A NEW gravesite memorial for Patrol Officer George Charlton Tuckey (1913–46) was consecrated in Kundiawa yesterday.
George died in Kundiawa from tetanus which onset after he was gored by a cow on the then small government station.
When the Pacific War reached New Guinea in 1942, George was working at Wau with his wife and two young children.
He and his brother immediately joined the TPNG Volunteer Rifles and then the Australian Imperial Force and went into action against the Japanese. His brother, wounded on the Kokoda Track in 1942, returned to the front line only to be killed in action in Madang in 1944.
After Army service, George was trained and commissioned as a District Services Officer (a wartime military-appointed kiap) with Australia New Guinea Administrative Unit (ANGAU) and served in the Central Highlands Division.
He stayed on when the war finished and joined the Department of District Services in late 1945, serving as a Patrol Officer until his death at Kundiawa in June 1946.
Patrol Officer Tuckey was officer in charge of the Kundiawa Base Camp when it was a stopover for personnel and supplies moving west to Mt Hagen and the base for patrols into uncontrolled country in the area which is now Simbu Province.
As a commissioned officer of the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary (Field Branch) he commanded a detachment of 20 police until his untimely death whilst on duty.
Tuckey had escorted some cattle from Bena Bena to Kundiawa in the course of developing economic projects to provide the Chimbu people with an alternative to incessant tribal conflict.
He was fatally gored by one of the animals whilst supervising the construction of pens for the cattle in Kundiawa and buried beside his tent.
The first kiap house was built nearby and this later became the front garden of the provincial police commander’s residence near the front driveway of the Simbu governor’s residence.
The simple gravesite was later upgraded by the addition of a cement cover to the grave and a wooden cross.
Last year, Governor Noah Kool and Provincial Administrator Joseph Naur were contacted by the Port Moresby Sub Branch of the Returned Services League of Australia (RSL), which asked permission to erect a simple stone cairn memorial to the former Australian Army officer and Patrol Officer.
The response was immediate and overwhelmingly supported by the Simbu Provincial Government, which commissioned contractors to erect an imposing memorial to George Tuckey. This has transformed his gravesite into a fine monument where generations to come will contemplate the bewilderment and struggle of their forefathers to come to terms with the modern world and also be reminded of the service and sacrifice of the early kiaps and police.
Tuckey’s nephew was present at yesterday’s dedication and consecration service officiated over by Anglican Bishop Nathan of Aipo Rongo (Mt Hagen).
Senior Constable John Kora, community policing coordinator at provincial police headquarters was the project site manager. His commitment, and energetic services were vital to bringing the project to a successful conclusion.
Tuckey’s police fired an 18 round volley over their officer’s grave back in 1946 and this last honour was again paid to George Tuckey yesterday by a firing party of Kundiawa police.
Peter Turner ML BEM is the RSL’s Liaison Officer with the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary