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26 March 2016

George Day emailed from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada:

Hi, Peter

I worked for Camp Catering Services at Camp 5 Arawa from July 21, 1972 to August 12, 1973. I was the Camp Manager. Russ Gill was there with me. Joe Fragnito was the head chef.

I got married on Bougainville, January 31, 1973. I used Russ’s motorbike to take myself and my bride (Yumie Kono) to the District Commissioner’s Office to get hitched. Yumie and I lived in one of the saksaks up the hill from Camp 5.

I think Des Smith worked for Camp Catering at the main office in Panguna.

I had a friend, Hans Helgesson, who worked for PNG taking care of the radio communications system. Hans made me a cassette tape, Led Zeplin. I still have it. It works. So yesterday I was transferring Hans's tape onto my computer and got thinking about Bougainville. I did a search and here we are.

About ten years ago, here in Victoria, I met another guy, an Aussie, named Peter J Gibson who worked at the hospital in Arawa. He would have worked in Administration, I expect. He told me about the civil war.

I remember another guy, John Finch. I think he was second in command at Camp Catering. I think he stayed in Camp 6.

I still have a letter of recommendation from Bert Nightingale (M.F.W. Nightingale).

I’m Canadian and got the job with Camp Catering when I was travelling in Australia.

It would be great if I could connect with Russ Gill.

What a cool thing you have here. Thanks for doing it.

George Day


Reply by Webmaster: Thanks, George. Can't remember you although I was there with you at the same time, hiring staff and setting up the office when CCS first got started in May 1972 (I had first come to Bougainville in 1970 as Senior Auditor with Bechtel). I was CCS's office manager (and, amongst other things, would've been making up your pay-packet ☺) until September 1972 when I transferred to their Sydney head office and handed the job to my friend Des Hudson ('Hudson' not 'Smith', but don't worry, George: first you forget names, then you forget faces; next you forget to pull your zipper up and finally, you forget to pull it down ☺). Des and I briefly met again when he visited me in Burma in 1975, and in 1982/83 we were both working in Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. Yep, John Finch was at the CCS office in Panguna, right next door to me. He had been a long-time Territorian; short, fat guy, spoke Pidgin like a native, and was in charge of all things to do with camps and camp managers. Chances are the same magistrate, David Moorhouse, who naturalised me at his Arawa office as an Australian citizen in December 1971, also officiated at your wedding - (no, he didn't as evidenced by the Marriage Certificate you emailed later; your marriage celebrant was Bill Brown). Merv (not 'Bert') Nightingale and I remained friends until he died just a few weeks ago, on the 8th of February 2016, aged 88. Your radio communications friend, Hans Helgesson, is shown in the photo at the bottom left-hand side of this webpage - click here. He lived in a donga across from mine in Camp 1 and used to play music right throughout the night. I guess it was to drown out the noise from the dump trucks. His cassette player had this unique loop on top which pushed a series of cassettes up and then flipped and dropped them back into the player to play the reverse side. I have never seen a contraption like this ever again. Roy "Goldfinger" Goldsworthy had his donga right next to him; in fact TWO, one for himself and the other for his ham radio equipment.


More from George Day:


I was thinking it over and Camp 5 was also called Birimpa. Not Arawa. The ExPat part was for sub-contractors. SteelDeck Construction had a fair number of guys staying in the camp. Russ looked after Camp 5 for the “indigenes”. We had a Wet Canteen.

I’m not surprised you don’t remember me. I was a complete dead loss. I’ll put something together to jog your memory.

I looked at the picture of Hans Helgeson. That’s him. Too much! Great guy. When I first came to Bougainville I stayed in Camp 1. Hans lived across the hall.

Camp 1 on a rainy Sunday afternoon; Hans Helgeson was with Ericssons;
the chap in the lower right corner is "Goldfinger" fixing up the shoelaces on his thongs!

Do you have contact information on Des Hudson? He may know how to get in touch with Russ Gill. I read the bit from Joe Fragnito - click here.

I’ve come up with some other Bougainville names. I remember Allan Wright because he was my boss. He took over John Finch’s position with CCS.

Warehouses and office of Camp Catering Services at Panguna
Camp Catering Services' Panguna office and warehouses

I can’t picture these people but I have their names so I did know them back in the day:

Ken O’Dowd
Roger Gidlow
Spike Jones
Ian Omond
Ian Collins
Rod Hair
Owen Dolan
Chris Maxwell

I’ve always wanted to come back to Australia and Bougainville. Your website has reinvigorated me.

Thank you for making the website. I’ll be in touch.

My contact information:
George Day
3441 Mayfair Drive
Victoria, British Columbia V8P 1R2
Landline Telephone: 1-250-592-1800
Cell: 1-778-587-3441
email georgeday77[AT]