Kenneth Owen Johnson (1921-2001)


Nat Map Cartographer 1948-1982


Prepared by Laurie McLean November 2022


Ken Johnson in 1959.

Edited extract from a XNatmap image kindly provided by John Payne.


Early life

Kenneth Owen Johnson was born on 3 January 1921 at Bushy Lodge, Teddington, Middlesex about 20 kilometres south-west of the City of London.† His birth was recorded in the Kingston registration district..† He was the first of the 2 children born to Henry Johnson (1889-1961) and his wife Annie Gladys Silvia Johnson (1891-1983) nťe Shepherd.† Kenís parents married at St Andrewís Church of England on Barking Road in the east London suburb of Plaistow on 14 August 1917. †Kenís younger sibling was his brother Graeme Antony who was born at Teddington on 28 March 1924.† (During World War II Graeme Johnson served with the 2nd Australian Imperial Force; Service Number VX130999.† He enlisted on 8 April 1943 just 2 weeks after his 19th birthday and was discharged at age 22 years on 24 July 1946.† At discharge Graeme held the rank of Sergeant and was then posted to the Headquarters, 4th Infantry Brigade.† By the 1960s Graeme Johnson was living in the West Indies.)


About Ken Johnsonís father

Kenís father Henry George (Harry) Johnson was born in London on 8 June 1889.† Henryís birth was registered in West Ham, Essex in Londonís east about 7 kilometres east of the City of London.† Henryís parents (Ken Johnsonís paternal grandparents) were Joseph Johnson (1861-1921) and his wife Emma Johnson (1865-1953) nťe Collier. †Joseph Johnson and Emma Collier married at the All Saints Church in the east London suburb of Poplar on 27 March 1887.† Kenís father Henry was the second of the 5 children from this marriage.


Henry Johnsonís older sibling was his sister Daisy Emma (1888-1973), and his younger siblings were brother Edwin William (1892Ė1892), sister Dorothy Marguerite (1893Ė1973), and brother Joseph Thomas (1895Ė1933).


On an 1891 England Census record, the then 1‑year old Henry Johnson together with his parents and older sister resided at 89 Plaistow Road West Ham.† The Irish‑born Joseph Johnson was employed as a constable with the Metropolitan Police from 1886 to 1907.† On a 1911 England Census record, the Johnson family resided at 694 High Road, Leytonstone, Essex and Joseph was a police pensioner and a club steward.† The 21-year old Henry Johnson (Kenís father) was then occupied as an electrician; he later became an engineer.


Ken Johnsonís paternal grandfather Joseph Johnson.

Marianne Strzelecki image (edited) from Ancestry web site.


Ken Johnsonís paternal grandmother Emma Johnson.

Marianne Strzelecki image (edited) from Ancestry web site.


During World War I, Henry Johnson served as an officer in the Mercantile Marine Reserve.† For his World War I service, Henry Johnson was awarded the British War Medal 1914-1920 and the Mercantile Marine War Medal 1914‑1918.† Further information on Henry Johnsonís World War I service is provided in the Appendix.


Kenís father Henry George Johnson circa 23 years old in 1912.

Marianne Johnson family tree image from Ancestry web site.


Henry Johnson died suddenly in Melbourne on 11 June 1961, he was 72 years of age. †Henry was survived by his wife Gladys, sons Ken (Canberra) and Graeme (West Indies), daughters-in-law Josie and Bel, and grandchildren Leonie, Marianne and Jamila.† Prior to his death, Henry had resided at 47 Liecester Street Preston for some years.† His funeral service commenced at 1:15 pm on 14 June 1961 in the HJR Lewis chapel at 858 High Street Regent.† Afterwards Henryís remains were conveyed to the Fawkner Crematorium.


Kenís father Henry George Johnson in his early 70s circa 1960.

Marianne Johnson family tree image from Ancestry web site.


About Ken Johnsonís mother

Kenís mother, Annie Gladys Sylvia Shepherd was born on 14 January 1891 in Beckton Road, Canning Town that is located in Londonís east.† Her birth was recorded in the West Ham, Essex registration district.† In some of her early records Kenís mother was referred to as Annie but in some later records she was referred to as Gladys.† Kenís mother was the youngest of the 5 children born to William Shepherd (1847-1931) and his wife Mary Anna Shepherd nťe Fereday (1864-1933).† William Shepherd and Mary Anna Fereday married at Canning Town on 24 June 1888.† Annie Shepherdís siblings were brothers Alfred (born circa 1879), Bertie (born circa 1883), Ernest (1886Ė1930) and sister Hypatia Lilly Thurza (Harriet) (1889Ė1977).


On a 1911 England Census record, William, Mary and Hypatia Shepherd resided at 24 Beckton Rd, Canning Town.† William was then occupied as a shipís plater, Mary was the manager of her own general shop and Hypatia was a dressmaker.† No other Shepherd children were recorded as then residing with their parents.† In 1889, William Shepherd was employed as a boilermaker and in 1891 he was a master grocer.


On another 1911 England Census record, Kenís mother Annie Shepherd resided at Wood Green, Middlesex about 10 kilometres north of the City of London.† The then 20-year old Annie was a student in training for the teaching profession.


After immigrating to Australia in 1925, Annie Shepherd (then Mrs Annie Gladys Johnson) and her family resided in the northern Melbourne suburb of Preston.† As mentioned below, until at least 1967 Annie Johnson resided at 47 Leicester Street Preston.† Annie died in the Lumeah Home for the Aged at 7 Bruce Street Preston on 13 July 1983, she was 92 years of age. †Annieís remains were interred at the Fawkner Crematorium on 18 July 1983.


Kenís mother Annie Gladys Sylvia Shepherd circa 20 years old in 1911.

Marianne Johnson family tree image (edited) from Ancestry web site.


