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JOHNSON, Alfred

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I Remember………Broken Nose The following story is taken from obituary notes and some memories of colleagues and friends held at the NT Police Museum of Alfred Stanley (Broken Nose) Johnson – born 8th June, died 25th July 1986. …..he was a former member of the NT Police who served in most areas of the Territory. He was one of the last of the ‘Cameleers’ and also belonged to that selected group who were entitled to prefix their rank with the word ‘Mounted’. Alf has gone but his memory will live as long as that famous photograph of him giving his dog a drink from the bash in his Police hat lasts. The last letter Peter Young received from Alf was dated 5th July 1986, just three weeks before his death, in which he refers to his dog. As Alf would tell it… “all I can say, the photo was taken away back in 1933 when I was on horse patrol Pine Creek to Oenpelli. The last I remember of this dog, he took after a kangaroo. I just kept riding on thinking ‘Oh well, he will pick up the scent and come along’, but poor thing never made it. Some months later I found his remains in the bed of a creek’ Denzil McManus also has good reason to remember Alf. I recall one day in 1960 when strolling down Smith Street in Darwin where the Post Office was. A typical tourist type called out to me from across the street. “Got a minute young fella?” Approaching this typical tourist type, I could see that at some time in his life he probably ran into the back of a bus, the said bus travelling in reverse at a hundred miles an hour, having a disastrous effect on his nose but in no way diminishing the mischievous twinkle in his eyes or the friendliness of his smile. I asked “Can I help you sir?” and he said “You’re a cop aren’t you. I used to be in the job myself. My name’s Alf Johnson, they call me Broken Nose for short. Bet you can’t guess why.” We had quite a yarn that day. Years later (1982) I was having a quiet drink at the Police Club in Cavenagh Street when at a moment of silence, a booming voice was heard, “Where’s McManus, the bastard reckons he can fight” As his huge figure filled the doorway I was suddenly alone at the bar but not for long, “Jeez, I’m thirsty and I reckon you owe me a drink” You could hear my bones crunching as I shook hands with Broken Nose. Our paths again crossed at Roper Celebrations in ’85 and in Alice in April of this year. What an incredible capacity for living the old bastard had. In July Peter Young received a letter indicating that Alf would join the celebrations at the Loo (Borroloola) and Katherine during October. Well, by now we all know Alf will not be with us in person for any more celebrations but I will bet he will be there in spirit, characters like Alf never die, they just go on living in the tales that are told and the yarns that are swapped whenever two or more people gather together, crack a tinny and the conversation starts with “I remember……..”

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