Memories from 1967-68 by Sgt Ian Lovell

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Editor’s Note:
At the end of the display of photos, there is a photo of the Caribou aircraft (taken in 1968) that crashed in 1972 killing 4 aircrew and 21 schoolboy cadets followed by an article on the history of that aircraft

Memories from 1967-68 by Sgt Ian Lovell -
This is a typical morning parade with students breaking off to their classrooms. Note the PIR berets on those who are returning to Bomana for a course, and the black berets, most of whom would be recruits.

Memories from 1967-68 by Sgt Ian Lovell -
This is possibly the first crossing of the Goldie River before the ascent to Ioribaiwa on the Southern end of the Kokoda Trail. The gantry for the flying fox for when the river is in flood gives the clue. The man with the gun is unknown.

Memories from 1967-68 by Sgt Ian Lovell -
This is the monument which used to stand at the Southern end of the Kokoda Trail. A little further downhill gets you to Owers Corner and the Trail proper commences and crosses the Goldie River. Removal of the monument has been reported.

Memories from 1967-68 by Sgt Ian Lovell -
This is the dreaded ‘puk puk’ thought to inhabit some waterways. They are definitely NOT in the Goldie River, but after seeing this picture, nobody could be convinced to swim there. Crocs are well known in Northern Provinces.

Memories from 1967-68 by Sgt Ian Lovell -
Bomana War Cemetery from the little Bell helicopter we occasionally got to see at Goldie. It belonged to the Army Aviation Regiment and appeared at times to transport VIP’s and troops (one at a time) to and from areas where training operations required it.

Memories from 1967-68 by Sgt Ian Lovell -
We observed as a group the construction and use of these rudimentary rafts by troops from 1PIR Taurama as they used the back yard area of our Training Depot, which happened to contain the Goldie River. The rafts were abandoned after the exercise, and Al SLOANE took the opportunity to go for a cruise on one of them later (separate pic)

Memories from 1967-68 by Sgt Ian Lovell -
Regimentally undressed! Doug CUMMING exposes smooth 21 year old buttocks for all to see as he struts along the top verandah of the Sgt’s Mess at Goldie. Al SLOANE is standing by his door with no duds on. I thought they needed to be exposed for their regular habits. Washing the sweat and starch off immediately after removing the Juniper Greens was a must. Then it was time to dress right up in long sleeves and cravat etc so that the mozzies wouldn’t interrupt our socialising.
Memories from 1967-68 by Sgt Ian Lovell -
John LEA-SMITH [38000 from Victoria] was a WO2 and a man of the World. He has been to SVN and was about ten years older than the Nashos. Clearly, he had taken the time to visit the Hotel Moresby at some time. Great bloke and a friend of the Chalkies.

Memories from 1967-68 by Sgt Ian Lovell -
Peter ‘Charlie’ FORSYTH nearest camera, Doug CUMMING (clothes on and saluting) and Al SLOANE arriving back ‘home’ from work one afternoon.

Memories from 1967-68 by Sgt Ian Lovell -
This is ‘WANPIS’, the senior hausboi. His name translates to one piece, or orphan. He was a diminutive man, with a ready smile, who did his job well. Not much English available. Behind him is the cleared area leading to the Goldie River, some 500 metres from the Sgts Mess.

Memories from 1967-68 by Sgt Ian Lovell -
This is the well known method of crossing a fast-flowing river without getting wet.

Memories from 1967-68 by Sgt Ian Lovell -
One of the classrooms at Goldie when almost new. This appears to depict an exam in progress.

Memories from 1967-68 by Sgt Ian Lovell -
Travelling through the new camp, and then through the old one, a little further east was an extension of the Depot’s armoury, which housed weapons and explosives. The men pictured in the Explosives Depot grounds by the river are WO2 John KEYES, regular staff from Goldie, and a visitor from the Bomb Disposal Unit at Denman NSW, who was assisting with an audit.

Memories from 1967-68 by Sgt Ian Lovell -
Fish at Koki Market. This has been a traditional market for years, and thrives to this day at Badili. Of course, there was no refrigeration, so the fish on offer had a very short shelf life. Most had already reached their use-by date, but were regularly washed down by the vendors.