Immigration to Australia

The Johnson family came to Australia in 1924 and 1925.† Henry Johnson came to Melbourne ahead of his wife and sons.† Travelling alone, Henry departed from the Port of London on 4 September 1924 bound for Australia onboard the SS Borda of 13 370 tons.† This voyage was on the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Companyís via the Cape of Good Hope branch service.† Henry was listed as a 35-years old engineer, previously of 22 Latimer Road Forest Gate and whose intended place of future permanent residence was Australia.


SS Borda.

Edited image from Port Adelaide Nautical Museum CC-BY file1881.


Annie Johnson together with her 2 sons departed from the Port of London, on 9 July 1925 bound for Melbourne onboard the SS Balranald of 12 300 tons.† This voyage was also on the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Companyís via the Cape of Good Hope branch service. †Annie was then a 34‑years old housewife, Kenneth was 4 years of age and Graeme was 1 year old.† Their previous address had been 22 Latimer Road Forest Gate and their intended place of future permanent residence was Australia.


SS Balranald.

Image from South Australian Maritime Museum CC-BY file 1003074.


Johnson family early years in Melbourne

The SS Borda arrived at Melbourneís No 11A Victoria Dock in the afternoon of 20 October 1924.† Henry Johnson was next discovered on a 1926 electoral roll when residing at 77 High Street Preston and being occupied as an engineer.† The SS Balranald was due to arrive in Melbourne on 26 August 1925 and Annie Johnson was recorded on electoral rolls for 1926 and 1927 as residing in Pellew Street Preston and being occupied with home duties.


On an electoral roll for 1927, Annie and Henry Johnson were both recorded as residing at 47 Leicester Street Preston and being occupied in home duties and as an engineer, respectively.† 47 Leicester Street was to remain the Johnson family home until after Henryís death in 1961.† Annie Johnson was last recorded as residing at 47 Leicester Street Preston on a 1967 electoral roll.


Annie Johnson and her 2 sons visited England in 1932.† On 14 March 1932, they arrived at Southampton from Melbourne onboard the Commonwealth Line steamer Jervis Bay*.† Annie was then 41 years of age, Ken was 11 and Graeme was 8.† On this visit they resided at 39 New Barn Street Plaistow in east London.† They returned to Melbourne on the SS Moldavia in September 1932.


(*Requisitioned by the Royal Navy in 1939 and converted to an armed merchant cruiser, the Jervis Bay was later used as an Atlantic convoy escort.† On 5 November 1940, under Commander Fogarty Fegan RN the Jervis Bay engaged the Admiral Scheer a superior German pocket battleship about 1 400 kilometres south-southwest of ReykjavŪk, Iceland. †The Jervis Bay was no match for the German battleship.† Nevertheless, Fegan and his crew made their supreme sacrifice to give the 37 other vessels in convoy HX84 that he was escorting from Halifax to England time to escape.† Fegan was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for his shipís action.)


Ken Johnsonís early years in Melbourne

Ken Johnston completed his school education in 1937 at a technical school where his training focus was on process art.† As mentioned previously, during Kenís early years in Melbourne his family resided in Leicester Street Preston.† Thus it is likely that Ken attended school in the Preston area.


In 1938 at around 16 years of age, Ken commenced work for the underwear manufacturer Holeproof in the Melbourne suburb of Brunswick.† Ken remained at Holeproof until 1941.† During his time there Ken was able to learn printing reproduction processes and, from his later Army Service Record, became a lithographic artist.


About Holeproof Australia - Staley and Staley

In 1924, the Melbourne hosiery manufacturer, Andrew Gray Staley (1890 1981) and his uncle Daniel Gray Staley (circa 1872-1939) formed Staley and Staley Limited at Dods Street in Brunswick.† A few years later Staley and Staley started making ladies hosiery under licence from the Holeproof Hosiery Company of Milwaukee, USA.† Staley and Staley became a public company in 1929 and opened the first Holeproof mill at 204 Sydney Road Brunswick in 1930.† Staleys became the first manufacturer to produce and market Australian‑made self-supporting socks.† During the 1930s, the Holeproof brand revolutionised the Australian hosiery market by promoting their products as a sought after fashion accessory.† The Australian company was taken over by Dunlop in the 1960s and continues in business under the ownership of Pacific Brands.


Ken Johnsonís World War II Army Service

During World War II, Ken Johnson served in both the Militia and in the Second Australian Imperial Force.† Ken served continuously from 13 March 1941 until 2 December 1947; including 874 days of active service overseas.† He was discharged from the AHQ Cartographic Company at Bendigo with the rank of Corporal.


Service in the Militia 1941

Ken Johnston enlisted in the Militia (later called the Citizen Military Forces) at the Recruit Reception Depot at Royal Park on 13 March 1941. †He was then 20 years of age and stated his previous occupation as lithographic artist. †Kenís Army number when in the Militia was V11716.† On 4 March 1941, Sapper Johnson was transferred to the Melbourne-based Australian Military Force Headquarters Cartographic Company.† Also on 4 March 1941, Sapper Johnson was graded as a Draftsman, Group 1.


(The Australian Military Force Headquarters (AHQ) Cartographic Company was formed in 1941 from the AHQ Cartographic Section, Australian Survey Corps. †It used that Company name during 1941‑1942, and from 1947 to1955.† The Companyís name changed in April 1942 to the Land Headquarters (LHQ) Cartographic Company and was then based at Bendigo with elements based at Toowoomba (1942-1945) and in New Guinea and the Pacific (1942‑1945).† The Company reverted to AHQ Cartographic Company in 1947 and became the AHQ Survey Regiment in 1955.)


Between 31 March and 30 April 1941, Sapper Johnson attended the Southern Command Field Survey Training Depot.† Sapper Johnson was discharged from the Militia at the Recruitment and Training camp at the Caulfield racecourse on 21 October 1941 as he was to enlist in the Second Australian Imperial Force.


Second Australian Imperial Force service 1941-1947


Sapper Kenneth Owen Johnson Australian Imperial Force recruitment photo 1941.

Edited Army Service Record image from National Archives of Australia web site.


