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The Coodardie commitment

On the trail of Sergeant Major Arek

Jim Toner writes from Darwin: Christian Arek Arek was a Northern District policeman. As a constable, he took part in the first skirmish with the Japanese invaders at Buna in July 1942 and, in 1943, retrieved the remains of Lucian Tapedi, Anglican martyr, for Christian burial.

Ten years later, by now a bemedalled Sergeant-Major, he was in London marching with the RPNGC contingent in the Coronation parade. A half-century on, Christian’s daughter, Elizabeth, has written from Brisbane to say she seeks "a thin paperback book about the war heroes of PNG". She says: "Recalling slightly, there was one about a PNG woman who transported injured Australian soldiers in her canoe".

As mentioned in The Mail 111, in 2004 Eric Johns (ASOPA 1958-59) published Volume 1 of a history for use in PNG schools. He, Bill McGrath [ex-kiap, of the Pacific Bookhouse], David Wetherell [retired academic researcher into Eastern Papuan affairs], Max Harris [former police inspector and RPNGC historian] and Colonel Pears [ authority on the history of the Pacific Islands Regiment] have all been approached and, although some have a recollection of the book, it cannot be located.

The search is thrown open to all lapun chalkies who might have used or come across the book during their time in PNG schools. Please respond to Jim Toner at tonerjb@ozemail.com.au.

Comments

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Tatiana Arek

Christian Arek is my great, great grandfather, my mother's father's, my grandfather's father.

Michael R Pearson | PNG Railway Historian

I saw the small booklet you refer to in the National Library (Waigani) New Guinea Collection last week. An Australian police officer on service here had requested it.

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