BY KEITH JACKSON
But in the most recent era, that since World War II, serving Australia and the people of what is now PNG, there were the kiaps as we recognise and know them today: the men who did more than most to develop a nation from 800 fragmented tribes and to ready it to govern itself.
It was a mission they accomplished with great effectiveness, although many of them continue to deny the achievement to this day. They should not. I saw what they did then. I have had no reason to change my mind since. Without them the nation-state of Papua New Guinea could not possibly have been created.
The luminous photograph above, taken in 1944, is a great and telling picture in its own right and it is also of note because so many of the young men it depicts in the two back rows (some who at the time were still serving as wartime soldiers) went on to become significant figures in the pre-independence story of Papua New Guinea. [Left click on the photo to see it in larger dimension]
As such, their names and their own personal stories are honoured.
And in the front row are their instructors; some great names there too.
Harry West OAM (middle row, fourth from right), one of the great kiaps, wrote in PNG Attitude some years ago:
Then in 1944, Army routine orders sought applicants to attend a School of Civil Affairs for aspirant patrol officers.
I was interviewed in Cairns by Colonel Murray, later the first Administrator of Papua New Guinea, Les Haylen, the Secretary of the Department of Territories and a Federal MP, along with numerous others and 40 ended up at Duntroon.
After five gruelling months, 18 of the 40 were returned to their units, six were sent to Borneo and the remaining 16, including me, to PNG.
Australia took Papua New Guinea very seriously in those days. And of the 40 men who attended this first kiaps’ course, only 22 graduated.
The passing of the years dulls the memory, and sometimes the name of a man who was fiercely well known back then has receded to some murky cavern of the mind, proving nigh impossible to retrieve.
But PNG Attitude’s correspondents have sought to reconstruct this group of stalwart men – and this is where they have got to so far:
Back Row, left to right: 1 - Michael Conroy; 2, 3,4 -Unknown; 5 – Hitchcock; 6,7 - Unknown; 8 - Watson; 9 - Geoff Herkes; 10,11 - Unknown; 12 - Kingsley Jackson (District Commissioner, retired 1973); 13 – Unknown;14 - Cassidey
Middle Row, left to right: 1 - George Tuckey (kiap, died Kundiawa, c 1946): 2 -McKinnon; 3 - Unkown; 4 - Dudley Young-Whitford (Patrol Officer & Assistant District Officer, died 1958); 5 - Des Clifton-Bassett (District Commissioner, retired 1973); 6 - Breakespear; 7 - Grainger (Blue) Morris (possibly Registrar of Cooperatives); 8 - Unknown; 9 - Doug Parrish (kiap, later Secretary for Labour); 10 - Harry West OAM (District Commissioner, later Secretary, Department of Native Affairs); 12 - Brian Connelley; 13 - Eric Flower (kiap, later Executive Officer Department of Administrator); 14 -Russ Crooks
Front Row, left to right: 1 - T E H Strehlow (anthropologist); 2 - Jim McCauley (lecturer in history, ASOPA luminary, great Australian poet); 3 - Unknown; 4 - Dudley Jones (later Solicitor, Rabaul); 5 - John Black (1946-1948 Assistant Director, District Services and Native Affairs); 6 - Colonel J K Murray (PNG Administrator prior to Sir Donald Cleland); 7 - Ralph Piddington (anthropologist); 8 - John Andrews (lecturer ASOPA, later Professor of Geography, University of Melbourne); 9 - John Legge (later Professor of History, University of Melbourne); 10 – Lieutenant Peter Ryan MM, kiap, publisher and commentator); 11 - Sgt Major Stead (later at ASOPA)
I thank another great kiap, Bill Brown MBE, a former District Commissioner of Bougainville in truly exacting times, for sharing this historic photograph with us.