A backward step in a life of progress
Marking the Battle of the Coral Sea

Notes from an ASOPA diary

Max Hayes came upon this site by accident yesterday when checking a reference for the MV ‘Desikoko’, which conveyed some soldiers and civilians from Rabaul shortly before the Japanese captured the town on 23 January 1942. The capture of Rabaul, the aftermath of the Tol massacre and the sinking of the ‘Montevideo Maru’ are areas of ongoing research for Max. But the notes he provides us with here are about ASOPA. And pay special attention to his wonderfiul run-in with Dr Peter Lawrence. Max writes....

I was an ex RAAF photographer who was selected for the Royal Papua and New Guinea Constabulary (RPNGC) in 1959 to set up a photographic section for the force. As a prelude, I had a compulsory short sojourn at ASOPA. I arrived there on Monday 8 June 1959 and, in my diary, made the few notes that follow. Others whom I can recall on the course were Grace Cuthbertson (who became a Rabaul welfare officer) and Pat Ayers (a nursing sister).

8 June, introduction and various lectures, some free time to spend in the library, meals and accommodation good, staff lecturers and fellow students all co-operative, one of the chaps has fourth baby so we adjourned to nearly hotel to celebrate.

9 June, interesting medical and law lectures.

10 June, decided to live at home ( parents lived at Kingsgrove).

11 June, leave home at 7.25am and arrive at Mosman 8.40am. Lectures very interesting and I have a feeling that I will like NG very much.

15 June, Queen's birthday so slept in at home.

17 June, guess who incurred Dr Lawrence's wrath by dozing briefly during his anthropology lecture [the lecture was on ‘live egos and dead egos’, which he illustrated by moving small triangles around on a blackboard, and I was bored out of my brain. I have a recollection of him jumping up and down and screaming "Get out, get out" and shaking me violently. That was a short day for me].

18 June, only seven days to go as I set out for NG.

22 June, possibly the most interesting series of lectures in any one day. Lecturers claim that respect from natives is usually not sincere but merely a pretence.

24 June, away from Mosman about 12.30pm.

25 June, final clearances, pack up and leave from Mascot at 8.15pm.

26 June, (Friday) arrive at PM 6.45am and met by an officer and constables. Located at P Moresby hotel, received equipment (including pistol). I am sure I will like PNG.

End of ASOPA recollections. I went back to the old ASOPA campus in 1998 to locate records of any fellow police officers who had attended there, but told all records dumped as no department, organisation, archive or library wanted them. Such a shame.

You may have seen my various articles over the years in Una Voce and elsewhere. My mission to set up the police photographic section didn't last: they were short of officers in Rabaul and I was sent there six weeks after setting foot in PNG. Commissioner Normoyle said, "Just watch what the other fellows do and you will be alright".

My interests are the overseas police officers of British New Guinea, Papua, German New Guinea, the Territory of New Guinea and the RPNGC from 1888 to 1988. I’m also working to get recognition for Australia's first battle against the Germans at Bitapaka on 11 September 1914 and the loss of our first submarine AE1, never seen again. I’m also a student of World War II particularly as it relates to Rabaul, Toll and the ‘Montevideo Maru’.

Max served in the Royal Australian Air Force from 1950-57 and the Royal Papua New GuineaConstabulary from 1959-74 and was a member of the Papua New Guinea Volunteer Rifles from 1961-63. He has been a member of the International Police Association since 1964. Max lives in Box Hill, a suburb of Melbourne.


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Ken Grant

Apinun Keith. My name is Ken Grant and I attended ASOPA as a cadet education officer in 1964/65. I have only just been admitted to the fold after being missing in action all these years.

The coordinators of the Cairns ‘09 Reunion have asked if I can assist with tracking down the 5 missing graduates of '65. To that end, is there a roll of students through whom we can network to find these people?

On the broader issue, I have many anecdotes of life in PNG until my final departure in 2002. I'm sure if every graduate provided a short history of life in PNG or NT, the book would be a best seller.

Contact Ken at kgr82466@bigpond.net.au

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