The Papuan Constabulary, initially established by the Australian

Royal Papua and New Guinea Constabulary


resisting the Japanese during World War II.  The amalgamated 

The Queensland Police have had a long association with the policing of Papua New Guinea. In February 1911 Constable Gerard Hurst resigned from the Queensland Police and joined the  Papuan Armed Constabulary where he stayed until May 1912, after which he re-joined the Queensland Police. 



In July 1912 Constable Charles Perrin resigned in response to a call by the Commissioner of Police, for a Constable with special qualifications to serve in the Constable Charles Perrin was the second Queensland
Police officer to transfer into the  Papuan Police Constabulary between 1912 & 1913.


 By May 1913 he had found the conditions of service

 in Papua unsatisfactory and re-joined the Queensland Police 



The Royal Papua and New Guinea Constabulary as it was known resulted from the amalgamation in 1942 of the Royal Papua Constabulary and the New Guinea Police Force.The Royal Papua Constabulary originated in1891when the first Police Force in the Territory of Papua was formed by the Lieutenant Governor Sir William Macgregor.The Force was then know British armed Constabulary and in its initial stages consisted of twelve Solomon’s islanders with two Fijian commissioned officers.In the first years thirteen Papuans were recruited against much opposition by local residents who considered the local inhabitants far too primitive to be suited for that form of employment.At the outset the Armed Constabulary was used primarily for escorting patrols and duties involving the extension of Government influence.With the development of towns and gold mining actives, however , it naturally evolved that members were required to perform actual police duties and in fact, were showing aptitude for them.Over the years more and more Papuans were recruited into the force, until, 1898 there were 110 members. By 1912 the strength was increased to 250 and by 1939 there were 300 Papuan’s in the Armed Constabulary. There uniform was very similar to the traditional sulu and jumper which was only discarded in 30th September 1964 The RPC was known for the historic use of Police Motu, a lingua franca pidgin variant of the Motu language. During the colonial period, personnel needed to effectively administer the colony were scarce, so the colonial government recruited constables from the various Papua New Guinean peoples and nearby islands such as Fiji and the Solomon Islands. These recruits may have spoken any of about 700–800 different indigenous languages. To aid in communication, a common language was needed and the Police Motu pidgin arose. In recognition of the long and meritorious of the indigenous Police service of the Government His Majesty King George V1 in 1939 assented to the prefix “Royal” being granted to the Force which them became known as the the Royal Papua Constabulary.

In New Guinea shortly before 1914, the German Administration had a police force of a complement of approximately 1.000 New Guinea Locals.The German force was trained by regular Army officers at Rabaul (which was the German Administration HQ) and its function consisted mainly of taking punitive action against tribes which either attacked their administration or resisted their expansion. The dress of the members of the German New Guinea Police Force was a blue serrated lap-lap with a white belt and a white sailor type hat. The New Guinea Police Force was taken over by The Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force (AN&MEF) from the German Administration in 1914 with the defeat  on the Germans at the Battle of Bita Paka on New Britain known in the German as Neu-Pommern as part Kaiser-Wilhelmsland.

In 1921 the New Guinea Police Force was reorganized upon the commencement of the activities of the Australian Civil Administration. It was not until1930 that a modern Police Force was established in the territory of New Guinea by Colonel J Walstad DSO who became its Superintendent



Colonel Walstab and a raiding patrol of native police, Sepik River, Sepik, New Guinea, 1924.





In 1942 with the invasion of the Territories of Papua and New Guinea by the Japanese, the Royal Papua Constabulary and the New Guinea Police Force combined on a war time basis to form one service under the Banner of the Australian administration unit. During the war against Japan the Police expanded to a strength of around 2,900 and played an outstanding and valiant role during the campaign, Their duties of the time were Coast Watching fighting patrols, scouts and spies. As the war ended and Hostilities ceased the Force resumed its peace time activities under a combined Administration and the Queen, one of her first Acts was to bestow the prefix “Royal” on the now combined Constabulary Which is Now,  The Royal Papua and New Guinea Constabulary. 

