Vale September 2004
AKERMAN, Eve | ANTILL, June | BLAKE, Marjorie Hawnt Ross | COLLINS, Reginald Williams | DOWNS, Ian Fairley Graham | EAST, Helene Isabel | ENDERS, Vilma | GALLEN, Michael (Mick) | GWARE, Gabiam Mombu | HAMMERSLEY, Brenda | HUXLEY, Richard James (Jim) | JENKIN, William ‘Bill’ | LARKIN Lyn | McMAHON Brien | PULSFORD, Robert (Bob) Leonard | STEWART, Robert George | TYLER, Stanley Francis | VIAL, Marjorie Kathleen | WALLIS, John Andrew | WATKINS, Douglas (Gray) | WILKINSON, Albert Ernest (Ernie) |
Eve AKERMAN (11 December 2003, aged 83)
Eve went with her husband John, an Australian Government doctor, to Rabaul in 1947. Her second son, Kim, was born in Rabaul that year. Soon afterwards the family was transferred to Goroka in the Highlands. From Goroka, John carried out numerous medical patrols on foot through difficult mountainous terrain to various remote locations such as Mt Hagen, frequently accompanied by Eve for up to a fortnight at a time. In early 1950 the family was transferred again, to Wewak on the North Coast where Piers was born. They took with them Kuyeba and Ongwan who were recruited from highland villages to help in the house and with whom Eve had an emotional reunion when travelling with her friend Dame Rachel Cleland in the highlands in 1993.
Eve accompanied John on more medical patrols by launch up the Sepik and to the island Wacheo where they were marooned for some weeks by the stranding of the schooner which had delivered them there, until rescued by the mission vessel Gabriel.
The family left PNG for India in 1951; however their time in the Territory remained a vital part of family lore from then on. Eve wrote and lectured extensively on her life and the atmosphere in PNG in the forties until shortly before her death. Eve’s husband, John, predeceased her however she is survived by her three sons and daughter, Felicity. Jonathan C Akerman
June ANTILL (28 June 2004, aged 88)
June was born at Guyra NSW in 1916, later moving with her family to Sydney. She went to Rabaul in 1947 to marry Dan, a Burns Philp plantation manager then stationed in the remote Witu Islands, and always looked on the hardships and primitive, isolated, life there as a meaningful and rewarding experience. In 1950 the Antills moved to a plantation near Kokopo. Always a very popular, cheerful and capable person, June involved herself in many Gazelle Peninsula community affairs, notably the Kokopo Show and CWA.
In 1962, when her two daughters had gone off to secondary school in Australia, June took a position at the sub-district office, Kokopo, looking after the Post Office and Commonwealth Bank agency. At Independence in 1975 she was asked to set up a Training School for PNG clerks and clerical assistants to enable them to be appointed to Administrative positions. June remained in charge of this school until 1980 when, along with Dan, she retired to Cremorne and finally to the NSW Central Coast 15 years ago. June is survived by her daughters Alison and Anna and their families. Betty Benson
Marjorie Hawnt Ross BLAKE (18 April 2004 aged 91)
Born in Sydney, Marjorie travelled to Rabaul when her father became the telephone mechanic foreman for the Australian Occupation Forces who took control of the Territory of New Guinea at the end of WWI. Edmund Martin Hawnt was later appointed Postmaster and Telephone Director for the Civil Administration. The Hawnt children were the first Australian children in Rabaul and enjoyed a carefree existence until Edmund took his family on a furlough to England where the girls were installed at a boarding school in Warwick near Edmund’s family.
Eventually returning to Rabaul, Marjorie got a job with the Department of Native Affairs. She loved riding horses and whilst riding track met and married Harold Jo Ross. Marjorie, with three children under the age of four, was evacuated with nursemaid Annie Lundin on the MacDhui in December 1941 when it was expected that Japan would invade Rabaul. She lost both her husband and her father during the fall of Rabaul. Marjie supported the family in Sydney by working in the Department of External Territories (earning about 10 shillings a week) and embroidering baby clothes for sale.