Memories from 1967-68 by Sgt Ian Lovell -
This is a village on the Southern end of the Trail. (Name not remembered) The thatched material is more common in the Papuan areas. Note the ‘hutchies’ they allowed us to erect for overnight stays. The hospitality in SDA Church areas was superb. Alcohol was strictly forbidden by the villagers and none was carried or consumed by military patrols.

Memories from 1967-68 by Sgt Ian Lovell -
The Late Al SLOANE relaxing on an abandoned raft (see photo 6 caption). He doesn’t appears to have oars or any propulsion equipment.

Memories from 1967-68 by Sgt Ian Lovell -
PNG TRG Depot from the little Bell Helicopter. The large building in the centre is the ORs’ Mess, with ORs’ barracks being the four buildings beside it. Above and left is the Admin area, ASCo Canteen/Shop, RAP and Transport compound. The Officers’ Mess is on upper right. In the distance the road weaves through the old Depot site and further to the Explosives Magazine. Our Sgts’ Mess is off to the right hand side of the picture, and not shown here.

Memories from 1967-68 by Sgt Ian Lovell -
Inside the Sgts Mess, standing and seated at the bar…Charlie FORSYTH, the late Rob FLETCHER, the late Al SLOANE, and yours truly at the rear. I can’t recall the Barman’s name, but he was there for the whole of our term.

Memories from 1967-68 by Sgt Ian Lovell -
Beds-R-Us special Hutchie with Mosquito Net and snake prevention option. Looks like someone is asleep. This is during an operation in the Sirinumu Dam area, east of Sogeri, as can be established by the sparse vegetation which can’t be found in many places. You really need to keep pythons out of your bed. They could sense warmth at night and quite regularly a good sized one would make it’s way into a hutchie.

Memories from 1967-68 by Sgt Ian Lovell -
The late Rob FLETCHER with two Training Staff members at Sirinumu on exercise. The radio antenna on the Landrover allowed contact with Goldie. Apart from the little Bell helicopter or a two hour treacherous drive down through Sogeri and Rouna Falls, there was no communication. The Rouna Hotel has been demolished and the area is now used as a hydro-electricity plant.

Memories from 1967-68 by Sgt Ian Lovell -
These are of villages (possibly Uberi and Nauro) approaching from the South on the Kokoda Trail.

Memories from 1967-68 by Sgt Ian Lovell -
These are of villages (possibly Uberi and Nauro) approaching from the South on the Kokoda Trail.

Memories from 1967-68 by Sgt Ian Lovell -
My hausboi, PUPAS. He is standing very proudly with a shirt, starched and ironed into a frisbee. It was hard to bend these things. Getting into them, once the front was separated from the back, was a contortionist act. Half an hour later they were limp, warm and slippery. It was good to start fresh after lunch with a new one, and there were always two ironed on the bunk.

Memories from 1967-68 by Sgt Ian Lovell -
The dreaded Orderly Sergeant. Occasionally the Orderly Officer was required to attend a Dining In Night or similar at the Officers’ Mess, and you got to do both jobs until the Orderly Officer sobered up. That was not until one or two of the military wives or Depot staff required an urgent trip to the maternity ward at POM Hospital. Then there was the CB Parade of half a dozen or so miscreants who required 40 minutes of drill at 6am to atone for their regimental sins. The red sash wouldn’t have won any fashion parades or OH & S awards.

Memories from 1967-68 by Sgt Ian Lovell -
This taken during 1968. The detachment of two RAAF Caribous was at Jackson’s Airfield ( now Port Moresby International Airport) at Six Mile. The aircraft featured (233) was the one involved in a fatal crash when carrying cadets in the Highlands in 1972. Below is a detailed history of this aircraft

The following article on RAAF Caribou A4-233 draws information from a number of sources:

  • Lt. Tom DERHAM from Taurama, a Regular Army Lieutenant, attached to RAAEC at the time of A4-233’s crash, and who actually took part in the search.
    See the article Caribou Crash Kills PNG Students in 1972 on the website
  • De La Salle College, Bomana, where the cadets were students.
  • The Post Courier reports on a ceremony where the remaining two ‘old boys’ of the College were invited to commemorate an anniversary of the crash.
  • The last is a list of RAAF serial numbers and comments.

