Bill Babbington, Masta Gol

September 14, 2013 at 1:23 am (Commentary, East Sepik District, expatriates, Papua New Guinea, Territory New Guinea)

Megan Leahy and Bill Babbington at Zenag on the verandah of Mick Leahy’s property in the early 1960s.
(Photos kindly supplied by Richard Leahy)
The recent tragic events on the Black Cat Track – Salamaua/Wau – reminded me of a great friend I had in Maprik in the sixties and seventies, Bill Babbington.

Bill was a remarkable person – a man who put his age up to fight in WW 1, and put his age down to fight in WW II. A plantation manager, gold miner and Department of Mines Officer.

His stories about mining in pre-war New Guinea were a great source of information about those fascinating times. Tales about Errol Flynn and other famous characters of the era he spoke of.

He struck it rich twice and went on fabulous world tours.

When I knew him in Maprik where he was known as Masta Gol, he was respected and liked by the locals. His honesty and expertise in helping them find precious metals was greatly appreciated by them.

I last saw Bill in the early eighties when he was in declining health in an RSL Repatriation Hospital in the Northern Beaches, Sydney. Shortly after this he died, and his sister kindly sent back to me some photos of my children that I had sent him.

To this day, Debbie, my wife, values an opal that Bill polished and prepared himself for her. This gemstone is often commented on by others when Debbie wears it.

I shudder to think of what Bill would have thought of the recent tragic events on a track he knew so well.

Bill Babbington, soldier, planter, miner and gentleman, those of your friends still around miss you!

BABBINGTON, William Benjamin, NGX 192; A/Sgt; 4 Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment; Enlisted – 21 July 1941; Embarked for M/E – 1 Nov 1941; Returned ex M/E – 27 Feb 1943; Discharged – 3 Jun 1946; Enlisted – SALAMAUA, NEW GUINEA; Date of Birth – 30 Jan 1902; BORN – LONDON, UK; NOK – FAY, Alice, Mother.

Source: New Guinea Volunteer Rifles Nominal Roll – World War 2


Click on the above to see a letter written by Bill to Debbie.


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Successful and dramatic rescue of Indian Prisoners of the Japanese by the Allied Intelligence Bureau (AIB), Sepik Party, in February, 1945.

December 17, 2012 at 1:36 am (Commentary, Pacific war, R.K.Walls, Sepik River, Territory New Guinea)

R.K. Walls, 1941

R.K. Walls, 1941


Map associated with Lieut. R.K.Walls’ Kurringe op.

The Sepik Party under the command of Lieut. R.H. McColl, R.A.N.V.R. and assisted by Lieut. R.K. Walls, A.I.F. became aware that there was a group of Indians, prisoners of the Japanese, who were in dire need in Kurringe Village, in the vicinity of the Sepik River.

The intelligence regarding the state of these Indian POWs was gained by Lieut. Walls, and he was – “impressed with the necessity for succouring these Indian Imperial Troops as soon as possible in order to save lives, with all possible haste…”

A party consisting of: Lieut. R.K. Walls, Havildar Khazan Singh of 10/2 Punjab Regt. , 11 Native Police armed with Owen guns and 7 others with a variety of weapons including a Carbine, Bren gun and rifles, supported by 4 other natives with shot guns. All members carried grenades. The party also included 28 carriers.

On the 24th of January, 1945, this party arrived at Nunguaiia, a friendly village, as a staging post for the attack and rescue operation.

Early attempts to penetrate Kurringe failed owing to the flooding of the Screw River. Walls radioed for supplies to be dropped at Ndaina, a nearby village, and over the next couple of days, reconnaissance was secretly carried out on Kurringe.

Three so called Jap Captains were apprehended and interrogated at Nunguaiia, and some information was obtained which proved fairly reliable.

On February 2 & 3 rescue and attack operations were successfully carried out in the various parts of Kurringe Village.

This account is based on a covering note from Lieut. McColl to D.S.I.O. New Guinea with Lieut. Walls’ report of the Kurringe Operations, but I don’t have Appendices C & D which list the names of rescued Indians, and captured Japanese, but from what I can gather, 3 Japanese were killed and 4 or 5 were captured – one Cpl. Khawasakhi was killed while attempting to escape by Numbia, a Native Policeman. Nine Indians were rescued, some in dire physical condition.

In his covering note Lieut. K.H. McColl stated: “Attached herewith is Lieut. R. K. Walls’ report to me of his activities in connection with the rescue of Indians from Japanese hands at Kurringe. His plans for the project were very sound, and were carried out with commendable despatch, and were highly successful. I concur with his remarks regarding Havildar Khazan Singh of 10/2 Punjab Regt., who, in my opinion, is a fine soldier.”

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Photo taken in 1941 by R.K.Walls

December 12, 2012 at 7:51 am (Commentary, Pacific war, Photos, R.K.Walls, Rabaul, Territory New Guinea)

Click on link below:

Photo taken in 1941

CQMS Draper & Pte Bob Watts at Kabakaul Plantation where Aussies landed in 1914. Note plantation in the background & tinned beer in hand.

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December 12, 2012 at 4:32 am (Angoram, Commentary, Photos, PNG, Rabaul, Territory New Guinea)

Melanesian beauty      Angoram photos

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A rare beauty!

December 11, 2012 at 11:56 pm (Commentary, R.K.Walls, Rabaul, Territory New Guinea)



“I haven’t seen one like this about here. It is probably taken on one of the islands – none of the locals can approach the good looks of this girl.”

Kevin Walls

Rabaul, 1941

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Scenes around Rabaul,1941

December 11, 2012 at 5:30 am (Commentary, Pacific war, Photos, R.K.Walls, Rabaul, Territory New Guinea)

Photos taken by R.K.Walls.

For photos click on the link below:

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Japanese prisoners of war at Aitape in 1945

December 9, 2012 at 11:37 pm (Commentary, Pacific war, Photos, R.K.Walls, Territory New Guinea)

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Photos of Rabaul taken by R.K.Walls in 1941.

December 9, 2012 at 1:33 am (Commentary, Photos, R.K.Walls, Rabaul, Territory New Guinea)

Click on the link below:

‘Easter Monday Sports Day, 1941, Rabaul,  Spectators – note Chinese girls’

Recently a number of photos, taken by the late Kevin Walls while he was in Rabaul in 1941 with the AIF, 8th Division, 2/22 Battalion, Lark Force as a Sergeant, have come into my possession, and gradually I’ll upload them on my blog with his comments.

RK W - 1RK W 2 PremiumRK W - 6RK W - 3

RK W - 5

RK W - 7

RK W - 9

RK W - 10

RK W - 11RK W - 12

RK W - 14

RK W - 15

RK W - 8

RK W - 13


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