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19 June 2010

Murray Smith

Hi I'm Murray Smith from NZ.

Have just come across this website and have to confess I have spent half a day and well into the night sifting through a memory-refreshing wealth of history. My thanks must go to the author of this website for a very well researched and presented site – well done! Also my thanks to those who have supplied photos and dialogue, for without them the site would not be as interesting.

I worked for Morgan Equipment from 1971 - 1974. Morgan Equipment were the agents for the Euclid R105 dump trucks, well and truly buried by now I expect although I still have the service manuals amongst my memorabilia. I was based at their workshop down the hill near camp 5, I think the area was known as Itakara Industrial area. I lived at camp 6 and later at Kawerong house Panguna. My job involved the engine overhauls plus other odds and ends. The last 18 months were spent at the pit workshop looking after warranty claims and associated paper work. The personnel I remember at the pit workshop were Peter Robinson, Kiwi Pat, Peter Hayes, a guy with the surname of Welch plus there was an American or Canadian Guy named Sam, unable to recall his surname who I think was in charge of the pit workshop around that time.

Those on the Morgan Equipment staff that I remember were Brandon Deal who was the Manager and Ray Banning was the service manager. Other names I recall are Neil Gregg, Keith Jenner, Jim Brophy, Fred Bins, Bob Cruickshank, Alan Roots, Len Hook, Kevin Gill, Mike Edwards, Evan Berryman, John Balding, Eric Mier and Titus Nasai from Roarovana village. In 1974 I went with Eric Mier and worked for Morgan Equipment in Rabaul for a brief period. Eric Mier along with Bob Cruickshank plus Bob's brother-in-law Don and myself eventually ended up working for Shin Asahigawa who were involved in logging and sawmilling at Bialla (East New Britain) for 2 years. Occasionally some of the crew from Morgan’s at Bougainville would come over and help out when we got busy.

Bialla is another story, which could go on forever if I got started. I will take a brief indulgence and mention some names. Barry and Ellee White and son Michael, the ex-Swiss cook from Bougainville Hans Tatari (I called on Hans in Switzerland on a couple of occasions), Keith Williams, Barry Donohue, Ed & Jenny Spanner, Ian & Margaret McPherson and son Tiger, they ran the trade store, Fred Hargesheimer of Airmen's Memorial School fame.

From Bialla I went to Europe for 18 months to finish of my OE which I originally started out to do but somehow PNG interrupted. I was 21 when I arrived in PNG and learnt more in the first year than I had in the previous 20! A wonderful experience, which set me up for life and will always cherish.

I returned to NZ in 1977 and went into business with my brother in the ready-mix concrete, paving and building industries. I married in 1984 and have 2 Children, Son 18 and Daughter 15. 1991 we sold our ready-mix concrete business and became involved with Dairy Farming and we now live on the Farm which is 20K’s south of Hamilton NZ. When I bought the Farm I discovered my next door neighbour Noel Watson worked for Hornibrook at Loloho.

I have always had an interest in Aviation so when I returned from my OE I obtained my private pilots licence in 1979. I have owned aeroplanes since then (C172 & C206) and have flown extensively in NZ. In April this year we had a flying trip in Australia, Archerfield, Dalby, Roma, Blackall, Longreach, Birdsville, Alice, Ayres Rock, Mt Isa, Great Keppell island and returning to Archerfield. My ultimate aim is to fly up to and around some of my old haunts in and around PNG. We are in the planning stages at the moment, ETD is tentatively 2006 so hope the Bougainville situation improves dramatically by then. I would like to show my family where their inheritance is coming from and to explore the coral reefs and Arovo Island where I used to spend what little spare time I had. Hope I can hack the climate. Any Starters?

I would like to make contact with all those who have worked for Morgan Equipment and those at BCL. The reunion that takes place in Brisbane every year sounds great although I expect there would not be many ex-Morgan employees there. Must try and make it sometime.

Em Tasol.