Ken Johnson joined the Second Australian Imperial Force at 21 years of age on 22 October 1941 as VX64799 Sapper KO Johnson.† He enlisted at the Recruit Reception Depot at Melbourneís Royal Park.† On 27 October 1941, Sapper Johnson was posted to the 2/1st Corps Field Survey Company, Royal Australian Engineers at Royal Park and on 29 October 1941 he was posted to the Engineers Training Depot at Bonegilla as Reinforcements Engineers.† (Bonegilla is near the western shore of Lake Hume in north-eastern Victoria and about 15 kilometres east of Wodonga.)† On 30 October 1941, Sapper Johnson was again graded as a Group 1 Draftsman; this time in the Australian Imperial Force.


Middle East 1941-1943

Around early November 1941, Sapper Johnson embarked on HMT LL (the Queen Mary) which was part of Convoy 13 and departed Sydney on 1 November 1941 and travelled (via Jervis Bay, Fremantle, and Trincomalee) to Suez in Egypt where she arrived on 22 November 1941.† On arrival in the Middle East in late November 1941, Sapper Johnson was posted to the 2/1st Corps Field Survey Company.† The Companyís survey section was then undertaking work on 1:50 000 scale mapping on the Syria-Turkey border based at Akhtarin and Aleppo in northern Syria.† Company Headquarters and the drafting section were based at Souq El Gharb in Lebanon about 14 kilometres south-east of Beirut.


In early June 1942, Sapper Johnson transferred to the No 1 Australian Railway Survey Company.† Between December 1941 and August 1942, the Royal Australian Engineersí Australian Railways Construction and Maintenance Group was involved in the construction of a standard gauge railway line from Haifa then in Palestine through Beirut (Lebanon) to Tripoli in Syria.† Construction of this 280 kilometres section of railway was finished in December 1942 and coincidentally completed a standard gauge railway link from London to Cairo.


The Australian Engineersí 3 Railway Construction Companies and other elements including survey sections had the task of building the 153 kilometre section of the railway from just south of Beirut to Tripoli.† A local labour force was recruited to assist.† The Australian Railways Construction and Maintenance Group was commanded by NX12168 Lieutenant Colonel Keith Aird Fraser OBE (1893-1952).† Colonel Fraser was a former New South Wales Railways engineer who had spent some of his early days under renowned engineer John Job Crew Bradfield (1867Ė1943).† Colonel Fraser was responsible for the survey, layout and supervision of the construction of what was described as among the more remarkable engineering feats of the war.


Railway construction Syria 1942.

NX12700 Corporal James Emery (1893-1947), watercolour, pencil on watercolour paper.† Australian War Memorial Accession Number ART27668.


In the Middle East in December 1942, Sapper Johnson was transferred to the 2/7th Australian Field Company, Royal Australian Engineers.† From around June until towards the end of November 1942, this Company had been undertaking minefield clearance operations in the El-Alamein coastal area of Egypt and had suffered a number of casualties from enemy actions and from accidents.


In late November 1942, the 2/7th Field Company moved to the Beit Jirja (Bayt Jirjah) area in Palestine (now southern Israel) located near the Mediterranean coast about 50 kilometres west of Jerusalem.† Here the 2nd Australian Imperial Force had a major base and training area.† By 24 January 1943, the 2/7th Field Company had assembled at El-Shatt Harbour in Suez for return to Australia.† The Company departed Suez on 26 January 1943 onboard the Queen Mary and returned to Australia at the end of February 1943.† Sapper Johnson disembarked in Sydney on 27 February 1943.


While in the Middle East between 1941 and 1943, Ken Johnson compiled a photographic diary (photo album) while on survey duties in the Palestine‑Lebanon area.† This diary is now held as a private record at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.


Some 2nd Australian Imperial Force locations in the Middle East 1941-1943.

Google satellite image annotated by Paul Wise.


Queensland 1943

After being on leave for the month of March 1943, the 2/7th Field Company established its base near Kairi from early April 1943.† Kairi is near Lake Tinaroo on the Atherton Tablelands in North Queensland about 40 kilometres south‑west of Cairns.† At Kairi in July 1943, the 2/7th Field Companyís strength was 5 officers, 10 senior non-commissioned officers (warrant officers and sergeants), and 252 other ranks.


Papua New Guinea 1943-1944

Between 31 July 1943 and 31 January 1944, Sapper Johnson served in Papua New Guinea as the sole draftsman with the 2/7th Field Company.† Sapper Johnson embarked at Cairns on 31 July 1943, put to sea the following afternoon, and on 4 August 1943 disembarked at Milne Bay near the south‑eastern tip of New Guinea.† (The vessel the Company travelled on was not identified in Sapper Johnsonís service record nor in the Companyís war diary.)† Sapper Johnson returned to Australia from Finschhafen (on the Huon Peninsula about 500 kilometres north-west of Milne Bay) onboard the USAT Thomas Corwin.


(At Milne Bay during late August and early September 1942, Australian and Allied forces had inflicted the first World War II land defeat on the invading Imperial Japanese Army.† Of course, this was nearly a year prior to Sapper Johnsonís arrival there.)


While in Papua New Guinea, the 2/7th Field Company was part of Operation Binocular and its responsibilities included road and track construction, maintenance and repair; as well as bridge construction, and combat support duties.† At dawn on 4 September 1943, the 2/7th Field Company supported the 26th Infantry Brigade in the attack on Lae from landing craft.† Later that month, the 2/7th Field Company was stationed at Aluki about 20 kilometres east of Lae where it carried out engineering duties.


Between 22 September and 24 October 1943, as part of the Huon Peninsula campaign, the 9th Australian Division under the later Major General Sir George Frederick Wootten, KBE, CB, DSO and Bar, ED (1893-1970) with support from the United States 532nd Engineer Boat and Shore Regiment captured Finschhafen from the Imperial Japanese Army.


Some of the 2/7th Field Company locations in Papua New Guinea 1943-1944.

Google satellite image annotated by Paul Wise.


