Vale September 2010

BELL, Sir Brian |  BIDDULPH, Mary Anne (Harper)BLANDEN, Madge | BURNS, Jack Lusby |  COAD (CANNON), John |  CURTIS, BobFAAST, HeiniFLYNN, Bruce Anthony, OBE |  FOCKEN, Ronald |  HAMILTON, Graham Robert |  LIDDLE, Colin |  McALPINE, John Roger |  McKAY, Robin Sydney |  NUNN, Daphne Alice |  ORMSBY, Madge Constant (Brownie) |  O’SHEA, Jack |  REID, Lucy Martha |  WHITE , William (Bill) John  | 


John Roger McALPINE (2 March 2010, aged 79)

John was born in Sydney and spent most of his early childhood in Artarmon, Lane Cove, Manly and Brighton-le-Sands. While at Manly Public School he won a scholarship to Knox Grammar Lower School and moved on through Knox Grammar, finishing at age 17.  He studied for a period at Sydney University, later worked as a journalist and as a labourer in an iron foundry. However, the lure of ‘The Territory of Papua and New Guinea’ was too strong to resist.

Following training at the Australian School of Pacific Administration he was posted to Lumi Patrol Post in December 1951 but in March 1952 was evacuated to Sydney suffering from cerebral malaria. He returned to PNG in July 1952 and was posted to Saidor Sub-District, later to Madang District HQ and to Bougainville early in 1954. He was based at Sohano and Wakunai until he resigned late in 1956. A brief search of the PNG Archives yielded 980 pages of records from the many patrols he made as a Kiap.

John won a position with CSIRO Land Resource and Regional Survey Division as a Transport and Logistics Officer for surveys in PNG. He pursued part-time studies at ANU, graduating with 1st Class Honours, was promoted to Experimentalist, then Research Scientist and retired while at the level of Principal Research Scientist. John’s work as a member of the CSIRO survey team that carried out 15 regional surveys in PNG and later as leader of the PNGRIS development group was described in two recent articles in Una Voce.  He wrote extensively about the natural resources of PNG, including several books which are standard references for PNG university students. His legacy of work in natural resource management and development planning in PNG will live on for the foreseeable future.

John died peacefully at his home in Toowong, Brisbane. His family, friends and colleagues from all over Australia came together at Centenary Memorial Gardens on 5th March for his funeral service. He is survived by his wife Gael, children Paula, Megan and Ian and grandchildren Hayden, Amy, Harry and Charlie. David Freyne


Lucy Martha REID (9 February 2010, aged 86)

Lucy was born in Victoria, obtaining her dietetic qualifications at the Gordon Institue of Technology in Geelong. Her thesis, The Food Fairies, was published by the Red Cross. In 1948 she visited PNG and started work there in 1950 as the first dietician in PNG. She helped to set up “women’s groups” where information was shared and education on how to overcome or minimize the nutritional deficiencies was provided. In 1957 she worked with Dr Carleton Gajdusek, Dr Vince Zigas and Jack Baker (patrol officer) in the Fore country of PNG trying to identify the cause of Kuru. In 1976 she attended Dr Gajdusek’s post Nobel Prize conference in New York. She married Jack Reid in 1957 and settled in Lae, then on a farm in the Markham Valley. She raised two children, Michelle and Jeanette, and later enjoyed three grandchildren. She retired to Queensland. In 2007 she was invited to speak at a conference at the Royal Society in London on her work with Kuru. In 2008 she was honoured by the Dietitians Association of Australia for her contribution to the profession. Lady Barbara Jephcott


Madge Constant (Brownie) ORMSBY (5 June 2010, aged 86)

Madge was born in Gawler, where she attended school and eventually began her general nursing training, graduating in 1947. She completed her Midwifery Certificate and would fly to collect patients in labour, in what was a precursor to the Royal Flying Doctor Service. Numerous postings in the country, city and England, gaining experience and qualifications, eventually led her to Port Moresby on 12 May 1957, where she stayed for some 15 years.

In addition to travelling throughout the country using general, midwifery and children’s nursing skills, she was privileged to be a member of the Girl Guide Movement training Papuan, New Guinean and Chinese girls and finishing up as Deputy Territory Commissioner.

