Attacks on patrols: Paul Oates

A very short list of examples to illustrate the working environment of many former kiaps

The correspondence on the Kainantu attacks on Burge and Brown is digitalized on the National Archives website. As many former kiaps point out, when you left the station and were in uncontrolled territory you were liable to be attacked at any time. Even in ‘controlled’ territory, make a mistake and it might be your last.

April 1933: J.K. McCarthy’s patrol was attacked by Kukukuku. He got an arrow in his stomach and another in the leg as described on pages 108-9 of his book Patrol into Yesterday. Lance Corporal Anis was killed and several others injured. McCarthy later complained that his injury “spoiled the symmetry of my navel”.

24 September 1936: Albert Nurton, Assistant District Officer, seriously wounded during conflict with tribesmen in the Rai Coast hinterland, Madang District. Nurton was so severely wounded that a leg had to be amputated.

November 1946: Patrol by ADO I. Downs attacked Banir River, Menyamya.

November 1951: Patrol by ADO L. Hurrell attacked Akwanji, Menyamya.

December 1952: Patrol by DC J. McLeod attacked just off Mendi, Southern Highlands.

May 1953: Patrol by POs J. Frew and L. Ford attacked Lai Valley, Mendi.

June 1953: Patrol by ADO W. Murdoch and PO R. Neville attacked Iumunu, Tari, Southern Highlands.

September/October 1953: While on patrol of the Kominimung area of the Guam River, Middle Ramu, of the Bogia SubDistrict, Jack Worcester and Robert Blaikie were attacked by a large group of village people, many of whom had not had contact with Europeans before. Patrol Officer Graham Taylor had a similar incident in the same area the year before.

November 1953: Patrols by PO G. Szarka and CPO G. Harris simultaneously attacked Eliptamin Valley, Telefomin. Both officers and two police were killed.

18 May 1953: Patrol by Assistant District Officer W.J. (Bill) Johnston to the Samberigi Valley, attacked.

February 1954: Patrol by W.T. Brown attacked Obutasa, Lamari Valley, Kainantu.

May 1954:- Patrol by PO B. Burge attacked Obura, Lamari Valley, Kainantu.

May 1954: Patrol by PO F. Esdaile attacked on thyree occasions, 7 miles from Mendi, Southern Highlands.

June 1955: Patrol by ADO W. Allen and POs J. Hayes and J. Martyn attacked Bainings, New Britain.

October 1955: Patrol by PO R. Claridge attacked Moranda, Southern Highlands.

August 1955: Patrol by ADO W. Crellin attacked Hamburi, Southern Highlands.

May 1956: Patrol by R. MacIlwain attacked Jimi River.

29 August 1956: Bob Cleland’s patrol was attacked briefly at Numbaira, Taiora C/D, Kainantu S/D. These people were well south of Kainantu … a bit scary with arrows falling vertically from bowmen hidden in tall kunai close by. They attacked a previous patrol previous to mine (Bill Brown’s?) and they attacked another patrol in 1957.

October 1957: Patrol by ADO R. Neville and PO’s Booth and P. Conroy attacked Mianmin, Telefomin, Sepik.

1960s: Tufi, Northern District: District Patrol Officer Trevor Bergin stabbed with a bayonet by an indigenous policeman, piercing his lung.

January 1961: Patrol by PO O. Alder attacked Tainabora, Wonenara, Eastern Highlands.

May 1961: Patrol by PO O. Alder attacked Sebanumu, Wonenara, Eastern Highlands.

1964: Patrol Officers Robb Stott and Chris Viner-Smith attacked with bows and arrows and bush knives in restricted area near Udarobi village out of Nomad PP in the Biami Western District.

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