On 17 November 1943, the 2/7th Field Company landed at Langemak Bay just north of Finschhafen.† Later, the 2/7th worked around Lakona and the Masaweng River; the latter being about 30 kilometres north of Finschhafen and about 5 kilometres north of Lakona.† As mentioned, the 2/7th Field Company returned to Australia from Finschhafen at the end of January 1944.


Queensland 1944-1945

After his return from Papua New Guinea on 31 January 1944, Sapper Johnson moved to Ravenshoe in North Queensland about 80 kilometres south-west of Cairns.† The 2/7th Field Company was stationed at the 9th Australian Division camp near Ravenshoe from February until at least June 1944.† Sapper Johnson was attached to the 2/7th Field Company until 10 August 1944 when he was transferred to the then Toowoomba-based 6th Australian Army Topographical Survey Company.


In October 1942, the then Captain Bruce Philip Lambert (1912Ė1990) raised the 6th Australian Army Topographical Survey Company at Colac in western Victoria.† (It was initially named the 2nd Australian Army Topographical Survey Company).† During the War, the Company served in Victoria, Northern Territory, Western Australia, Queensland, Papua New Guinea, and Dutch New Guinea.† From at least February 1943, the Company was based at Toowoomba on the Darling Downs west of Brisbane.† Here the Companyís activities included production of various sheets in the 1 Mile to 1 Inch (1:63 360) scale emergency topographic map series.† (The later Dr Bruce Lambert OBE served as the Director of National Mapping and Chairman of the National Mapping Council from 1951 to 1977.)


(On 8 July 1942, the 2/1st Corps Field Survey Company, Royal Australian Engineers was disbanded and its establishment and members became the 2/1st Australian Army Topographical Survey Company in the Australian Survey Corps.)


On 20 September 1944, Sapper Johnson was transferred to the 2/1st Australian Army Topographical Survey Company.† From around the end of June 1944, the Company was based at Wongabel on the Atherton Tablelands in North Queensland about 60 kilometres south-west of Cairns.† Towards the end of that year, some of the Companyís activities included building terrain models and preparing photomaps.


Morotai 1945

On 8 April 1945, Sapper Johnson embarked at Townsville onboard the USS General Butner and on 16 April 1945 disembarked at Morotai, a rugged, forested island of about 2 300 square kilometres. †Morotai was located in the then Halmahera Islands of the Netherlands East Indies, now Indonesia; see location map below.† Sapper Johnson was with a Unit from the 2/1st Australian Army Topographical Survey Company commanded by VX117133 Major Jack Middleton with 4 other officers and 122 other ranks.† The Unit established its base camp in the 9th Australian Division area about 30 kilometres from the township of Sabatai on the south coast of Morotai.


Sapper Johnson served with the 2/1st Australian Army Topographical Survey Company on Morotai until 22 October 1945 when he departed with the Company onboard HMAS Kanimbla and disembarked at Brisbane on 30 October 1945.


Location of Morotai Island.

Google map annotated by Paul Wise.


Army service in Australia 1945-1947

On 19 November 1945, Sapper Johnson was transferred from the 2/1st Australian Army Topographical Survey Company to the Land Headquarters Cartographic Company at Bendigo.† On 30 April 1946, Sapper Johnson was promoted Corporal.† Between 11 March and 22 April 1947, Corporal Johnson was detached to the Army School of Air Cooperation.† On 1 July 1947, Corporal Johnson was granted a good conduct pay increment with his pay grade also increased to 3 Star level from that date.


The Second Australian Imperial Force was disbanded on 30 June 1947 and any still serving full-time AIF personnel were transferred to the Interim Army.† Thus, Corporal Johnson spent most of the second half of 1947 in the Interim Army as well as the Australian Regular Army that was established on 30 September 1947.


On 28 November 1947, Corporal Johnson marched in to the 3rd Military District Demobilisation and Dispersal Depot for demobilisation.† He was discharged from the Australian Regular Army on 2 December 1947 after 2 233 days of 2 AIF and Army service from 22 October 1941.† Corporal Johnsonís war service included 1 193 days of active service in Australia and 874 days of active service overseas.† His overseas service comprised: some 483 days in the Middle East, 185 days in Papua New Guinea, and 206 days on Morotai.


For his World War II service, Ken Johnson was awarded the following campaign medals: 1939-1945 Star; Pacific Star; Defence Medal; War Medal 1939-1945; and the Australia Service Medal 1939-1945.† Reduced size images of these medals are depicted below.† Ken was also awarded the Returned from Active Service Badge; an enlarged image of this badge is also depicted below.


Ken Johnsonís World War II service medals.

These medals are shown in the official order of wear as listed above.

Medal images from Australian Government Defence Honours and Awards web site.


World War II Returned from Active Service Badge.


Ken Johnsonís National Mapping Service, Melbourne 1948 - mid-1950s

By early 1948, a few months after his Army discharge, the then 27-year old Ken Johnson had joined the National Mapping Section in the Property and Survey Branch of the Department of the Interior in Melbourne as a Cartographic Draftsman.† Ken may have responded to one of the recruitment advertisements that were carried in daily newspapers and the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette in March 1947.† These advertisements were seeking staff for the newly created National Mapping Section including for several draftsman positions in the Photogrammetric Survey Sub-section under Chief Topographic Surveyor George Robert Lindsay Rimington (1908-1992.)


The advertisements requested applicants include details of their war service.† While nominally based in Canberra, the sub-section was to be temporarily located in Melbourne due to accommodation shortages in the national capital.† (However, the sub‑section and its successor organisational units was to remain in the Melbourne area until 1997.)


It appears that Ken Johnson was not a permanent employee of the Commonwealth Public Service as no related appointment, promotion, transfer or retirement notices for him were discovered from searches of Commonwealth of Australia Gazettes.† A further indication that Ken was not a permanent public servant was a notice promulgated in the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette on Thursday 29 October 1953, Issue No 67, Page 2944.† In this notice the then Treasurer, the later Sir Arthur William Fadden (1895-1973), deemed Kenneth Owen Johnson of the Department of the Interior to be an employee within the meaning of the Superannuation Act 1922-1952.† Such notices were not usually promulgated for permanent public servants.


