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28 May 2015


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Keith Hopper

Have David's memoirs been published? Author and historian, Robert Kendall Piper passed away recently. I believe he may have been assisting David in publishing his story. Does anyone have any information on this?

J. Gladwell

The post by William Dunlop of 29 May 2015 needs some correction: ---

1. David Marsh was employed by Bert Kienzle on the Yodda goldfields of which Kienzle was the manager, not on Kienzle's Mamba Estate, and apart from a couple of days when David first arrived in PNG he lived in accommodation he made himself at the Yodda Goldfields.

2. Bert Kienzle's rubber plantation was struggling and he relied on the Goldfields to make ends meet. Thanks to David Marsh's agricultural high school training in Australia he was able to not only expand and improve the rubber trees planted but introduced improved tapping methods to improve the yield. This was not why he was employed, because he was taken on as a field assistant on the Yodda Goldfields, but he was so practical at seeing better solutions to problems and suggested better ways to Kienzle for improving the rubber enterprise ..... not bad for a lad of barely 18 when he arrived at the Yodda!

3. "and was evacuated out of the Kokoda area at the onset of the invasion by the Japanese" is a completely inaccurate version of the truth. David Marsh was ordered by Kienzle to take both Kienzle's father and father-in-law to safety in Port Moresby, while Kienzle travelled overland to Port Moresby to report to the Army prior to working out how to set up the Kokoda Trail. Kienzle's wife and children had already been airlifted out. David took the two men, and whoever was left of the civilian population of Kokoda to the coast at Sanananda, found a boat and travelled by sea around the North Coast of Papua, bound for Port Moresby under the noses of the advancing Japanese who landed at Sanananda shortly after. This journey also had them skirting the action of the Battle of Milne Bay, and they eventually reached Abau, and Kienzle's two relatives then flew to Port Moresby. David was not "evacuated" he evacuated others linked to Kienzle.

4. At Abau David Marsh was immediately taken into ANGAU as a Patrol Officer, and shortly after the Army took over ANGAU , with David initially as a WO II, and later as a Lieutenant. This was the beginning of the career which would eventually take him to District Commissioner, and the person chosen by Michael Somare to be responsible for organising the Independence handover and celebrations in September 1975

These facts will be found in the shortly to be published Memoirs of David Marsh.

Richard White

I met David Marsh in 2000 while working for a carer support service in Dee Why. David was the carer for his wife.

For five years David was a member of a Male Carers Group who met fortnightly to discuss issues arising from their care for the wives.

It was David who coined the expression 'creative whingeing' to describe the experience of voicing frustration, concern, personal ailments and stories about their own lives.

No 'program' that I devised came close to providing support, encouragement and companionship like 'creative whingeing'.

David provided leadership and compassion for his fellow carers and in turn was supported by them. They were a fine group of men and an inspiration to me of how loyalty, persistence and good humour can survive the challenges of growing old and reveal a life of steady and unpretentious dedication.

I was privileged to meet David at this time of his life and it was only gradually that I came to know of his considerable achievements and adventures.

Unfortunately, I missed his funeral and I would like to contact his daughter, Diane, to review an article I have written on David for a magazine to which he subscribed.

Richard White P O Box 586 Cootamundra NSW 2590

Doug Robbins

I well remember the occasion Chris Overland refers to – or at least Mr Marsh handling a similar confrontation in the same cool manner. I can’t find a specific date in my Field Officers Journal but that’s not surprising. After Mr Marsh wrote to HQ that my very first Patrol Report (1970 Tufi Familiarisation) was “a lengthy narrative approximating a travelogue rather than a report” (Tufi is beautiful!) I thereafter reduced anything in writing to the bare facts and nothing extraneous. I have always admired my District Commissioner Mr Marsh. In more recent times he said to me that I was “a wasted talent” and “always enthusiastic”, with “applaud” (PNGAA Library). What better reference or compliment could I have from someone so experienced in PNG affairs, especially on the Papua side, during and after the wartime Papuan Campaign?

Peter Comerford

When living in Popondetta in the '80's I heard a story about a potential riot and the Orokaivans had occupied the streets and the main oval in town.

Evidently 'Swampy' sought the advice of Bishop George Ambon. He asked for advice and George suggested they drive into the middle of the rabble and address the crowd.

Marsh asked what might happen and George replied "they will possibly kill us".

Marsh evidently felt that if George was prepared to do this he was with him so they drove into the melee with George yelling in Orokaivan for everyone to go home.

It worked. Exaggerated or not it is a great story and a credit to both the late David Swampy Marsh and the late Bishop George Ambo.

William Dunlop

Marsh was initially an employee of Bert Kienzl of Mamba Estate in the late 1930's and was evacuated out of the Kokoda area at the onset of the invasion by the Japanese.

I had the pleasure of escorting Miss Sue Marsh in Port Moresby in 1974 socially and on a number of fishing trips in my game boat built in Popondetta by Jack Lyons. My very fond regards to Susan after all these years.

Comment substantially edited to remove unnecessary vituperation and correct numerous errors - KJ

Kela Kapkora Sil Bolkin

Thank you for your work and time in PNG. You have contributed to building a nation among different tribes.

May David's memories and legacy continue to live among the Orokaivas and the many tribes up north.

May his soul rest in peace.

Chips Mackellar

Farewell David, but we will meet you once again when we join you in that big Patrol Post in the Sky.

There's a Patrol Post up there in the sky,
Above the sea near Lae,
Nor'-Nor'-West of Samarai,
South-East of Hansa Bay.
It has palm trees waving in the moon,
Where mosquitos sting at night,
And canoes out on the blue lagoon,
Awaiting fish to bite.
It smells of kunai in the rain,
And smoke from the valley floor,
And you'll hear the pounding surf again,
On the reef beyond the shore.

It's the place where all the Kiaps go,
When their life on earth is through,
And they talk with all the friends they know,
Of the things they used to do.
They talk of all the times now past,
And of places far away,
And of all the memories that last,
Of Independence Day.
They talk of sights and sounds and smells,
And of people they all knew,
Of bugle calls, and mission bell,
And garamut and kundu.

Of days gone by in Samarai,
And windswept coral cays,
Of tribal fights, and freezing nights,
And misty Highland days,
Of black-palm floors, and tidal bores,
And life on the River Fly,
The Kavieng Club, and the bottom pub,
With a thirst you couldn't buy.
Of carrier loads, and Highland Roads,
At the time when we were there,
Of bailer-shell pearls, and Trobriand girls,
With flowers in their hair.

And when we say goodbye to you,
Don't mourn us when we go.
For the Big DC will call us too,
And this of course, we know.
That last patrol will take us all
Along that well worn track,
But the difference with this final call,
Is that we won't be coming back.
But our parting should not cause you pain.
It's not sad for us to die,
For we shall all soon meet again,
In that Patrol Post in the Sky.

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