Past times: World War II & Kokoda Feed

Remains of US soldier killed in PNG identified & to be laid to rest

John E Bainbridge
John E Bainbridge - killed in PNG during World War II, his body remained unidentified for 75 years

KEITH JACKSON | Source: WMTV, Madison, Wisconsin

WASHINGTON DC - In 1942, John E Bainbridge from Sheboygan, Wisconsin in the United States was just 23 when he was killed in a World War II battle in Papua New Guinea.

According to the US government, efforts to find Bainbridge’s body failed but, in 1943, remains of an unidentified American soldier had been interred at a US Armed Forces Cemetery in PNG, where they were designated ‘Unknown X-135’.

After the war, the remains were moved to the Philippines and re- interred at the American Cemetery there.

In 2017, the remains were disinterred and sent to a laboratory for analysis.

Continue reading "Remains of US soldier killed in PNG identified & to be laid to rest" »


Kokoda tour operators: Please improve your game

Lynn Morrison
Charlie Lynn with Australian prime minister Scott Morrison. Lynn was an MP in Morrison's home state of NSW

CHARLIE LYNN | Adventure Kokoda Blog | Edited extracts

SYDNEY – I’ve had documents forwarded to me that include some remarks made to a recent Kokoda Tour Operators Association (KTOA) forum in Port Moresby.

KTOA was established to look after the interests of a small but vocal group of Australian based operators of eco-tours in Papua New Guinea.

According to the documents passed to me, Association president Sue Fitcher told the forum:

“It is time to call out those who would choose to damage and destroy the industry for whatever warped vested interests they have – who would know.

“We have talked about some of the claims and accusations that have been made earlier; it is interesting to note that [these] are rarely, if ever, made in person but through others or from the safety of sitting behind a computer and ranting through social media.

Continue reading "Kokoda tour operators: Please improve your game" »


Trail bureaucrats hijack $5 million Kokoda trekker payments

Campsite toilet on Imita Ridge (Lynn)
Campsite toilet on Imita Ridge (Lynn)

CHARLIE LYNN

SYDNEY - Over the past decade more than $5 million (K11.8 million) has been hijacked from Kokoda trekkers by unaccountable Australian and Papua New Guinean bureaucrats.

This money had been paid in good faith to meet trekkers’ basic needs in the form of adequate campsites and a safe trail. The fees were also meant to provide for shared community benefits for villagers along the trail.

However, since Australian government officials assumed control of the emerging Kokoda trekking industry in 2008, not a single dollar has been spent to improve campsites, toilets or management systems to meet the needs of the trekkers.

Nobody knows where the money has gone because the bureaucrats involved have never produced an audited financial report.

Continue reading "Trail bureaucrats hijack $5 million Kokoda trekker payments" »


The Kokoda shame: A continuing tale of a Trail of Woe

Rashmii and Tracie
Rashmii  Amoah Bell and Tracie Watson, general manager of Adventure Kokoda, which imposes standards Rashmii believes all trek companies should observe

RASHMII BELL

BRISBANE, DECEMBER 2018 - His question came as I expected it would and as it echoed through the earpiece, I felt a movement of the boulders of anxiety wedged in my chest.

Shifting from one heel to the other, leaning back against the kitchen countertop to steady myself, I proceeded with the conversation.

DE was calling from somewhere along the road that snakes it way up to Sogeri. His calls were irregular but always brief and purposeful.

Seconds passed as my mind quickly arranged a response of uninspiring words. Words unworthy of the travel DE had undertaken from his village and his effort in borrowing a mobile phone from his cousin.

Unlike several of his Adventure Kokoda counterparts whom I ‘friended’ online, my trek carrier’s resistance to social media meant that I received a phone call. The boulders settled uneasily in the pit of my stomach.

Sensing my unease, DE’s kind nature moved him to banter. With Christmas approaching, he humoured me with instruction to not get carried away with indulgences and I playfully interrogated him about the shenanigans of his recent birthday in November.

Continue reading "The Kokoda shame: A continuing tale of a Trail of Woe" »


Air war over Papua New Guinea was like a fireworks display

Night skyKATRINA LOVELL | Warrnambool Standard

WARRNAMBOOL, VIC - The gunfire in the skies above New Guinea during World War II was like a fireworks display, according to Warrnambool's Keith Keilar.

The 99-year-old was first deployed to Palestine for 12 months before being send to New Guinea after signing up in 1940 at the age of 20.

Mr Keilar was a contractor in Woolsthorpe working on trucks building roads across the district when he joined the war effort.

He left Australia for Palestine aboard the Queen Mary which was part of a convoy of three ships including the luxury liners Aquatania and Queen Elizabeth which had been converted to troop ships.

Continue reading "Air war over Papua New Guinea was like a fireworks display" »


When World War II came to PNG: The 10 key battles of 1942

Anzac - Rabaul
Australian soldiers retreating from Rabaul cross the Warangoi-Adler River in the Bainings Mountains

CONTRIBUTORS | Military Wikia and Wikipedia

Battle of Rabaul (23 January – February 1942) Japanese victory

The Battle of Rabaul, known by the Japanese as Operation R, was fought on New Britain in January and February 1942. It was a strategically significant defeat of Allied forces by Japan in the Pacific campaign of World War II.

