GREG IVEY | PIB NGIB HQ PIR Association
Ben's father came from the village of Saguane on Kiwai Island near Daru in the Western District while his mother came from the Motuan village of Pari, 5km to the east of Port Moresby. Steven Benjamin Moide was born on 21 June 1924, the third of nine children. Ben's mixed cultural background was a marked feature of his Army and civilian life.
Ben left the Catholic School at Badili to sign up for the Papuan Infantry Battalion at age 16 without telling his parents but telling the Australian Enlistment Officer that he was 19. Ben's Recruit Training Sergeant was the equally famous (former Police) Sergeant Katue MM from Kikori.
Lahui Ako's biography of Ben (Nameless Warriors) published in 2012 by the University of Papua New Guinea (www.pngbuai.com/buybooks) demonstrates that he learnt quickly and was promoted by his Australian taubadas into leadership roles.
Post-war society was difficult for Ben and other soldiers unless they re-enlisted in the Pacific Islands Regiment (from 1951). Ben persevered through the development problems of Port Moresby and found employment with the Australian Administrator, the UPNG Vice Chancellor and finally South Pacific Brewery. After the war also, Ben was very active as a leader in the RSL and in the developing PNG rugby league organisation.
Ben was honoured with an MBE then a CBE and he was chosen to represent all ex-servicemen at PNG Remembrance Day Services (23 July) in recent decades. In that capacity, Ben was an advocate and an icon for the PIB and NGIB in Papua New Guinea.
Ben was a frequent and welcome guest at Anzac Day and Kokoda Day services in Queensland where his presence reminded everyone of the critical role played by the PIB and NGIB in all the PNG campaigns (except Milne Bay) during World War II. Ben maintained a close relationship with Captain Alan Hooper (PIB, ANGAU) as they reminisced in Motu about their war experiences.
It is too soon to assess Ben's broad legacy but his cross-cultural work and his published perspective as a Papuan warrior would both rate highly among historians. Our Associationhas lost one of its heroes.
May he rest well satisfied with his contribution to his country.