. Adrian Paul Johnson (known as Paul) married Roma Clare Thomson in 1951. Roma was born on 21 Oct 1926, her parents being George Alfred Thomson & Frances Emily Prideaux.

In the 1949 electoral rolls Paul was a student living at 20 Cambridge St, Paddington. There is a couple by the same name living in 1954 at 57 Hastings St, he a dentist and Roma “home duties”.

In 1958 the couple lived with Paul’s parents at 33 Wolger Rd, Mosman. Paul was described as a student, Roma a physician. By 1963 both were working as medical practioners, their address being 39 Rangers Ave, Mosman West (although there is a second electoral roll for 1963 with Paul still a student and Roma a medical practioner, so presumably he completed his studies and they moved to their new address that year). That was still the case up to 1977. The 1980 rolls have Paul, still a medical practitioner, at 298 Old Canterbury Rd, Hurlstone Park. Roma does not appear the 1980 electoral roll.

Paul played rugby and is mentioned in many newspaper articles. The following is just a selection.

From Sydney’s The Sun on Wed 11 Jul 1945:

Footballer of The Week
Bro. Henry Inspired Five-Eighth

Paul Johnson, most mercurial back in Rugby Union today, began his football career as a second row forward.

It is difficult to imagine this slightly-built 21-year-old youth – height 5ft. 11in., weight 11st. 2lb. – as a forward, but he says he was heavy for his size when he played in the second row at St. Joseph’s College.

Famous coach of this great football nursery, Brother Henry, saw in Johnson the makings of a class back; told him that one day he would play five-eighth for the college first XV. He did, in 1941 and 1942.

“I owe all to Brother Henry,” said Paul, “He helped me along the track and inspired me with a lot of confidence.”

In 1943 Johnson went to the University, considered he was rather young for grade, and played only in inter-faculty games. But late in the season he appeared in a few matches with Easts’ third and reserve grade teams.

Then he was called upon to play half-back for Easts’ firsts in the grand final against Manly when “Jockey” Kelleher had to drop out.

Stamp Of Genius

Johnson, a dental student, is a glorious handler, speedy and electric on attack.

He is also a grand defender, but his ability to penetrate and start scoring movements is the outstanding feature of his play.

One of the most discussed footballers of today, he is accused of “making faces” at the accepted principles of Rugby by running across field.

But in his departure from stereotyped methods, his play has the stamp of genius. He already has become celebrated for the tries he makes and matches he wins.

Only last Saturday, when University, left with only 14, was struggling against Drummoyne, Johnson broke through and left international full-back Ron Rankin standing, to score the deciding try in favor of his team.

Paul confines his sporting activities mainly to football. “I played a little cricket, but not very well. I’d rather not mention it,” he modestly says.

From The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate, Wed 26 Sep 1945:


Though the ashes of victory were not in evidence at the Annual Ball of the Parramatta and District Rugby Union Football Club held in the Boys’ Club last Saturday, the spirits of team members and their supporters were right on top.

A notable visitor was Paul Johnson, University five-eighth, whose spirited display in the final contributed greatly to the downfall of Parramatta. …

In 1946 Paul played in two test matches and one Bledisloe Cup for Australia (player #329) as centre. The Wallabies lost all three games. Paul’s first game was on 14 Sep 1946 vs NZ (lost 8-31); his last was against New Zealand Maori at Hamilton, NZ, on Sep 25, 1946.

Paul’s decision to retire from rugby in favour of his studies was announced in The Sydney Morning Herald on Mon 31 Mar 1947:

Union Star To Retire;
Johnson’s Aim

Paul Johnson, regarded as the best Rugby Union five eighth in Australia, will not play football this year.

He has decided to give his entire attention to his studies as a third year dentistry student.

Johnson’s decision means that he will relinquish a strong chance of selection in the Australian Rugby Union team to tour England this year.

As a member of the Australian team which toured New Zealand last year, Johnson proved his versatility by filling almost every back-line position.

His retirement was short-lived; from The Sun on Sun 4 Apr 1948:


FORMER international Paul Johnson has been chosen in the squad of 35 Rugby Union players to train for representative matches against the Wallabies and Newcastle in Sydney on April 24.

Johnson retired last season to concentrate upon his dental studies, and has been picked mainly on his reputation, as he has not played in a premiership match since 1946.

He appeared in only one half of the Official trial between University and Gordon yesterday, but was well watched, as most of the NSW selectors turned up at this match.

Apart from dropping two passes Johnson shaped well as inside centre.

Paul passed away on 29 Oct 1995 in the Villiers Nursing Home Mosman; Roma passed away on 29 Mar 2006, Ryde.

05. Brian Bernard Johnson married Haidee Adrienne McInerney at Wahroonga on 21 Sep 1955 (record 16248).

In 1938, when his father Leslie was Headmaster at Mullumbimby Rural District School, he and a friend were swimming when his friend got into difficulties and drowned. Brian’s evidence given in the coroner’s enquiry was reported in The Tweed Daily on Mon 31 Jan 1938:

Mullumbimby Drowning Tragedy

An eight-year-old boy, Brian Bernard Johnson, gave evidence on Saturday at the inquest regarding the drowning in Mullumbimby Creek of Graeme Warren Gibson (8), the son of Dr. and Mrs. D. D. Gibson, of Mullumbimby. The Coroner (Mr. W. E. Selwood) found that the boy was accidentally drowned while bathing in the creek behind the Mullumbimby Rural District School.

