MRS SHORT, NA OL LAIN OLI gat intres ya, it is well to remember that the original regiments of Australian soldiers to arrive in Port Moresby were not volunteers. They were conscripts forced into service by martial law then prevailing.
As were the carriers and labourers - those many Papuan men who supported the Australian soldiers on the famous Kokoda Track, and in Port Moresby and at Milne Bay.
Besides carrying supplies and wounded men, these Papuan conscripts were employed building Army camps and digging drains and pit latrines out at 6 Mile and elsewhere.
Our familiar Jackson's Airport was upgraded from a tiny dirt landing-ground to a major airstrip capable of landing DC3's and other large aircraft. Upgraded by these same Papuan conscripts, equipped with shovels, picks and wheelbarrows.
The young Aussies were youths who had not volunteered to serve in the AIF. They were lads who had remained in their jobs as office-boys, apprentices, labourers and farm-boys until they were compelled to enter training for service in a militia brigade.
Australia's mature, well-trained, volunteer-manned infantry force had been sent to support British troops in North African and Mediterranean countries invaded by Germany soon after hostilities began in 1939.
These other young men, untrained and unwilling, were all that was left in Australia to form a second fighting force.
Under law it was illegal for an Australian militia detachment to be deployed overseas, but as Papua was an Australian Protectorate it was deemed to be of similar status as mainland Australia and on this basis the young militiamen were embarked and taken to Port Moresby.
They were a very discontented lot when they realised that they had been tricked, and what they were expected to do. They showed their anger by looting houses, shops and the Anglican Church in downtown Port Moresby soon after their arrival. Eventually their mainly elderly, superannuated officers managed to settle things down.
The young white-men soon found friends in the shape of the conscripted Papuan labourers and carriers who served beside them in the thick of battle.
Both sides saw that they had much in common, and they shared smokes and biscuits and mugs of tea along the track, at the same time learning something of each others customs and world-view.
Here was the beginning of the legend of Kokoda which we recall every year. It represents a real bond between two peoples, established in the heat of battle, and we do ourselves and those brave men, black and white, a great injustice if we lose sight of the reality of this period in our common history and our primary and secondary school-syllabus.
For their part the Papuans had been rounded up by Patrol Officers in their villages everywhere from Daru in the west to East Cape. As the census roll was called, each male with hair under his arms, excluding those with grey or white hair on their heads, was lined up and loaded aboard a waiting vessel. These brought them to Port Moresby and several years of often-dangerous service with the Australian Army.
The friendship and understanding between black and white conscripts blossomed and led to an association which was set down in a poem published in the Australian Womens Weekly magazine in 1943. Here the unforgettable name "Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels” was coined and came into common use
The young Australians, when faced with the Track and the reality of Japanese opposition to their advance, changed overnight, and with the seasoned soldiers who returned from the Middle East months later, established the legend of Kokoda-Buna with great bravery and not a few losses as well as numbers of badly wounded.
It is sobering to reflect that at Bomana, more than 9,000 Australian servicemen and women lie buried. These are those whose bodies were found. Others lie in Lae and at Rabaul, but a few still remain where they fell or crashed from the sky, unseen and lost forever.
There is no officially-designated and consecrated burial ground for the Papuans and New Guineans of the military labour force who fell beside their Australian and American allies in the war.
Those men who were already members of the two territorial police forces and the Papuan Infantry Battalion are in possession of medals awarded and received service pensions on retirement from their employment in peacetime.
There have been efforts within PNG to recognise the Angels, but the process has not run smoothly.
I am aware for instance of the aged father of a friend of mine, an old Angel from the Malalaua area of Gulf, who often made trips to Port Moresby when rumours of medals and parades were about, but he never met with a welcome and the recognition he deserved. He died a disappointed old man three years ago.
Over the last three years, I have contributed several article to PNG Attitude dealing with WW2 and PNG.
I have written two or three times about the Fuzzy Wuzzies, the Australians and the war in PNG, the part played by native police and soldiers in the war, about the hangings at Higaturu and about the late Tommy Kabu, who learned much from his wartime experience and came back to be a real and not-forgotten pioneer of village-based enterprise.
I should be glad to email these articles to anyone interested. email@example.com will find me.