Vale June 1997

ABBERTON, Janet Lynette |  (April 1997) ANDERSON, Bill |  (22 February 1997) BLOGG, Barry |  (14 April 1996) EDGAR, Meri |  (May 1997) FROST, Sir Sydney |  (April 1997) GOODALL, Alan Samuel |  (May 1997) GOW, Allan Flinders, MC |  (8 February 1997) HART (Zatwarnicki), Antoni |  (4 February 1997) KEENAN, John Robert, DSC, RANVR |  (11 April 1997) MURPHY, John J |  (5 March 1997) OSBISTON, David John |  (18 September 1996) RENDELL, William John |  (12 May 1997) ROTSAERT, Joseph |  (7 May 1997) SHEEKEY, Kevin Sylvester |  (1 February 1997) SMITH, Len |  (14 February 1997) VANUAWARU, Kone |  (15 March 1997) WALKER, Brian ‘Black Jack’, DSO |  (21 April 1997) WALTON, Sherry |  (4 March 1997) WARD, Percival Thomas |  (27 May 1997) WATSON, James (Jim) |  (15 September 1996) WEISE, Robbie |  (12 April 1997)


John J MURPHY (5 March 1997, aged 82)

In September 1945, Captain John Murphy was in a Lae hospital recovering from beri-beri and malnutrition – the effects of two years as a prisoner of war in New Guinea. Sixty-three men had gone into the Rabaul POW camp but only seven emerged: six Americans and one Australian, Murphy, who had become their leader. He might have expected to receive a medal for his bravery and resourcefulness in keeping even these few alive. Instead, he was served with four serious charges, including treachery. Two of the charges carried the death penalty.

As with all POWs of the Japanese, John Murphy and his fellow prisoners endured random atrocities, overcrowding, appalling insanitary conditions, hard work in the hot sun, malaria and dysentery, with no medical supplies or attention. Most died. At night, Murphy stole food and anti-malarial drugs from the Japanese stores. He was tortured but still intervened to prevent others being beaten. He taught himself to read and speak Japanese, both to win concessions from the camp commander and to glean valuable information about their activities, some of which he was able to get back to HQ through the local people. He kept prisoners’ depression at bay through a tricky blend of badgering, humour, religion and the making of playing cards and cigarette-rolling machines. Murphy used the Japanese concept of honour—`bushido’—to the prisoners’ advantage: he told stories, assigned tasks and enforced rules. Survivors spoke of him as a fearless hero and a born leader, all crediting him with having saved their lives.

Through a combination of internal army jealousies, mistranslation of Japanese testimony, the desire to find a scapegoat for such loss of life, misinformation, and a perverse suspicion of the one Australian who survived, Murphy was accused of having collaborated with the enemy. Just one day into his trial in January 1946, the extent of his bravery and the enormity of the looming miscarriage of justice became clear. He is thought to be the only Australian soldier to have been Honourably Acquitted after a general court martial. But the parliamentary apology, court costs, compensation and honour given to other POWs never came.

John Joseph Murphy was the eldest of 11 children. He was educated at Christian Brothers’ College, Maryborough, and St Joseph’s College, Nudgee, before completing a year of medicine and another of arts at Queensland University in 1934-35. While awaiting an offer of second-year medicine, he became patrol officer in the Salamaua, Lae and Kundiawa regions of New Guinea. In 1941 in Rabaul, he married a Melbourne-born secretary, Marjorie Ward.

After a short period in the New Guinea Volunteer Rifles, he was assigned to the Australian New Guinea Administrative Unit (ANGAU) and the Allied Intelligence Bureau (AIB) where his knowledge of the people, geography and culture of the country (he’d also compiled the first dictionary of Pidgin English in 1942) was an invaluable skill. His task was to provide information to Allied HQ about Japanese troop movements and supply depots, to disrupt their communications and also to rescue downed airmen. He was in close and constant contact with the enemy for 16 months and was Mentioned in Dispatches. He was captured in New Britain in November 1943.

After the war and the acquittal, he returned to PNG where he progressed to be District Commissioner of two of the largest of the then Territory’s provinces, Western and Gulf districts. In 1969, with Marjorie and his son Kerry and daughter Dale, he returned to Australia where he wrote later editions of the Book of Pidgin English, did voluntary work for the University of Queensland library, wrote the history of a pioneer administrator in PNG, recorded his own life experiences and became renowned for telling ghost stories to the children who lived in his suburban Brisbane street.