In 1947 she returned to Rabaul where she purchased a plantation, ‘Vunaraken’, and planted cocoa, also working at Posts and Telegraphs during the week. Then Captain Charles Blake arrived, courting Marjie with a crate containing four ducks and a drake. They were married in Rabaul. Charles had two trawlers which were used for taking supplies down to their three plantations, Kabakon, Lolobau and Iboki. Two children were born to this marriage, Belinda and Charles. After the previous experience of evacuation it was decided to buy a house at Roseville in 1957. Marjie and Charles later developed Mauga Plantation before moving to Ascot in 1979. Her husband, Charles pre-deceased her in 1988 and son Michael in 1991. Marjie is survived by Prudence, Janet, Belinda and Charles, her 18 grandchildren and 8 great grandchildren.
Ian Fairley Graham DOWNS (24 August 2004, aged 89)
Ian Downs died at the John Flynn Hospital on 24 August at the age of 89 and his funeral was to take place at 1 pm on Monday 30 August. Ian’s death removes from the scene a man who played a significant part in the development of Papua New Guinea, shining in the roles of kiap, politician and planter, and finally as writer and historian. It is for his long and notable record as a kiap that he will be most remembered by many throughout Australia. Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, in June 1915, he arrived in Melbourne with his family as a schoolboy, but at 13 won a place at the Royal Naval College, Jervis Bay, as a midshipman, and completed a four-year-course there. But there were no appointments available for him and others, so in 1935 he accepted a post as a cadet patrol officer with the old New Guinea administration. He arrived at headquarters in Rabaul in January 1936, and took to his new career with enthusiasm, and soon, he later wrote, with great satisfaction at working with such talented, dedicated people. By 1938 he was in charge of the Chimbu sub-district, and was involved with the Hagen-Sepik patrol, but with the advent of war in Europe he was contacted by the Navy and accepted a naval post, becoming a commander of smallships in New Guinea waters. In the war with Japan he was for one period on loan as a Coastwatcher behind enemy lines in Morobe. He rejoined the Administration in October 1945 as a patrol officer and in the next seven years was variously DO New Ireland, Stipendiary Magistrate in Rabaul, acting DC Madang, Assistant Director of Native Affairs in Port Moresby and, finally, his last posting, DC Eastern Highlands in 1952. He was the Territory’s youngest DC and tackled the task with his typical energy, imagination and impatience with red tape. He took the view that the highlands had to be developed speedily to occupy idle native hands, and Goroka soon became a bustling town as he and his dedicated officers extended roads and built bridges to the coast at Lae, and directed them far west into the highlands. They supervised large gangs of Highlanders who provided their labour for cash or kind or simple enthusiasm, and thus the Highlands Highway was built, opening up the country for economic development. Coffee became king, and a great debt was owed to Downs for his part in its development. In 1956, 20 years after first joining the pre-war Administration, he resigned as DC to become a planter and politician, and thus began an important and effective new phase in his PNG career. In 1957 he became an elected member for the New Guinea Mainland in PNG’s Legislative Council, and the same year President of the Highlands Farmers and Settlers Association and a member of the Eastern Highlands Advisory Council. He held both these positions unbroken for more than 10 years. From 1961-69 he was a member of the Administrator’s Council, and in 1964 Foundation Chairman of the PNG Coffee Marketing board. He had even wider influence on national affairs during his four years as an elected member (on a common roll) of the First House of Assembly, 1964-68. He was appointed OBE in 1963. Downs was always a writer – his reports were models of clarity – and for many years during these later activities he also found time to be managing-editor and chief writer for the New Guinea Highlands Bulletin, an agricultural journal which pushed development in the Highlands. In 1970 he published a novel based on New Guinea, The Stolen Land. More writing followed after he and his wife Judith, and son Graham, left PNG in 1972 to run cattle in NSW. The most important was an acclaimed official history written for the Commonwealth Government, Australian Trusteeship: Papua New Guinea 1945-75, but also an autobiography in 1986, The Last Mountain, and a military history in 1999, The New Guinea Volunteer Rifles, 1939-1943. Deakin University conferred on him an honorary Doctor of Letters. Judith died of cancer in 1974, and he married Robin George and they had a son, Michael. That marriage was later dissolved. From the Gold Coast, where he lived in his later years, he kept in touch with old friends. Vale old friend – Stuart Inder
Helene Isabel EAST (née THOMSON, 1 August 2004, aged 65)
Helene was a Cadet Education Officer at ASOPA with the 1962 intake and, despite the disabilities accumulated in her later life, greatly enjoyed meeting wantoks at their 40th anniversary reunion in Port Macquarie two years ago. Until PNG Independence Helene was a lecturer at Ward Strip Teachers College. Subsequently widowed in Australia she moved to Darwin where she spent the past 23 years. She had three brothers. J.B. Toner
Vilma ENDERS (14 May 2004, aged 79)
Vilma was born in South Tirol, now part of Italy, and traces her ancestry back to Johann Coleto who was Knighted by Matthias, King of Bavaria (now Chekoslovakia), in 1612. In 1947 she married Paul in Innsbruck, Austria. They were from ‘different countries, different backgrounds and different religions’ and migrated to Australia in 1949. In 1950 Paul was recruited by Dr (later Sir) John Gunther to work as a medical officer in PNG.