Following the capture of Rabaul, Japanese forces turned it into a major base and proceeded to invade mainland New Guinea, advancing toward Port Moresby. Hostilities on the neighbouring island of New Ireland are also usually considered to be part of the same battle.

Rabaul was important because of its proximity to the Japanese territory of the Caroline Islands, site of a major Imperial Japanese Navy base on Truk.

Battle of Port Moresby (3 February 1942 – 17 August 1943) Allied victory

The Battle of Port Moresby was an aerial battle fought between aircraft of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), United States Army Air Force (USAAF) and aircraft of the Imperial Japanese Army and Imperial Japanese Navy over Port Moresby.

Continue reading "When World War II came to PNG: The 10 key battles of 1942" »


Daughter’s Easter pilgrimage honoured father’s heroic death

Markus Lohtmann
Army Chaplain Markus Lohrmann - "a very compassionate and caring person; a very loving person; a very Godly man"

BRIAN ALBRECHT | Cleveland Plain Dealer (USA)

BROADVIEW HEIGHTS, Ohio – Two years ago on an Easter afternoon, Marcia Luecke waded into the waters off a Pacific island beach where her father had died during World War II, and honoured the sacrifice of a man she never knew.

Luecke was only 18 months old when her father Markus Lohrmann, an Army chaplain, leaped into the waters off Goodenough Island in Papua New Guinea on 6 March 1944.

Lohrmann had been aboard a small boat with other soldiers when the engine suddenly quit. They were unable to radio back to their base for help.

As the craft drifted, potentially toward Japanese-held waters, the chaplain offered to swim to their base on the island.

Two other men joined him, but when the soldiers reached the beach, the chaplain was not among them.

They swam back and found his body. Efforts to resuscitate Lohrmann on the beach failed.

Seventy-three years later his daughter stood on that very same beach, the highlight of a journey that included evading a crocodile, and a forced, emergency helicopter landing.

But it was important for her to be there.

“I was never able to be with him, so I wanted to at least be at the last place he was, where he was called to heaven,” she recently said.

Continue reading "Daughter’s Easter pilgrimage honoured father’s heroic death" »


Fair carry could create 150 Kokoda jobs over Anzac period

Porter and trekker

CHARLIE LYNN | Kokoda Treks Blog

SYDNEY – As many as 600 trekkers will be on the Kokoda Trail during the Anzac period over the next fortnight.

The Kokoda Tour Operators Association (KTOA), established to protect the interests of their members, has refused to adopt the World War II army standard of 18 kg, imposed in 1942, as the maximum weight allowed to be carried by PNG wartime carriers.

Instead, the KTOA adopted a weight of 22.5 kg, a number worked out by an Australian bureaucrat who had never trekked the Trail.

That 4.5 kg difference, in addition to imposing a greater burden on carriers, will lead to the loss of 150 jobs for local Koiari and Orokaiva villagers during the Anzac period.

Continue reading "Fair carry could create 150 Kokoda jobs over Anzac period" »


Kokoda: Is world heritage ambition killing the military heritage?

WW2 troops on the Kokoda TrailCHARLIE LYNN | Edited

SYDNEY - Since Australian environment officials assumed control of the Kokoda trekking industry in 2009, trekker numbers have declined by almost 50% from 5,621 in 2008 to 3,033 in 2018 – despite an injection of more than $50 million of aid funding.

The official response to the decline invariably refers to an aircraft crash in 2009 and a couple of deaths around the same period. The reality today is that, whenever the crash site is pointed out to trekkers, the usual response is ‘what crash?’

Prior to the discovery of the $3 billion Kodu gold and copper deposit on the southern slopes of the Kokoda Trail near Mt Bini there was no interest in the area or its people from either the PNG or Australian governments.  The appearance of bulldozers from Frontier Resources in 2006 changed that.

Continue reading "Kokoda: Is world heritage ambition killing the military heritage?" »


After $50 million, Kokoda suffers from Australian meddling

Major Charlie Lynn
Major Charlie Lynn

CHARLIE LYNN | Spectator Australia

SYDNEY - Community museums and trade centres under construction along the Kokoda Trail are the latest taxpayer funded folly of our so-called ‘Australian – PNG Partnership’.

The use of ‘partnership’ by Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade operatives in Port Moresby is an oxymoron based on the principle of ‘we pay – you agree’ and it’s indicative of the empathetic divide between them and the people they are supposed to serve.

In this case there has been no consultation with trekkers or local villagers to see if such an initiative would meet their needs and no cost benefit analysis to justify the expenditure of other people’s money.

Apart from a few rusted rifles, rotted boots and mortar shells community museums will have little to display – and apart from the odd bilum bag or carved stick, villages along the trail have little to trade.

