Coastwatcher Peter Figgis died on Friday night. PNG Attitude will publish an obituary soon. Meanwhile, here’s part of his story as told by Ken Wright…
On December 1943, the US Navy had
requested that Australian Naval Intelligence establish a Coastwatching outpost
Lt Cdr Eric Feldt asked former patrol officer Sub Lt Malcolm Wright to look at the possibilities of the operation. Wright spent time in Port Moresby evaluating plans and locations and was joined by Peter Figgis, an Intelligence Officer in the 2/22 Battalion AIF, and Les Williams who was a corporal in the Armoured Division of the AIF.
The three men decided that
Figgis, Williams, Wright and the four
natives boarded the USN submarine Greenling
just after dawn on 21 February 1943 and departed from
When not on duty watching sea and sky for enemy movement, the Coastwatchers read, played cards, treated various native ailments and learned a great deal about the natives and their customs. Most importantly, they were able to spread their influence even to the point where they had valuable contacts within the Japanese fortress of Rabaul.
Peter Figgis was responsible for communications and intelligence. Les Williams was camp commandant and medical officer and Malcolm Wright was overall leader and responsible for liaison with the natives. It was a very successful team.
From the time of their arrival in
On 25 March 1944, PT boats brought in new
teams and extracted Peter Figgis and seven Allied airmen. Figgis had been in
You can download the full Ken Wright feature on the exploits of Malcolm Wright, ‘Coastwatchers: No More Smelling Flowers’, here