Sergeant in the Royal Papuan Constabulary

Place Oceania: New Guinea1, Papua New Guinea, Papua, Port Moresby
Accession Number ART26663
Collection type Art
Measurement Overall: 45.6 x 39.4 cm
Object type Painting
Physical description oil on canvas on hardboard
Maker Dargie, William
Place made New Guinea1: Papua New Guinea, Papua, Port Moresby
Date made 14 January 1944
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945

Item copyright: Copyright expired - public domain

Public Domain Mark This item is in the Public Domain


Portrait of a New Guinean Sergeant in the Royal Papuan Constabulary, who had served for over twenty years. Dargie noted, "This portrait was done simply as a demonstration-lecture on how to paint a portrait, and was given before troops who were interested in such things at the AES [Army Education Service] establishment in Port Moresby. AES had gone to considerable trouble to cater for soldiers in the area who want to study drawing and painting. This lecture was given to initiate a series of classes in drawing the human figure from life, to be held very Friday night. Since the first night, with the help of Pte Alan Baker, I have gone to each class to give whatever assistance I could by teaching, and I have always found the room to be so crowded that it was almost impossible to move around among the students. It was very pleasant to discover three of my old pupils among the troops present. Each of the two badges on the blue tunic of the native Sergeant indicates ten years consecutive service."

The subject of the portrait is Sergeant Major Bagita Aromau. Originally from Mapamoiwa village in the D’Entrecasteaux Islands of Milne Bay Province, Bagita joined the Royal Papuan Constabulary in 1916 as a self-described ‘fresh youth’ in Port Moresby. During the Second World War, Bagita spent three years in charge of carriers on the Kokoda Trail. He was working as a supervisor at the Moresby Police Station. He gave 5 decades of service to the police, retiring in 1966. He was awarded the British Empire Medal in the Queen’s birthday honours of that year. He also held the 1939-45 Star, the Pacific Star, the Defence Medal, the Australian General Service Medal and the Police Long Service and Good Conduct Medal.