Continue reading "After $50 million, Kokoda suffers from Australian meddling" »


How the Kokoda Trail almost killed me; & why I’d do it again

Scott on the Kokoda Trail
Scott on the Kokoda Trail - gutsy, passionate and very, very persistent

SCOTT PHILLIPS | The Motley Fool

SYDNEY - It didn’t exactly end the way I expected. I finished… walked every bloody step of the aptly nicknamed ‘bloody track’, but the last hill was really hard.

‘Jesus, that last hill was tough’, I said to my mate Simon just after we walked through the archway that marked the end of the 120km, eight-day trek.

‘No mate, that was easy’ he said. And I realised how crook I was.

Fair to say, that night was tough, and I felt like death warmed up when I woke the next day for my flight home. Fast forward a few days, and I was in an intensive care bed back in Australia.

But we’ll get there.

Continue reading "How the Kokoda Trail almost killed me; & why I’d do it again" »


Pursuing the better welfare of Kokoda Trail guides & carriers

Adventure Kokoda team
Members of the Adventure Kokoda team - Charlie Lynn ensures the highest standards are maintained for his trekking company

CHARLIE LYNN

Edited extracts from a submission by Adventure Kokoda on the welfare of Papua New Guinean guides and carriers engaged in the Kokoda trekking industry. Link here to the full submission

PORT MORESBY - The welfare of PNG guides and carriers has been a contentious subject for some years, however the recent death of a carrier who was allegedly overloaded by an Australian trek operator has brought the issue of their exploitation to the forefront of the debate.

A recent forum organised by the Kokoda Track Authority (KTA) in Brisbane resulted in the CEO of PNG Tourism calling for a response to the issues raised but which could not be properly addressed due to agenda and time constraints.

This response to the draft minutes of the forum is based on the collective views of Adventure Kokoda trek leaders who have a combined total of 130 years professional army experience and who have led more than 520 expeditions across the trail over the past 27 years.

Continue reading "Pursuing the better welfare of Kokoda Trail guides & carriers" »


Kokoda barricades: Official disengagement leads to Trail unrest

Kokoda - the fee noticeRASHMII BELL

BRISBANE – The words were handwritten on a torn white plastic sheet, and the images appeared on Australia’s Channel 9 news on Sunday.

Reason for collection of gate fees

  1. You trekkers payed K350.00 to KTA, but that never reach the landowners in terms of service for the last 10 years
  2. For the last 10 years landowners never received ward allocation
  3. The landowners want KTA chairman to step down before gate will be open
  4. For that reason, we are collecting half of that K350.00 which is K175.00 for road to pass through

Plis pay K175.00 cash now to walk

On Remembrance Day, journalist Tim Davies presented a disturbing news story even as companion media were beginning to focus on the exorbitant expenditure of staging the APEC meetings in Port Moresby.

Continue reading "Kokoda barricades: Official disengagement leads to Trail unrest" »


Trail of Woe: Deep commemoration & missing interpretation

RASHMII AMOAH BELL

Rashmii and Charlie at Isurava
Rashmii Amoah Bell and Charlie Lynn at the Isurava memorial

The seventh in a series of articles about the need to improve the conditions and sustainable development of the trek tourism industry along the Kokoda Trail. The articles are drawn from Rashmii’s observations and conversations with Papua New Guinean guides, carriers, campsite owners and communities as she trekked the Trail from 6 -17 August, 2018

ON THE TRAIL - Collapsing on top of the clay-baked ground, my trek group seeks refuge from the midday heat under the cool of an awning.

A stream of loose dust swirls past, dancing toward the row of aged banana trees bordering the edge of Menari village. I reach for the nozzle of my hydration bladder and take three appreciative sips.

Beside me, trek mates use the interval to rummage through their backpacks and Band-aid strips, jelly beans and small bottles of sunscreen are offered around – along with tips about redistributing weight in the packs.

I’ve been accompanying trekkers nominated by New South Wales RSL clubs who are participating in their annual Kokoda Youth Leadership Challenge in partnership with Adventure Kokoda.

Fourteen of the group are employees of RSL branches and two are soldiers serving with the Australian Army. Like trek leader Charlie and the trek guide, their daily khakis are enviably immaculate despite the daily grind of uphill climbs and unsteady clambering through swamps.

It is a multicultural group reflective of contemporary Australia and it is the first visit to Papua New Guinea for all 16 participants.

Continue reading "Trail of Woe: Deep commemoration & missing interpretation" »


Trail of Woe: Inadequate infrastructure mars the Kokoda Trail

Brown River crossing
Brown River crossing - Adventure Kokoda carriers guide trekkers across a fallen tree 'bridge'

RASHMII AMOAH BELL

Sixth in a series of articles about the need to improve the conditions and sustainable development of the trek tourism industry along the Kokoda Trail. The articles are drawn from Rashmii’s observations and conversations with Papua New Guinean guides, carriers, campsite owners and communities as she trekked the Trail from 6-17 August

ON THE TRAIL – My guide and carrier DE and I have developed a vocabulary of sorts.