In early 1948, Lindsay Rimington established the Photogrammetric Survey Sub‑section in a few rooms in the Mutual Life and Citizens Assurance Company building at 303‑309 Collins Street in the Melbourne CBD (on the south-west corner of Elizabeth Street).† The rooms occupied by the Photogrammetric Survey Sub-section were within an accommodation area already leased by the Department of the Interior.† (The MLC building site was redeveloped in the early 1970s.)


As well as Ken Johnson, other early staff members in Rimingtonís Photogrammetric Survey Sub-section included:

       Alan Thomson who was appointed as a Draftsman, Grade 1 on 11 March 1948 and went on to become an Assistant Director in charge of Nat Mapís Melbourne office (then located in Dandenong) prior to retiring at 60 years of age in May 1987.

       Dave Hocking (1920-2000) who commenced as a Field Assistant (Survey) on 1 April 1948 and went on to become Chief Draftsman and later a Senior Surveyor prior to retiring on 16 August 1985; 2 days before his 65th birthday.

       Don McKay (1921-1999) who commenced as a Driver (Survey) circa April 1948 and left Nat Map after that yearís field work.

       Bob Robinson (1924-1994) who commenced as a Draftsman, Grade 1 (Photogrammetric) on 31 August 1948 and became Chief Executive Officer Cartography in Canberra before retiring in July 1985 at 60 years of age.

       Joe Lines (1920-2001) took up duty as a Draftsman, Grade 2 on 6 September 1948 and became an Assistant Director in charge of Nat Mapís Melbourne office before retiring due to ill health on 27 June 1977 at 56 years of age.

       Ted Caspers (1912-1993) commenced as a Field Assistant (Survey) on 29 November 1948 and went on to become a Senior Technical Officer (Surveying), Grade 2 (after working as a Senior Surveyor in Tasmania and in Papua New Guinea) prior to leaving Nat Map circa the mid-1970s when approaching 65 years of age.


Dave Hocking (Australian Army), Don McKay (Royal Australian Navy), Bob Robinson (Royal Australian Air Force), Joe Lines (Australian Army), and Ted Caspers (Australian Army) had each served overseas during World War II.


Tennant Creek reconnaissance map 1948

On 28 April 1948, the earliest National Mapping compilation using the photogrammetric method of radial line plotting of map detail from aerial photos,† was completed at Nat Mapís MLC building office in Collins Street.† This Tennant Creek 4 mile to 1 inch (1: 253 440) scale reconnaissance map was prepared by Alan Thomson and Ken Johnson.† They used 1:50 000 scale 1947 aerial photography taken by the 87th (Photo Reconnaissance) Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force using a Fairchild K17 aerial survey camera that captured 9 inch by 9 inch (230mm) format black and white images.† The Tennant Creek map format was 1į of latitude by 1Ĺį of longitude.


Melbourne office locations

By the end of June 1948, the Melbourne National Mapping office had moved into accommodation across the road in Burke House a 7-storey building at 340‑342 Collins Street.† (Burke House was later re-named Burns House and today the ground level has been integrated with a Hardy Brothers jewellery shop next door at 338 Collins Street.)


By late 1949, Nat Mapís Melbourne office had been relocated to the All Saints Anglican Church Hall (Gregory Hall) at 2 Chapel Street in St Kilda East.† It was about 5 kilometres south-east of the Melbourne CBD and just south of the intersection with Wellington Street (named Dandenong Road to the east).† Work on the construction of All Saints Parish Hall had commenced in 1908.† It was named the Gregory Memorial Hall after the founder of the All Saints Church, the Reverend John Herbert Gregory (1827-1897).† Nat Mapís Melbourne office was to remain at Gregory Hall until 1959 when it moved to the Rialto Building at 497 Collins Street Melbourne.† However, by that time Ken Johnson had been promoted to a position in Nat Mapís Canberra office.


Ken Johnson at Nat Mapís Gregory Hall office St Kilda East in 1953.

Back Row (L R): Alan Thomson, Len Bently, Bert Reaby, Bill Trevena, John Evans, Ted Caspers, Jim Saunders, Phil Lennie, Bob Foster, Dave Hocking.

Centre Row (L-R): Bob Robinson, Keith Waller, Ken Johnson, Ben Kongings, Bill Stroud, Bill Dingeldie, Reg Ford, Joe Lines.

Front Row (L-R): Jeanette Phillips, Terry Kennedy, Jennifer Cowle, Norah Phillips, Lindsay Rimington, Claire Mather, Vi Palmer, Linda Mottus.

XNatmap image.


Geodetic field survey work Northern Territory 1953

In the second half of 1953, Ken Johnson was a member of a Nat Map geodetic field party that carried out 2 first-order triangulation surveys in the Adelaide River and Pine Creek areas of the Northern Territory.† Field party members are listed below :


John Hamilton Hunter

Senior Surveyor

Reg Ford

Field Assistant (Survey)

Phil Lennie

Field Assistant (Survey)

Bill Dingeldei

Field Assistant

J Carrucan

Field Assistant

Ken Johnson



Reg Ford and Phil Lennie were the observers for this survey and used Wild T3 theodolites.


Only 2 vehicles were available for the survey: a 4-cylinder Land Rover 4X4 and a Morris 6‑cylinder, one and a half ton 4 X 4 truck.† The field party left Melbourne in June 1953 and drove the 2 vehicles to Quorn, a small town and railhead in the Flinders Ranges region of South Australia about 40 kilometres north-east of Port Augusta.† From there the survey party travelled on the (old) narrow-gauge Ghan railway to Alice Springs. †The survey party then drove north along the Stuart Highway and arrived in the survey area during early July 1953.


