Honoured at last

Danette Dooley
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Customs officer George Jackman disappeared while searching a Portuguese ship in 1943

It’s been almost 70 years since George Jackman vanished while searching a Portuguese vessel in St. John’s harbour during the Second World War.

Fred Murphy (left), George Jackman's nephew, listens as author/researcher Gary Browne talks about the area where Jackman vanished while searching a Portuguese vessel during the Second World War.

Now, the then-46-year-old St. John’s customs officer will soon be officially recognized when his name is added to both the Canadian Police and Peace Officers’ Memorial in Ottawa and the Newfoundland and Labrador Police and Peace Officers’ Memorial on Confederation Hill.

Author/researcher Gary Browne began delving into Jackman’s story after he gave a talk to the St. John’s Rotary Club last fall about his book “To Serve and Protect: The Newfoundland Constabulary on the Home Front World War II.”

At the event, Browne talked to former St. John’s city councillor Art Puddister, whose father, Frank, was a prominent merchant marine captain during the Second World War.

Puddister said his father often talked about a customs officer who lost his life through foul play.

Browne said customs officers played a major role during the Second World War in carrying out searches and helping the security division of the Newfoundland Constabulary in alien and spy-related investigations.

“These rumours were devastating to the family,” Gary Browne acknowledges

Browne delved deeper into historic files and learned that Jackman and several of his colleagues boarded a Portuguese vessel on the afternoon of Jan. 18, 1943.

Once the search was concluded, Jackman was nowhere to be found.

His wife, Florence, was 44, and they had a five-year-old daughter named Florence.

Jackman was a Blue Puttee —one of the first 500 recruits of the Newfoundland Regiment during the First World War.

He had been wounded in his right arm during the infamous Battle at Beaumont Hamel on July 1, 1916, was sent back to St. John’s and discharged from the regiment for being medically unfit for service.

He then began work as a customs officer.

At the time of his disappearance, he had 26 years’ service with His Majesty’s Customs (Newfoundland).


Organizations: Canadian Police, Newfoundland and Labrador Police, Rotary Club DRC Publishing

Geographic location: Newfoundland, Ottawa

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