Madge married Ralph Ormsby, who was a Magistrate at Madang. He had been a Mounted Trooper in NSW and served in the Australian Army in PNG during World War II. Held in high regard by both the Papua New Guineans and European Administration alike, they travelled extensively, with the towns of Wau, Madang, Lae and Rabaul being fondly remembered. When Ralph retired they moved to Queensland, but because of his ill health, then returned to her birth state of South Australia, where he died in 1974. Madge travelled the world in the coming years catching up and staying with many of the friends and patients she met along the way. For those fortunate enough to have known her, they would have experienced what a wonderful, generous, humorous and somewhat eccentric lady she was.

Madge was buried with her beloved Ralph at Centennial Park Cemetery, Pasadena, South Australia. Louise Forgie-Wendt


Ronald FOCKEN (14 June 2010, aged 72)

Ron was born on 8 July 1937 to Frederick John William Focken and Frances Beatrice Focken. He was raised in Bowral, then a small country town in the 1940s/50s. He joined the Papua New Guinea administration in February 1956 aged 18 as a Cadet Patrol Officer. Following a short induction course at the Australian School of Pacific Administration, Sydney, the 30 plus cadets flew by slow-motion in a DC3 aircraft to Brisbane to board the Queenslanders, thence to Port Moresby, arriving soon after sunrise.

First posting was to Madang HQ for six months, followed by postings to Bogia and later Aiome as Officer-in-Charge replacing Patrol Officer Brian McBride. Ron spoke of his fond memories of Assistant District Officer Bill Johnston and wife Nancy at Bogia and Brian during the Aiome handover.

In 1958 he completed the ASOPA Long Course (with assistance of the nearby Buena Vista oasis). Next posting was to Milne Bay District, as Officer-in-Charge Konemaiava Patrol Post (Suau Coast) during 1959-61.

Pleasant and very interesting additions to Konemaiava’s patrolling program, during this period, were Woodlark Island, Laughlin, Alcester, Egum Group and the Marshall-Bennetts. Even more pleasant was a four month temporary (and unexpected) posting to Losuia, Trobriand Islands, in early 1960s as OIC (requiring the temporary closure of Konemaiava.)

Next posting was to the Southern Highlands District where duties were undertaken at Mendi HQ, Koroba and as Officer-in-Charge at Komo and Nipa during 1961-65. Assistant District Officer Neil Dessailley’s early advice and knowledge concerning Huri people and culture were much appreciated during subsequent duties at Koroba/Komo.

Later postings were to Wewak and Goroka. Ron’s final year was at Port Moresby with the Administrator’s Department (1969) before “going south” in early 1970 to reside in Canberra where he completed a Bachelor of Arts degree at Australian National University and joined the Commonwealth Public Service.

Ron is survived by five daughters: Susanne, Alison, Julia, Alexandra and Annabel. Two brothers, Alan and Gerald, reside in Tasmania and Melbourne respectively. Ron reckons that he lost more sweat in Canberra contributing to the upbringing of five daughters than all the “hills and dales” the PNG bush could throw at him, and that later he wore out many brooms sweeping would-be suitors off the front porch! (Em tasol Masta)  

Graham Robert HAMILTON (1 July 2010, aged 64)

Graham was born and educated in the coal mining city of Cessnock, NSW. He obtained his Leaving Certificate in 1963 and, after 6 months working in the local  Commonwealth Bank, he applied for, was interviewed by Bill Seale, and accepted as a Cadet Patrol Officer in May 1964. With 29 other CPOs Graham arrived in Port Moresby in June and was posted to Milne Bay District. He loved the work patrolling nearly every village in the Raba Raba Sub District and reconstructing the Agaun airstrip, all under the guidance of Ross Johnson. Later postings included Rabaul, Lassul Bay, Yangoru (Sepik) and Wewak.

It was in Yangoru in 1969 that Graham met his wife, a mission teacher, and before the end of the year they were married in Sydney. They returned to Wewak where Graham was appointed a/ADO Lands and patrolled along the Sepik River and the outlying Islands.

Returning to Australia they moved to Canberra working in the Public thence Private sectors for a number of years. Both daughters Kelly and Katherine were born in Canberra.

In 1974 the family moved to Newcastle where Graham worked in the insurance industry. He set up his own brokerage in 1978 and worked with his wife until it was sold in 2005 due to ill health. Graham loved his golf and played until he could no longer enjoy it. He worked as a volunteer at the Hunter Region Botanical Gardens every Tuesday for 4 years with his beloved orchids.

