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Papua New Guinea Text
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The Methodist Mission in New Britain and the Duke of York Islands, New Guinea

  • AU PMB PHOTO 14
  • Collection
  • Jul 1912-Mar 1913

This collection of 36 postcards and photographs was amassed by Sr. Rhoda Ransom. Sr Rhoda Ransom was born in Maryborough Victoria, 29 Dec 1887 and worked as a nursing sister with the Methodist Mission in New Guinea from July 1912 until March 1913 when she returned to Australia suffering from malaria and rheumatic problems in her legs.
The majority of the collection is post card prints from the New Guinea Methodist mission series, some with notes and letters on the reverse side. Some of the post card print labels are in German. There is a family photograph (possibly taken around the time of WWI?), a passport photograph of Rhoda Ransom in 1949 and a photographic print of Rhoda Ransom in old age.

Ransom, Rhoda

Postcards of German New Guinea

  • AU PMB Photo 40
  • Collection
  • 1912-1916

This collection of 60 postcards and photographs of German New Guinea, all dated 1912-1916, were transferred to David Kaus at the National Museum of Australia by Merrell Davis and Catherine Evans, included with the papers of Ellestan Dusting. Dusting served as private secretary to Australian Minister for External Territories, Sir Paul Hasluck, and as Vice President of the Pan Pacific and South East Asia Women’s Association (PPSEAWA). Mr Kaus transferred the photographs to the PMB on 28 January 2011.

Though these postcards were collected by Dusting, the envelope in which they are held is signed by R.G. Bowen and a number of the photographs are marked as having been taken by, or given to Bowen by a Col. Pethebridge, or ‘administrator’. It is possible the photos were given to Sir Paul Hasluck as some of his paper were amongst those of Dusting.

Lieutenant R.G. Bowen, RAN, was amongst the first Australians to fight German troops in World War I. On 11 September 1914, Lieutenant Bowen landed at Kakabaul in New Britain with No. 6 Company of the Naval Battalion of the Australian Naval & Military Expeditionary Force, to destroy the main German wireless station in the area. At the outbreak of war, Col. Sir Samuel Augustus Pethebridge, believed to be the photographer or sender of some of these images, took command of the Australian North-West Pacific Expedition, raised to occupy German islands north of the equator. Before the expedition could sail, the British government decided to allow the North Pacific islands to be left in the hands of their Japanese occupiers. Pethebridge suggested that his unit, known as Tropical Force, might be used to relieve the expeditionary force led by Colonel W. Holmes which had captured German New Guinea in the first weeks of the war. This was accepted, and in January 1915, Pethebridge succeeded Holmes as administrator at Rabaul. In January 1917, he contracted malaria which forced his return to Australia, where he died a year later.

The photos contained in this collection show people and infrastructure of German New Guinea (Deutsch-Neuguinea) including the Bismark Archipelago (hotels, churches), Rabaul (wharf, naval headquarters, hospital, China Town, ship building yard), the Bita Paka wireless radio station at Kakabaul and the wireless station and at Morobe (along with the District Officer’s residence and police quarters). The photos also feature Herbertshoe (naval signal post, hospital and German soldiers). There are also images of people (police, singsing, traditional headdress) and landscapes, including volcano Mt Mother, Mt Daughter, the beehive rock, plantations and a giant fig tree.

Sources:
Naval Historical Society of Australia, The Navy in New Guinea in 1914, http://www.navyhistory.org.au/the-navy-in-new-guinea-in-1914/
Australian Dictionary of Biography

Dusting, Ellestan Joyce

New Guinea Photographs, 1930 - 1940

  • AU PMB PHOTO 18
  • Collection
  • 1930-1940

Jack Read joined the Australian administration of the Mandated Territory of New Guinea as a Cadet in 1929. He worked as Patrol Officer in most parts of the Territory, having covered New Britain and the mainland from the Sepik River to the Morobe Goldfields, but had not been located in Bougainville until his appointment in November 1941 as Assistant District Officer in charge of the Buka Passage Sub-District, under District Officer Merrylees. Following the Japanese entry into the War on 8 Dec 1941, Read helped evacuate most European residents from Buka, established inland dumps of emergency provisions and shifted his administration to Bougainville island just before a Japanese attack on the Sub-District HQ on Sohano island on 24 January 1942. Following the winding up of civil administration in February 1942, Read, the only remaining government representative, was appointed Lieutenant in the Australian Navy under Lt. Commander Feldt with instructions to remain in Bougainville as a coastwatcher. See also PMB MS 1245 for Report by W. J. Read on coast watching activity Bougainville Island, 1941-1943, and PMB MS 1309 for Read

Read, W.J.

Photographs from Papua New Guinea, mainly New Britain and New Ireland

  • AU PMB PHOTO 1
  • Collection
  • 1911-1943

Sister Lida Tonkin (Mrs L. Gill), a nursing sister from Young, NSW, first arrived at the Methodist Mission at Raluana in New Britain (Papua New Guinea) in 1916.

The photographs and post cards include events, daily life and traditional customs practiced in Rabaul in the early 20th century. Funerary and marriage customs are represented. There is a good set of photographs on traditional fishing (PMB Photo 1_31 to PMB Photo 1_46). Other images show canoe building and sailing, baske, broom and string making and traditional houses, mission life and the Malabunga hospital. Dances, such as the Kulau dance, carvings used in dances and the

Tonkin, Lida, Sr

Photographs of Dr Frank Forster, Papua New Guinea

  • AU PMB PHOTO 112
  • Collection
  • Dec 1949-Mar 1950

This collection comprises 39 images black and white photographs taken in the Australian Territory of Papua and New Guinea by Australian Frank Forster in the 4 months December 1949-March 1950.