Extending his arm back toward me, low-slung and with fingers splayed, DE warns of a winding navigation of Emoo Creek.

At a standstill facing me, hand elevated and shoulders curled towards his chest, DE’s eye movements map out a path to safely manoeuvre the slime-coated incline of Nauro Lookout.

With short, clear instructions received from over my shoulder, he gently insists on my full concentration when clambering amongst floating logs in swamps and he steadies my balance through light pressure on the small backpack on my shoulders.

Continue reading "Trail of Woe: Inadequate infrastructure mars the Kokoda Trail" »


Trail of Woe: Dispossession – no joy for women in Kokoda tourism

Kokoda - Lunch of baked goods and fruit prepared by women of Abuari village
A treat of baked goods and fruit prepared by women of Abuari village - part of a project supported by Adventure Kokoda

RASHMII AMOAH BELL

Fifth in a series of articles about the need to improve trek tourism along the Kokoda Trail. The articles are drawn from Rashmii’s observations and conversations with Papua New Guinean guides, carriers, campsite owners and communities as she trekked the Trail from 6 -17 August 2018

ON THE TRAIL - Atop a moss-covered fallen tree trunk bananas speckled with brown spots lie next to bundles of light globe-sized passionfruit.

A baby blue shawl thrown across an elderly woman’s bony frame complements the deep orange sweet jelly produce positioned beside her. She lowers her eyes as the trek group edges past her towards the forest border.

Standing a few metres away, trek leader Charlie Lynn rehashes his presentation as I tap my fingers across the keypad of my phone. I note details of mortar relics resting in an open, rusting cage in the forest bordering Myola 1 village.

An absence of information boards on the Trail means Charlie’s thorough knowledge of World War II’s Kokoda campaign is crucial. Today is the sixth day I’ve been learning about the military history behind our long 10-day pilgrimage.

Continue reading "Trail of Woe: Dispossession – no joy for women in Kokoda tourism" »


Trail of Woe: Wartime gratitude morphs into a troubled present

Kokoda - hauskuk insait
The cook winds down from preparing the evening meal after a long day's trek (and cooking)

RASHMII AMOAH BELL

The fourth in a series of articles about issues of the trek tourism industry on the Kokoda Trail. The articles are drawn from Rashmii’s observations and conversations with Papua New Guinean guides, carriers, campsite owners and communities as she trekked the Trail from 6-17 August 2018

ON THE TRAIL - BOSKUK and Junior emerge from the haus kuk section of the trekkers’ dining hut with two stainless steel bowls of warm rinsing water and another filled with warm soapy water.

Taking turns, my fellow trekkers and I line up against the hand-built dining table chattering about the afternoon’s descent into this campsite at Ofi Creek as we wash our individual dishes and cutlery.

A pile of striped purple cleaning cloths are laid out for us to dry our implements before heading to our tents for the night.

I sit easily on the table’s bench seat, comfortably content after my meal of French onion soup, instant potato mash and tinned bully beef and hear DE’s gentle call from outside the hut’s thatched frame.

Continue reading "Trail of Woe: Wartime gratitude morphs into a troubled present" »


Trail of Woe: Carrier welfare & poor practice on the Kokoda trek

Carriers' quarters
Carriers' quarter on the Kokoda Trail

RASHMII AMOAH BELL

The third in a series of articles about the need to improve conditions and sustainable development of the trek tourism industry along the Kokoda Trail. The articles are drawn from Rashmii’s observations and conversations with Papua New Guinean guides, carriers, campsite owners and communities as she trekked the Trail from 6 -17 August, 2018

ON THE TRAIL - Empty cans of chicken soup sit beside a small open fire, their metal charring slowly as flames flicker around them.

Boskuk moves about busily clearing the other end of a timber platform on which his assistant, Junior, and I recline.

He throws scraps of onion peel and ripped pasta packets into a garbage disposal bag as he makes his way towards us to inspect the evening’s dish washing efforts.

Continue reading "Trail of Woe: Carrier welfare & poor practice on the Kokoda trek" »


Trail of Woe: Disregard & mismanagement blight an iconic trek

Kokoda Trail carrier helps a trekker
Carrier assists a trekker down a steep incline

RASHMII AMOAH BELL

Second in a series of articles about the need to improve the conditions and sustainable development of the trek tourism industry on the Kokoda Trail. The articles document Rashmii’s observations and conversations with Papua New Guinean guides, carriers, campsite owners and communities as she trekked the Trail from 6-17 August

ON THE TRAIL - IT is just on dusk at Agulogo campsite when an impromptu meeting takes place inside the trekkers’ dining hut.

A hand-built and much weathered column table flanked by snake-length benches sit on the earthen floor. Seated across from me in the candle light are three Papua New Guineans: one from Kokoda Initiative (KI) funded by Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs; the other two from PNG’s Tourism Promotion Authority (TPA).