The R P & N G C   is a member of a distinguished and select company of worldwide Commonwealth Police forces, the list is as Royal Canadian Mounted Police, The Royal Ulster Constabulary, the Royal Malaysian Police Force and  (the former the Royal Hong Kong Police Force 1997)






Members of the Native Police with 1319 Acting CSM Warrant Officer 2 Sergeant Louis Georges Gouday, of Bordeaux, France, in charge and 1326 Private Charles Byers Coates, of Ennis England

Early New Guinea Constabulary the rifle is a German   Mauser Model 1871/84
used by German Polizeitruppe  1914


The End of German New Guinea in 1914 brought a new responsible to Australia over the control of New Guinea . Men with an adventures spirit was needed to take up the call to Police the vast and diverse Country

The  end of the German Occupation of New Guinea  and the end of WW2, 1945, up to   Independence in 1975, just over 400 European officers were recruited worldwide to form the Royal Papua and New Guinea Constabulary.

   L P R Johnston, J F Clark, W S Harvey, P J Simnet
   D McDougall,  H. Theckston, W A. Dix, E A. Ash, P G.Nautly, J H. Palmer
   D. Crawley, N B. Blood, W.B. Prior, J Walstab,T Walker, R W Feetum, AM Sinclair (Sandy)
 The Royal Papuan Constabulary

The Papuan police force was formed in 1888 by  At the time the move was accepted with trepdation as it was considered that the natives could not be trained in law. However, the move went ahead and, though Illiteracy is still high, the force ls now very efficient and eduction is improving In a remarkable degree.On joining the force the recruit is put through strenuous   training and each afternoon classes are conducted in English, arithmetic and law.  In 1940 the King allowed the title "Royal" to be affixed to   the name of the force. It-is   the second force In the world to have that privilege conferred   on it, the other being the Royal Canadian Mounties. . the honour was conferred, for distinguished service. The force is controlled by 88   European officers. In conversation  Colonel Grimshaw said   that 20 more had been selected j In Australia. On their arrival  in Papua they would be sent to Sogeri for a course of training   and then posted to various   stations in Papua and New1 Gruinea. Most of the European   officers are ex-servicemen. There are 75 stations and police posts In the territories.   Up till recently it was not possible for a native policeman to attain commissioned rank. An ordinance. has now been issued to permit this, thus   affording an example of the progress that has been made in   the educational training of the natives. Colonel Grimshaw said there were some outstanding natives in the force. There are several who have distinguished war records and quite a number wear decorations for bravery. One wears   the medal of the Royal Humane Society. For 10 year service a gold star is awarded. These are worn with great pride. The presentation of this award is made a great   occasion, the whole force turning   out on a ceremonial parade   

MacGregor's experience with native races
led to his being appointed administrator
of British New Guinea

in 1888. Here he had to deal with a warlike people separated in many tribes, and his great problem was to get them to live together in reasonable amity. It was necessary at times to make punitive expeditions, but bloodshed was avoided as much as possible, and by tact and perseverance MacGregor eventually brought about a state of law and order.

