Vale December 2005

AMBROSE, Vic |  CHAMBERLAIN, Robert (Bob) |  CLARKSON, Gresley Drummond |  COOTE, Philip Dion |  CURTIS, Pinny |  GUNTHER, Lady Elvie Phyllis |  HILL, Gladys |  JACOBS, Stanley Gordon |  McMANUS, Leslie Ernest (Knuckles) |  NEAL, Michael Vaughan |  PARSONS, Ian |  PEGG, Harry Standish (Stan)STUART, Raymond |  SYMONS, Elinor Dora (Lynn) |  WATERHOUSE, Keith |  WILLIS, Maurice (Dr) |  


Vic AMBROSE (29 August 2005, aged 86 years)

Born in Tasmania, Vic was a Lancaster Pathfinder captain with the RAAF during WWII. After the war he became concerned for the missionaries in PNG and when his friend, Harry Hartwig, was killed in a plane crash in PNG in 1951, Vic was inspired to carry on his friend’s work. He and his wife Joan and four of their seven children lived in PNG for four years from 1953. Vic established and expanded the work of the Missionary Aviation Fellowship which provided transport for missionaries in small aircraft. After he retired he wrote a book called Balus Bilong Mipela on the history of the MAF in Australia. Vic is survived by Joan, seven children, 23 grandchildren and four great grandchildren. Herald Sun, 13 Sep 2005


Robert (Bob) CHAMBERLAIN (3 September 2005, aged 60 years)

Formerly a Patrol, survived by his wife Lydia, children Lianne and David, parents Bill and Elsie and four brothers and sisters. Courier Mail


Gresley Drummond CLARKSON, AM, QC (12 September 2005, aged 89 years)

Raised in Western Australia, Gresley studied law, and later taught law, at the University of WA. Inspired by his father, who died in action in France when he was only two, Gresley was determined to lead a full and active life. He married Mary in 1941 and they had three children, Sandy, Barney and Helen. He enlisted for duty in WWII, joining the army. He became a major and served in New Guinea from 1944-45. In the early 60s he began practicing as an independent barrister and together with three others in WA, formed the Independent Bar. He was a much respected member of the Law Society of WA for more than 65 years. His wartime attraction to PNG meant that, in 1966 – while president of the Law Society of WA, he accepted an appointment to PNG as a Supreme Court Judge. He remained there until 1975. Gresley enjoyed fishing, boats and reading. Mary pre-deceased him by 18 months. He is survived by his three children and seven grandchildren. The Sunday Times, Perth, WA. 9 October 2005


Philip Dion COOTE (16 August 2005, aged 86 years)

Dion was born in Port Moresby in 1919; we believe by the light of a hurricane lamp. He was the first child of Rhoda and Philip Coote and spent his early years in Samarai, where his father was Burns Philp Store Manager. After Dion’s school years in Sydney he worked briefly as a Jackaroo in NSW but at the age of twenty returned to NG to work as a plantation manager for Burns Philp. When Japan entered the war he was on a plantation in the Solomons and managed to get on the last boat out to Australia, having learned that his mother and sister had been evacuated there from Rabaul. Dion joined the army and after initially being part of the 8th Division based in Western Australia he was transferred to ANGAU and spent the remaining war years in New Guinea. In 1946 he married Patricia Moorhouse, whom he had known since they were school children, and they settled in Sydney, but by 1952 he was keen to get back to New Guinea. His mother, his brother Peter and his sister Diana had returned there after the war despite the loss of Philip Coote on the Montevideo Maru and had bought a rather run-down cocoa plantation, twenty-five miles out of Rabaul, which they were attempting to get back into production. By early 1953 Trish and their three small daughters had joined him at Vunapau, where they settled in to a bush materials house while Dion took over the running of the plantation from his mother and sister. A few years later their son Richard was born. For almost thirty years Dion extended and developed the plantation and with Trish’s assistance also ran the general store/Post Office at Kerevat, while enjoying a game of golf in his spare time. In 1981 he and Trish retired to the Gold Coast, returning once for a brief trip back to Rabaul in 1983. After Trish died in 1997 Dion moved to Brisbane. He is survived by daughters Belinda Rogers, Philippa Hockey and Joanne Tangye, and son Richard. Belinda Rogers


Pinny CURTIS (3 July 2005, aged 89 years)

With husband Harry (Radiographer, Taurama Hospital) spent most of the 1960s in Pt Moresby. During this time she worked at Steamies and Island Products but was with P& T when they returned to Australia. Pinny is survived by her daughter Anne (ex Treasury Kone), two grand-daughters and three great grandchildren. Anne Young 