First posting was Namatanai – very different, very raw, but fascinating and enjoyable. Such was the condition of the roads in those days that it took two days to travel from Kavieng. From 1953 to 1957 the Enders were in Wau and Bulolo, then Paul went to Wewak as District Medical Officer before moving on to be Regional Medical Officer in Rabaul in 1964 and finally to Moresby in 1969 as Assistant Director of Medical Services till retirement in 1974. It was then plenty of space to enjoy the garden, tennis court and swimming pool at leafy Terry Hills till 1991, when the Enders moved to the convenience of harbourside Neutral Bay. Always supportive of Paul, Vilma enjoyed sailing, tennis, swimming, her beloved orchids and her many friends. She is survived by Paul, son Tony and daughter-in-law, Jane. Harry West
Gabiam Mombu GWARE (2 July 2004 in Lae)
Gabi is survived by husband, Muttu Gware OBE, children Rebecca, Paul, Minna, John and grandchildren. Gabi was the sister of well-known Parliamentarian Bart Philemon. Bert Speer
Brenda HAMMERSLEY (February 2004, aged 73)
Brenda lived first in Mt Hagen and then the Baiyer Valley in the 1970s. As Brenda Paine, an esteemed Melbourne paediatrician, her contribution to the medical welfare of children from all over the Western Highlands will never be forgotten. Her work load intensified after she married Tas Hammersley and went to live at Trauna Valley Farm, still working part-time in Mt Hagen. Amazingly resourceful, I recall the time when Brenda interrupted Christmas festivities to pin the broken leg of their boxer dog with one of the heavy-duty barbecue skewers I had given her for Christmas.
When it was time to leave the PNG highlands Brenda began the development of a sheep property they had bought near Denmark in Western Australia while waiting for Tas to sell Trauna and join her. Later, and after an upgrade of her medical skills in Perth, she became the itinerant paediatrician for the south west coast of WA.
After her “retirement” she became absorbed with what had been a long-time hobby: the collection and documentation of wildflowers from the Denmark area which later extended to mosses and lichens. She was rewarded with several wildflower ‘finds’, two of which she felt very privileged to have named after her: Andersonia Hammersleyana and Laxmannia grandiflora brendae. On Australia Day last year she was presented with a community service award and named as one of two Denmark citizens of the year.
Brenda lived out her life at Denmark, at the home she designed, with never-failing interest, enthusiasm and a big place in her heart for her community. She is survived by her four brothers and step-mother Peg Paine. Judith Blogg
Richard James (Jim) HUXLEY (15 May 2004, aged 81)
At 17, Jim went to New Guinea in 1939 to join his father Richard (‘Dahlia Dick’, as he was known for his care of flowers,) a carpenter with Bulolo Gold Dredging. When the Japanese invaded nearby Wau, Jim joined the NGVR and became an ANGAU Medical Assistant, initially with Dr Hugh Marsden, until the end of the war.