Long hut built for police Quarters on Daru Island, Papua New Guinea 1899

Long hut built as the convict prison on Daru Island, Papua New Guinea 1899

One of the world police forces’ simplest yet effective form of handcuffs was in use in Papua New Guinea for over half a century. This was about a metre of ordinary brass chain such as many of our seniors might have pulled to flush a toilet in earlier days.The British New Guinea Armed Constabulary (BNGAC) was formed in 1890 and over the next years made many wide ranging contact patrols, sometimes in the field for three or more months. British New Guinea was to be later known as Papua. These superbly loyal native police patrolled through the primitive uncontrolled Papuan hinterland under the leadership of a Resident Magistrate.Many inland natives had never seen a white man before. In many areas cannibalism of victims was the normal result of inter-tribal warfare. These very primitive natives were literally “headhunters” and when encountering, and sometimes ambushing, such police patrols it was often necessary for the police to fire with deadly effect when under attacks. From the very first days of the BNGAC patrols, any prisoners taken would have been roped together or tied with native vines and brought back to Port Moresby. This method generally proved unsatisfactory and supplies of a regular pattern of Hiatt handcuff were imported. A c. 1900 photo shows a native policeman wearing a handcuff pouch on his uniform belt. No chain can be seen. It is not known precisely when the force was equipped with the Hiatt handcuff but I have a handcuff key from the early 1900s. The Hiatt handcuff required a key, the barrel of which was internally threaded to fasten the hinged arm. Hiatt handcuffs, of which there were several patterns, were manufactured in Birmingham, England, from the late 19th century. I have been told that the odd Hiatt handcuff in very remote patrol posts may have still been in use in Papua early post World War 2.It would not be difficult to imagine that many keys, being so small, would have been lost thus rendering the handcuff impossible to use until further keys could be obtained. It is quite probable that some handcuffed natives (particularly if they had escaped from police captivity), would have remained handcuffed without any means of release, or of being cut loose. This would especially be so in the remote areas of Papua where there were no cutting tools available for iron handcuffs. It became necessary to devise a simple system of restraint which did not depend on a key.The solution was simple and, when applied properly, foolproof. Thus, the brass chain method of restraint was devised. It is not known precisely when the chain was introduced into general use but photos of c. 1906-07 show native police wearing the chain.

A photo taken by Frank Hurley in July 1921 shows the chain worn suspended and looped from the customary rifle cartridge belt. Photos c. 1935, 1940 and others show the chain worn as part of the black serge sulu (jumper), laplap and cartridge belt uniform. When arrested, the offender was handcuffed behind his back by means of the chain being wound around the wrists several times and the end link of the chain fastened to another link. The last time I saw the chain used as a restraint was out of Rabaul in 1962 when, with other officers, I attended a very large riot with my native police. We had a box of regular handcuffs but these were quicky used up and the chain again came into use probably for the last time in Papua New Guinea.In 1906 the BNGAC became known as the Papuan Armed Constabulary and variously referred to as the Armed Native Constabulary throughout the intervening years. King George V recognized the many years of arduous and hazardous patrolling by dedicated police since the very first days of 1890. By Royal Warrant of August 1939 this unique police force was renamed as the Royal Papuan Constabulary (RPC). It thus became one of only three “Royal” police forces in the world. During the Japanese occupation of the New Guinea Islands and much of the mainland between 1942 and 1945, the RPC native police joined with native police of the New Guinea Police Force to form a comparatively small fighting unit as part of the Australian Army. Their bravery resulted in the awards of 28 Loyal Service Medals, 5 British Empire Medals, 1 Distinguished Conduct Medal and 1 George Medal.With the resumption of the post-war civil government administration in 1946, both former territories of Papua and New Guinea were administratively joined. The quite separate pre-war police forces of Papua and of New Guinea were joined to form the Royal Papua and New Guinea Constabulary. Police continued to wear the pre-war RPC uniform and in 1953 a contingent of the RP&NGC was invited to attend the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth ll in London. Native police continued to wear the brass chain with the RPC uniform until 30 September 1964. On 1 October 1964, it was replaced by a new in line blue uniform for all ranks and the brass chain ceased to be worn by native police. It was replaced with a regular key operated police pattern handcuff (and keys still continued to be lost.)  Many people seemed to think that the brass chain was just an unnecessary adornment bilas (pidgin) to a police uniform which had been in continual use from 1890 with the brass chain from around 1906-07. Little did they know that this simple brass chain, always worn on the left side and suspended from the cartridge belt, had served a very useful and practical purpose for over half a century. My thanks to Jim Sinclair and Rick Giddings for their notes.

