Chaplain Cyril David Alcorn MBE

Black and white photograph of the backs of sailors under an open tent attending a church service at sea during the Second World War.

Cyril David Alcorn (1911–1972) was a Methodist minister, born on 16 July 1911 at Mutdapilly, near Ipswich, Queensland. He was educated at Normanby and Tingalpa state schools, Brisbane State High School and the Teachers' Training College. Sent as a teacher to Greenup, in south-west Queensland, he lived in a tent in the school grounds to save money for a theological training, but was known to swagmen during the Depression as one who would provide them with food. He was accepted as a candidate for the Methodist ministry in 1935, entered King's College at the University of Queensland (BA, 1940; MA, 1964), and was ordained on 3 March 1941.

He had intended to go to India with his wife, Joyce, as missionaries, but their plan was frustrated by Japan's entry into the Second World War. From December 1942 until 1946, Cyril served as a chaplain in the Royal Australian Navy; he was initially stationed in Darwin, and later sailed in HMAS Shropshire over 1944 and 1945. While in Darwin, he had made friends with Rev Arch Grant, a former padre with the Australian Inland Mission. After the war, Alcorn and Grant worked together in Darwin to help set up a United Church in northern Australia. As principal (1947–1955) of Blackheath and Thornburgh colleges in Charters Towers, North Queensland, Cyril improved the property and introduced a new course in agriculture, as well as another in home science (run by Joyce, his wife). In 1956, he became superintendent minister of the Ashgrove circuit, and was the senior naval chaplain at the Port of Brisbane. He received a Bachelor degree from the Melbourne College of Divinity in 1958.

With his brother Ivan, in 1960 he established the Methodist Training College and Bible School (later Alcorn College) at Kangaroo Point, Brisbane, where students were prepared for the ministry.

When he was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire in 1966, Cyril's citation acknowledged the pastoral care he had given after the sinking of HMAS Voyager in 1964. He was respected as ‘a great preacher and a compassionate man’.

Cyril Alcorn died of ruptured abdominal aneurysm on 15 May 1972 at Parkville, Melbourne, and was cremated in Brisbane.