Johnson said he and the deceased were playing with tyres in a pool. He swam to the other bank, and when his companion tried to follow he sank twice and eventually disappeared, without saying anything. Witness scrambled out of the water and called his two brothers. A few minutes later
several men began to search in the creek. …

In the 1949 electoral rolls Brian was described as a dental technician, living at 20 Cambridge St, Paddington. He does not appear in any other rolls.

Brian also played rugby. In 1949 he and his brother both played for Gordon; from Sydney’s Truth on Sun 11 Sep 1949:

Too Fiery For Tough, Tired Easts

GORDON Rugby Union team convincingly beat Easts by 14-6 in yesterday’s final before a crowd of about 10,000 at North Sydney Oval and now play University in the grand final.

GORDON scored three tries to nil and their line was rarely in danger although the match was hard, fast and in the balance until the last quarter hour.

Easts’ skipper H. ‘Perc’ Newton commented: ‘Gordon deserved to win. They were the better team.’

Gordon played probably their best football of the season.

There was virility and variety in the attack.

The cover defence of the back row forwards, Miles, Brian Johnson and Nagle, was superb.

They jarred and jammed all attempts of Easts’ backline to open up play and score.

Easts’ backs broke through once early in the game.

Kingsmill, in the centre, really looked dangerous as he sped across the half-way line after his inside men had opened the defence.

But Miles dropped him with a great tackle – a reward to speed and cover defence anticipation.

Perhaps the most potent individual factors in Gordon’s win were the brainy football, in attack and defence, played by half Brian Moffatt and centre Paul Johnson.

Johnson’s superb tackles effectively blocked and bottled first McClelland and then Heywood when he was switched from the wing to centre in a
dying effort by Easts to retrieve the game. …

Brian was selected as a flanker for the Wallabies (player # 391), first capped on 26 Jul 1952 vs Fiji (won 15-9, Brian scored 1 try). His final Test was against New Zealand at Dunedin on 03 Sep 1955. In all he played in 9 test and 4 Bledisloe Cup matches for Australia.

The Sun, Sun 5 Apr 1953:

Certain now for Rugby Union tour

ALHOUGH only an official trial, lock forward Brian Johnson gave one of the best displays of his career, to help Union premiers Gordon beat Manly 16-11 at Chatswood yesterday.

Unquestionably the greatest lock forward Rugby Union has produced since the war, Johnson continually smashed Manly attacks with fleet-footed covering in defence.

He also used his tremendous speed and strength to tear through Manly’s ranks on attack.

This young Gordon giant can start packing his bags now for South Africa.

We understand that Brian and Haidee has four children in Papua New Guinea where Brian was working. His first child was born in 1956, so the family must have moved there quite soon after Brian’s retirement from rugby.

A family relative, Stephen Burns, provided further information on Brian’s sporting life in Papua New Guinea. Evidently he turned to rugby league; an article published on 01 Sep 1961 reads as follows:

The Iron men

Rugby League in Port Moresby was set back on its heels last Sunday when the smoothly coordinated Goroka team pounded Papuan premiers Paga into submission to win the club championship for Papua New Guinea.

Goroka, the team which went through the New Guinea competition undefeated, brought a refreshing brand of football to the Territory’s strongest League centre when they routed the local team by 24 points.

With the accent on teamwork and discipline Goroka should have prompted Port Moresby teams to look at their form and more important the merits of their training systems.

Reports all point to the fact that this champion side will not tolerate tardy training, late nights before a game and unreasonable drinking during the season.

Goroka’s captain, Brian Johnson, of course has enforced his views and they have paid rich dividends.

He should know, having been rated as one of Australia’s top six Rugby Union players ever.

With Johnson the game comes before all else and he has the leadership capabilities to discipline his team. The record speaks for itself.

Training could mould a team

Paga battled gallantly against the powerful champions.

Their courage was noteworthy but let’s not kid ourselves – they were not up to holding this side from across the Owen Stanleys.

But Goroka, while a champion team in the true sense of the word, does not represent general New Guinea Rugby League.

New Guinea’s second best, Lae, went under by a much wider margin than Paga.

Still, lessons can be learned.

Most of all a rigid training programme with the right leadership, could mould a Papuan club team capable of extending Goroka.

Papua has players with ability but perhaps they do not have a leader who exhudes enthusiasm and the ability to make his methods stick.

Let it be remembered that the Goroka side is blessed with a wealth of talent and that Johnson has ability galore on which to work.

Onus is on the players

But so has Papua if the game is approached with the same sense of discipline and control.

It is largely up to the players who give up their time to provide the League with the material necessary to keep the game alive.

They do it without thought of material benefit – often it is quite the contrary.

But they will be the first to admit the necessity of giving their best if they are to attain the heights of football success.

A glance at the Goroka team, while their impressive victory is still fresh in our minds, may illustrate why Johnson and Goroka were so successful in the 1961 season.

Experts say he’s the best

Brian Johnson is spoken of as the world’s best cover defender by keen judges of the code.

They include Dr Danie Craven and Hennie Mueller.

Brian passed away on 29 Aug 1966 at Garoka in the Eastern Highlands of PNG.  Their youngest, Mickey Catherine Johnson (b. 27 Aug 1961 in Garoka, PNG) passed away on 20 Oct 2003 at Gunnedah, NSW.

We do not publish names of individuals without their consent unless they appear in an official record. If any family member has photos or stories to add to these pages please email


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