To my left is Adventure Kokoda trek leader Charlie Lynn and, at his suggestion, our trek guide and my carrier, DE. The sound of Brown River, in which I had bathed earlier, echoes around us.

Continue reading "Trail of Woe: Disregard & mismanagement blight an iconic trek" »


The end of an era of Kokoda Trail mismanagement

Charlie Lynn
Charlie Lynn OL OAM

CHARLIE LYNN | Kokoda Treks Blog

SYDNEY - The recent departure of the Papua New Guinea CEO of the Kokoda Track Authority (KTA) brings an end to a sorry saga of Australian mismanagement along the Kokoda Trail.

Prior to the arrival of Australian officials in 2008, the emerging Kokoda trekking industry was managed by Warren Bartlett, a former kiap on a PNG salary of $12,500.

During his tenure trekker numbers grew from 365 in 2002 to 5,621 in 2008 – a massive increase of 1,440%. Bartlett had no staff but was assisted by a part-time local secretary.

Under a ‘joint’ understanding signed by the Australian and PNG governments in 2008, Bartlett was replaced by an Australian CEO on an eye-watering six-figure salary and with a tenfold increase in staff and multi-million dollar budget.

The department of veterans affairs (DVA), which among other things has responsibility for our World War I heritage at Gallipoli and the Western Front in Europe, was not included in the ‘joint’ understanding apart from the allocation of $1 million for unspecified purposes.

Continue reading "The end of an era of Kokoda Trail mismanagement" »


Trail of Woe: Bucks versus benefits; the ugly side of Kokoda

Bell 1 - Kokoda Trail entry
Kokoda trail or trial? Rashmii Bell's 10-day trek investigated who benefits from Kokoda tourism and why there's a need for urgent corrective action

RASHMII AMOAH BELL

The first of a series of articles about the need to improve the conditions and sustainable development of the tourism industry on the Kokoda Trail. The articles document my observations and conversations with Papua New Guinean guides, carriers, campsite owners and communities as I trekked the Trail from 6–17 August.

ON THE TRAIL - In 2017, I was invited by the Australian-based social enterprise, Kokoda Track Foundation (KTF), to facilitate two rural school book-making workshops in Oro Province.

While designated to act only in as a volunteer, all research, design, delivery and facilitation was assigned to me by the Foundation. On both occasions I achieved the assigned outcomes.

And so, having donated my time and talent to this organisation, it was with disappointment and regret to have it deny my sole and rightful authorship of ‘Butterflies along the Track’, the KTF’s Kokoda75 commemorative children’s book, funded by Australia’s foreign affairs department.

Continue reading "Trail of Woe: Bucks versus benefits; the ugly side of Kokoda" »


Charlie Lynn receives Order of Australia for going the extra mile

Charlie Lynn
Charlie Lynn - "“I had seen many beautiful memorials at battlefields but there was nothing at Kokoda”

KAYLA OSBORNE | Campbelltown-Macarthur Advertiser (NSW)

CAMDEN - Charlie Lynn has crossed the strenuous Kokoda Track 92 times, served in NSW parliament and been awarded Papua New Guinea’s second highest honour.

Yesterday he added another achievement to his list as a recipient of the Medal of the Order of Australia.

Mr Lynn was given the prestigious title for service to the people and parliament of NSW.

The Camden resident said he was humbled to receive the Queen’s Birthday Honour.

“I was greatly honoured to receive the Officer of the Order of Logohu in Papua New Guinea two years ago and I feel greatly honoured again,” Mr Lynn said. “Honestly it was a real surprise – there are people out there who have done much more than me.”

Continue reading "Charlie Lynn receives Order of Australia for going the extra mile" »


Losing Kokoda: $50 million & dishonouring our military heritage

Trekking Kokoda (Charlie Lynn)
Crossing a stream on the Kokoda Trail - too little to show for $50 million of Australian taxpayers' money

CHARLIE LYNN | Spectator Australia

SYDNEY - The ‘blackbirding curse’ is as damaging to Papua New Guinea’s adventure tourism industry as the ‘resource curse’ is to mining and exploration.

‘Blackbirding’ was a term given to the coercion of native people from PNG to work as cheap labour in Queensland’s sugar plantations in the latter part of the nineteenth century. When the extent of the exploitation became known it was outlawed as a form of slavery.

The ‘resource curse’ refers to the paradox that countries with an abundance of natural resources tend to have less economic growth, less democracy and worse development outcomes than countries with fewer natural resources.

Over the past decade 45,000 Australians from all walks of life have trekked across the Kokoda Trail. Their reasons are many and varied but the wartime significance combined with a sense of adventure in the land of the unexpected is the most compelling motivation.

Continue reading "Losing Kokoda: $50 million & dishonouring our military heritage" »


When war came to Australian Papua: Poppy & lantana side by side

Doug Robbins  Anzac Day  Springbrook. 2018
Ex kiap Doug Robbins' speech to Springbrook's Anzac Day ceremony yesterday

DOUG ROBBINS

SPRINGBROOK, QUEENSLAND - The past year marked 75 years since, sadly, too many Australian lives were lost during World War II fighting in the South West Pacific Area – and on Australian soil.