This survey work was to provide horizontal and vertical control for geological and geophysical work by the Bureau of Mineral Resources, Geology and Geophysics in that area. †Coordinates and heights were required for survey points on which BMRís airborne Shoran short range navigation and positioning system equipment was to be sited. †The most north‑western station of the survey was Mt Foelsche located about 14 kilometres north-east of the Adelaide River township.† The most south‑eastern station of the survey was Mt Giles located about 32 kilometres south-east of the Pine Creek township.† (This Mt Giles should not be confused with the more prominent mountain of the same name in the West MacDonnell National Park about 80 kilometres west of Alice Springs.)


After completing the 1953 triangulation surveys, Reg Ford led the survey party on a further task of identifying, on aerial photographs, a number of survey stations along the Stuart Highway on the drive south to Alice Springs. †From there the field party travelled by train to Quorn and then by road back to Melbourne.


Marriage to Josephine Bickford Callaghan 1949

In Melbourne during 1949, Ken Johnson married Josephine Bickford (Josie) Callaghan neť Harris (1919-2004).† It was Josephineís second marriage.† Josephine was the youngest of the 3 children born to Harold Bickford Harris (1885-1924) and his wife Jean McIntosh Harris neť Millar (1887-1969) who had married at St Georgeís (Presbyterian) Church in Chapel Street St Kilda in December 1911.† Josephineís older siblings were her brother Kenneth Bickford Harris (1913‑1985) and her sister Yvonne Harris (1916‑1982).


At the time of his death at Melbourneís Alfred Hospital at age 38 years on 14 March 1924, Josephineís father was the head dispenser at the United Friendly Society Dispensary at Brunswick.† Harold Harris had passed the South Australian Pharmacy Board Examinations in practical chemistry in March 1911.† Josephine had her fifth birthday just 12 days prior to her fatherís death.


Prior to her first marriage, Josephine Harris was a dressmaker and resided with her mother at 22 Holtom Street Carlton.† Josephine Callaghan again resided at Holtom Street prior to her marriage to Ken Johnson in 1949.


At Melbourne in 1943, Josephine Harris married William Arnon (Bill) Callaghan (1916-1944).† Bill and Josephine were to have one child; daughter Leonie.† Bill worked as a clerk with interstate transport agents Messrs R H Wilkinson Pty Ltd.† He was the youngest son of merchant William Callaghan and his wife Amy Maria Callaghan neť Gillard and brother of Myrtle, Victor, Dorothy, and Nellie.† Sadly, Bill Callaghan died at his parentsí Carlton home on 29 December 1944; he was 28 years of age.


On electoral rolls for 1949 and 1954, Ken and Josephine Johnson were listed as residing at the corner of Main and Clyde Streets in the outer north-eastern Melbourne suburb of Diamond Creek.† Ken was listed as being occupied as a draftsman and Josephine in home duties. †(On current mapping, Main and Clyde Streets in Diamond Creek do not intersect.)


Ken and Josephine Johnson were to have one child, daughter Marianne Elizabeth who was born in Melbourne and grew up in Canberra.


Ken Johnsonís National Mapping Service, Canberra circa 1956-1982

Ken Johnson moved to National Mappingís Canberra Office by no later than August 1956.† From 31 August 1956, Ken rented a brick home at 18 Holder Street Turner and purchased the property on 1 October 1956.† It was to remain the Johnsonsí family home for over 44 years.† (The home site has since been redeveloped as part of an apartment complex.)


Unfortunately, research for this article gleaned little information on Ken Johnsonís workplace activities with Nat Map in Canberra from around 1956 until around 1982.† John Payne, former Nat Map Draftsman and later Senior Executive Officer, recalled that Ken had worked as a Draftsman in the Map Production Branch under then Supervising Draftsman Trevor Trevillian (1922‑1995).


Canberra office locations

During his over 25 years with Nat Map in Canberra, Ken Johnson would have worked at several office locations.† While exact information on Kenís Nat Map workplaces was not discovered, the following outline indicates his Canberra workplaces.† The National Mapping Section, was initially accommodated in the Acton Offices located in Lennox Crossing, Acton.


(The actual crossing over the Molonglo River was inundated in 1964 when Lake Burley Griffin was created following construction of Scrivener Dam across the Molonglo at Yarralumla.) †Later, Nat Map activities were spread across several buildings in central Canberra.† They were not housed together until 1962 when they were located in Derwent House at 28 University Avenue on the west side of the Civic Centre.† Later, as staff numbers increased, some of the Divisionís operations were accommodated in several other Canberra buildings.† In 1976, the Divisionís main Canberra office relocated to Morisset House in Morisset Street Queanbeyan.† By the end of 1981, Nat Mapís head office had relocated to Unit 3 in the Cameron Offices in Chandler Street Belconnen and remained there until after most of Nat Mapís operations became part of the Australian Surveying and Land Information Group in 1987.


Ken Johnson at an Art Exhibition in Nat Mapís Morisset House Office 1977.

From left: Ken Johnson, Con Veenstra, unidentified, Anatol Sdanowytsch, and Bob Robinson.

An (edited) XNatmap image kindly provided by John Payne.


Ken Johnson (right) with Neville Voysey and others at a social event at Nat Mapís Cameron Office early 1980s.

An (edited) XNatmap image kindly provided by John Payne.


National Mapping retirement 1982

Unfortunately, the exact date of Ken Johnsonís Nat Map retirement was not established during research for this article. †Corporate memories of Kenís Nat Map workplace departure have faded and, as mentioned previously, Kenís employment was not listed in Commonwealth of Australia Gazettes.† However, Ken is known to have had a joint retirement function in Canberra with former Nat Map Director Anthony Gerald (Tony) Bomford (1927-2003).† Tony relinquished the position of Director of National Mapping in August 1981 and formally retired from the Commonwealth Public Service on 31 March 1982.† Thus it is assumed that Ken Johnson retired from National Mapping circa March 1982 at 61 years of age.


The trophy that Ken Johnson crafted for Tony Bomford on his retirement in 1982.

