Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS -

BORN: Scot­land, 1881 Died: Townsville, 1920 Ser­vice: Royal Aus­tralian Navy — HMAS Pen­guin; World War I — re­ceived a gun­shot wound to the lung and con­tracted malar­ial fever.

Af­ter re­turn­ing from serv­ing in World War I, John Law­son took a po­si­tion as light­keeper at Gat­combe Head, near Glad­stone, and later at Bay Rock, in Cleve­land Bay.

Around 1910 he had served as a sea­man in the navy, at­tached to HMAS Pen­guin, and a love of the sea may have been a fac­tor in choos­ing to be­come a light­house keeper. John lived in a small cot­tage on Bay Rock with his wife, Jeanie, and their five chil­dren.

In March 1920 tragedy struck the fam­ily when Law­son went to Townsville for a med­i­cal ap­point­ment in con­nec­tion with his war pen­sion.

He caught a ride back to Bay Rock on the sail­ing boat Rialto.

A freak wind of “hur­ri­cane force” came from a southerly di­rec­tion and over­turned the boat.

Leslie Wells, William Bar­rie and Al­fred Burgess de­cided to try to swim to safety.

John Law­son, Ge­orge Putt and Harry El­lis clung on and waited for help to ar­rive. De­spite ex­ten­sive searches, no trace of the men or their bod­ies was ever found.

An in­quest ruled their deaths as ac­ci­den­tal drown­ing.

Bay Rock Light­house, Cleve­land Bay, 1917.

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