Donald Gordon Bosgard

January 30, 2012 at 7:18 am (Angoram, Commentary, Donald Gordon Bosgard, East Sepik District, expatriates, Papua New Guinea, Sepik River, Wewak)

Photo: courtesy of Bryan Martin

For other photos of Don, see:

Donald Gordon BOSGARD (27 June 1990, aged 70)

Don joined the PNG Administration immediately he was discharged from the Army after World War II and, besides serving elsewhere, spent many years in the Sepik District, firstly at Wewak and then at Angoram as Senior Clerk with the Department of Native Affairs. It is believed he was at Angoram for some twenty years and remained there assisting with the transition to Independence until his position was localised, retiring in March 1975. Don made many friends during his service in PNG and will be sadly missed by them.

After his retirement Don lived at Rose Bay, NSW, where he was a member of the RSL Club. His funeral was attended by numerous family and friends and a contingent from the Rose Bay RSL Club with its President giving the eulogy. Our Association was represented by Meg England and Pierre Donaldson.

Source: PNGAA, Vale, September 1990

According to Cardinal Newman: “It is almost a definition of a gentleman to say that he is one who never inflicts pain.” If this is so, Donald Gordon Bosgard more than fitted the bill.

It was my privilege to have known Don over a number of years in the Sepik District and after he retired to Sydney.

To say that Don was of the old school would be an understatement. A dignified and refined man, always impeccably dressed and softly spoken in a clipped Anglo-Australian accent, and to me, he embedded all that was fine and good in a colonial gentleman. Some may have felt that Don was a bit snobbish and they would be slightly correct, but like Warburton, the Somerset Maugham, character, Don may have been a snob but he was also a gentleman. He never harped on any of his own misfortunes to the discomfort of others.

Don’s father was a Dane who migrated to Australia before the First World War and he served as a dentist with the Military Expeditionary Force that occupied German New Guinea at the start of the war. His mother came from Anglo-Australian stock with a fine history of officer naval service in the family. Don and his two brothers all served with distinction in WW II. One brother was killed in action in the Territory and I heard he was even recommended for a VC. Don was at Shaggy Ridge. Peter, his other brother, was also prominent in the RSL in Moresby after the War.

For most of the time Don was in Angoram he was president of the club and what a monument to decorum and good manners he was, but more than a monument in his organizational abilities in running and directing club activities. He was an example to young government officers who came to the town.

On a recent visit to Angoram, I was impressed with what one of the local leaders said to me about Don. Eva, who we knew in the old days as Ipa, compared the treasury activities in the town today with their own building and a number of staff most unfavourably with the excellent work Don did as just one person in a small office.

Don’s abilities were obvious for all to see but he was content to remain in the clerical side of things. Some might say he lacked ambition, perhaps he did. I do know that a member of the House of Assembly had a mind to recommend him for a civil decoration.

Every afternoon after work, he would adjourn to his residence for a cup of tea, served by his faithful mankimasta, Rastus, and a shower. After which he would go to the club, but prior to leaving Rastus would be instructed about the evening meal that he was to prepare. Before he actually left he might glance at the Observer. He refused to subscribe to the Post-Courier.

At the club, drinks and conversation would go on until about 8 or 9 o’clock. He was never the worst for liquor and a lot of common sense was talked about the affairs of the station and the world in general while all the time smoking cigarettes. After which he would return to his donga, eat his evening meal and in due course retire to his virtuous couch.

If he ever availed himself of the pleasures of the night that were on offer in Angoram, no one knew of it. I suspect, that he didn’t, as it was hardly the thing one would do considering what his sister, the old hag (As Don affectionately called her.) would have thought of such behaviour when on his leaves he returned to Rose Bay to stay with her in Sydney.

Don, I don’t know if you realize how much your friends from the old PNG days miss you. I guess by now a lot of them are with you already but there are quite a few of us still down here.

I can’t say I look forward to joining you up there but at least knowing you’re there will be some compensation.


  1. Bryan Martin said,

    What a great summary of this man. I only knew him for about 9 months as I shared his donga, which was just new early 1962. He certainly assisted me in becoming a part of the expat community. I remember that he had a recurring ulcer on his leg/foot, a hang-over from his war experiences. I recall with a smile how he insisted that it was normal in Australia to finish the day with a port or liqueur. He was adamant that it was not just a colonial habit.

    • David Wall said,

      Bryan, I’m sorry I didn’t previously acknowledge that the photo in the piece is one of yours. Not that you mentioned it but I just noticed that I hadn’t. What you account of Don was very typical of him. David

  2. Alpal said,

    Many many fine & fond memories of “Bossie” – He did have his own quiet way of inflicting pain on others though! He could keep one waiting for ages at his little window to get payment for some contingency expense or other.
    When as a young Ag officer (Didiman), I had to conduct some financial business, I knew I was in for at least a half hour’s wait – no not wait exactly. It was rather a sort of education in patience & a realisation that there was plenty of time to get through the daily grind. I always made sure that I had at least half an hour to spend before I’d approach the great man.
    As Secretary for the Angoram club for a year or so I Had the great honour to have worked closely with him on many matters.
    I also met with him on a few occasions in Sydney, after his retirement.
    Fondly remembered Don by name & by nature.

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