An intensely practical man… He bore no grudges and got on with life…

Murphy believed he survived the prison partly because he was lucky, but his survival depended also on his being fit and strong when captured, on his knowledge of the jungle, his unshakable Catholic faith, and his determination to try anything, eat anything and stay positive. He had a sharp, irreverent, risqué wit, a superior intellect, a stubborn streak, inventiveness, charisma, amazing courage, a palpable love for his family and a level of optimism that defied reason. Murphy was a brave man, a hero still unsung. Condensed from Susan Kelly’s obituary in The Sydney Morning Herald, 25 April 1997, with thanks. One Man’s War by John Murphy and Dr Susan Kelly will be published next year.

John was an honoured life member of the NGVR and PNGVR ex Members Association. Its President said John’s help was invaluable during the establishment period of the Association. John is survived by his wife Marjorie, a son and daughter. Editor

John Robert KEENAN, DSC, RANVR (11 April 1997, aged 81)

John was a teacher in Victoria before becoming a cadet patrol officer in 1937. His first posting was to Rabaul, where, two weeks into his first term, he was involved in the major volcanic eruption. His first station was Gasmata; the station did not reopen after the war. Just prior to the war, John began a course at Sydney University for those who had completed their term as Cadet Patrol Officer (this was pre Aust. School of Pacific Administration days).

In 1939, with war imminent, he learned to operate a 3BZ radio and how to code. His next posting was to Bougainville. This was at the time that Eric Feldt was establishing reporting posts throughout Northern Australia, New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. John married Phyllis whilst on leave in Australia, just before Pearl Harbor.

In 1942 he enlisted in the Royal Australian Navy and soon after was sent to Vella Lavella and then to Bougainville. He arrived there by US submarine. Eric Feldt, in his book The Coast Watchers said, “They had three months’ supplies with them in water tight containers including teleradio. Keenan and Josselyn were put into rubber boats at 1.30am on 13 October 1942 and paddled ashore landing on a deserted beach a few miles from Mundi Mundi plantation. Some supplies had been lost in the breakers, the most important being binoculars. On the next day they made a reconnaissance of Mundi Mundi and found it clear of the enemy.” Eric Feldt described the 9-day back-breaking task of transporting their supplies to their camp site, the construction of a lean-to shack, and the search for a better observation post. They found one on a ridge in the jungle overlooking the strait—The Slot—”and built a hut for themselves with a storeroom nearby. Also a hut for the native assistants and a lookout in a tree. They installed the radio and began reporting enemy movements. There was ample scope with movements of warships, barges and aircraft moving to and from Munda.” John’s services as a Coastwatcher earned him a DSC.

In early 1946 John returned to PNG as Assistant District Officer at Finschhafen to establish civilian government. Included in his area of administration, and additional to the several thousand local natives, were a RAN Naval Base, a RAAF Stores Depot and a detachment of a USA Recovery Unit. John then served in Rabaul, Madang and New Ireland (as District Commissioner) and Port Moresby. He left PNG in 1954 to make a new career for himself in Tamworth, NSW, where the family lived happily for 17 years.

John is warmly remembered by the residents of Nambour, Qld, particularly the elderly. He and his wife lobbied the government concerning the rights of residents of retirement villages. The outcome was the enactment of the Retirement Villages Act 1988. Largely due to John’s work, Australia was the first country to legislate in this area.

He is survived by his wife Phyllis, his brother Frank, two sons and their families. Condensed from articles in the Sunshine Coast Daily, 15 April 1997, The Sunday Mail 20 April 1997, the Nambour Community News and a personal letter. Doug Franklin provided the details from Eric Feldt’s book

Barry BLOGG (14 April 1996, aged 69)

Barry Blogg, formerly of Alimp in the Nebilyer Valley, Western Highlands, died of pneumonia following a long illness He is survived by his wife Judith and sons Julian and Christopher. Pam Foley

Brian ‘Black Jack’ WALKER, DSO (21 April 1997, aged 84)

For more than two years after the first shots were fired, Group Captain Brian ‘Black Jack’ Walker tried to get away to World War II. Finally the war came to him, in Darwin in February 1942.