An (edited) XNatmap image kindly provided by John Payne.


Ken and Josie Johnson at Kenís retirement function in Canberra 1982.

Edited extract from an XNatmap image kindly provided by John Payne.


Professional affiliation

In Melbourne during January 1953, Ken Johnson joined the then Australian Institute of Cartographers as an Associate Member.† Ken was then a Cartographic Draftsman at the National Mapping Sectionís office located at Gregory Hall in St Kilda East.† The Institute became a national organisation in 1952.† It sought to improve the knowledge and standards of cartography.† By 1980, the Institute had over 1 100 members.† In 1995, the name of the Institute was changed to the Mapping Sciences Institute, Australia.


Some of Ken Johnsonís personal pursuits in Canberra

Among Ken Johnsonís known personal pursuits when living in Canberra were an interest in returned service personsí welfare and involvement in the visual arts both as an artist and in support organisations.


In January 1958, Ken Johnson was elected Secretary of the then Turner‑O'Connor Sub-branch of the then Returned Sailors', Soldiers' and Airmen's Imperial League of Australia; now known as the Returned Services League of Australia (or simply RSL).† The RSL is now a support organisation for people who have served or are serving in the Australian Defence Force and their dependants.


At the Lilac Time Art Exhibition that was held in Goulburn in early October 1962, Ken Johnsonís work Lake George was highly commended in the open section.† The Exhibition was part of Goulburnís spring Lilac Time Festival activities.


Around the end of July 1964, Ken Johnson was elected as a member of the Selection Committee of the Artists Society of Canberra.† The Society was established in 1927 to support visual arts and artists.† The Society currently has around 300 members and provides opportunities to engage in the development, appreciation, and practice of art. †The Society stages exhibitions in the Canberra region and runs workshops, workgroups and an annual summer school.


Ken Johnsonís circa 1968 oil on masonite painting Gundaroo.

National Library of Australia call number: PIC Drawer 12834 #R10670.


Ken Johnsonís circa 1989 ink and crayon drawing Scrivener Dam.

National Library of Australia call number: PIC Drawer 3639 #R10889.


Some 25 of Ken Johnsonís paintings are held by the National Library of Australia in Canberra; details can be accessed from the Libraryís catalogue under the author name Kenneth O. Johnson.† These works were produced from the 1960s to the 1980s; namely: 1960s-1; 1970s-3; and 1980s-21.† The National Library of Australia lists the geographic spread of its holdings of Kenís paintings as follows:




       Mount Aggie-1

       Black Mountain-1

       Lake Burley Griffin-1

       Garema Place-1

       Gundaroo Region-1

       Scrivener Dam-1

       Tharwa Bridge-1.


At some stage in Canberra, possibly around the 1980s, Ken Johnson was a member of a Group of Seven Canberra-based artists.


Ken Johnson was also a proficient welder.† He was appreciated by Nat Map work colleagues as the man to go to for personal welding work.† Former Nat Mappers John Payne, Bob Kennard, and Murray De Plater then respectively a Technical Assistant, a Drafting Assistant, and a Draftsman recalled Ken Johnson undertaking welding work on their motor cars in the 1960s.† Kenís welding proficiency inspired Bob Kennard to develop his own welding capability through attendance at Technical College welding classes.


Murray De Plater recalled that Ken carried out welding and brazing work at Murrayís home.† Murray further recalled that Ken had a professional level home workshop, with gas and electric welding equipment, a blacksmithís forge, a metal-work lathe, and a large quantity of hand tools of all shapes and sizes.† Murray also remembered that Ken was a very handy bricklayer.


As a talented artist Ken Johnson used his welding and blacksmithing expertise artistically to create welded and cast art objects.



Kenneth Owen Johnson died in Canberra on 14 April 2001; he was 80 years of age.† Ken was survived by Josephine (Josie), his wife of some 52 years and their daughter Marianne and by his step-daughter Leonie.† Kenís remains were cremated at the Norwood Park Crematorium in Sandford Street Mitchell on 18 April 2001.† Afterwards, Kenís ashes were interred in the Ex‑Service Wall, Row 3, bottom right side at Norwood Park.


Ken Johnsonís widow Josephine Bickford Johnson died at the Sir Leslie Morshead War Veterans Home in Archibald Street Lyneham on 27 May 2004; she was 85 years of age.


While it is now over 20 years since his death, Ken Johnson is still fondly remembered by his Nat Map work friends and colleagues.† As well as being a skilled draftsman and a proficient artist, Ken is recalled as being a bit of a character who had a good sense of humour.† From his Army and early Nat Map days, Ken Johnson was often referred to as KO.


Ken Johnson at a 1986 Christmas function at Nat Mapís Cameron Office.

From left: Bruce Lambert, Con Veenstra, Lindsay Rimington, and Ken Johnson.

An XNatmap image kindly provided by John Payne.



During the research and preparation of this article the following people generously provided assistance:

       John Payne, former Nat Map Senior Executive Officer

       Murray De Plater, former Nat Map Chief Cartographer

       Bob Kennard, former Nat Map Chief Cartographer

       Paul Wise OAM, former Nat Map Senior Surveyor and founder, operator, and editor-in-chief of the XNatmap web site.


The author gratefully acknowledges the kind assistance provided by each of these people.






Henry George Johnson World War I service

During World War I, Ken Johnsonís father Henry George (Harry) Johnson (1889Ė1961) served at sea in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary.† Unfortunately, a complete record of Henry Johnsonís war service was not discovered during the research for this article.† However, some inferences have been drawn from the picture of Henry onboard the oil tanker RFA Appleleaf at Copenhagen in March 1919 as well as medal card records from the Board of Trade, Registrar General of Shipping and Seamen for 1872-1992 that were accessed from the British National Archives web site.


2nd Officer Harry Johnson onboard RFA Appleleaf at Copenhagen in March 1919.

Marianne Johnson family tree image from Ancestry web site.