Lady Elvie Phyllis GUNTHER (7 September 2005, aged 89 years)

Lady Gunther, known to many of her friends as ‘Dot’, grew up on a farm in Victoria. When her older brother John contracted polio as a teenager Lady Gunther used the experience gained from helping him to follow a career in nursing and to display her caring and thoughtfulness to those in need. She married Dr John Gunther, who had been a Doctor and Squadron Leader at an Air Force Base in Kingaroy, in 1943. Before the war ended, John was posted as a Medical Officer in the RAAF to NG. After the end of the war, in October 1946, Elvie moved to NG also, and the family remained there for 26 years with John achieving Director status in both Health and Education in the NG Government’s Administration. After retirement, John was rewarded with a Knighthood for his services in Research and Development of the Medical and Education fields of NG. Lady Gunther often told her family that some of her best years in NG were when her husband was, for six years (1966-1972) the Vice-Chancellor of the newly created University of PNG where many of the newly appointed staff came from all parts of the world. Her hospitality was boundless. She ‘fostered’ many of the University wives, helping them to settle into their new environment and new homes, as well as introducing them to NG customs and culture. She loved the involvement with students, teaching many how to drive, how to sew, and particularly looking after the needs of the female students on Campus (as well as coping with the boisterous activities of the University’s Rugby Union football team!) In 1972 Sir John and Lady Gunther left NG and moved to the Sunshine Coast, QLD, for several years before moving to Melbourne. After Sir John’s death in 1984, Lady Gunther eventually moved back to QLD, to the Gold Coast. Her funeral service was attended by family, friends and members of both the Gold Coast PNG Club and PNGAA. A message of condolence was read from Meg Taylor (ex Goroka) who is now based at World Bank Headquarters in Washington USA. Lady Gunther is survived by her four children, nine grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. RV Bowmer and Vin Smith


Gladys HILL (24 March 2005, aged 86 years)

Gladys was the wife of the late Frank Hill (Customs and Marine, Port Moresby). Gladys worked for Steamships, and at one time was their Chief Cashier before going to work for PATAIR. Gladys and Frank were residents of Port Moresby from 1947 to 1965, when they retired to Southport, Qld and then to Tenterfield. Gladys is survived by her daughter. Liz Dobson, PO Box 423, Darling Heights  QLD  4350.


Stanley Gordon JACOBS (17 July 2005, aged 93 years)

In 1965 Stan was appointed chief auditor of PNG. With his wife Ruby and their five children, the family lived in Port Moresby for four years. He often said these were the happiest of his working life. Returning to Australia, Stan worked in the audit office in Canberra and retired in June 1977. He remained in Canberra until returning to Melbourne in 1999. During WWII Stan lost his leg in a bomb explosion in Palestine. He later became a tireless worker for Legacy. The Age, 30 August 2005


Leslie Ernest (Knuckles) McMANUS (7 August 2005, aged 79 years)

Les hailed from Albury in NSW and travelled to Port Moresby in his early twenties. He married Iris Walker and they adopted two girls, Megan and Belinda. Les worked both in the Police Department and Lands before retiring to Elizabeth Bay in 1974. In 1997 Les suffered a serious stroke and became a resident of the Gertrude Abbott Nursing Home in Surry Hills, Sydney. In July 2005 Les moved to a nursing home at Tweed Heads to be closer to his two daughters. Sadly Les passed away three weeks after his move. Les was always a character and retained his sense of humour throughout the period of his illness. He is survived by his two daughters, Megan and Belinda and five grandchildren. Megan Kimmorley


Michael Vaughan NEAL (16 June 2005, aged 73 years)