Following Pearl Harbour, Darwin at the north of mainland Australia, was bombed in February 1942 with loss of many servicemen and civilians. Then Broome was bombed the next month.

We know that Darwin is part of Australia, but little is acknowledged that Papua, a former British Colony in the south-east quarter of the island of New Guinea and only four kilometres from the Torres Strait Islands of Queensland, was a Territory of Australia for almost 100 years to 1975.

The fierce jungle battles of Kokoda, Milne Bay and the Beachheads were fought on what was then Australian soil.

In August 1942, at the same time as Kokoda, Australian Forces were defending airfields at Milne Bay to protect Port Moresby and Australia to the south. Milne Bay was free of fighting by September.

Continue reading "When war came to Australian Papua: Poppy & lantana side by side" »


Anzac Day 3: Death of Yamamoto marked on Bougainville

Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto
Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto

CHRIS CAROLA | The Associated Press

ALBANY, NY — A group from the United States and Japan is trekking to a remote Pacific island jungle to document what is considered one of the most important wreck sites of World War II: where American fighters shot down a Japanese bomber carrying the mastermind of the Pearl Harbour attack.

Three members of a New York-based WWII research organisation and a Japanese aviation expert recently visited the crash site on Bougainville last Wednesday, the 75th anniversary of Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto’s death.

Yamamoto had spent several years in the US earlier in his military career, studying at Harvard University and admiring America’s industrial might. In the aftermath of Pearl Harbour, he was quite possibly the most hated man in America.

“As long as he lived, the Japanese navy was a threat,” said Donald A Davis, a Colorado-based writer who told the story of Operation Vengeance in a 2005 book. “He was feared in the Pacific.”

Historians generally credit Yamamoto, an innovative proponent of air power, with the idea of attacking the US Pacific fleet and convincing Japanese military leaders that his plan could work.

Continue reading "Anzac Day 3: Death of Yamamoto marked on Bougainville" »


Women’s wartime memories cast new light on a grim time

Memories of war
(L-R) researcher Margaret Embahe, interviewees Angela Arasepa and Alberta Doiko, researcher Mavis Tongia

VICTORIA STEAD | The Conversation

MELBOURNE - November 2017 marks the 75th anniversary of the end of the Kokoda Track Campaign of World War II.

The campaign involved a series of battles between Allied and Japanese forces along the mountainous 96km track connecting Kokoda Station, in Papua New Guinea’s Oro Province, with the capital Port Moresby.

‘Kokoda’ has become iconic in Australian national narratives of the war. Its commemoration most commonly invokes images of Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels, local carriers who assisted Allied forces and whose relationships with Australian soldiers are frequently described in terms of “mateship” and “brotherly bonds”.

But there is good reason to look beyond these narratives. Feminist historians and scholars of conflict have urged us to be attentive to the effects of wars on women, as well as to the roles they have played even in seemingly impossible circumstances.

Continue reading "Women’s wartime memories cast new light on a grim time" »


War experts discover secret jungle road on Kokoda Track

Matthew Kelly and John SterenbergSTAFF REPORTER | Northern Territory News

WAR experts have made a stunning discovery along the Kokoda Track — a secret jungle road built by the Japanese.

Australian archaeologists found ‘Jap Road’, as the locals call it, while unearthing the mysteries of the ‘lost battlefield’ of Etoa.

It is invisible from the air due to the impenetrable tree canopy, as is another pathway dubbed the ‘Jap Track’.

The battleground, where up to 70 undiscovered bodies still lie, is a treasure trove for officials investigating the Kokoda Campaign, which began 75 years ago this weekend and was part of Australia’s first genuine fight for survival — the brutal World War Two conflict in Papua New Guinea.

Continue reading "War experts discover secret jungle road on Kokoda Track" »


PNG WW2 veterans’ anniversary invitations close this Friday

On the Sanananda ...KEITH JACKSON

AUSTRALIAN Veterans’ Affairs Minister Dan Tehan is encouraging veterans from some of the important Papua New Guinean campaigns of World War II to nominate to attend two important commemorations to be held in Canberra later this year.

Time is running out, though, and nominations to receive support to attend the commemorations of the Battles of Milne Bay, Kokoda, Buna, Gona and Sanananda close this coming Friday.

Mr Tehan said the government will arrange return travel and accommodation for eligible veterans and an accompanying carer from their home location to attend the ceremonies at the Australian War Memorial.

Continue reading "PNG WW2 veterans’ anniversary invitations close this Friday" »


Project Recover finds missing WW2 B-25 bombers off PNG

Underwater wreck of a WWII B-25 bomber (Project Recover)ROBERT MONROE | Phys Org Website

TWO B-25 bombers associated with American servicemen missing in action from World War II were recently documented in the waters off Papua New Guinea by Project Recover.

The project is a collaborative team of marine scientists, archaeologists and volunteers who have combined efforts to locate aircraft and associated MIAs from World War II.