Walker served as a fighter pilot through the Japanese bombing raids on Darwin. Then, a year later, following a brilliant series of shipping attacks and ground strafing operations in New Guinea, he led the Beaufighters of 30 Squadron RAAF in the battle of the Bismarck Sea. It was a battle that stopped massive reinforcements reaching enemy divisions facing Australians on the Markham River in front of Lae. When the smoke cleared the heroic 30 Squadron was awarded six Distinguished Flying Crosses. Walker, as squadron commander, received a DSO.

The Japanese convoy, carrying an estimated 6,400 fresh troops, and its naval escorts were devastated. Eight merchant ships were sunk and 40 Zero fighters destroyed. Few officers of the wartime RAAF could so perfectly have fitted the popular image of a fighter pilot. Walker was lean, nonchalant and dashing. He enjoyed fast cars, a fierce game of squash and had a taste for nightlife. Yet beneath this carefree exterior lurked a dedicated career professional with a love of flying and a consuming interest in aeronautical science.

Brian Reginald Walker was born at Lyndoch, in the Barossa Valley, and educated at St Peter’s College, Adelaide. He joined the RAAF in 1935 and at the outbreak of war was a flight lieutenant. After his demands to be sent overseas were rejected, he was appointed commanding officer of the newly created 25 Squadron but his hopes that the entire unit might be switched from Perth to the Middle East came to nothing.  In 1944, following a period in Beaufighter training units at Wagga and Tocumwal, Walker was given command of a three-squadron wing of Spitfires near Darwin. Although their main purpose was defence, he used them for surveillance and against Japanese shipping.

Although the end of the war meant the end of active flying for many RAAF pilots, for Walker it signalled the start of a new career in aviation. Demobilised with the rank of Group Captain in 1946, he immediately joined De Havilland Aircraft as chief test pilot.

Perhaps the most extraordinary of Walker’s testing experiences was a 1950 collision on the tarmac at Bankstown between the Vampire jet fighter he was landing and a Gypsy Moth, also landing, in which a pilot was under instruction. The Vampire tore off one of the Moth’s wings, smashed the trainee pilot’s cockpit and proceeded along the runway with the unfortunate Moth jammed on its nose. Miraculously, no-one was seriously hurt.

Walker retired in 1985, having notched up the remarkable total of 14,000 flying hours on 136 types of aircraft. It was a career perhaps unique in Australian aviation.
He was a modest hero. Of his DSO he said only: “They just gave it to me … one of those things.” Air Commodore W H Garing, DFC, DSC, former Officer Commanding Operation Group in New Guinea, said simply this of Walker “Australia owes him plenty.”

Walker married, first in 1940, Maisie Manion of Adelaide and, second in 1952, Marigold Atkinson of Melbourne. He is survived by four daughters (Kim, Linda, Sally and Tina) and by his partner since 1974, Maggie Manhart. Reprinted from The Sydney Morning Herald, 24 April 1997

Kone VANUAWARU (15 March 1997, aged 54)

Kone passed away suddenly of a heart attack at his Koki home in Port Moresby. Many field officers will remember Kone as one of the early Papuan kiaps serving in the Western Highlands, Central and other provinces. Kone was born in Lalaura Village, Marshall Lagoon, in the Central Province. He completed his secondary education at Toowoomba, Qld, and entered the Public Service as an Assistant Patrol Officer, rising to the rank of District Officer.

He resigned from the Public Service in the mid-seventies and entered provincial politics, serving two terms as premier of the Central Provincial Government. His latter career was as a lobbyist. He was involved in youth sport (particularly cricket) in Port Moresby.

Kone is survived by his wife Geua, four sons and a granddaughter. Roy Andrews


Allan Flinders GOW, MC (8 February 1997, aged 81)

Allan was born in Perth in 1915 and had a typical Australian childhood and youth of those days. In 1936 he chose employment with the Government Secretary’s Office of the Mandated Territory. Arriving in Rabaul in 1937, the year of the major eruption of Matupi and Vulcan, he was posted, after short periods at Rabaul and Kokopo, to the district office at Wau, then the thriving centre of the burgeoning gold industry.

