Dick Armstrong’ s second-hand shop: JR Bird

In the early 50s Dick Armstrong had a second-hand shop in Cutherbertson Street, Port Moresby, next door to the Police Court. I remember wandering in one morning and looking around.

“Dick!  How much is the Thompson sub-machine gun here?”

“You can have it for 15 quid, Birdie!”

“What about this Owen Gun, Dick?”

“Fifteen quid again Birdie, and I’ll chuck in this sugar bag of ammunition.”

“I’ll take them both Dick – and what about this Colt Police Positive 38 revolver?”

“That’s 3 pounds Birdie.”

“OK Dick: I’ll take that too.”

I loaded everything in the sugar bag with the sub-machine gun barrels poking out of the top of the sugar bag; went out to my utility and drove off.

Feeling a bit thirsty I decided to pop into the “Snake Pit” bar for a cold beer. Not wishing to leave the weapons in the vehicle I carried the bag into the pub bar and placed them under the small round table and got a beer and sat down. After a beer or two I gathered up my weapons and drove home to my flat above the store in Hanuabada and put the guns into my cupboard.

I had those weapons for some 10 years, occasionally firing the automatic weapons. At one time in Vailala, travelling along a small creed adjoining the Vailala River, I saw a large crocodile sleeping on the grassy bank above the waterway. Noting its position carefully I prepared the Owen Gun to fully loaded before returning and, upon approaching the crocodile, aimed carefully and emptied the whole magazine into the croc. It reared up on its hind legs as the Owen Gun lifted in kickback which ensured the animal received most of the shots. It then slithered into the river underneath my boat and disappeared. Next day, despite a concentrated effort on the part of several local lads armed with long spears, no sign of the croc could be found. Presumably its body had been carried away with the current.

I think I threw the Thompson away into the surf at Vailala. The Owen Gun I put into an oil bath and cannot remember what then became of it. The revolver I had for years afterwards, carrying it on patrols in the Rigo back-country and on an expedition up the Lakekamu River searching for gold. It also went on a trip up past Everill Steep Junction on a trip to the upper Nomad River with a company in search of alluvial gold in the mid-sixties.                 


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