Notes from an ASOPA diary
TPNG’s legal system: the book

Marking the Battle of the Coral Sea

Since being elected president of the Papua New Guinea Association a couple of months ago, I’ve discovered, more than I ever previously knew, that a lot is done by individual Australians to provide meaningful and targeted assistance to the people of PNG. Let’s look at an example of this as seen in the contribution of Colleen Neville. Colleen gave birth to her three eldest sons when she lived in Milne Bay, and now she returns to the province regularly “to do what I can to help the local community”.

“My visits to PNG become more exciting each time I return,” Colleen says. ”A lady in Cairns made six beautiful teddy bears which I was able to use as part of the prize list to hold a fund raising dinner to buy medicines for the hospital in Alotau. The airlines and local businesses were very generous with their donations and Masuarina Lodge provided the venue. Two young local men, Jeremiah and Ben, kept us entertained all night with their very professional guitar playing. It was all a great success and raised two and a half thousand kina.”

Now Colleen is about to leave Cairns once more to help her sons put the finishing touches on a plantation resort they’re building on Doini Island near Samarai. “The waterfront dongas are beautiful,” Colleen says. “On the edge of palm fringed white sandy beaches surrounded by turquoise waters.”

It seems a committee has been formed in Alotau to build a war museum to honour the troops who fought and died during the battle of the Coral Sea and to acknowledge this turning point in World War II, which many believe saved Australia from occupation by the Japanese. (Although military historians now accept that the Japanese had no intention of invading Australia because of the logistical problems that would have ensued.)

Colleen asks that if anyone has family or friends who would be interested in donating war memorabilia to the museum, these contributions would be greatly appreciated. You can email Colleen at colleen.nev@bigpond.com or call her on 0418 700 642.

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Paul Oates

I would like to address the comment in the article 'Marking the Battle of the Coral Sea' ... "Although military historians now accept that the Japanese had no intention of invading Australia because of the logistical problems that would have ensued."

To reinvent history is always fascinating but any possible outcomes are clearly unable to be proven accurate, given the vast array of alternatives that 'might' have transpired. It can't be proven therefore it must be subject to conjecture.

In regard to the expansion of the Japanese during WW2, it is true that their lines of supply were over extended by the time they conquered half of PNG and the Solomons. Notwithstanding, due to the ineptitude of the allies (primarily British) and the isolationist policies of the US, the Japanese were quite happy to fill any power vacuum left for them to occupy (read Hong Kong, Singapore, Philippines, PNG, etc).

When the British in Singapore (read Percival) gave in to a very inferior invading force and surrendered 80,000 troops (including the Australian 8th Division) to captivity and often death, it was arguably due to military incompetency on behalf of Percival.

Therefore, if Australia was contemplating vacating the Australian mainland below the Brisbane line at the time, and they were, it is axiomatic that the Japanese would have and could have tried to occupy Northern half of the continent, given the opportunity. With the immense amount of resources and manpower required to defeat the Japanese on often very small Pacific Islands, just imagine what would have been required to do the same task on the Australian mainland.

Look at the Japanese attacks on Northern Australia and see what little we could have offered in the way of defence, given the apparent lack of government will at the time. My father, as an Army Staff Officer, was required to draw up the plans to defend Geraldton so clearly this was an accepted possibility at the time.

Look at what happened when the British in 1938 (with the French in the background) 'gave away' the Sudetenland to Hitler and thereby destroyed the Czechoslovak defence systems and 'gave' their 70 Divisions' equipment and their country's industry to the Nazis.

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