Gerard Denis Murphy, MD

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  • Came to Fiji in 1952.
  • Served at TB hospital in Tamavua 1952-1978.
  • Fr Bransfield: "It was called the house of death when he came and the house of life by the time he retired."
  • Married the head of the nursing staff. His wife died circa 1988-1989.
  • He had one lung all his life and may have had TB himself (Nairne).
  • Best friend of Verrier.
  • Verrier was best man at Murphy's wedding.
  • Murphy had his own boat that he had built in his sitting room. It was powered by a 25 horsepower outboard. He'd go out fishing every week. One time Bransfield heard him quizzing the children about how much they weighed. Murphy knew that if he overloaded the boat, it wouldn't plane properly.
  • Visited Gilchrist every day toward the end of Gilchrist's life.
  • Fr. Michael Bransfield, SM (1926-2009; Society of Mary = Marists) took us to meet Murphy at his bungalow near Loloma Beach in Teuba. Bransfield came to Fiji in October, 1951, and worked there until his death in 2009.
  • Murphy was incapable of coherent conversation in the summer of 2003. He died in 2004 (?).
  • Leila, the housekeeper, served us lunch, then brought out all of the boxes in the house. There was no sextant box among them. But there was a fascinating treasure trove - a box containing the memorabilia of Francis Ivor Fleming (1888-1968), a patient who died under Dr. Murphy's care in 1968.
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Bob Nairne

On the way home, we visited Bob Nairne, who told us the story of the seaman's chest and the two flags.

  • Came to Fiji in 1976.
  • Banker in Africa and England first.
  • Retired at age 48. At age 50, did a feasibility study in Fiji. Then came here for 5 years to work on the project for British Aid. The co-op he founded is still going strong. Two men he recruited are still working there 25 years later.
  • Flag story: Fleming was a patient of Murphy's at the TB hospital. Murphy looked for someone to give it to for years, without success.
  • Visited Gilchrist every day during his last days.

Denise Murphy

  • Thought her father might have had the sextant box. Worries that Noonan's box may have been stolen during unrest during coup in Fiji in 1999 (?).
  • Told a story of the bones being delivered to Gilchrist at FSM by Captain Brown.

Molly Murphy

  • Lives in Nadi).
  • Married to Nick Rag.
  • Publicity Director for the airport.
  • Denise thought that Molly might have taken Fred's sextant box. Molly's sextant box had a sextant in it. She said it was from Hughson of London, not just an empty, weather-beaten case. She does not remember her father having any other sextant boxes in the house.
  • Molly has read the manuscript of Amelia's Shoes. Other than things she has heard from Denise, she has no memory of anyone ever discussing the bones found on Gardner/Nikumaroro.
  • Molly's best friend, Collette, is Jean Brown's neice. Molly will ask her whether she'd be willing to meet with us in Nadi. Collette's husband is the General Manager for Air Pacific. We did not follow up on this.

Gerald Roy Murphy, MB, BS

  • A doctor in Australia.

From an e-mail, 11 December 2009:

"The story about Fleming and Fanning Island is true. Fleming was a remarkable and very grumpy man who was left on that remote island for most of the war, just to make sure the Japs, or the US for that matter, didn’t land and claim it for themselves. He must have been very reclusive because when the war ended he was made caretaker of another small island, Nukulau Island near Suva, Fiji, where he lived with his wife till he died. It is the sort of life most of us would dream about. He had pretty bad TB and I suspect that is how he came under my father's care as he was chest specialist (and one who smoked 80 cigarettes a day). It was shortly after Streptomycin was found to be a cure and I suspect he felt my dad had saved his life. Anyway, and for whatever reason, he left most of his stuff to my dad.

"The boxes were simply metal tool boxes. As I recall they held some good basic carpentry tools, navigation and chart instruments, and a small escape kit with a button compass, a tiny lighter the size of a finger, sailors knives etc."