HUGHES, LEUT Gordon ‘Taffy’, DSM
Gordon Churchill Hughes was born 2 May 1925 served in the RN 16 June 1943 to 6 June 1946. He returned to UK when NAS Nowra decommissioned 15 November 1945. His First day of service in RAN was 24 May 1948, after he responded to an ad in one of the British newspapers about the RAN Fleet Air Arm. Things were fairly grim in UK at that time and he joined HMAS Sydney for her delivery voyage from the UK to Australia.
He was an Observer 2nd Class (PO) in 817 Squadron flying in Firefly aircraft during the Korean campaign (Oct 1951 to Jan 1952) and he was awarded the DSM for that service. He was commissioned in August 1965 as SBLT Special Duties Executive Aviation-Photography and he served in Melbourne as Hangar Control Officer and Phot Officer, and at Albatross as Phot Officer. He retired from the RAN early 1980.
Robert Crawford remembered Taff in the following article in the South Coast Register:
“Fiercely independent, a quiet achiever, a desire to keep learning and a down to earth man is how the late Gordon Churchill ‘Taff’ Hughes has been described.
Mr Hughes, of North Nowra, passed away on June 23 , aged 93.
His daughter Bev said she was overwhelmed by how much her father meant to so many people.
“It’s incredible how many lives he touched,” she said at the service.
“Dad’s strongest quality was humility – he never boasted.” ‘We just did our jobs’ a much quoted response.
She also spoke of his love for his family, music and later his precious veggie patch.
Katrina, the eldest of his four grandchildren, described him as “a brilliant man” who valued education and was “proud of his children and grandchildren.”
“He was a quiet, high achiever who pushed to be the best he could be and encouraged us to do the same.
“He inspired us, his legacy will live on – he was a great role model.”
Taff Hughes was born in the south of Wales on May 2, 1925.
At the age of 18 in June 1943, he enlisted in the Royal Navy.
He served at HMS Royal Arthur, HMS Vincent and then tag school at Royal Naval Air Station Yarmouth in Nova Scotia, Canada.
He trained as a telegraph air gunner in Anson and Swordfish aircraft and was then drafted to the USNAS at Lewiston in Maine for operational flight training in Grumman Avengers.
He travelled to Cylon, joining 848 Squadron which went aboard the carrier “Formidable” which travelled to Australia with the British Pacific Fleet.
He served between Australia and Japan onboard Formidable, taking part in operations over Japan until June 1946 when his service was complete.
He joined the Royal Australian Navy in London in 1948 and by November that year was aboard HMS Glory, rated as a naval airman first class.
He joined the Sydney and was promoted to Leading Airman and Aircrewman II Class. In July ’49 the ship had delivered the 20th Carrier Air Group (CAG) to Nowra, where he was promoted to Petty Officer and rated observer second class.
Starting what would be be a long association with HMAS Albatross and being among the first of what we now know as the RAN Fleet Air Arm.
He moved between Sydney and Albatross until August ’51 when Sydney sailed for Korea. As part of 817 Squadron, he was a navigator in Fairey Firefly aircraft, serving on various operations including dive bombing, reconnaissance and bombardment spotting
It was in Korea he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for Gallantry, the only observer to receive decoration in Korea.
He was promoted to Chief Petty Officer and rated Observer I.
Between March ’52 and September ’56 he alternated between Albatross and Sydney with 817 and 851 Squadrons and was aboard Sydney for the Coronation Spithead Revive in 1953.
He met his late wife Barbara at a dance in Sydney and they married in 1954. Beverley arrived in 1956 and Alan in 1959.
His first posting to the Melbourne was in August 1960 and he alternated between Albatross and Melbourne until July ’63.
He then posted to Cerberus until August ’65, at Point Cook for training, during which time he was also commissioned to Sub-Lieutenant SD (Special Duties) Seaman Aviation.
The next three years were served at Albatross before joining the Melbourne again in October ’68 and was aboard her in the South China Seas on that fateful morning of June 3, 1969 when the USS Frank E Evans collided with her.
He returned to Albatross in January ’71 remaining there for four years until joining the Commander Australian Naval Support staff in May ’75.
He rejoined Melbourne again in January ’76 taking part in another Spithead Review for the silver anniversary in 1977 before returning again to Albatross in June ’78.
He discharged from RAN service in May 1982 after 34 years.
For his service he proudly wore the Distinguished Service Medal, the 1939-45 Star, the Pacific Star 1939-45, the British Defence Medal 1939-45, the British 1939-45 War Medal, the Australian Active Service Medal 1945-75 with clasps Korea and Malaya, the British Korea Medal, the United Nations Korea Medal, the British General Service Medal 1918-62 with clasp Korea, the Australian Service Medal 1945-75 with clasps Japan, Korea FESR (Far East Strategic Reserve), the Defence Force Service Medal with 1st, 2nd and 3rd clasps, National Medal with 1st clasp, Naval Long Service and Good Conduct Medal, the Australian Defence Medal, the Malayan Service Medal (PJM) and the Korea Peace Medal.
In October 2016 Taff was one of eight veterans taken back to Korea by the Australian Government.
Known as “The Magnificent Eight” the veterans first went to Seoul where they stayed for several days before travelling south to Pursang as well as visiting the infamous 38th parallel – the DMZ (demilitarised zone).”