After marrying Lee in Sydney in 1948, he resumed work with BGD before moving on to Lae to work as a journalist with the South Pacific Post and then the New Guinea Times-Courier, to later become its Managing Editor. He also started the first New Guinea pidgin newspaper TokTok. He was constructively involved in community and sporting affairs in Lae, especially football, until he and Lee, and four of their five sons (born in Lae) returned to Sydney in 1965. He continued his career in journalism with Country Life, then The Australian and finally the Daily Telegraph. He is survived by Lee and sons Edwin, Nicholas, James and Quentin. Son Adrian died in infancy. Lee Huxley
A tribute in the Post Courier of 4 June 2004 by Abby Yadi highlighted Jim’s friendship with, and encouragement of, Muttu Gware as PNG’s first national newspaper (print) journalist. Written by Muttu and edited by Jim, the first edition of Niugini Toktok, in pidgin, was published in October 1962.
William ‘Bill’ JENKIN (30 May 2004, aged 76)
Bill, born in Sydney, arrived in PNG in October 1949 after four years serving with BCOF Occupation Force in Japan. He joined the PNG Administration as a Tractor Operator/Mechanic with the Forestry Department until 1951 when he left to serve in Korea. In 1953 he returned to PNG, working as ‘Bush Boss’, Forest Ranger, Surveyor and eventually graduating to District Forest Officer III. He worked in a number of regions but the places he spoke of with great fondness were Lae, Rabaul and Madang – especially Madang.
Bill eventually gravitated to Headquarters in Port Moresby as Harvesting and Marketing Officer – collecting Royalties in excess of $1 million. He married Mary, a teacher on secondment from Canberra, and their two boys were born in Port Moresby. At this time also, Bill studied Accountancy, graduating as a Member of the Australian Society of Accountants. In 1968 Bill joined the Transport Department and became Executive Officer, Road Planning, for the Territory.
In December 1975 the Jenkin family reluctantly left PNG to make a new life in Hobart, Tasmania. Bill worked first with a firm of Chartered Accountants and later with the State Audit Department as a Senior Audit Manager. He retired in 1994, his main interests now being overseas and Australian travel, bowls – regular and petanque, University of the 3rd Age, cooking and wining and dining. Bill is survived by his wife Mary, his sons Williams and James and his grandson, Raif. Mary Jenkin
Lyn LARKIN (30 June 2004, aged 62)
Born in Sydney several weeks after her mother was evacuated from Port Moresby, Lyn returned to Port Moresby with her family after the war. Lyn joined the PNG Administration as a teenager and for a number of years was an integral member of Joe Lynch’s Legislative Drafting Unit of the Crown Law Dept. In 1967 Lyn married Dr Kerry Larkin in Port Moresby.
Lyn was heavily involved in community and voluntary work. She became a trained cancer carer and this was considered one of her special talents as she possessed great moral strength, empathy and compassion. In 1995 Lyn and Kerry spent two years in Malawi, Lyn continuing her volunteer work looking after babies born of mothers who had died of AIDS.
They retired to Yeppoon where Lyn continued her active commitment to cancer sufferers; a commitment recognized by the Queensland Cancer Fund. Lyn and Kerry moved to the Gold Coast in 2003 to be closer to family. Lyn is survived by Kerry, her four children Nicola, Justine, Melissa and Michael, her grandchildren, sister Maureen and brothers Kevin and Geoffrey. Maureen O’Rourke
Brien McMAHON (26 June 2004, aged 69)
Brien was born in South Melbourne, the eldest son of former South Melbourne footballer, national handball champion and president of the South Melbourne Past Players Association, Tom McMahon. Brien himself became a respected athlete and footballer from a young age. He married Bernice Murray in 1955 and they moved to Port Moresby where he became a valued member of the Public Service Board responsible for determining staffing levels for PNG. A particular responsibility was setting up government at a provincial level.
In 1964 Brien was the prime instigator in creating the first Papuan-based Australian Rules football team, which became known as ‘Koboni’. In 1974 he also arranged a PNG footy team tour of Australia. In 1976 the family, with nine children, moved back to Melbourne. Brien was then with the Department of Social Security followed by the Department of Community Services. Retiring in 1992 he became more involved with the Box Hill Football Club where he was a board member from 1991 and general manager in 1993. He maintained an active role in compiling the monthly club newsletter and acting as groundsman among a variety of other roles. Brien is survived by his nine children and their families and two sisters. Bernice predeceased him in late April. Info from the Melbourne Age, 9 July 2004.