On 13 October 1965, Detachment A of No. 38 Squadron began operations from Port Moresby in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, equipped with two Caribous. One of the detachment’s tasks was to give Caribou pilots experience in tropical and mountainous conditions, and all aircraft captains were required to complete at least one two-month deployment to Port Moresby before serving with No. 35 Squadron in Vietnam. In addition to its training role, No. 38 Squadron undertook transport flights in and around Australia, taking part when required in relief efforts following natural disasters.

Peacekeeping deployments

38 Squadron RAAF undertook two operational deployments during the mid-1970s. From March 1975 until November 1978 Detachment B, comprising a single Caribou and support staff, was stationed at Rawalpindi, Pakistan, and transported personnel and supplies for the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan. From August to October 1975, a No. 38 Squadron Caribou was assigned to transport Red Cross supplies and personnel from Darwin to East Timor after a civil war broke out in that country. On 4 September that year this aircraft was hijacked by East Timorese soldiers, who forced the pilot to fly 54 refugees to Darwin; it remains the only RAAF aircraft ever to have been hijacked. Detachment A was no longer required after Papua New Guinea achieved independence from Australia and established its own defence force, and the unit was disbanded on 17 January 1976.

Three Caribous were lost while operating with the detachment;
A4-202 crashed near Porgera on 3 June 1965,

A4-147 was written off after it landed short of the runway at Tapini Airport on 6 October 1968 and

A4-233 was destroyed when it crashed at Kudjeru Gap on 28 August 1972. The last of these crashes caused the deaths of 25 aircrew and passengers, making it the RAAF’s worst peacetime disaster; 21 of the people killed were high school students returning from an army cadet camp.

Following the end of its permanent presence at Port Moresby, No. 38 Squadron continued to fly periodic training sorties in Papua New Guinea. During the 1980s, detachments of No. 38 Squadron were established at RAAF Base Darwin and RAAF Base Pearce near Perth to provide these regions with a search-and-rescue capability and to exercise with Army units.

The plane pictured (in 1968 receiving maintenance at POM) was A4-233, the third aircraft destroyed with a cost of 25 lives.

History of aircraft A4-233

7 Dec 1965 – Accepted from De Havilland (Call sign VH-???)

6 Aug 1965 – Departed Toronto for RAAF Richmond

21 Aug 1965 – Assigned to 38 Squadron

28 Aug 1972 – Crashed into the ridge of a valley in poor weather in PNG.

Further notes on A4-233:


During a post “D” servicing test flight on the 11 September 1968, the pilots had a undercarriage malfunction in which the main gear would not extend. The aircraft was landed on just the nose wheel and ramp, using a foam path. The pilots were one Australian and a Malaysian on Caribou conversion. The aircraft was repaired at No 38 Sqn and test flown serviceable on the 23 September 1968.

A4-233 visited HDH Bankstown on the 24 January 1969, 07 August 1970 and then again on the 30 September 1971.

Served with 38 Sqn Det “A” 1972.

Crashed 28 August 1972, Kudjero Gap PNG during a flight from Wau and Mt Yule.

This was 38 Sqn’s first and only fatal Caribou accident.

Crew; FLTLT Graham David Thomas O222081 (Pilot), PLTOFF Gregory Lionel Ebsary O58698 (Co-Pilot), CPL Gary Ainsleigh Power A222878 (Loadmaster), CAPT Robert Dawson Loftus (ARA GLO).

Also on board were 25 PNG cadets.

All cadets were from De La Salle College except for SGT Nad who was from Popondetta High.

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Frank Cordingley
Frank Cordingley
Articles: 38


  1. My name is Reg Sariman
    I am an ex De La Salle Bomana 1972 cadet of platoon 1, who flew on the first flight returning from Lae to Moresby
    As the 50th Anniversary is in 2022 I was interested in collecting the names of the platoon 1 cadets plus surviving cadets on platoon 2 to be invited for this occasion
    Please help me to collect or advise whom to contact to collect the information
    Thank you
    Reg Sariman

  2. Ian,
    I just found your “Memories etc” page.
    Thanks for your nice words.
    It was a good life in PNG during the 67/68 period.
    No so when I returned during the 73/75 period, married, a Captain and posted to 1PIR.
    I read also the names of the Chalkies who have passed on.
    Very interesting article so thanks for that!

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