John William Harkin was born 19 May, 1926 in Rockhampton, Queensland. He is the son of  Percy Michael Harkin & Margaret Mary Harkin. He is the eldest of 3 children, John, Clarence & Margaret.

He was educated at St. Patrick's Primary School and  Christian Brothers College in Rockhampton, obtaining his Scholarship and Junior Certificate in 1942. It was in the middle of the Second World War and he recalls practicing, at school, the drill for air raids, which involved everyone rushing into the slit trenches. Later he became a Messenger in the Air Raid Organization.You saw an RAAF pilot killed in a plane crash in the city not far from your house.

At 16 years of age he was an active sportsman and played cricket and Rugby League football. However, at this age he also contracted Dengue Fever, which is an acute viral disease transmitted by mosquitoes and produces severe headaches, fever, joint pains and skin rash. He had a relapse, lost a lot of weight, and almost died.
When he recovered, he obtained his first job at Chandlers Pty. Ltd as a Radio Mechanic's assistant. He continued in this employment for 2 years until 18 years of age, until 27th July 1944 he joined the Royal Australian Air Force. His training took place at Sandgate in Brisbane, in Adelaide South Australia. and at Point Cook in Victoria. After completing his training, he were transferred to Garbutt Air Force Base in Queensland where he spent two years as a Signals Clerk.

In 1946, he was posted to Japan, and stationed in Bofu and lwakuni as part of the Occupational Forces. He served with the 2nd NZ Guards Battalion on guard duty in Tokyo and guarded such places as the Imperial Palace and the Bank of Japan. He was part of a large march on the Palace grounds of English, Australian, New Zealand and Indian troops celebrating the 24th May, which was Empire Day. While in Japan he was able to visit Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Kure, a large Japanese Naval base, and the Japanese War Crimes Trials. He was in Japan for about 20 months and upon returning home in 1948, was discharged from the Air Force.





Upon his return to Australia, he worked for a while in Radio, but then undertook a carpentry course and worked for the Queensland Government in the Department of Public Works. He also worked for J.J. Booker Pty. Ltd in Rockhampton where he had the very sad experience of seeing one of his work-mates fall 150 feet to his death while working on the Rockhampton Power House. He also part of successful cricket and Rugby League teams that won premierships. In 1954, he went to New Zealand and worked as a foreman on the construction of the Kawerau Paper Mill in the North Island and returned in 1956.

In 1956, the year of the Olympic Games, he went to Melbourne to see the Games and worked for Watts Contractors. Later he worked on the Melbourne Cricket Ground, restoring the grounds after the Games. The move to Melbourne became a very significant time in his life. It was while  staying at a boarding house in St. Kilda that he met a young lady by the name of Nancye Eagle. On 27th December 1958, he and Nancye were married at Balaclava in St. Colemans Catholic Church. After the wedding, they settled in Frankston and have lived in that area ever since. He and Nancye had four children. Maryanne, Michael John, Christopher and Elizabeth.

Over the years he has worked for a number of construction firms such as Swanson Brothers and Hornibrook It Ltd., as well as site foreman on many small and large projects for various companies. Projects such as the Temper Mill and Paint Strip Mill at BHP in Hastings, Pilkinizton Dandenong,  Mornington Sewage Authority, Swanson Dock and Webb Dock.

BCOF 2nd Anniversary 1948

Volunteers at Darwin  Cyclone Tracey  1975