Handcuffs, PNG version: Maxwell R Hayes 

members of the Papuan Constabulary

Detachment of Armed Police c a 1912

(Papua), who was hanged for murder

 The German New Guinea Constabulary

Albert Hahl was the son of a Protestant brewer. After attending high school in Freising from 1887 he studied law and economics in Würzburg. Following his appointment as Regierungsassessor 1894, he worked in the Bavarian Ministry of the Interior in  Bayreuth. 1895 Hahl came into the Colonial Department of the Foreign Office. From January 1896 to December 1898 he was an imperial judges and officials in the Bismarck Archipelago (Herbert height), and at the same time administrative officer in Stephansort in the former "reserve" the company of New Guinea. After the sudden death of Curt von Hagen officiated Albert Hahl of 15 August 1897 to 11 September 1897 as Managing Acting Governor of the Company of New Guinea. After a brief employment in the Colonial Department of the Foreign Office in 1899, he was Vice Governor of the Eastern Carolines east based in Pohnpei with the administration of the 1899 treaty with the newly acquired German-Spanish island territory of the German-Micronesia 148 Longitude entrusted including the Marshall Islands and Nauru. Following the resignation of Rudolf von Bennigsen Albert Hahl knew from first 10 July   1901 the governorship acting as deputy governor. He returned in June 1902 because of illness on blackwater fever returned to Germany, where at 20 he November 1902 was
finally appointed Governor of German New Guinea. He held that post until  April
1914. Hahl participated in the exploration of the country and crossed in 1908 in the  company of two other Europeans first Bougainville. Shortly after his arrival in  New Guinea, he had lived among the people of the Tolai and learned their language.

Dr. Albert Hahl,
Imperial Vice-Governor of German New Guinea,

To introduce a more effective and less conflict management , appointed Hahl indigenous mayor ("Luluai"),which should be the bridge between German government and the locals. Luluai was responsible for the local administration. Jurisdictions on land issues, etc. were held only by the imperial judges. The Luluai earned up to 300 marks a month . In return, they had to meet quotas of unpaid work and collect the poll tax (since 1906), of which they were allowed to use 10% for themselves. This form of indirect management of the influence of traditional powers was reduced and bound  the native population of the colonial economic system. But the Luluai system could be operated because of his privileges for individuals and the repeal of the former  village order not without conflict. In establishing inter alia helped Sacred Heart missionaries that could be useful to the process of colonization because of their  knowledge of the country , but it also came into conflict with locals, which in 1904
led to the " Baining massacre " in others. The later addition to the Luluai system by  several government stations should punitive expeditions as they were common in Hahl predecessor Rudolf von Bennigsen diminish. Land rights and economic policy  Hahl had already in 1899 ensured that the right to acquire land by local communities or  simply take an uninhabited area in possession , only lay with the province,which the  resale right was careful that no ownership rights of the locals were injured. Since 1903, the existing ownership have been checked for their accuracy beyond. So 1903-1914 were about 5,740 ha , which had already come into the possession of European planters , again returned to the village communities and created a total of 70 inalienable reserves with a total area of ??13,115 ha . But real potential for conflict lay in the vast areas that had been acquired by the company, and New Guinea that have never been officially measured or assessed to what extent the acquisition had curtailed rights locals . Each New Guineans had at least an acre of land for settling and tilling are available.  This land should be primarily so-called " cash crops " , particularly Coconut palms are grown. In this way Hahl wanted to achieve that Guineans could participate even  at the colonial economic system and were not forced to work on European plantations. In 1914 nearly half of the exports of copra cultivation of the natives of the Gazelle Peninsula , while the mainland population were forced to Madang by the loss of their lands to work on the plantations of the New Guinea Company of . However, the detailed provisions which could Hahl work and medical care had been set up for local workers regarding wages , duration, and the abolition of female labor  force , compared with the other company, and Guinea - German plantation owners, never fully implemented . Education and medical care Under Hahl reign came three government and two Missions hospitable where in addition to the supply of the population young locals were given a  basic medical training and returned to their villages after a few months as a medical Luluais . Also the education grew strongly and as Hahl 1914 left New Guinea, there were over 600 primary schools , six schools and a craft school for interpreters. The enrollment rate of 3.2% was higher than in most African colonies. After his retirement in 1918 he was director of the New Guinea Company, after the loss of the colonies by the First World War.

