Charity of an ANZAC
For a career soldier of seven years, John Northcott barely got to implement his military skills and knowledge when he strode ashore at Anzac Cove at Gallipoli on Sunday, April 25.
Sir John NorthcottThe young captain with the 12th Battalion was indiscriminately struck in the chest by a Turkish machine gun bullet before he made the shore. Left in a pile of dead bodies he was discovered later that night alive, barely moving!
The machine gun bullet had entered above his heart and come to rest a “hair’s breadth from his spine” as his daughter Elizabeth Nash recalled.
Mrs Nash and her sister Marjorie Coburn still have that bullet.
The find ensured he recovered in Alexandria, with the near death experience resulting in his fiancé Winifred travelling from Australia to marry him in England in September, 1915.
In the intervening war years he rose through the ranks, culminating in becoming Chief of the General Staff (1942-1945) and Commander-in-Chief British Occupation Forces (1945-1946) in Japan.
In 1946 he survived a political tug-of-war between Australia and Great Britain to become the first Australian born state governor at Premier William McKell’s insistence.
It seemed his logistical prowess in successfully coordinating transport for the 1927 six-month Royal Tour of the Duke and Duchess of York to Australia played a part later. Later as King George the VI, he appointed John Northcott as Governor of NSW, being the first Australian-born Governor of any Australian state.
He served until 1957, becoming a very popular and widely travelled Governor throughout NSW where he visited most towns – being knighted while he was in office.
As NSW Governor, Sir John Northcott was patron of the NSW Society for Crippled Children where he took an active interest in its affairs even after he retired as Governor and until his death in 1966.
In 1995, the charity changed its name to The Northcott Society in honour of his contribution and in October, 2004 made it simply Northcott, providing support to people with disabilities across NSW