David Bailey’s ‘Papua Polaroids’ on show for first time
Reminiscences of rough times: May River & the Mianmin

Jock McIntyre: kiap, adventurer & formidable companion


Jock McIntyreI FIRST MET JOCK McINTYRE IN 1963 when he was the patrol officer in-charge at Dreikikir Patrol Post in the East Sepik District – a tall good-looking Scotsman from Glasgow with a wealth of experience at university and in Canada, New Zealand and PNG’s Western District.

His soft Scottish brogue and impeccable good manners, combined with a forceful individual nature in the company of men, gave colour and attractiveness to his personality.

Men respected him and women liked the look of him. And, from Jock's point of view, there was perhaps nothing he preferred more than to be surrounded with friends in long-drinking sessions.

John, to use his baptismal name, was a good healthy Presbyterian with the usual sectarian attitudes of the time. But the orange and the green didn’t influence who he'd drink with.

One of his best friends was Fr John O’Toole, resident priest at Dreikikir. A Fenian, even an American like O’Toole, was good enough for Jock if he liked a drink, even if at times both were more than forthright with each other.

At the University of Glasgow, where Jock studied veterinary medicine for a couple of years, he was a little put out that a Fenian beat him in the last round of a boxing contest for the university championship. He did concede, however, that the Fenian was a better boxer than he was.

In the logging camps of Canada and in various jobs in New Zealand he worked and played hard. He liked and respected the women he met and they liked and respected him. A fine figure of a woman could at times overcome the appeal of drinking. But I suspect in Jock’s case, the drinking most often won.

He was a gentle giant in his work and in his dealings with Papua New Guineans – always fair and good humoured.

Jock was one of Kennecott’s early field officers, and I well recall him arriving in Angoram from the Star Mountains, laden with rock samples indicating the presence of vast amounts of copper and other metals in the Mount Fubilan area.

He was a man for all seasons, but more a character of the 19th century who lived in the 20th.

He often said to me that his ideal was to live a full life overseas and then eventually return to mother Scotland to marry and live as a respectable family man and keep holy the Sabbath Day.

Over the years I lost track of Jock, and I often wondered if he had achieved his ambition.

Apparently he did marry. I don’t know if his wife was Scottish, but she owned a pub on Thursday Island. If this is true, in a way, it would have put Jock in a second heaven.

I also heard that he had died. I hope he went out with a good malt in his hand!

I often picture McIntye and O’Toole in the afterlife, for I know Fr O’Toole SVD has moved on, having a convivial drink together in the best Presbyterian and Catholic style.

Peter Johnson, an old friend of Jock’s, has in his possession Jock’s Oxford Dictionary, a small memento that continues to remind us of his life.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Angela Lawrence

I am wondering if the Jock McIntyre in these articles ever worked as a farm labourer at RAF Brampton in Huntingdon England around 1953?

David Wall

Jock was a memorable character. I am distressed to hear about his death from leprosy - a disease that was, and I guess still is, endemic around Dreikikir.

For those who catch it, it can sometimes have a very long incubation period - the little bit I know about it is that it's quite a treatable disease.

But I can imagine it would be in Jock's character to ignore all early symptoms and brush them aside as nothing.

His disdain for discipline and the bureaucracy probably didn't work in his favour but it endeared him to many, and I can only say farewell to a good and dear friend.

Bob Cleland

Jock came to Balimo in the Western District as a new Cadet Patrol Officer.

Forthright, yes. He needed a certain amount of discipline! Liked a drink or two, yes. He'd arrive at a party with a bottle of Drambui and not leave until it was empty!

A good kiap? He certainly had the makings but I fear his dislike of discipline and bureaucracy caused his early resignation.

Yes, he died - some years ago, in Brisbane, having contracted Hansen's Disease in PNG. No way for anyone to go.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)