Enlisting in the AIF in July 1940, he joined the 2/25 Infantry Battalion of the 7th Division and took part in the fighting in Syria and North Africa and, after their return to Australia, the action against the Japanese on the Kokoda Trail. On the conclusion of this campaign, he transferred to the Australian New Guinea Administrative Unit (ANGAU) and was commissioned as a lieutenant serving as Patrol Officer/Assist District Officer in areas such as the Goilala and West Papua.

In April 1944, leading a small detachment of New Guinean police, he went ashore with an American group making an amphibious assault on Japanese positions on the New Guinea Coast around Aitape. After assisting the Americans with the establishment of their perimeter, his task was then the risky business of patrolling across the Toricelli Range and establishing Administrative influence among the areas to the south, notably the Palei. Retreating elements of the Japanese 18th Army were likely to be encountered anywhere in the area. He was awarded the Military Cross for courage and leadership in effectively completing the patrol and contact programme and during a substantial engagement with the Japanese forces.

Allan returned to Perth for demobilisation in June 1946 and shortly afterwards rejoined the civil administration of PNG. There was a great deal to be done in reconstruction and rehabilitation particularly on the northern side of New Guinea and in the Islands to the north where long occupancy by the Japanese and violent conflict had disrupted food production and damaged resources. Still a bachelor, but by now a very experienced ‘field staff’, he was shunted about to a number of posts, requiring active bush work. An inevitable reaction to the social and economic dislocation of the war years, animist ancestral cults were surging in various parts of the country and in this political climate Allan was developing a reputation for eliminating the propensity for conflict by a peaceful conciliatory approach to threats of both the racial and internecine type. In the eight years following war’s end he made major contributions in South-West Bougainville, Madang, the Rai Coast and Manus.

By the time of his marriage to Phillis Johnston in 1954, Allan was progressing into the District Officer/District Commissioner levels. This included a return to Bougainville, residing at Sohano, and receiving credit for a peaceful outcome to some of the more threatening elements of the Hahalis welfare cult then operating on Buka Island, and a tour of duty in New Ireland where an organised reactionary movement among the villagers had similarities to the ‘marching rule’ cults of earlier days in the Solomon Islands.

After a period as Chief Executive Officer of the Department of Native Affairs in Port Moresby, further appointments to districts followed: to Southern Highlands at Mendi and Eastern Highlands at Goroka. The latter appointment was undertaken as the 1960s wore on, in a climate of increasing sophistication of the local people and an obvious speeding-up of the political processes in New Guinea. This led to a continuous demand for protocol services: a stream of visitors of political, business and religious significance had to be received and entertained and provided with organised itineraries. This period was really the culmination of his career as a district administrator.

Towards the end of the Goroka tour of duty, Phil’s health was deteriorating and it was arranged that his next posting should be in the less demanding Manus District. Here he was able to renew his friendships with indigenous leaders such as Paliau Maloat, who had been a central figure  in the disturbances of the period following World War II, but was now a respected political leader, occupying a seat in the House of Assembly of Papua New Guinea. Allan and Phil retired to Avalon, NSW, in 1972.

In his private life, Allan was a retiring, almost diffident, person but had a capacity for forming enduring friendships. He had a great interest in travel and in the arts. He was a lover of books and reading, especially History, Geography and Ethnology and promoted the broad education process—scholastic, cultural and sporting—as a social development tool. He also saw good order and calmness in government procedure as of prime importance in dealing with the often fiery nature of his constituencies. Allan’s manner was to react calmly to trouble and to counter threats of violence, conflict and payback with the presentation of desirable objectives in social progress, particularly health, education and the recreations. After his wife’s death in 1987, Allan made more trips overseas and within Australia until failing health intervened. He continued living at his home at Avalon, enjoying the company of former PNG friends and new friendships he had made in his area. Allan was a member of a scattered family with no relatives in Sydney. Condensed from a longer obituary by W L Conroy

Kevin Sylvester SHEEKEY (1 February 1997, aged 85)

Kevin was born in Goulburn, NSW. He was an articled clerk to a solicitor there before joining the Territory of New Guinea Administration in Rabaul in 1935, where he worked in the Department of the Government Secretary. He was in Rabaul during the volcanic eruption in May 1937 in which there was heavy loss of life and serious disruption to normal activities. 