The photographs record a trip made mainly by boat to the Territory by Frank, a 28 year old honours graduate in obstetrics, surgery and gynaecology of the University of Melbourne, who became as well a medical historian, bibliophile and benefactor. At the time, health care services provided for the local people by the colonial authorities were minimal. In 1947 there were 17 doctors working there, all of whom were expatriates. The first two trained surgeons arrived about 1950, and were based in Rabaul and in Port Moresby. In 1953 the Australian National University, through a government committee, began identifying “gaps in knowledge” in the territory.

Frank’s record of his journey starts in Papua’s Eastern District at Samarai Island and ends as he returns to Brisbane, having visited several other small islands including Kwato in Papua, then to New Guinea where he visited Lae, Goroka in the Eastern Highlands, Madang, and Manus Island.

Frank’s collection is literally a “snapshot” of the times. He shows various types of boats and light aircraft, local people at work, postwar buildings including wharves and railway lines, and equipment. Nine photos relate to the port and town on Samarai Island in the Milne Bay District of Papua, now the Milne Bay Province of Papua New Guinea. Six of these show boats at the wharf, including MV Malaita of the Burns Philp Shipping Company, the wharf railway line and men working to move cargo. Two photos show members of the Papua and New Guinea Constabulary presenting arms, and one is of a building displaying an Australian flag and two flags of the United States, a clear reminder of the importance of Samarai to the Allies in World War 2.

En route to Lae in the Morobe District of New Guinea, now the Morobe Province of Papua New Guinea, the boat passed Gesila Island and berthed at Kwato Island. On Kwato, Frank photographed the London Missionary Society (LMS) Church. In the port of Lae, Frank photographed landing craft AB2348 with many men, possibly labourers, on board, and the ship MV Malaita again.
In Madang District, four photographs are of the coastline and buildings, one possibly of the administrative headquarters of the district and business establishments, and a detailed scene of a wharf, including men working to move cargo. On the mainland, three photographs show beautiful trees including one of a long archway of trees, and at the cemetery, the 1914 grave of Willi Wohlgemuth, a machinist probably on the mission ship, for the Divine Word Mission at Sek (Alexishafen). In 1913 the Mission sub-divided for sale land on Doilon Plantation just south of Alexishafen, and Wohlgemuth got Block 3, 160 hectares, but died of appendicitis on 1 March 1914. (Amtsblatt 1914, 45, 91.) One photograph captures a well maintained corrugated iron building with “1913” clearly shown and another an aerial view of MV Malaita at a wharf.

Four photographs were taken in or near Goroka, probably at Humilaveka, in the Eastern Highlands District of New Guinea, and all relate to an airstrip – kunai (grass) buildings, fences, people watching and a biplane, a De Havilland 84 Dragon.
The four photographs taken of Manus Island are of the main port of Lorengau. Various types of water craft, possibly pieces of equipment left after World War 2, buildings and the main wharf, are shown in these photos.
Probably on his way back to Australia, Frank took a photograph in the China Straits showing three different types of boat, and one other.

The photographs were given to Helen and Ray Spark in 1976. They met him on a trip with their two daughters to Melbourne from Wewak in Papua New Guinea where they were living, Ray then working at the Wewak hospital. They got talking and Frank told them he had some old photos of New Guinea. He said he took the photos when he was a student doing an internship there in December 1949- March 1950. Under Frank’s care, a son was born to the Sparks in April 1976. Frank gave the photos to the Sparks in the brown manilla envelope. On it in pencil is the note “These pictures were taken Dec 1949 March 1950”: presumably the handwriting is Frank’s.

The brief descriptions on most photos are Frank Forster’s own. Additional information has been added to these descriptions, much of it based on the work Bill Gammage did in 2018 when asked to look at the images by the Bureau.

Forster, Frank

Photographs documenting an investigative patrol following murders in Telefomin, Papua New Guinea

  • AU PMB PHOTO 10
  • Collection
  • Nov 1953

On his return from the Middle East, Rhys Healey’s unit was disbanded so he transferred to ANGAU in early 1943. On 8 November 1948 Rhys Healey accompanied District Commissioner Horrie Niall to open Telefomin station, in Papua New Guinea, together with Assistant District Officer Des Clifton-Bassett and Patrol Officer Rodgers. Healey’s job as Medical Assistant was to check on the malaria situation – he noted that the disease was already in the valley. Healey also took with him his well trained Dokta Boi, Bunat, and both stayed six weeks to organise the building of the native hospital. As no European medical Assistant was available, Bunat stayed in charge to supervise the running of the hospital and Healey returned to Angoram on the Sepik River to his family for Christmas. Bunat was awarded a Government Medal for looking after Harris and the wounded Police in 1953. At the request of Sir Michael Somare Rhys Healey stayed in PNG after independence, until Christmas 1981, mainly to take charge of the Finance Department and to train indigenous staff quickly. (Notes from Mrs Dorothy E. Healey, April 2006.)

Following the murders, an investigative patrol was flown into the area. The patrol was lead by District Commisisoner Allan Timperley and included Distict Officers George Wearne and Allan Corrigan, Cadet Barry Ryan and Medical Assistant Rhys Healey. They inspected the villages of Komdavip and Misinmin and the rest houses in the Eliptamin Valley.

These photographs were taken by the investigative patrol in Nov 1953.

Healey, Lionel Rhys

Peter Grimshaw collection of Papua New Guinea photographs

  • AU PMB PHOTO 5
  • Collection
  • 1946-1955

Photographs of Papua New Guinea taken or collected by Peter Grimshaw, possibly including some of the missing ones from the Mt Hagen series. It seems Grimshaw collected several of the photographs and some have been identified as likely taken by Michael J. Leahy in the 1930s

Grimshaw, Peter John

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