The first Police Station Rabaul built by Dr Albert Hahl 1910


New Guinea Polizeitruppe, Ponape c1910


German New Guinea Native Police with rifles 1909









New Guinea Polizeitruppe on Parade
 Constabulary recruits

Click on Image to enlarge


As the plane comes In to land at Fort Moresby one of the first sight is the native policeman. Is in Introduction   to a picturesque and well trained force.It was my privilege to see them parade before the   Administrator of Australia   General Sir John Northcott when he made a short visit to the territory. Attached to the force Is a band, and its slow marching, quick step and   diagram marching were equal to those bands on the mainland. The guard of honour provided for Sir John moved in a manner emulating the movements   of a Guards regiment. At So geri Sir John Inspected about 500 police recruits and he was pleased with the efficiency of the force.That their training is based on tbat given to the Brigade of Guards is natural as the force is commanded by a commissioner who is an ex-member of   the Coldstream Guards   Colonel J. 8. Grimshaw),     and the training at the Sogerl Police depot is controlled by Inspector A. Sinclair, who was an officer in the Scots Guards.Glad in black sulus and jackets lined with a red stripe and wearing a red cummerbund the force on parade is a   colourful spectacle. They wear webbing belts and a Sdearms, and handcuff chains, brightly polished, hang from the centre of the body and the back.

The efficiency and discipline of the police band is a tribute tc the patience and assiduity of Inspector J. Crawley, who many years ago . struggled against adversity to establish the band. Pessimism dogged his every move, but his own optimism never faltered and in 1838 the band was formed. The going was hard. Many boys dropped out after a few lessons and there was the constant difficulty of enlisting new personnel. Inspector Crawley persevered   and today he has a   band which Is ft credit to him. At every puddle function in Port Moresby the band Is present Band practice is a dally routine. Inspector Crawley's ambition Is to have a tend equal in efficiency to mainland bands. That he is on the way to success can be Judged from the results of the theory exam inations of the London Trinity College of Music. A few   months ago a number of mem bers were submitted for the examination, which was held under the direction of the Education Department of Papua-N.G,The results were excellent. Four entered in the advanced intermediate division and all passed, two with honours. Two passed with honours in Hie intermediate division and two out of three gained honours in the advanced Junior division. Twesity-four passed in the Jun ior division, 16 gained honours (one with 100 marks) and the remaining eight were awarded merits. Inspector Crawley la an ex-soldier having served with the 12th Lancers.


The control of traffic 'is an important aspect of police work in Port Moresby. Training is carried out in that city and it is very exacting. At Fort Moresby's busy crossing the policeman stands on a three foot square box, painted yel low, with the word "Police" in blade on its sides. The police man wears long white sleeves.There is no slovenliness in their work. They move and give signs with all the dexterity and uniformity that one   sees in any Australian city.Though registration of motor vehicles was in operation in New Guinea it did not operate In Papua until August 1, 1951 Up till the end of October 70o vehicles were registered and 300 had not completed   registration papers.


