Arrivals & Departures Ring cruises full circle

Photo of Angie Tomlinson

The story of a PNG villager, a ring lost in WWII and a cruise ship.

A recent visit to Alotau in Papua New Guinea by cruise ship Golden Princess added the final chapter to the recovery of a high school ring lost by an American soldier in World War Two.

The ring was found by villager Liam Ngahan and returned last year to the surviving family of Sgt Edward Dodds and his New Jersey High School.

The story of the found ring has now come full circle after a unique Audubon High class ring was commissioned for a special presentation to Liam timed in with the visit of cruise ship, Golden Princess. 

Liam and his family greeted the ship and onboard guest lecturer John Hocknull, a former PNG patrol officer, presented the replacement ring.

Liam originally found the 1938 graduation ring buried in the ground near his village.

“It all started with a sightseeing tour of the district when we first met Liam. He showed me the ring and I could see that it was an American high school graduation ring and there was probably a wartime connection,” Mr Hocknull said. 

“Liam treasured the ring and it was noble of him to part with it so we could try to return it to the original owner’s family in America. It was a fair assumption that the ring had been lost by an American soldier based at Alotau during the war. We contacted Audubon High School in New Jersey and the rest, as they say, is history.” 

Sgt Dodds’ family and Audubon High School have not only replaced the ring, but presented Liam presented with textbooks, laptops and $2900 raised by the school’s Alumni Association.

“This has been an incredible journey that has struck an emotional chord with so many people and shone a light on the wartime history of the Milne Bay district, which is happily now best known for its scenery and fascinating culture,” Princess Cruises Australia and New Zealand vice president Stuart Allison said.  

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