In the above picture, Henry Johnson is wearing the uniform of a Royal Fleet Auxiliary 2nd Officer (Lieutenant). †The Sea Service Chevrons on his right forearm indicate that to the end of December 1918 he had at least 4 years of war time sea service.


Sea Service Chevrons

Sea Service Chevrons were a distinction worn on uniforms to denote service at sea (or overseas service in the case of service chevrons worn by soldiers) after the outbreak of World War I on 5 August 1914.† The chevrons were worn inverted on the right forearm with the chevrons for officers being silver or gold braid.


The first sea service chevron, if earned on or before 31 December 1914 was silver, or if earned after 1 January 1915 was gold. †Additional chevrons after the first were gold. †The silver (1914) chevron was worn below any gold ones.† The date for the award of the first chevron was 5 August 1914.† Additional chevrons were awarded on a calendar year basis.


As previously noted, from his chevrons, Lieutenant Johnson had at least 4 years of war time sea service by the end of 1918.† Also RFA Appleyard did not go into service until February 1917.† Therefore, Harry Johnson must have served on other vessels during World War I.


RFA Appleleaf

A 5 000 tons Fast Leaf Class Fleet Attendant Tanker, RFA Appleleaf (1-1916) was built by Workman Clark in Belfast and launched on 28 November 1916 as RFA Texol. †Her gross register tonnage was 5 892 with a 12 370 ton full load displacement.† She was 130 metres in length, 16.6 metres wide and 8.75 metres in depth and had a speed of 16 knots (29.6 kilometres per hour).† She was completed on 16 February 1917 at a cost of £287 234 and renamed Appleleaf.


Appleleaf was one of the 6 Leaf-class tankers ordered in 1915. †The 6 British Admiralty designed vessels in this class were very advanced ships for their day. †They were designed to act as escorts on Atlantic convoys during World War I, whilst also bringing cargoes of oil fuel from the United States to Britain. †These vessels were fitted with 6 boilers and 4 powerful cargo pumps with a pumping rate of 2 000 tonnes per hour. †They were planned to be named after oil bearing countries (or places) with an OL suffix.† However, their military appearance and naval names caused difficulties with the United Statesí Neutrality Act, so various modifications were made and they were placed under commercial management and given Leaf names in common with other converted ships running as British Admiralty tankers under commercial management.


Upon completion, Appleleaf was placed under the management of Lane and MacAndrew Ltd, London as an oiler transport.† During 1917-1918 Appleleaf served on North Atlantic convoy duties including bringing furnace fuel oil from Port Arthur, Texas; a convoy to Halifax, Nova Scotia; being mined in the North Sea in November 1917 and towed to port for repairs; damaged by a fire in the forward boiler room on the Clyde River, Scotland in May 1918; being at Copenhagen on 25 January and 9 March 1919; and on 3 December 1919 being grounded during passage from Libau in Latvia to Copenhagen but was refloated.


RFA Appleleaf.

Image from Royal Fleet Auxiliary Historical Society web site.


On 11 June 1946, Appleleaf was laid up at Tail of the Bank on the Clyde River in Scotland; about 35 kilometres downstream from Glasgow.† She was sold by the Ministry of Supply for scrap on 27 November 1947 and the following month arrived at Troon on the Firth of the Clyde in South Ayrshire on Scotlandís west coast for breaking up by the West of Scotland Shipbreaking Company Limited.† Demolition commenced on 1 December 1947 and was completed on 17 October 1948.


British campaign in the Baltic 1918Ė19

Henry Johnson being onboard the RFA Appleleaf at Copenhagen in March 1919 could suggest that the ship may have been operating in support of Operation Red Trek.† However, the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Historical Society had no record of Appleleaf being listed as taking part in that operation.


Operation Red Trek, the British campaign in the Baltic 1918-19 was a part of an Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War. †The intervention helped in establishing independent states in Estonia and Latvia.† However, the Allied intervention did not succeed in its objective of securing the White Russian forcesí control of Saint Petersburg (then called Petrograd) that is located at the eastern end of the Gulf of Finland.


Royal Fleet Auxiliary

The Royal Fleet Auxiliary was established in 1905 to provide coaling ships for the Royal Navy.† The RFA was established as the change from sail to coal-fired steam engines as the main means of propulsion meant that a network of bases around the world with coaling facilities or a fleet of ships able to supply coal were necessary for a fleet to operate away from its home country.


The RFA is now a civilian-manned fleet of the United Kingdomís Ministry of Defence which enables ships of the Royal Navy to maintain their tasking around the world both in peace and war. †The RFA's primary role is to supply the Royal Navy with fuel, water, ammunition and supplies.


During World War I, the RFA was effectively split in two.† Ships which would visit America were placed under civil management and operated under the red ensign while the rest of the fleet continued under the blue RFA ensign. †This splitting of the fleet was the British way of getting around the United Statesí Neutrality Act and allowed British ships to collect oil from the United States and bring it to the recently constructed oil tank farms as various ports in the United Kingdom.


Those ships operating under the RFA ensign had senior officers appointed to the Royal Naval Reserve (RNR) while most of the rest of the crew, including some junior officers, were appointed to the Mercantile Marine Reserve (MMR). †As such they all were subject to Royal Naval rules and discipline.


Henry Johnsonís World War I service medals

A search of medal card records on the British National Archives web site showed that Henry George Johnson, Engineer, (born West Ham 1889) was issued with :


       Mercantile Marine Ribbon 22 August 1919

       British Medal Ribbon 22 August 1919

       Mercantile Marine Medal 23 March 1921

       British Medal 23 March 1921.




Mercantile Marine War Medal 1914‑1918



British War Medal 1914‑1920

World War I service medals awarded to Henry George Johnson.


The Mercantile Marine War Medal was awarded by the United Kingdom Board of Trade to mariners of the British Mercantile Marine (later renamed the Merchant Navy) for service at sea during World War I.† The British War Medal was a campaign medal awarded to officers and men of British and Imperial forces for service in World War I.