People - Alexander Morrison (Sandy) Sinclair
European Constabulary, New Guinea Police Force
Born: 29 February 1904 Dundeee, Scotland. Died: 29 June 2003 Chatswood, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
Alexander Morrison Sinclair was born in Dundee, Scotland on 29th February 1904. In the early 1920s, he sought adventure by joining the British Army Brigade of Guards. As he was over six feet in height he was accepted. His fair hair caused him to be later known as 'Sandy' a name by which he is still known. He served for 8 years in this Regiment, during which some 2 years were spent in China. Taking his discharge from the Regiment, and seeking further careers in this part of the world, he came to Australia, and shortly after was attracted by the lure of the (then) Mandated Territory of New Guinea, which was recruiting police officers, as new stations were opened up, particularly on the mainland where gold had been discovered causing a huge influx of prospectors. He then joined the European Constabulary of the New Guinea Police Force on 7th November 1934 with rank of Warrant Officer Class 2. During the next years, he served at Rabaul, Kerevat, Kokopo and Kieta, before assuming command of the training of native police at the Rabaul Police Training Depot from 1936 to late 1941.
With an attack imminent in early 1942, he was ordered from Rabaul on the 21st of January to command the native police at the Vunakanau Air Strip, overlooking the Rabaul Harbour. After the invasion of 23rd January, and with the Japanese penetration, and the order 'every man for himself' he left Vunakanau and proceeded into the interior of the Gazelle Peninsula. Prior to doing this, he removed the bolts from the police .303 rifles, which were destroyed and the rifles buried, considering this action necessary as no one could be sure of the loyalty then of the native police. This action is attributed in a book, to another Warrant Officer, W.A. DIX, which is incorrect, as DIX had left Rabaul early in December 1941 on leave. He then moved about the Gazelle Peninsula, and made contact with other police officers, army personnel, and civilians who had made their escape from Rabaul. Other police officers who joined were Superintendent William Bruce BALL, Warrant Officers David CRAWLEY, Ronald William FEETUM, James Henry PALMER, and Joseph Henry THECKSTON. Shortly after leaving Vunakanau, they came across police Warrant Officer Percy Jeffs SIMNETT, but he was extremely ill with blackwater fever, and with no medical supplies, nothing could be done for him, and he died there. The party criss-crossed the Gazelle Peninsula for over a month, before gathering and being evacuated on the Lakatoi to Cairns, where they arrived on the 28th March 1942.
Shortly thereafter he joined the R.A.A.F. and when it was realised that he had New Guinea experience he was promoted to Lieut. and transferred to the Australian Army in the Water Transport Section and was sent to Port Moresby. After the Australia New Guinea Administrative Unit was formed, one of the units within this unit was the Royal Papuan Constabulary, commanded by (then) Major Christopher NORMOYLE, himself a former Warrant Officer of the New Guinea Police Force. SINCLAIR was then transferred to the R.P.C . on April 7 1943, and transferred out as Captain SINCLAIR, M.I.D. on November 2 1945.
After leave, he joined the Provisional Administration on 12th January 1946 as an Assistant Sub Inspector of the combined Royal Papuan Constabulary and New Guinea Police Force. From then on, his role was principally in that of training native police. He headed the contingent of members of the Royal Papuan and New Guinea Constabulary who sailed for England to take part in the Coronation Celebrations for Queen Elizabeth 2 in June 1953. Sandy described this as the highlight of his long police service. He retired from the RPNGC on 24th November 1960 as a Senior Inspector. His awards are, M.I.D., World War 2 medals, Coronation Medal, Police Long Service and Good Conduct Medal.
On the 1st of March 2003, he celebrated his 99th birthday with friends from Naremburn, New South Wales, where he had lived for many years after retirement. On 29 June 2003 he died at his nursing home at Chatswood. He was a loyal servant of the police forces of Papua New Guinea and should be remembered for his great contribution to training indigenous members of the pre-war Native Constabulary and of the post-war Constabulary.
© Maxwell R. Hayes, 2003 2003
Sandy Sinclair, New Guinea Police Force
New Guinea Police Force Band Rabaul 1938
23 May 1953