BRISBANE - A display featuring part of the history of the Pacific Islands Regiment was unveiled at the Australian Army Infantry Museum on 16 October.
The display was curated at Lone Pine Barracks in Singleton, NSW, with the assistance of the Australian Army History Unit.
It was opened in the presence of senior military and government officials and former PIR national servicemen in the main from the Royal Australian Army Educational Corps (RAAEC). Interested members of the public were also in attendance.
PIR juniper green uniforms and other memorabilia joined displays of military hardware spanning a period since the Boer War. A boy’s own collection!
The PIR collection filled three large display cases with uniforms from World War II to PNG independence shown.
Photographs from this era highlighted the role of infantry personnel along with stories of the people involved.
Many uniforms on show retained the starch from the ‘wash-boys’ labours of many years ago. These static displays enabled visitors to absorb the history of the PIR.
Aside the eye-catching uniforms, there was a continuously running video showing photos of men in war and peacetime activities.
I was reminded of the wonderful colours and the precision and spectacle of the trooping of the colours at Taurama Barracks and the changing of the guard at Murray Barracks.
Moem and Igam Barracks were also featured along with Goldie River recruit training depot.
The role played by ‘the chalkies’, the massive force of 330 national servicemen teachers posted to the then Australian territory, was highlighted.
Their mission as part of the RAAEC was to help improve the educational standards of the soldiers.
Higher qualifications were gained by soldiers after short courses in English, mathematics, science and civics.
These activities were prominent in one display which showed teaching materials used at the time.
A book by PIR chalkie Dr Darryl Dymock, entitled ‘The Chalkies- Educating an Army for Independence’, describes those times through the eyes of the participants.
It has been suggested that the three display cases of memorabilia from the PIR be displayed in each Australian state to highlight the close links that Papua New Guinea has with Australia. A history lesson for all.
Media coverage of this event together with additional photos may be found at the chalkies’ website at www.NashosPNG.com.