The B-25 bomber is one of the most iconic aircraft of World War II, with nearly 10,000 of the famous warbirds conducting a variety of missions—from bombing to photo reconnaissance, to submarine patrols, and the historic raid over Tokyo.

Continue reading "Project Recover finds missing WW2 B-25 bombers off PNG" »


Eli Dickson & memories of the Battle of Milne Bay

Eli  War Memories  Milne Bay (Kerry Drysdale)DISNYDER GEE | Alotau District Community

ELI Dickson was one of the witnesses to the War Crimes Tribunal that investigated the torture and killing of 59 Milne Bay people and a number of Australian soldiers in August-September 1942.

Eli's story is known to all families related to him so, if you’re ever down at the village of small Wagawaga, they'll tell you.

If I can just briefly recall, Eli was taken from the Dickson's home at small Wagawaga by Japanese troops who wanted him to show them the way to Giligili, where there was an Allied airfield.

It was in the early hours of the night when he was taken and none of his family members knew except his mother who suspected something wasn't right when he didn't return after sending him to the beach to check what the noises were.

Continue reading "Eli Dickson & memories of the Battle of Milne Bay" »


Australia, PNG & Kokoda – an icon of true nation-building

BrotherhoodPHIL FITZPATRICK

NOW the patriotic and nationalistic breast-beating has subsided for another year it is worth considering what the annual Australian Anzac Day ritual means for Papua New Guinea.

The place of Anzac Day in the Australian psyche is complex. At its most simplistic, it is about remembering the soldiers who died in our many and often pointless wars.

At a deeper level it is about Australia’s place in the world and how that is expressed.

This level of expression has been changing over the years. It had a good kick along in political terms in the Hawke and especially the Howard years, when the association with nationalism strengthened.

In the beginning Anzac Day was about empire. The British Empire. While Gallipoli proved largely pointless and unnecessary – it was, after all, a military defeat - it was seized upon by politicians to herald Australia’s arrival, not as a nation but as a respected, contributing part of empire.

Continue reading "Australia, PNG & Kokoda – an icon of true nation-building" »


The significance of the anniversary of Kokoda

Bablis_GregGREGORY BABLIS | DevPolicy Blog

‘HISTORY’ and ‘commemoration’ are distinguishable terms. For instance, while Papua New Guinea and Australia share a history spurred from the events of the Kokoda Campaign, our analyses, understandings, perspectives and experiences of the war are subjective and thus different.

Commemoration is centred on the present and is concerned with the values that people in the present can derive from the events, good or bad, of the past.

Although both history and commemoration are related to the past, they serve different functions. For different countries, the reasons for commemorating certain events will be similar, but the histories surrounding the events must be different because they inform different national narratives.

Continue reading "The significance of the anniversary of Kokoda " »


Cosgrove pays tribute to Australians & PNGns who fought in WW2

PNG veteran & Sir Peter Cosgrove - comrades in armsAAP

AUSTRALIANS will never forget the courage of those who fell in the jungles of Papua New Guinea nor the "national treasures" who survived the worst conditions of warfare.

Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove made that pledge as he delivered the Anzac dawn service address yesterday at the Bomana War Cemetery near Port Moresby.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Kokoda campaign and the Battle of Milne Bay, which formed part of the New Guinea campaign in World War II.

Continue reading "Cosgrove pays tribute to Australians & PNGns who fought in WW2" »


Mateship & friendship stand side-by-side on the Kokoda Track

Peter O'BrienPETER O’BRIEN | The Interpretive Design Company

“Australian-funded projects have removed “mateship” from the lexicon used in Papua New Guinea to describe the heroism of Diggers fighting the Japanese on the ­Kokoda Track, in what a prominent critic [Charlie Lynn] describes as politically correct revisionism to “demilitarise” the battleground’s history in the lead up to its 75th anniversary” – Ean Higgins, The Australian, 20 March 2017

FROM November 2015 until May 2016 The Interpretive Design Company was contracted to provide a range of services for the Australian Government Kokoda Initiative Taskforce.

At the time we partnered with communication specialist, John Pastorelli of Ochre Learning.

Working with the Australian government and the PNG Tourism Promotion Authority (TPA) we consulted with key partners from both nations to develop an interpretive display that primarily presented the wartime experiences and cultural heritage of the Papuan and New Guinean people.

Continue reading "Mateship & friendship stand side-by-side on the Kokoda Track" »


The decision of 1919 that has significant implications for today

KokodaPAUL FLANAGAN

THE battles along the Kokoda Track 75 years ago are regarded as some of the most important battles fought by Australians in World War II.

Few Australians realise, however, but for some boring treaty negotiations 23 years earlier, the Kokoda campaign and all of World War II could have played out very differently for Australia.

Following World War I, people expected Germany’s Pacific possessions to be allocated to a British ally - Japan.

As a loyal ally, Japan had declared war on Germany in 1914 and, as part of its alliance agreements, its responsibilities included pursuing and destroying the German East Asiatic Squadron and protection of the shipping lanes for Allied commerce in the Pacific.

