Denis Jenkins 1971
From my piles of letters sent home (and preserved by my parents) I have come across the names of most of our Ed crew at Murray Barracks in 1971. Bob Daniel, John Dark, Ed Diery, Graeme Edgerton, Greg Farr, Brian Haines, Denis Jenkins, Gerry Keegan, Dick Morgan, David Hornsby, Jim Bates, Tony Rogers, Graeme Miller and Norm Isenberg. Several of the married guys lived in the same block of flats: the Daniels, Haines, Keegans and Bates as I recall. Lyne and I lived in a flat in the Boroko shopping centre. I believe all the single blokes all lived at Murray Barracks.
Other Chalkies in PNG at the time included Daryl Neale, Ray Bassett and Wayne Walsh, who all worked at Taurama, I think. In the crossover period before our time, I remember David Roxburgh and Mick Mulligan. Of those who replaced us, Bob Large and Dave Phillips were in the Army cricket team with me before I went home. Lyne actually knew Dave from when she had lived in Gippsland. One of the other new Chalkies for the 1972 group made the news by hiking the Kokoda Track and disappearing without trace.
As well as doing our jobs and socialising at evenings and weekends, the Murray Barracks boys were enthusiastic combatants in the Army’s mid week sports competitions. Water volleyball was played with a net strung across the Murray Barracks pool. Not surprisingly, the team at the shallow end tended to win each set. I remember being smashed at softball by a team seemingly consisting entirely of Tolai tribesmen.
I actually sent the cricket comp scores home to my dad, so I can tell you that Sgt Daniel’s 5-13 reduced the Signals Sqn to 8-26 in their 11 overs, and we cruised to victory with 8-35 in 10 overs, Sgts Haines (12) and Dark (11) doing most of the damage. Cricket being a gentleman’s game, the officer corps was on hand, 2Lt Knight scoring 5, while Lt Heitbrink handled the 12th man duties. Capt Davy took command as umpire. In the second round we knocked up 2-58 in 11 overs, Jenkins (26), Dark (12) and Miller (8) leading the way, before Supply and Transport were dispatched all out for 29 in 9 overs (Jenkins 5wkts, Daniel 3 wkts, 2 run outs). This led us to the final against Camp Commandant Section, a serious 16 overs a side match. Sgt Rogers, playing in his first ever cricket match, took 3 wickets to help restrict CCS to 5-80. As valiantly as we struggled, we succumbed all out for 62 with a few balls left, Rogers stranded on 8 not out and decrying the lack of support. Sgt Dark made 12, so being the only batsman to reach double figures in each game. Great fun.
Having my memories of these times rekindled, I re-read Barry Heard’s book ‘Well Done, Those Men.’ His descriptions of recruit training and infantry training brought back how demanding and bewildering, but in retrospect, how often comical those times were. It also made it very clear to me how lucky I was to fall into the RAAEC job, with its lack of physical danger and traumatic after effects.