One of the highlights of his early career was accompanying the Administrator on his historic 1939 flight from Lae to Mt Hagen and Wapenamanda to make contact with the Taylor-Black expedition in the then remote Western Highlands. The plane, a Ford tri-motor piloted by Tommy O’Dea, had to carry all the fuel it required for the return trip. “With Tommy O’Dea, the Administrator, Roy Cox and myself, none of us were allowed any clothing but what we were wearing and cargo, apart from fuel, consisted of a case of beer and some whisky for the Taylor-Black expedition. At Mt Hagen the plane became bogged and what a sight it was to behold ourselves and some 300 Mt Hagen people, cheered on by another 3000 warriors waving spears, lifting it out of the mud.”

In February 1940 Kevin joined the AIF and saw service in the 2/1 Anti-Tank Regiment in England, the Middle East, Greece, Crete (“and an extraordinary evacuation from Crete in a fleet of crippled ships saved by a British battle fleet”), then Egypt, Ceylon and Papua New Guinea.

Following discharge, Kevin returned to civilian life in the PNG Administration in Port Moresby, where he remained a senior executive in the Department of the Administrator, specialising in International Affairs and Public Relations. At the same time he completed a BA and Graduate Diploma in Public Administration from Queensland University. He retired to Brisbane in 1968 and then spent a decade with the University of Queensland Library becoming the Physics Librarian there.

Kevin married Mittie Cornmins in 1945 but she predeceased him in 1961 following a severe and unexpected heart attack. He married Molly Burns in 1963.

Kevin is survived by Molly and children Margaret, Helen and Diana and their families. A son Christopher predeceased him in 1981. He is also survived by a younger brother Peter of Mosman NSW. He is buried at the Southport, Qld, Lawn Cemetery. Peter Sheekey

Joseph ROTSAERT (7 May 1997, aged 69)

Joe was born in Brugge, Belgium, and spent his early years under Nazi domination in the 40s. He joined the Belgium army in 1944 and rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He travelled widely and eventually arrived in Australia in 1952.

In 1954 he went to PNG and took up a position with the Dept of Labour. He visited Japan on a number of occasions and during this time married Ushio, who returned with him to PNG. In 1972 Joe joined the Industrial Organisations Bureau and served as Head of the Bureau on a number of occasions. After returning to Australia in 1975, he worked with Social Security and Taxation until retirement in 1992.

A modest man, Joe was a dedicated officer and maintained good relationships with local and overseas officers. He died after a two-year illness. He is survived by his wife Ushio, a daughter and two grandchildren. John Herbert

Len SMITH (14 February 1997, aged 85)

Lennox Smith died in Alotau Hospital, Milne Bay District.  Len was born in Warrnambool and did an apprenticeship in watchmaking and jewellery with local traders. As a member of Toc H he started a scout troop which still exists today.

At the outbreak of war he joined the AIF and served with the 2/6 Battalion in the first part of the desert war. He was transferred to the field workshops because of his knowledge of instruments. In 1942 he went to PNG as a member of the Sixth Division. On discharge from the army he spent about six months getting organised to start a jewellery business in PNG. He eventually obtained the necessary permission to set up the business after a major oil company in PNG put pressure on the Australian government. The company wanted Len to put all their technical equipment back into operation.

His first shop was in Lawes Road, the next a site behind the present Yacht Club, and finally Cuthbertson Street where, from the balcony of his house behind the shop, he had an uninterrupted view out over Port Moresby Harbour. Here he used a massive pair of field glasses captured from the Japanese to watch everything in and around the harbour.

Len retired at the age of 61. He had suffered severe injuries in the Middle East when apparently his skull was cracked in a bomb blast. About 12 years before he retired, his war injuries caught up with him and he underwent surgery to save his life. Unfortunately the operation destroyed his sense of balance. He was unable to travel in motor vehicles because it made him violently ill. When he did travel, he would go by sea, walking the short distance from his home to the wharf.

