We have belatedly learned of the passing of a knight who was, for many years, a member of our Society. Sir John (Soong Chung) Yocklunn died on 7 April 2016, less than a month short of his eighty-third birthday.
An article titled “East Meets West: The Arms of Sir John Yocklunn” appeared in Heraldry News #46 (November 2007) on pages 22 to 28. As well as providing the text of the Letters Patent for the arms, crest and badge granted to Sir John in 1984, the article contained a brief but comprehensive account of Sir John’s career and achievements up to 2007.
John Yocklunn was born in Canton, China, and emigrated to Western Australia in 1938. He was a diligent student at all levels of education, ultimately achieving the degree of Master of Arts from Sheffield University.
In 1959 John Yocklunn began to work at the Treasury Department in Canberra, moving to the National Library of Australia in 1964. In 1964 he went to Papua New Guinea, then under Australian administration, and served in various roles, most notably as Chief Executive Officer to Chief Minister, Michael Somare, National Librarian and Head of Protocol.
John Yocklunn played an integral role in PNG’s move towards becoming an independent nation, which was recognised by the conferring of the rank of Knight Bachelor on him on 16 September 1975, the day Papua New Guinea achieved independence.
Sir John was Assistant Director for the Royal Tour of Prince Charles in Papua New Guinea in 1975, and Director of the Royal Tour of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip in 1977. He was made a Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order for his services in organising that tour. He reprised this role for another Royal Visit in 1982.
Returning to Australia in 1983, Sir John was to become Deputy Chairman of Chinese Australian Museum, Melbourne and Director of Library Services, Monash University (Gippsland Campus). On retirement in 1998 Sir John and his wife Patricia moved to Rockhampton in Queensland, where he continued to serve the community in a variety of voluntary roles.
In 2012 Sir John suffered a series of strokes which affected his speech and memory, requiring a level of care that could no longer be provided at home. He spent the last several years in a nursing home.
His obituary noted that he was the “only Chinese-Australian to receive a knighthood. A true gentleman to the end.”
Salve et Vale, Sir John!
The illustrations below of Sir John’s arms, badge and standard are by the Canadian artist Tina Olah. They are reproduced here with the permission of Derwin Mak, founder and maintainer of The Chinese Armorial. More details regarding Sir John’s arms can be found there(http://www.chinese-armorial.com/Yocklunn…/Yocklunn_John.html)