We assembled again at Ocean View for our annual get together. As well as the social part of the night, it was the occasion of the launch of our visual record of our service in PNG. (More on that later.)
We welcomed for the first time John Dark (1970-71 Chalkie) who flew in from Mackay for the occasion. It was great to see John as those of us who were in PNG in 1970 had not seen him since then, As well, we welcomed Frank Cordingley who was a Chalkie in 1967-68. Frank was pleased to meet up with some of his old Singleton mates. Great to see Frank and to hear his story about becoming a Chalkie via the Medical Corps, which is, I believe, quite unique. Frank also supplied us with a piece of RAAEC history which will be seen later in this article.
Back: Norm Hunter, Ed Diery, Kevin Smith, Frank Cordingley, Terry Edwinsmith, Greg Ivey.
Front: John Dark, Ian Ogston, Kev Horton.
(All are holding the newly launched CD of pictures of our time in PNG.)
For those who do not have a copy of the CD, please contact Ian Ogston and I will be able to send you a copy. The cost is $5 plus post and packaging.
Norm Hunter also presented the group with digital copies of the movies he took while in PNG. This is the only movie record of Chalkies in PNG that we have and therefore is of considerable importance for us.
Current and Original Badge
As well, on the night, Frank showed us the original RAAEC badge that he was issued with. (See following photo.) It is interesting to see this earlier badge as it clearly shows how the present badge evolved.
Greg’s Document – Allocation of Chalkies in PNG
As well, on the evening, Greg Ivey presented a document that showed the allocation of Chalkies to the various locations in PNG (1969). This is a most useful document as it brings some solid data on the nature of the Chalkies scheme. I have taken the information and developed some ideas from the data.
Distribution of Chalkies in PNG 1969
14 – Murray Barracks, 10 – Wewak, 8- Taurama, 6 – Lae, 5- Goldie
Total Chalkies in 1969 – 43
What Can These Figures Tell Us?
1. The numbers seem consistent with the needs of each of the bases ie. Murray Barracks was the largest base, Wewak had Vanimo responsibilities.
2. The total of 43 may give us some indication of how many Chalkies actually served in PNG. This is dodgy extrapolation but if the scheme went for 7 years could there be in the vicinity of 300 Chalkies about? I know the earlier Chalkies went for 18 months so the figure of 300 is probably too high.
3. It also shows what an exclusive bunch the Goldie lot were!!!
Origin of Chalkies by State 1969
What Can These Figures Tell Us?
1. Obviously the NSW and VIC Chalkies dominate the numbers going to PNG. The question is, where are they all?
2. The surprisingly large numbers of Queensland Chalkies. At the time, Queensland’s population was round about 14% of the Australian total and this Chalkie representation is about 20% of the Chalkie total.
Again, dangerously extrapolating the figures for the whole scheme, there could be anything up to 50 + Chalkies out there in Queensland.
I am most interested in your comments regarding these musings.
Greg has also supplied us with a newspaper cutting from the Townsville Herald in 1969. It is a statement from the Minister for the Army at the time, Philip Lynch. The article includes interesting mention of Chalkies and their role in PNG. See the article ‘Extracts from the Townsville Herald’