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December newsletter hits the streets

Speer MBE is inaugural life member of MvM group

The Montevideo Maru Memorial Committee rarely meets face-to-face.

With members scattered throughout the world – Norway, Dubai, Japan, as well as Australia - it conducts the vast bulk of its business online.

Despite that, it’s been a big first year for the group, with the Montevideo Maru soaring into public consciousness in Australia; the Federal government becoming engaged in the issue after decades of official neglect; and the formation of a thriving organisation (over 160 members and growing daily).

Albert Speer, Esq MBE On Wednesday - at the committee’s second meeting in Sydney – Albert Speer MBE was awarded inaugural life membership of the committee.

As committee member Rod Miller said, “He really is a man of New Guinea.”

Albert was born in Roslyn NSW in 1922 and needed his mother’s permission to join the army in 1942 aged 17 to serve in World War II.

He became a medic in PNG and served at a number of locations including Milne Bay and Wau.

After the war, he stayed on with the post war administration as a medical assistant.

His role with the Department of Public Health took him to Kerema, Popondetta, Lae, Tari, Koroba, Rabaul and Goroka as well as Moresby.

Most famously, he was involved with medical support after the Mount Lamington volcano erupted, and, in the movie New Guinea Patrol, was part of the team that was in the field for seventy days with a patrol line half a mile long.

When he retired in 1979, Albert had served in PNG for 37 years.

He became interested in the Montevideo Maru during his posting in Rabaul and started intensive research into the tragedy around 1997.

Speer_Award His commitment to finding the nominal roll of the men who died on the ship was often frustrating and for many years seemed fruitless. But Albert was undaunted and, in his pursuit of the truth, kept the flame burning for the relatives of the missing men.

Now, as the search for the nominal roll warms up, and as the new committee engages itself in a range of matters related to the national recognition of the tragedy, the awards acknowledges the great contribution that Albert made through his unyielding effort.

Comments

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Malcolm Dickson

Albert - If you remember me then let me know. I was Albert Maori Kiki's Secretary in Moresby and a Councillor on the City Council.

I am attempting to add to what's been written about Kiki. There does not seem much has been put down about him as Defence and Foreign affairs Minister.

Anyway I want to catch up with you even if it is only on the web.

Regards, Malcolm Dickson - living now on the Northern Rivers NSW with family in Sydney and Byron Bay

Phones 07 5590 9817 and 04 5728 3475
Email mjpdickson@unwired.com.au

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