The indictment of Lae: beyond the green zone
Australian media wake up to PNG issues

Montevideo Trust seeks Canberra memorial

BY KEITH JACKSON

MS Montevideo Maru
CANBERRA
: I’m here for the second time in two months on business related to national recognition of the double tragedy of the fall of Rabaul and the sinking of the Montevideo Maru.

As Australia’s new high commissioner to PNG, Ian Kemish, remarked to me in an email just a few minutes ago, “These were two important events; very much worth the memory.”

And this could be no better time to bring you this wonderful impression of the Montevideo Maru.

In the glory days of shipping, maritime postcards were legion – providing somewhat romanticised views of the main ships of the line.

A couple of weeks ago we provided an impression of what we thought was the Montevideo Maru - which turned out to be a successor ship of the same name.

But this one is the genuine article, for which we thank collector James Hook and computer expert Vim Sharma.

The postcard was originally published by Osaka Shosen Kaisha, the shipping company that owned the ill-fated vessel.

Later today, a group from the Montevideo Maru Memorial Trust will meet with Australian War Memorial director, Major General Steve Gower.

The purpose is to see what can be done to accord proper recognition to the soldiers and civilians who died as a result of the Japanese invasion of Rabaul and the New Guinea Islands in 1942, including the estimated 1,053 who died on the Montevideo Maru.

We’ll also be meeting with our legal adviser, Bernard Collaery, to incorporate the Trust in the Australian Capital Territory.

The pursuit of proper official recognition of this worst Australian maritime disaster is well and truly on.

Comments

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Mike Dabbs

You may remember me from Bougainville days as I was a kiap for ten years. I have a copy of a letter written by the late John Guise and it may be of interest to you. Congratulations on your web site. Its great, informative and balanced which I think at times the ex kiap site doesn't quite attain. Cheers. Dabbsy

Paul Oates

It is very important to remember those who lost their lives on the this ship. There are number of reasons that come to mind. It was Australia's worst maritime disaster and thanks to the tireless efforts of those who have worked so hard on this project it will hopefully provide some additional closure to those who suffered as a result of this tragedy.

It should also be important to point out to the current government and it's departmental representatives that had the government of the day then listened to those who knew something about PNG and were trying to provide some pertinent and practical advice, this disaster may not have occurred at all. It is an historical fact that the Administrator of Papua and many others tried to warn the Australian government about the threat from Japan and about the lack of defence preparedness in New Guinea. The response from the pompous, senior public servants in Canberra at the time was that Papua New Guinea was 'adequately defended'. It is now quite clear that no one in Canberra had any real idea about what was happening to our near north or what to do about it.

So what has changed in 70 years one might be tempted to ask?

Lawrence Jennings

Just did an internet search and came up with your bountiful web site. Thank you for recreating the history that you have it is so valuable for Australia and TPNG it is really a gift of your time and generosity.

Our birth Father Joseph Jennings and our Mother Isobel Jean Jennings were the caterers at ASOPA from maybe 1954 to 1956, we lived on site in building 18 with my Brother Ruben (Ray) Joseph Jennings

Reginald Alexander John Bentinck you mentioned in lists and in your notes at Kokoda was my step Father he passed on 1st May 1988 in Brisbane where they retired to after a stint in Sydney. He attended ASOPA in 1954-1956 and came out a CPO.

My Brother and I are creating our Family history and we have already gained insights in to what we did not know through your generosity.

If I can be of any assistance in your history recording then please just ask.

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