Biographical notes on pre-war PNG identities: Philip Selth

Jack Eric Daymond was born in Launceston on 26 April 1904. He was an active sportsmen, and played senior grade with the Launceston Football Club and pennant cricket with the Esk Cricket Club.

At the time a clerk in Melbourne, (he had previously been an articled clerk in Launceston), Daymond was appointed a Cadet on 16 May 1927. He was initially stationed at Nakanai in West New Britain, and then at Talasea. In June 1932 Daymond went through a marriage ceremony in Melbourne with Kathleen Ellen McGlade, although after his death it was found that at the time McGlade had still been married to Lawrence Ramsay; her divorce had not been finalised. (Mrs Daymond eventually was given an act of grace payment equivalent to a widow’s superannuation entitlement.)

In May 1933 ADO George Ellis forwarded to the Director of Native Services Acting ADO Daymond’s report of his initial patrol of the Gasmata district made in March-April 1933. Ellis told the Director that he was sure that under Daymond Gasmata would “progress in leaps and bounds” and that “the natives will have much to thank Daymond in future years.  Mr Daymond is keen, and given a chance in Gasmata I feel sure you will be agreeably surprised of his organising abilities’“.

At the time of the Japanese landing, Daymond was the ADO in charge of the Gasmata District. At Talasea on the north coast was Assistant District Officer Keith McCarthy. Both McCarthy and Daymond had made contact with Port Moresby when Rabaul ceased to answer their signals after the Japanese landed on the morning of 23 January 1942. The Japanese had not landed at Gasmata but Eric Mitchell, a Patrol Officer at Gasmata, had reported to Australia the presence of their ships offshore. The Australian radio service broadcast the message to the world. This tragic stupidity caused the Japanese to promptly land at Gasmata and on 9 February 1942 captured Daymond, Medical Assistant  Richard Thomas (‘Dickie’) Squires, and a few days later Mitchell. The three government officers were taken to Rabaul; they are believed to have died on the Montevideo Maru on 1 July 1942. 

Frederick William Mantle was born in 1884 in Magdeburg, Germany, son of a British consul. He claimed to have had the “advantage of a University education” at Heidelberg. He went to sea as a midshipman in 1902 and obtained his first certificate in 1906, when he entered service with the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company. He was a junior officer of the P&O Company 1906-1916, resigning with the rank of Chief Officer and holding a Master Mariners certificate. He then joined the Army as a Lieutenant with the Royal Engineers. In 1917 he was Officer Commanding munition convoys between England and France. During 1918-1919 he was Port Officer at Naramar (Basra Mesopotamia) River Survey and Buoyage Service on the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. In 1919 Mantle was Embarkation Staff Captain at Amara. Regarded as a “capable, energetic and reliable officer”, Captain Mantle “performed excellent service” during the 1920 “Great Iraqi Revolution” when he was stationed in the Lower Euphrates.

On demobilisation, Mantle joined the Australian Commonwealth Line, but in July 1924 applied for appointment as a District Officer in New Guinea. He wrote in his letter of application of 10 July 1924 to the Secretary, Department of Home and Territories, that he “had considerable experience in administrative matters as well as experience in dealing with natives both Arab and Indian”. He had “frequently worked in conjunction with the Political Service and consequently gained an insight into the ruling of natives and the working of the tribal laws”.  He spoke and wrote German “fluently” and had “a good command” of French and Hindustani. When on leave in London in 1919 he had passed the Civil Service examination for the Consular Service but, so he wrote in his application, “owing to the enormous number of candidates, most of them of high military rank’, he had failed to obtain an appointment. “

Mantle visited the Department and was told there was no suitable vacant position in New Guinea, although someone wrote on Mantle’s file that he “deserves a permanent appointment”.  Mantle wrote again in 1924 pressing his case for an appointment. In 1925 he somehow managed to meet with Senator Pearce, Minister for Home and Territories, with a letter of introduction from William Watt, Speaker of the House of Representative, asking that Mantle be interviewed for a position on the New Guinea staff. In August 1925 Hubert Murray met with Mantle in Melbourne and recommended him for appointment as a Deputy District Officer. He was appointed as of 17 September 1925. His wife Dorothy (Phil) and their young daughter and son remained in England until mid 1926 when they joined him in New Guinea.

In 1927, when Keith McCarthy arrived in Rabaul, Mantle was the ADO, “and he looked the part. His thick grey hair well set off his good looks and distinguished bearing”, but what impressed McCarthy was the monocle he wore on a black cord. “When Mantle screwed it into his eye he spoke with a voice that went well with a monocle. ‘Delighted to meet you, McCarthy’, he said. ‘Later I will introduce you to the club, where my vast experience will be available to you while we drink. You will have the opportunity of paying for the drinks’.” He spoke German “even better than he did English”.  McCarthy wisely declined to play bridge or poker with Mantle. McCarthy, looking at Mantle’s “white duck magnificence”, asked about clothes, for he had no tropical kit. ” ‘Certainly’, said Mantle, and he rang a bell. ‘I will send you to Ah Teck. He is very good and does not dun you with bills. Not that anyone pays his tailor’.”

Mantle served as ADO and DO in various parts of the Territory, including Gasmata, Kavieng, Namatanai, Manus Ireland and Aitape.

In 1938, having completed the course at the University of Sydney then undertaken by all Cadets, the newly promoted Patrol Officer John Murphy was posted to Rabaul under the supervision of District Officer Freddie Mantle, who assigned him to establish a Police Post at Arung Bay in Passimanua on the south-west coast of New Britain, “where the Kowlongs inland were causing a bit of trouble”. Murphy noted in his memoirs that “Freddie was an ex British Navy Officer, with two pretty daughters, Sheila and Robyn. He was a gregarious bloke but considered that Patrol Officers had to rough it to render themselves worthy of their later rank of Assistant District Officer and District Officer. Most Sunday mornings the Field Staff turned up at Freddie’s place for a bit of socialising. I didn’t drink in those days so I can’t recall if any liquor was served. I don’t think any of us young Patrol Officers and Cadets, except [John] McLeod, grogged on much as a rule. All of us tried to sit next to Sheila.”

When war came Mantle, District Officer Grade 2, was a Magistrate at Rabaul having returned there from leave in November 1941. Dorothy and their children remained in Sydney because of the unsettled position at that time. Mantle died on the Montevideo Maru on 1 July 1942. Dorothy died in Sydney on 22 November 1982.

Philip Selth is writing a biography of John Joseph Murphy (1914-1997).  He would appreciate any help members may be able to give him to improve the mini-biographies above.  Philip can be contacted at PO Box 1682, Lane Cove, NSW, 1595 or by email:


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