Graham battled cancer from 1993, but 2008-2010 proved too much. A melanoma spread and infected his liver. In early 2010 Graham & Lisa successfully set up the Hunter Region Melanoma Patients Support Group for men and women suffering from the terrible disease.

Graham deeply desired to walk the track of the 2/22nd Battalion, when they attempted the escape from Rabaul, through some of the area he knew well in the Bainings, however illness always deferred the walk. Graham and Lisa returned to Rabaul in 1999 and again in 2010, loving every minute of time there. Graham is survived by wife Lisa and daughters Kelly & Katherine. Lisa Hamilton


John COAD (Cannon) (15 May 2010, aged 73)

John was born in Tenterfield in 1937 and went to PNG as a Cadet Patrol Officer in January 1960. Before he left he had met his future wife, Eileen. In 1962, after a period in the Sepik District, he attended the Long Course at ASOPA. What few of us knew then about this quiet gentle young man was that he had spent most of his childhood in various orphanages.

At fourteen, John was invited to travel from the orphanage in Goulburn to spend a holiday with Mr Lew Coad, an organist at St Francis church in central Melbourne. Once they turned sixteen the boys were sent out as farm hands so John was allowed to stay in Melbourne and he was legally adopted taking the name Coad. He had been told he had no living relatives.

In January 1963, John married Eileen who was Margaret O’Connor’s cousin. (Margaret was a CEO at ASOPA in 1961-62.) They were posted to the Trobriand Islands and their first child, Paul, was born at Samarai followed by Stephen. Goroka residents at this time may remember an airline charter to the Trobriands where everybody stayed with the Coads. At the end of 1966, while stationed in the Eastern Highlands, John and Eileen decided to return to Melbourne and settled in Strathmore. This became home for all of the boys who now included Greg, Shaun and Glenn.

Having had no family life as a child, John absolutely loved his wife and children. They were his life and holidays revolved around them particularly camping holidays. Eventually, in 1981, he was able to find and meet his mother. She had married an American serviceman and moved there. John then met up with numerous other relatives and he decided to return to his birth name of Cannon. His adoptive father had died previously. John later discovered he had close relatives of his father living in Melbourne and was able to develop a great relationship with them as well.

In 2001 while John and Eileen were travelling around Australia the first symptoms of Dementia appeared and he was diagnosed at 64. For several years he was able to continue with his hobbies which included reading, genealogy and golf but slowly life became more confusing.

John also adored his five grandchildren who were all boys and he will have two more grandchildren due in September this year. He had several close friends who, together with his sons, continued to visit him weekly throughout his illness.

John was in permanent care when he passed away peacefully on Saturday 15 May 2010. His greatest legacy must be the love that he gave his family and friends, and which was returned in equal measure. Gaye Speldewinde


Bruce Anthony FLYNN, OBE (28 June 2010, aged 79)

In 1954 Bruce was seconded from Tooths Brewery in Sydney to work for three years as a brewer in the South Pacific Brewery, Badili. He stayed at SP for 36 years, becoming general manager in 1973 and continuing as a director until 1995. He served as a diplomatic honorary consul for Finland from 1977 to 1988 and was a long-time supporter of Mother Teresa’s nuns at Badili.

After arriving in PNG, Bruce was made captain/coach of the Magani Badili Rugby League Club in Port Moresby and the team won several premierships. He also captained the Papua side winning many of their clashes against New Guinea.  Bruce was actively involved in many commercial and charitable enterprises and awarded an OBE by the Queen for his services to industry, sports and community in PNG. He was President of the Employers’ Federation, president of the Manufacturers’ Council, president and life member of PNG Sports Federation, president and Paul Harris Fellow of Port Moresby Rotary, president and life member of the Papua Club, president and life member of PNG and POM Rugby League Football Associations, president, captain, coach and life member of Magani RL club, deputy chairman of the Investment Corporation, deputy chairman of the then PNG Banking Corporation (forerunner of the BSP) and PNG Elcom, director of BSP and director of Divine Word Publishing.Info from “Post-Courier”, 30 June 2010


William (Bill) John WHITE  (4 February 2010, aged 69)

William (Bill) John White was born in London in January 1941, emigrated to Melbourne in 1961 and, during the first six months of 1962, successfully completed the E Course at Malaguna Teachers’ College, Rabaul.

