Royal Papua Yacht Club, Life Members
Born in Warrnambool, Victoria in 1912, Lennox Lehman Smithcompleted an apprenticeship in watch and jewellery making with local traders. as a member of Toc he started a scout troop which still exists today. At the outbreak of World war I Len joined the Australian Infantry Force and served with the 2/6 Battalion in the first part of the desert war and was later transferred to the field workshops because of his Knowledge of instruments.
In 1942 he came to PNG as a member of the Sixth Division and upon his discharge from the army he spent about six month setting up his jewellery business. He eventually obtained the necessary permissions to set up the business after a major oil company in PNG put pressure on the Australia government as that company wanted Len to put all their technical equipment back into operation.
his first shop was in laws Road the second shop was behind the old Yacht Club, and his third and final shop was on Cuthbertson Street opposite the Post Office. many a fascinating discussion from jewellery hallmarks to the early times followed a visit to his showrooms. From the balcony of his house behind the shop, he had an uninterrupted view out over Port Moresby harbour. here he used a massive pair of field lasses captured from the Japanese to watch everything in and around the harbour.
Len was renowned for his jewellery he probably supplied the majority of engagement and wedding rings to Port Moresby residents of the time. It is also surmised that he may have donated trophies to the Yacht Club for its many sailing competitions either whilst he lived on the property or during his tenure as a member of the Club.Len was appointed as a trustee of the Club and in June 1962 he donated his debentures of 300 to the Club. He was granted Life Membership on 23 June 1962.
Len retired at the age of 61 in 1973 . he had suffered severe injuries in the Middle East when apparently his skull was cracked in a bomb blast . about 12 years before he retired, his war injuries caught up with him and he underwent surgery to save his life. Unfortunately, the
operation destroyed his sense of balance and rendered him unable to travel in motor vehicles because it made him violently ill. When he did travel, he would go by sea, walking the short distance from his home to the wharf.
Len's brother, Reginald ,said that Len's decision to retire to samarai came about because his first house boy, naraway, was from the milne By District and this meant there would be a continual flow of visitors from that area Reginald continued, 'While I was there in 1977, we had visits from john Guise lots of priests of all persuasions, millionaire blue-water sailors and a few beachcombers. he was well liked by the locals and among other things fostered the local Girl Guide troop. Although a professed atheist, he liked to entertain and argue with visiting clergy I know he helped all the churches financially as when the Roman Catholic Bishop of Milne Bay province,Sir Desmond Moore, phoned me about Len's death he said not to worry about funeral expenses as Len had done a lot for them. During his retirement Len was dedicated to recording the tides at Samarai. His house was eithin 20ft of the high tid mark, with a beautiful view. An article in a 1987 issue of Paradise, Air Niugini's in-flight magazine , stated,"When he conceived the idea of developing a tide gauge as a hobby 15 years ago,he needed to find materials. Scientists have since marcelled that his device consisting of biscuit tins, jam jars, drawing pins to marks heights,and a host of other "ingredients could ever have worked let alone survive long enough for some of the parts to be used again in a second gauge built years later" The article stated that Len was Virtually housebound because of ill health but that an interest in the environment led to what became his all-consuming interest, monitoring the sea.
Ken Ridgway, of the (then) CSIRO Division of Oceanography, based in Hobart, Tasmania, said The important thing is that len's meticulously-Kept records of day-of-day variations in sea levels date back before most scientists recognized the importance of monitoring this region, "The article explained that the western Pacific, especially north of PNG, the site of the widest stretched of warm water in the world, is the area where scientists believe changes that lead to EI Nino/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) first occur Len's tide gauge was one of only two in operation on mainland Papua New Guinea during the 1982-83 ENSO event. The other was at a Belgian research station on laing island near Bogia. Len's recording station formed a link in what became an international network of sea-level gauges to be maintained for 10 years from 1984. In the western Pacific, sea-evel stations were installed at Port Moresby, Alotau, Lae, Madang, wewak, manus island and kavieng. len was the original owner of PO Box No. 1 in Port Moresby he bequeathed it to del Underwood of Steamships when he left. On Hearing of Len's passing , Dulcie Johnson wrote, "I used to watch Len Smith opening PO Box 1 in Port Morsby every day and noticed there was never anything in it . So, I vowed I would put one letter a months in his box. From the day he went to Samarai I did Just that and received the occasional message to say how much he appreciated them. The mission people were every caring and of course have buried him in their cemetery "he died on 14 February 1997 aged 85. Len is survived by his brother and numerous nieces and nephews.
From an article in the Post-Courier of 13 April 1973, an article by Jennifer Pringle-Jones in Paradise, isssue 63, July,Aug 1987 and information from Len's brother.