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Sergeant James J Mannion – 1956

Updated: Sep 4, 2021

George Medal

Tennant Creek Fire

From Citation - December 2005

I AM ADVISED HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN HAS APPROVED THAT YOU BE AWARDED THE GEORGE MEDAL IN RECOGNITION OF YOUR BRAVE ACTIONS IN CONNECTION WITH THE FIRE AT CAMPBELLS STORE TENNANT CREEK IN DECEMBER 1956. MY MINISTERIAL COLLEAGUES JOIN ME IN CONGRATULATING YOU ….. R G MENZIES PRIME MINISTER. COURTESY OF THE NORTHERN TERRITORY NEWS It was reported in the NT News dated Tuesday, December 4th : Heroes in the night of great courage were Police Sergeant James J Mannion and Dr James Edward Lyttle, both of Tennant Creek. Sergeant Mannion bullocked his way into the inferno after the first set of explosions, amid flying torches of blazing petrol and oil, to make sure nobody was trapped in the blaze. Dr Lyttle worked feverishly to treat more than 30 of the injured while TAA men hastily converted a DC-4 airliner into an aerial ambulance to rush the critically injured men to Darwin. The fire-fighters threw everything at the blaze – including the mobile tankers which cart Tennant’s domestic water supplies in the dry season. The water-carters “milked” private tanks to rush water to the fire. A bulldozer driven by two men whose names are unknown ground its way into the burning debris after the worst of the blaze and shoved the embers into a heap to stop the flames from spreading. Tennant publican Ken McIntyre said that white-hot flames leapt to 80ft in height “as if thrown by a huge blow torch”. “How Jimmie Mannion ever got in there and out again I’ll never know.” Ed’s Note: Hubert Fairhurst and John Knowles were the two men who did such a magnificent job with the bulldozer.

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