Starting at the young age of 21, Bill was appointed as Headmaster of various Primary T Schools during the years 1962 to 1969. His first posting was to Dangsai, Kar Kar Island, in the Madang District. After a short appointment in remote Brahaim, Bill returned to Kar Kar Island, this time to Kavailo.

In 1966, Bill married Teresa in Madang, was posted to Bogia for that year and then to Taleng, Kar Kar Island, until 1969. During that time, Bill was appointed by Nick Bricknell, Madang District Education Officer, to co-ordinate the building of the first High School on Kar Kar Island, which was successfully completed in readiness for the start of the 1969 school year.

From 1970 to 1979, Bill was appointed as Senior Lecturer at the Port Moresby and Madang Teachers’ Colleges, during which he ran Headmaster training courses; and, finally, as the Executive Officer responsible for Executive Development, PNG Department of Education, Konedobu.

After 17 years of dedicated service in PNG, Bill was employed from 1979 to 2004 by the Catholic Education Office, Archdiocese of Sydney, as Co-ordinator of Multicultural and ESL Education, and later as Principal at St Mel’s Catholic Primary School, Campsie. Bill was an outstanding educator, who inspired hundreds of students and teachers both in PNG and in Sydney and continues to do so.

Bill is deeply missed by his wife, Teresa, his three children, Sean, Jamie and Rachel, six grandchildren and all his family and friends. Bill was a loving and devoted husband, father, grandfather and friend, who lifted our spirits with his smile and his special sense of humour. May his strength and courage live on in us all.

“Dance as if no-one were watching.  Sing as if no-one were listening. Live every day as if it were your last.  Smile when you think of me.”

Teresa White


Sir Brian BELL (25 July 2010, aged 82)

Sir Brian travelled to Port Moresby in 1954 from his home town of Chinchilla in Queensland, where he had worked as a pharmacist. He opened his first shop on Port Moresby’s Ela Beach in 1958 selling guns, hardware and paint after working in government’s bulk medical store. Sir Brian remained there over 55 years, becoming one of the best known businessmen in PNG, employing over 1300 staff in 35 stores and agencies specialising in white goods. He owned a substantial property portfolio. He said: “There was no tax then, and the phones were free. There was no public transport, just old jeeps.” He soon took over the Hoover agency from Burns Philp. He offered consumer credit with considerable success, and without charging “the usurious rates of some PNG money-lenders”. He originally sourced 80 per cent of his goods from Australia but in more recent times more than 90 per cent came from Asia, mainly from China. Sir Brian remained chairman of Port Moresby General Hospital board until he died. He was a committed Anglican. He was well known for his philanthropy and provided many scholarships to young people. His wife, Jeannie, died in 1992. Excerpts from Rowan Callick’s article in “The Australian”, 27 July 2010


Colin LIDDLE (27 May 2010, aged 82)

Colin started out as a cadet in Buka Patrol Post. Bob Cole was the ADC at the time. He served his Cadetship there until 1951 from whence he went to ASOPA on a two year Course which he passed without repeating exams.

He married Eileen Nestor and they were stationed in Finschafen until October when Colin was transferred to Rabaul to begin his career in the Local Government Training Centre at Vunadadir, about 17 miles from Rabaul over a very rough road. He built the trainees’ quarters as well as the Training Centre while carrying on the duties of ADC in the Vunadadir/Toma/NangaNanga Sub District. After long service leave, Colin was posted to Mt Hagen where he was the Local Government Officer for the Highlands Region. He inaugurated the Mt Hagen, Goroka and Mendi Councils as well as several smaller Councils.

