It's raining because of the moon
Give the raskol a tenner & watch him grow

The mountain cave that harboured Sgt Ryan

Ryan hid in a cave in the mountains of Sarewagat, 1,000 metres above sea level in a steep, densely forested valley with a fast flowing river

Peter Ryan - just 18 when called to war
Peter Ryan MM - just 18 when called to war


OLIN – This is my place, Olin; a little village in Nawaeb District, Morobe Province.

Some years ago, I was told by my great-grandfather about a World War II soldier who was assisted by the natives of this area to escape from the Japanese.

Sergeant Peter Ryan was patrolling with a fellow soldier when they were ambushed.

Ryan escaped, and was later awarded the Military Medal for his bravery.

The local people hid him for some days in a cave at a place called Bawan before being rescued by his comrades.

This place is now kept as a monument by the natives, and they visit it occasionally.

There is little information in the Papua New Guinean government about this.

Even with Peter Ryan’s book, 'Fear Drive My Feet', little attention has been given.

As a result, we tribes from this area are trying to get his escape recognised and perhaps this place could be of interest to tourists.

Sergeant Peter Ryan was just a teenager when he went to war in our country.

If by chance any of the Ryan family or descendants want to see and feel the scene where he hid, we are able to assist.

The cave is in the mountains of Sarewagat, one thousand metres above sea level in an area densely forested and with a steep valley and fast flowing river.

The place is called Bawan, meaning ‘tree that gives off rare odour’.

Jacob can be contacted at [email protected]

More about Peter Ryan MM here


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Paul Oates

Hi Jacob. Thanks for that interesting piece of history.

You mention 'Bawan', 'the tree that gives off rare odour’, and it reminded me of a reference in my book 'Small Steps along the way'. The book is freely available on this website thanks to Keith and Phil.

I wonder if this is the same Diwai (Tree) but under a different local name? The Timbe Valley where I was stationed at the time, is on the other side of the Serawaget Mountains, so it's in the same region.

Page 123 of Small Steps along the way

‘Walking through the forest can be very pleasant in the early
morning before the sun gets too high in the sky and the humidity
starts becoming oppressive. Along the bridle track people had
cleared the jungle on either side. The particular small trees in that
area, called ‘Kurung’ by the people, gave off a very pungent, sweet
perfume as they dried out and I was sure they were wild cinnamon
from the smell of the bark that was curling up around the dead
sapling’s trunks.’

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