Len’s brother, Reginald, said that Len’s decision to retire to Samarai came about because his first house boy, Narawy, was from the Milne Bay District and this meant there would be a continual flow of visitors from that area. Reginald continued, “While I was there in 1977, we had visits from John Guise, lots of priests of all persuasions, millionaire blue-water sailors and a few beachcombers. He was well liked by the locals and among other things fostered the local Girl Guide troop. Although a professed atheist, he liked to entertain and argue with visiting clergy. … I know he helped all the churches financially as when the Roman Catholic Bishop of Milne Bay Province, Sir Desmond Moore, phoned me about Len’s death he said not to worry about funeral expenses as Len had done a lot for them.”

Len was renowned not only for his jewellery (he probably supplied the majority of engagement and wedding rings of Port Moresby residents of the time) but for his dedicated work in recording the tides at Samarai. His house was within 20ft of the high tide mark, with a beautiful view. An article in a 1987 issue of Paradise, Air Niugini’s in-flight magazine, stated, “When he conceived the idea of developing a tide gauge as a hobby 15 years ago, he needed to find materials. Scientists have since marvelled that his device consisting of biscuit tins, jam jars, drawing pins to mark heights, and a host of other ‘ingredients’ could ever have worked let alone survive long enough for some of the parts to be used again in a second gauge built years later.” The article stated that Len was virtually housebound because of ill health but that an interest in the environment led to what became his all-consuming interest, monitoring the sea.

Ken Ridgway, of the (then) CSIRO Division of Oceanography, based in Hobart, Tasmania, said, “The important thing is that Len’s meticulously-kept records of day-to-day variations in sea levels date back before most scientists recognised the importance of monitoring this region.” The article explained that the western Pacific, especially north of PNG, the site of the widest stretches of warm water in the world, is the area where scientists believe changes that lead to El Nino/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) first occur; Len’s tide gauge was one of only two in operation on mainland Papua New Guinea during the 1982-83 ENSO event. The other was at a Belgian research station on Laing Island near Bogia. Len’s recording station formed a link in what became an international network of sea-level gauges to be maintained for 10 years from 1984. In the western Pacific, sea-level stations were installed at Port Moresby, Alotau, Lae, Madang, Wewak, Manus Island and Kavieng.

Len was the owner of PO Box No. 1 in Port Moresby: he bequeathed it to Del Underwood of Steamships when he left. On hearing of Len’s passing, Dulcie Johnson wrote, “I used to watch Len Smith opening PO Box 1 in Port Moresby every day and noticed there was never anything in it. So I vowed I would put one letter a month in his box. From the day he went to Samarai I did just that, and received the occasional message to say how much he appreciated them. The mission people were very caring and of course have buried him in their cemetery.”

Len is survived by his brother and numerous nieces and nephews. From an article in the Post-Courier of 13 April 1973, an article by Jennifer Pringle-Jones in Paradise, Issue 63, July/Aug l987 and information from Len’s brother

Antoni HART (Zatwarnicki) (4 February 1997, aged 77)

Toni was veterinary officer in the Department of Agriculture, Stock and Fisheries during the early 1950s. He was looking after the Pakistani calves which were held in quarantine at the Kila-Kila veterinary station at Port Moresby. The cattle were a present from Pakistan under the Colombo Plan for experiments by CSIRO in breeding more heat-tolerant animals for northern Australian conditions. When the quarantine period was completed, the calves were transferred to Australia and Toni was working mainly on the cattle tick eradication project. This took him to many parts of the Territory, where he made many friends.

Toni had an eventful life. When the Russians invaded Poland in 1939, he escaped by skiing across the Carpathian mountains into Hungary where he was well received. Later when the French formed a Polish Legion, he volunteered for service and was sent to France. In 1940 when the German army broke through the French lines, Toni’s unit was near the Swiss border. Once again he avoided capture by walking across the mountains into Switzerland. For a while he was interned with other Polish soldiers who crossed the border, but later was able to study at Zurich University and obtained his qualifications as a veterinary surgeon. After the war he came to Australia and PNG.

After service in PNG, Toni obtained a veterinary appointment in the British Colonial Service and was posted to Nigeria. On conclusion of his tour of duty in Africa, he returned to Australia and established a veterinary practice at Fairfield on the outskirts of Sydney. He lived and worked in Fairfield until ill health forced him to retire in 1994.