Stanley Francis TYLER (14 May 2004, aged 80)
Stan, or ‘Skinny-ribs’ as he was affectionately known to his many PNG friends, was born at Wardell in northern NSW, grew up at Mallanganee in the same region and died in Ellenbrook WA. The tragic death of his elder son Steve in 1995 and the death of his beloved Olive in 2001 precipitated failing health in the last two years of his life.
Stan was at Merauke as a sapper with the 27th Field Company of the 6th Division during WWII. New Guinea then apparently got into his blood and he first went to Port Moresby as a civilian carpenter in 1952. He later joined PWD, working firstly in Port Moresby, then in Mt Hagen and finally retiring from Madang in 1974.
The family settled in Lennox Head where Stan became unofficial chauffeur and handyman to all who needed his friendly and unstinting assistance. His often irreverent and always politically incorrect humour is legendary. While his family was undoubtedly central to his life, his mates were also ‘mates for life’.
A Memorial Service was held at Mullumbimby on 29 May where his ashes were interred with Olive’s. Stan is survived by his sons, Jim and Kim and their families, by his brother Patrick, sister Mary and their families. Brian Davis
Marjorie Kathleen VIAL (13 May 2004, aged 93)
Marjorie was the widow of Leigh Grant Vial, DSC (US), a pre-War kiap and later coastwatcher, whom she met when he was aged 14 and she 13. Born in Melbourne, Marjorie went on to obtain a BA degree from Melbourne University, enjoying sport at university as well as study. Leigh was selected as a cadet patrol officer in 1933. After a strung-out engagement because a patrol officer in the Mandated Territory had to wait for seniority to secure married accommodation, they married at Salamaua in November 1936. Leigh returned to his post at Buki, south of Finschhafen, with Marjorie but he was often away patrolling in the mountains. Marjorie sometimes went with him on patrol.
After postings to Salamaua in 1937 and to Madang in 1938, during which Leigh patrolled in the Chimbu and became the first European to climb Mt Wilhelm, Leigh was appointed ADO Rabaul in 1940. Marjorie, pregnant with her third child, was evacuated with her children from Rabaul just ahead of the Japanese invasion in January 1942 and Leigh became a coastwatcher. He was killed on a supply drop in April 1943 and Marjorie was faced with raising three children as a war widow. She returned to teaching Latin and English at Korowa Girls’ School. Following retirement she travelled extensively and was devoted to her grandchildren, her friends, her garden and her little dog Pierre. “Courageous, loving, gentle, wise and generous in all ways”, her family summed up. Marjorie is survived by her three children and five grandchildren. David Skinner and Lindy Gilham
John Andrew WALLIS (29 June 2004, aged 70)
John grew up in Newcastle NSW and then graduated from Hawkesbury Agricultural College. In 1953 he joined the Dept of Agriculture, Stock and Fisheries in PNG which he served for 29 years. His postings included Samarai, Yangoru, Finschhafen, Kapogere and Mendi where he was the Provincial Agricultural Officer for 13 years. ‘He approached his work in agriculture with a consuming passion and gained the respect of many Papua New Guineans whose life he touched in a very practical way by assisting them to improve agricultural production – both in traditional subsistence farming and in economic development by introducing the concept of cash cropping of exotic crops. John was an expert in coffee production but also was well versed in tea, cocoa and coconut cultivation. Life in PNG was not all work and no play however: John’s love of fun was legendary….and there are many who can ruefully attest to that, not least of all Heather. It’s said that ‘there’s one in every crowd’ – that ‘one’ was John Wallis! He maintained contact with many of his PNG friends over the years, for once John made a friend there was little he would not do for them, and his friendships were made to last.
He left PNG in 1982, returning to Nelson Bay on the coast from Newcastle. There he qualified and joined the Port Stephens Strata Management Organisation. He is survived by his wife Heather and their children Sharne, Iain and Heidi. Douglas P Franklin and extract from eulogy