Breakout author dies aged 89

Journalist and author Harry Gordon has died, aged 89. He is pictured here speaking to school students in Cowra at the 70th Breakout Anniversary commemorations last year.
Journalist and author Harry Gordon has died, aged 89. He is pictured here speaking to school students in Cowra at the 70th Breakout Anniversary commemorations last year.

Cowra Breakout historian Harry Gordon has died aged 89.

The distinguished journalist, sportswriter, foreign correspondent, editor, author and historian died late Wednesday afternoon on the Gold Coast surrounded by his family.

Mr Gordon had been sick in hospital for the past few weeks with respiratory and other complaints.

He is survived by his wife Joy and children Michael, John and Sally.

As a cadet journalist, Mr Gordon investigated the events of the Breakout.

He even travelled to Japan to interview ex-POWs, before releasing his book, 'Die like the Carp' and later, 'Voyage from Shame'.

Mr Gordon came to Cowra last year as a part of the 70th Breakout commemorations.

Chairman of the Cowra Breakout Association Lawrance Ryan said Mr Gordon was a "great fellow".

"He was a real gentleman, a great historian. He was someone with a genuine interest in Cowra. His books are still regarded as the definitive stories of the POW breakout," Mr Ryan said.

He was the official historian of the Australian Olympic Committee since 1992 and had been making plans to celebrate his 90th birthday in Melbourne on November 15.

AOC president John Coates has informed friends and supporters ahead of the committee releasing an official statement on Thursday.

Pentathlete Kitty Chiller, who represented Australia at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, said Mr Gordon was a true friend of the Olympics movement.

"Extremely sad to wake to the news of the passing of Harry Gordon. Longtime AOC historian. A true gentleman & friend to me &the Olympic family," she tweeted.

Mr Gordon's first link to the Olympics began in 1952 when he covered the Helsinki games.

He covered every games since.

Mr Gordon wrote more than 14 books during his career, many of which were about the Olympic Games, including a biography of Dawn Fraser.

These include the landmark Australia and the Olympic Games and its sequel, The Time of our Lives.

In 2001 the International Olympic Committee awarded him its Olympic Order.

In 2006, he received the International Society of Olympic Historians Lifetime Award.

His last book was From Athens With Pride, which was launched last year.

Mr Gordon was a former editor of Melbourne's Sun News-Pictorial, editor-in-chief of both the Herald and Weekly Times (Melbourne) and Queensland Newspapers (Brisbane), and former chairman of Australian Associated Press.

with AAP