Raised in England, Mike immigrated to Australia in 1950 to work as a jackaroo in the Narrabri and Breeza Plains areas in NSW. In 1952 Mike applied for and was accepted as a Cadet Patrol Officer and after a short course at ASOPA was posted to the Madang District. There he spent some 12 months mobilizing villages to cut and clear the rain forest for a proposed road from Madang to the Ramu Valley and link up with the Highlands Highway, before spending a further time at Bogia and Saidor Stations. 1955 saw Dawn (a nurse in Madang) and Mike married and 1956 at ASOPA for the two year course before posting to Chuave in the Eastern Highland. This was followed by a move to Bougainville for two terms where some time was spent at both Kieta and Buin, but the majority was spent on Buka Island at the time of the emergence of the Hahalis Welfare Society and its violent confrontation with Administration over taxation and other activities. The mid 1960’s saw promotion to ADO and a move to Kokopo before another one year at ASOPA in 1968.  Whilst at Kokopo, Mike who with Dawn was a very keen and good golfer, developed a small strip of land along the foreshore south of Butuwin Hospital in Kokopo into a small golf links, with the assistance of local plantation owners and managers. Mike’s next posting was to Maprik in the East Sepik District for a short period before moving to Port Moresby and a transfer to the Department of the Administrator as a Project Officer with a team set up to provide close liaison and speedy resolution to any delays between the Administration and companies exploiting mineral resources in PNG. (Conzinc Rio Tinto in Bougainville, Kennecott Corporation at Ok-Tedi and Mt Isa Mines at Frieda River in the West Sepik District.) The Bougainville Copper operation got underway in 1972/1973. In June 1973 the small project team was set the task of meeting the representatives from airlines operating in TPNG with the object of creating a national airline. This was achieved in Nov 1973 when Air Niugini commenced operations out of Jackson’s Airport, Port Moresby. Dawn and Mike returned to Australia to live in 1974 to settle at Avalon where Mike set up and operated a small Landscape Gardening business until final retirement in 1994 to Nowra. In the 10 years since then Mike has been the co-ordinator for a Bushcare Group that has removed some 40 acres of lantana from the Nowra Golf Course. Mike is survived by Dawn, 2 sons, 2 daughters and 8 grand children. Claire Davis and Dawn Neal


Ian PARSONS (8 October 2005, aged 80 years)

Ian was born in Melbourne and did war service in the Navy. He went to PNG in 1949 working in Civil Aviation. Ian married Beth Tipper in Pt Moresby, and acquired Nunga Plantation (Western Highlands) in 1953. They left PNG in 1971, returning to Sydney and eventually settling in Wagga Wagga. Ian is survived by Beth and children Duncan, Philippa and Cameron. Pam Foley


Harry Standish (Stan) PEGG (7 August 2005, aged 75 years)

Harry’s PNG service dates back to 1950 when he began as a Cadet Patrol Officer. He is survived by his wife Nancy, four children and their families. Courier Mail


Raymond STUART (7 September 2005, aged 66 years)


Elinor Dora (Lynn) SYMONS (22 August 2005, aged 78 years)

Late of Seabeach Gardens, Mona Vale she was known by choice, at least until her later years, as ‘Lynn’. Wife of Craig and mother of Paul she spent 19 years in PNG from 1956 to 1974 – in Samarai, Minj and Madang. Craig Symons


Keith WATERHOUSE (3 October 2005, aged 89 years)

After joining Burns Philp as a messenger boy, in 1935 Keith found himself as a 19 year old on the Montoro and Macdhui doing the round trip to Papua and New Guinea from Sydney and visiting as many as 15 ports. For many of these trips he was Assistant Purser, checking the physical discharge of cargo. He did several inter-island trips from Rabaul on the Maiwara, a much smaller vessel being required to pick up copra and deliver supplies to the more remote plantations because of their shallow anchorages. Other trips included rice runs on the Merkur to Saigon and Shanghai, picking up rice for Burns Philp’s branches in New Guinea, and the maiden voyage of the Bulolo. By the late 1930s Keith was Purser with greater responsibility for passengers travelling between Australia and New Guinea. In late 1937, aged 21, Keith spent eight months as acting manager of Malaguna wharf in Rabaul. Having played first grade cricket in Sydney, he took the opportunity to play a season for the New Guinea Club, regularly getting a good bag of wickets with his medium pacers and playing for Rabaul against Kavieng. Keith was a member of the RANR from 1936 and joined the Navy as a Lieutenant in 1939. He served on HMS Liverpool in the Mediterranean and as Secretary to Captains Collins and Burnett on HMAS Sydney in the Indian Ocean. He was transferred off the latter shortly before she sailed on her final ill-fated voyage. Keith then held various shore-based positions, including Liaison Officer in Sydney between the Australian and American Naval forces, ending the War as a Lieutenant Commander. After the War, Keith was for many years a stockbroker in Sydney, though always retaining a strong attachment to New Guinea. In the 1960s, he was a Director of Pacific Island Mines, which had mining operations on Misima. Keith is survived by his wife Mary, one daughter and three sons. Michael Waterhouse


Dr Maurice WILLIS (10 July 2005)

Dr Willis was the resident specialist physician at Nonga Base Hospital, Rabaul, from 1963 to 1977 specialising in blood transfusions and blood groups. He was greatly respected as a dedicated physician who substantially contributed to the welfare of the Tolai people during his residency at Nonga. He retired to Melbourne where he continued to work as a director of the Red Cross. Dr Willis had worked in many war torn countries. Our condolences go to his wife, Maureen and his three sons Peter, Robert and Steven. Editor 

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