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21 March 2017


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It's a book about Clen and Pat Searle, who had Awala Plantation, written by their son Peter.

The fiery crucible of war was a term I first came across when reading about the Kokoda campaign. I found the words spoken by Ralph Honner in 1942 powerful and moving. He was addressing his young battalion after they had just experienced the brutality of war. An excerpt below.

"Remember…remember the glory is not the exhortation of war, but the exhortation of man.
Mans nobility, made transcendent in the fiery crucible of war.
Faithfulness and fortitude.
Gentleness and compassion.
I am honoured to be your brother"

I believe he is speaking of the bond formed when people are pushed beyond self and begin to realise that I we and us are one. This state of being is not friendship but something else.

Described elequently at Isuvara "mateship" it is a uniquely Australian vanacular. Friendships can come and go but mateship, born in the crucible of war, lives forever.

Charlie Lynn's passion for Kokoda, PNG and her people are well known, and his thoughts and views that represents his long association with PNG should be listened to.

Ralph Honner's speech to the members of the 39th battalion.
"Now I don’t know a lot of you by name, but I know you.
We met at Isurava. We fought there together and every step of the way here.

Now we are relieved and we will leave the battle.

And every day the enemy supply line stretches further. He suffers now as you have suffered.

The battle we fought for the track may have just saved your nation. At Imita we will stop him.

Brigadier wants you to know…your gallantry, your courage, your fortitude are an inspiration.

And I want you to know that you are some of the finest soldiers that I have ever seen.

You have seen things in this place that no man should witness.

Some of these things you must forget. But history will remember you, and in the years to come others will wish that they had your conviction.

And remember…remember the glory is not the exhortation of war, but the exhortation of man.

Mans nobility, made transcendent in the fiery crucible of war.

Faithfulness and fortitude.

Gentleness and compassion.

I am honored to be your brother.”

— Lt Col Ralph Honner DSO MC

A member of the Kienzle family Phil?

I've had the privilege of looking over a manuscript by someone from one of the prominent planter families living in the Kokoda area during the war Chris.

It's a meticulously researched book and describes how husbands, wives and children coped at the time.

Hopefully it will be available soon.

While the story of the battle on the Kokoda Track is clearly and unequivocally military in nature and, mostly, about the men involved, it is also true to say that the women and children caught up in the conflict have been largely ignored.

I have read a lot about the Kokoda campaign and do not recall any mention of women or children. It seems inconceivable that they were simply not there, even if they had hidden in the bush to avoid the combatants.

It would be a worthwhile addition to the history of the Kokoda battle if someone could undertake a research project to discover and describe the experiences of the women and children who were caught up in the conflict.

It is likely that the people living along the track still remember the stories of their parents and grandparents about that time, so an oral history might yet be recorded.

While I can understand Charlie Lynn's concern about the condition and management of the track I think that he is wrong to conclude that there is some leftist conspiracy to rewrite history, let alone diminish the campaign's significance for Australians or Papua New Guineans.

History is always a work in progress, with new material coming to light often making it necessary to "tweak" the accepted narrative to reflect the new knowledge and insights. The Kokoda campaign will not be exempt from this process.

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