He also spent some more time in Bougainville, on Buka Island, where he was sent to control the Hahalis Welfare Society and to establish the Buka Council. Colin was sent to Rabaul to deal with the Mataungans many of whom were his friends. He was then posted to Port Moresby and became Town Clerk.After Independence in 1975, he resigned and returned to Australia where he became CEO of the Waterways Commission and Swan River Management Authority, retiring in 1990. He is survived by Eileen and four successful sons. Eileen Liddle


Jack Lusby BURNS (20 July 2010, aged 92)

Jack survived one of the great tragedies of the Pacific war, as well as the horrors of being a prisoner-of-war in Japan. He volunteered for the AIF in 1939, was selected for one of the first commando units and promoted rapidly to lieutenant.In July 1941 he embarked with No 1 Independent Company for Kavieng, New Ireland. After the Japanese attack, Burns’s last job was to blow up 84,550 litres of fuel, before escaping with his company on an 80-tonne schooner. They were soon sunk by a Japanese float plane and he was then picked up by a destroyer and became a POW. Separating the officers and nurses from the non-commissioned troops and civilians saved Burns’s life: an American submarine sank the Montevideo Maru and more than 1000 Australian soldiers and civilians lost their lives. Burns left Rabaul on the Naruto Maru that went first to Yokahama, then to Zentsuji on Shikoku Island, where he stayed for the next years. The POWs only had the clothes they had worn in tropical Kavieng. They made wooden clogs to protect their feet. They were starved and many men froze in the winter. Burns had his teeth knocked out by a guard. The day the Japanese surrendered, American aircraft dropped goodies in 40-gallon drums and Burns scoffed an eight ounce stick of Hershey chocolate making him so sick he couldn’t eat for two days. When Burns arrived in Manila on his way home he had shrunk to 43 kilograms. After arriving back home in Melbourne, Burns worked in an accounting firm and in 1946 married Leline Staley. He eventually became managing partner in the accounting firm and enjoyed a daily crossword and bridge. He is survived by his wife Leline, children Andrew, Robert and Deborah and five grandchildren. Source: ‘Figures fell into place in harsh lottery of war’ by Keith Dunstan, “The Age”, 6 August 2010


Jack O’SHEA (1923-2010)

Jack O’Shea was born in New Zealand in 1923, but lived in Sydney from the age of 10. He joined the RAAF in 1941 and served for four years. Notably, with 462/466 heavy bomber squadron, he participated as a bomb-aimer in a remarkable 39 raids; in mid- 1944, including the D-Day invasion of Europe and Germany’s heavily defended Ruhr Valley.

On discharge from the RAAF, he studied law and in 1953 became a government legal officer in PNG. He lived in Port Moresby and Lae, but his duties took him to all parts of PNG. He was involved with many community activities, notably rugby league and golf and, for a time, was President of the Lae Golf Club.

He was Chief Commissioner of the Lands Titles Commission when he left PNG in 1973. Back in Australia he maintained his interest in PNG and his colleagues and he became a prominent member of our association. Over many years he continuously and gratuitously provided legal and general advice to the PNGAA which assisted greatly in its progress and development. Information supplied by Jack’s daughter, Gwenneth O’Shea


Daphne Alice NUNN (19 April 2010, aged 79)

Daphne was born and grew up in Rockhampton where she met her husband Arnold Nunn through her brothers. Arnold returned to New Guinea in 1949 after his RAAF service in WWII to work in the Dept of Works and Housing. Daphne and Arnold were married in August 1951 and went to Rabaul to live. Arnold worked for Bluey Hales in his furniture factory and eventually rented the factory from him for five years.

Daphne worked as a pre-school teacher in Malaguna Road, St Georges Avenue and also at the Chinese pre-school. Later, Daphne’s parents, Alice and Tom Franklin, visited Rabaul, staying two years! Arnold built a new workshop with Jack Casey and moved the business to Malaguna Road near Tunnel Hill. The furniture factory was called “Nunn and Casey”. It eventually became the first business to be owned by Papua New Guineans who named it “Palnamadaka Furniture and Joinery Works”. 

Daphne and Arnold had two children, David born 1955 and Susan born 1957. They attended Court Street Primary School. Daphne and the children returned to Australia after 18 years in Rabaul. Arnold remained there to control and teach the local people business methods. Arnold had a good rapport with the New Guineans, spending 25 years there in total. Daphne, although she had never experienced signs of heart trouble, passed away suddenly with a massive heart attack. She is survived by Arnold, David and Susan and six grandchildren. Arnold Nunn


Mary Anne BIDDULPH (Harper) (30 April 2010, aged 83)

No further details available


Madge BLANDEN (26 July 2010, aged 103)

No further details available


Bob CURTIS (20 July 2010, aged 77)

No further details available


Heini FAAST (29 March 2010)

No further details available


Robin Sydney McKAY (7 August 2010, aged 93)

No further details available

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