His wife, Joan, sister of Len Dexter of Ukua plantation, Papua, predeceased him. Gabriel Keleny

Sir Sydney FROST (April 1997, aged 81)

Sir Sydney Frost became a judge of the Supreme Court of the Territory of PNG in 1964. He became PNG’s Chief Justice in 1975 and was knighted by Prince Charles. He retired in 1977.

Thomas Sydney Frost was orphaned at 11 and, along with two brothers, was brought up by an older sister and her husband.  In 1933 he won a ‘free place’ to study law at the University of Melbourne. He was an outstanding student. He graduated in 1937 and took up legal work.

In 1940 he joined the Melbourne University Regiment and then enlisted in the AIF. He served with Intelligence behind the lines in Bougainville and fought in the Battle for Pearl Ridge. After the war he returned to legal work, and in 1961 became a QC.

After approximately twelve years’ judicial service in PNG, Sir Sydney returned to Melbourne where he was a Royal Commissioner and Chairman of the enquiry into Housing Commission purchases and, in Sydney, Chairman of the inquiry into a plane crash in Botany Bay.

He made an immense contribution to marine conservation in 1978 as chairman of an inquiry into whaling, in which Australia was then still involved. His report, known as the Frost Report, received overwhelming bipartisan support in Parliament and continues to be quoted worldwide. It culminated in the Whale Protection Act 1980 and the 1985 moratorium.

He married Dorothy Kelly in 1943 while on leave and had a daughter and two sons. Condensed from The Sydney Morning Herald, 30 April 1997

William John RENDELL (12 May 1997, aged 79)

William Rendell retired in August 1974 as a Senior Stores Supervisor with Social Development and Home Affairs. No further details available.

James (Jim) WATSON (15 September 1996, aged 67)

Jim died in Brisbane after a short illness, of cancer.  Born in Nabiac on 29 March 1930, Jim trained in Sydney as a manual arts teacher prior to arriving in PNG in 1955, where he taught in Port Moresby, Sogeri, Finschhafen, Madang and Rabaul.

In 1961, in Madang, Jim married Grace Gaffney, a long-time teacher in Primary A schools. The family left PNG in 1973 and settled at Capalaba (Brisbane). Jim is survived by his wife Grace and their children Elizabeth, Sally-Ann, Christopher and Phillipa, and his sister Amy. Chris and John Downie

Percival Thomas WARD (27 May 1997, aged 82)

Percival Ward retired in January 1970 as a Works Supervisor with Public Works. No further details available.

Sherry WALTON (4 March 1997)

Sherry, who was a nursing sister at Samarai, Wau and Lae for many years, passed away at the Maleny Hospital. She is survived by her husband Bill, a son and a daughter. Garamut Newsletter

David John OSBISTON (18 September 1996, aged 77)

David Osbiston, a member, was a primary school teacher, serving in Rabaul, Popondetta, Mendi, Lae and nearby localities. He retired in January 1971. He was not married. No further details available.

Alan Samuel GOODALL (May 1997)

Alan Goodall of Alexandra Hills, Qld, was formerly of Rabaul. He is survived by his wife Dolly, children and grandchildren. No further details available.

Bill ANDERSON (22 February 1997)

Bill spent many years at Bulolo and passed away peacefully at Townsville. He is survived by his wife Nell and son Chris. Garamut Newsletter

Robbie WEISE (12 April 1997)

Robbie, with friend Marcia Bastow, went to PNG in May 1951. She was secretary to various department heads before becoming Michael Somare’s private secretary.

She retired to the Gold Coast in 1975 where she became very involved with community affairs and was an active supporter and committee member of the Gold Coast PNG Club. Robbie is survived by her husband Bill, a daughter and son, and grandchildren. Garamut Newsletter

Janet Lynette ABBERTON (April 1997, aged 50)

Janet Abberton, of Toowoomba and formerly of Port Moresby, was the daughter-in-law of Tom and Joan Abberton. Janet is survived by her husband Grahame, children and extended family. No further details available.

Meri EDGAR (May 1997)

Meri, wife of Bill Edgar (dec’d) of PNG, died in the Nazarene Nursing Home, Redcliffe, Qld. She is survived by children and grandchildren. No further details available.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.