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06 July 2018


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Here's another thing.

Before becoming kiaps we had to swear an Oath of Allegiance on the Bible or an Affirmation of Allegiance.

Mixed up in this were various Oaths of Office, including one for the RPNGC.

I can't remember what else we signed up for but someone has suggested that there was something to do with the Naval Reserve thrown in there. The logic was that in the event of another war we'd be needed as coastwatchers.

Is this just my friend's imagination at work or is it true. Or was it something that was more related to ANGAU?

Because if we had some sort of ex-officio rank in the navy we were already in the military and shouldn't have been called up for National Service.

You would have thought that somebody in the Department of Labour and National Service would have thought about what to do with the blokes in TPNG.

Judging by the responses so far it appears that this is not the case.

Or maybe they thought that pursuing all the recalcitrants in TPNG wasn't worth the bother.

I haven't got copies of my letters to them but they were along the lines of "if you want me, come and get me". Coupled with my Olsobip c/- Star Mountains, Western District address.

I know that the Security and Intelligence Branch in Port Moresby were involved in something related but when I did time with them before returning to Olsobip they didn't mention anything.

All a bit of a mystery.

My number came up in the mid-1965 ballot during my second year of teacher training at ASOPA. Fortunately, because the (highly commendable) policy of the day stipulated that three years of successful teaching was required before training was considered to have been completed and certification was endowed, my induction was deferred for three years.

Three years hence, having barely thought about the prospect of being conscripted and while on leave in Sydney, I visited my former landlady who presented me with an envelope which had arrived only the previous day and which contained a demand to attend a pre-service medical examination.

Being vehemently opposed to the American war in Vietnam and our role in it, and having no desire whatsoever to serve in the armed forces, my immediate response was to consider the various ways I could avoid or evade such service.

Being the coward that I am, my first thought was to fly back to PNG - where I was due to assume Keith Jackson’s role at the Education Department’s Publications and Broadcasts Branch – in the (vain, certainly) hope that Army authorities would leave me be and/or I could argue that I was already serving the Commonwealth overseas and could, therefore, be released from the call-up obligation.

Fortunately, common sense prevailed and I undertook the medical examination, just four days before I was due to fly back to POM.

By this time I’d resolved that, if conscripted, I’d apply to join the Education Corps in the hope that I could secure a posting to join other nashos teaching within the PIR, preferably at the Moem Barracks in Wewak.

That resolution proved to be unnecessary when I telephoned the Army medicos the next day and was told that my service would not be required and that I was free to return to PNG.

No explanation was forthcoming, despite my requests, and I was left wondering whether I’d failed the medical and, if so, why.

A visit to our family GP on the way back to POM confirmed that, apart from slightly elevated blood pressure – in itself no good reason for failing an Army medical, I was in robust health.

I never did receive any official notification about my release from national service. Perhaps, as Phil and Keith said, there was some kind of unspoken exemption for those of who were serving in PNG.

I contacted Labour and National Service and was told that I would have to register and not leave the country until the ballot was over.

I then spoke with a contact in Crown Law and was subsequently told that, provided I left Australia before registration opened, I would not have to register.

That date was the 21st, our batch left on the 18th. I advised L&NS accordingly (without mentioning Crown Law), and they reverted with advice that they had spoken with Crown Law and I was OK to leave before the 21st.

My Crown Law contact then called to tell me that it was he who had spoken with L&NS!

There were 38 in my batch (plus another joined us in Port Moresby). I have a vague recollection of a 40th at Sydney airport being arrested for trying to evade call-up.

It seemed that a later edict excluded all eligible young men legitimately working in PNG from the ballot. Subsequently there appeared to be a remarkable influx of young Australians to the territory, but that was probably coincidence - KJ

Everybody wasn't so lucky. Tony (AF) Huelin Cadet Patrol Officer at Maprik and Dreikikir 1964 -1966 died on 3 January 1969 as an acting Sub-Lieutenant flying a helicopter on operations in Viietnam.

My marble rolled out of the barrel not long after I arrived in PNG.

Despite having already served in the CMF for some 15 months prior to going to PNG, the Department of the Army wrote to me telling me that, upon my return to Australia, I must register for national service within 14 days.

I didn't and my failure to do so either was not noticed or regarded with indifference.

Lucky me - no Vietnam.

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