The fire brigade in Port Moresby is part of the police force. It is under the super intendency of Sub-inspector T. Donnelly, who up till recently was a member of the Sydney Fire Brigade. The Port Moresby staff consists of 14 constables   and a corporal, All of   whom received their training at the Sogeri police depot.The station is a two-story fribro-cement structure on thesea front There are two modernfire engines and two more   are expected early thie year. All the general equipment is of good standard and quality. Included in the equlpment is a large number of fire  extinguishers.Fire drill Is a dally routine and Sub-Inspector Donnelly said the nativai respondedto it. Most ot the instruction was given in "pidgin" but   native grasped the meanings quickly.Sub-Inspector Donnelly said Port Moresby neoded modern fire-fighting equipment,   particularly as It was an Important shipping centre handling   millions of pounds of cargo Yearly. There is also * large number of small craft and the danger of fire was ever present. There were, too paper   houses, but once these caught alight these was nothing to stop total destruction. Grass fires were 'prevalent and the   native fire were trained as fire beaters.The station Is situated in cool surroundings with trees and shrubs growing At each side and at the back. PortMoresby has good water   pressure when water t available. Breakdowns are frequent   and the supply is cut off almost every night Throughout Papua and New Guinea there are a number of   sub stations. They are administered from Fort Moresby. 

Morning Bulletin Rockhampton,Thursday 10 January 1952


German Residents with  Native troops  in target practice

German New Guinea Police Station


The Papuan Police on Patrol world war 2





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Inspection of Constabulary


When the Duke of Gloucester visited the Lae area training depot of the Royal Papuan Constabulary on Thursday he found that he was not the only Royal personage present. A distinguished visitor was   NinJji king of a number of villages in the Mount Hagen district, in which he rules outright, and where his word is absolute law. A bearded chieftain of uncertain agc, he gazed sternly at the Duke when he was introduced, but his thoughts were un-revealed, as none of the native   interpreters present were able to speak his dialect sufficiently.
The review and march past of members of the Royal Papuan Con- stabulary was as impressive an affair as the parade of the Pacific Islands force on the previous day. Though their duties are not military and are concerned entirely with adminis- tration of territory, members of the constabulary are just as enthusias- tic in their performance and as precise in their bearing.
When the Royal party arrived they were drawn up on the parade ground in three companies, and lining the fence of the ground in colourful array were their Marys and their piccaninnies in hundreds.
Members of this force in this New Guinea area are not Papuans, as the name of RPC implies, but are volunteer natives from villages all over New Guinea.
cs the Duke alighted from his car a echoir of natives sang God Save the King in truly harmonious style. Major-General B. M, Morris, GOC of ANGAU, conducted the Duke on  his inspection, and then from the saluting base told the natives that the Duke wished to address them,
"Here along me," he said, "is Duke of Gloucester. He come liklik up fella good bay. Him true brother belong King belong belong you King George makcm Royal Number One belong Australian, now Papua, now New Guinea. Orrlght. Now His Royal Highness talk like like you fella."
The Duke expressed lils pleasure at being the first member of the Royal family to have visited New Guinea. Many of the natives, he said, had suffered under the Japanese occupa tion, and he was pleased that they had now been rescued und taken up their duties not only us police- men but as members of the British Empire. He was sure they would carry out the tradition they had, built for themselves before the Japanese came.  
After the parade the Duke, at the request of Major-General Morris,presented awards to two members  of the constabulary. One received the valour medal and the other the loyal service medallion.
The Duke's final engagement for the day was a visit to Lae Officers' Club, where officers of the Army, RAAF and women's services had assembled to meet him. Many of them were presented to the Duke, after which he moved informally among those present and chatted with various groups.




A Papua New Guinean would take over for the first time as head of the country's police force,
the Chief Minister Somare   announced yesterday. The new Police Commissioner will be Mr Pius-Kerepia, aged 29,a Bougainvillean who for tho past,18 months has served as one of two assistant commissioners
Mr Kerepia, a police officer for 12 years, will take   over on May 7 from Mr Brian Holloway, who has resigned after serving in the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary since 1948.The new deputy commissioner, Mr Somare said, would be Mr Boin Merie, the other assistant commissioner for the past 18 months.     

The Canberra Times,ACT Saturday 26 April 1975 p 3



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