War Artist, CH Payne
Some years ago my cousin, the late Jim Henry of Nowra, took me to visit a friend of his, CH Payne, who had been a war artist in New Guinea. To my amazement, he had a painting of Port Moresby Harbour in 1943, showing the island, the pier with its pipelines and the road. I now have a duplicate. (Max asked the artist to add in the bulldozer in the left foreground.)
The scene is the site of a pier which contained a number of pipe lines to transfer fuels and water to and from tankers in Moresby Harbour. Fuels were discharged into storage tanks at a number of sites and were seven 2,270,000 litre and three 5,680,000 litre containers.
The pipe lines were on a pier which extended 1000 metres into the harbour where tankers could tie up to the small wharf. This pier was a construction of piles (Australian turpentine) driven into the harbour bed by a pile driver. The work was undertaken by the 14 Field Company, Royal Australian Engineers.
The small island on the left of the painting was connected to the mainland by a narrow lane way. It was later connected by a road protected on each side by stones carted from the harbour bed at low tide.
A sapper of the 14 Field Company (Jack Pratt) was an explosives expert and he was responsible for drilling and blasting down a huge quantity of good quality gravel from one side of this island for the purpose of constructing the road.
The pipelines were covered with timber (heavy planks) before the explosives covered them. Two sappers, CW Cahill (Bill) and MGM Woods (Max) were detailed to construct the road by pushing out the gravel in the channel formed by the stone work. The machine used was a powerful Allis Chambers Model L bulldozer – (six cylinders fuelled with high octane petrol).
The machine was driven out by Max Woods with the existing track only just wide enough for the tracks. Moving the gravel was a difficult exercise. The material had to be pushed forward without disturbing the pipe lines and had to be moved into the pavement area beside the existing road.
A large amount of material was required and it had to be taken from the bottom of the pile so that gravel constantly slid down to the working face sometimes bringing very large boulders.
Now and again it was necessary to use the dozer to move up the inclining face to get the blade under one of these large rocks and to shake the rocks loose. This was necessary to control the downward movement by carefully balancing the rock on the blade and backing down with it.
When the road was completed king tides were in operation. The night of the end of the project a truck backed over the retaining wall and made a large hole. Next morning a section of the road had been washed out.
Max Woods C2003