Continue reading "The decision of 1919 that has significant implications for today" »


PNG historians record the other side of the WWII story

War wreckage at WagawagaERIC TLOZEK | Australian Broadcasting Corporation

A SMALL team of Papua New Guinean historians has visited one of the most crucial battle sites of World War II to record the stories of those who remember it.

The team, from the University of Papua New Guinea, spent three weeks in Milne Bay, the scene of a Japanese offensive in August of 1942.

The story of the brutal battle, in which Australian and United States troops inflicted the first decisive defeat of the Japanese on land of the war, is well documented by Australian historians.

Continue reading "PNG historians record the other side of the WWII story" »


First flight to Tadji - remembering the liberation of Aitape

Arch Simpson's Kittyhawk on a raid in PNG (artist Geoffrey Pentland)ROB PARER

LAST Saturday was the anniversary of the day in 1944 that General Macarthur's liberation force took Aitape and Hollandia, the largest amphibious operation of the South Pacific war.

Within 42 hours of the landing, No 62 Works Wing of the Royal Australian Air Force had Tadji airfield ready for the Australian Kittyhawks of 78 Fighter Wing to land. The airstrip was a soggy mess.

Australian RAAF Flight Sergeant Arch Simpson (below) tells the story…..

WE set off from Cape Gloster in West New Britain on the long hop to Tadji Airstrip knowing that there was, as yet, nowhere for us to land - no properly prepared strip, only an area that had previously been a small enemy airstrip.

Continue reading "First flight to Tadji - remembering the liberation of Aitape" »


Ian Townsend’s ‘Line of Fire’: The ‘spies’ who never came back

Detail from cover of Line of FireROSS FITZGERALD | The Australian

Line of Fire by Ian Townsend, Fourth Estate, 309pp, $29.99

IAN Townsend’s third book, Line of Fire, a work of nonfiction, is excellent. It follows two fine novels: Affection (2007), based on the 1900 plague outbreak in north Queensland, and The Devil’s Eye, centred on the worst cyclone in Australian history.

The Queensland radio journalist and author has a talent for discovering little-known events and fleshing them out to make history come alive. His new book is a gripping yarn of espionage and war.

Continue reading "Ian Townsend’s ‘Line of Fire’: The ‘spies’ who never came back" »


Mateship (Australia’s word of honour) and Kokoda

MateshipNIKKI GEMMELL | The Australian

IT’S A word that presses all our national buttons. One of those go-to terms for politicians seeking an easy emotional resonance.

As a nation we’ve claimed it and desexualised it and morphed it into something deeply endearing; it’s held fiercely in our national psyche. It’s mateship. A term of colonial Australia used as vividly back then as it is now.

From the German for comrade, related to the concept of having a meal together, it was brought to these shores by the convicts. It evokes Depression drifters and diggers, six o-clock swills and smokos, tradies and truckies.

Continue reading "Mateship (Australia’s word of honour) and Kokoda" »


Disgust as Kokoda memorial to be held in Canberra not PNG

Malcolm Turnbull arrives in an Australian Army helicopter at the Kokoda Track  April 2017 (AAP)STEFAN ARMBRUSTER

PRIME minister Malcolm Turnbull on Saturday visited Kokoda and laid a wreath at the Bomana war cemetery outside Port Moresby, and there will be a ceremony held in Canberra in November.

Kokoda is considered Australia’s most significant battle of the war in the Pacific, in which the Japanese were for the first time defeated on land.

Veteran George Palmer points to his figure in one of the most famous Kokoda campaign photographs by Damien Parer: of Australian soldiers trudging through the mud.

Continue reading "Disgust as Kokoda memorial to be held in Canberra not PNG" »


Commemorating the controversial battle of Porton plantation

The Battle of PortonREG YATES

AFTER PNG Attitude published my ‘PNG Adventurous Training Guide' recently, I received an invitation from James Warar, headman of Porton Plantation in Bougainville, to let interested people know about the commemoration of a controversial World War II battle at the plantation.

The 31/51st Battalion of the Australian Military Force attacked Imperial Japanese soldiers defending the plantation from 8-11 June 1945. The commemoration will be held on Saturday 10 June 2017 at Porton.

But the Australian assault made several mistakes and the attack did not go according to plan.

Continue reading "Commemorating the controversial battle of Porton plantation" »


Kokoda – a balanced, non-conspiratorial view is what we need

Australians on the Kokoda Track  1942CHRIS OVERLAND

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.

Continue reading "Kokoda – a balanced, non-conspiratorial view is what we need" »


Charlie Lynn pounces on attempt to take ‘mateship’ out of Kokoda

Charlie LynnEAN HIGGINS | The Australian

AUSTRALIAN-funded projects have removed “mateship” from the lexicon used in Papua New Guinea to describe the heroism of Diggers fighting the Japanese on the ­Kokoda Track, in what a prominent critic describes as politically correct revisionism to “demilitarise” the battleground’s history in the lead up to its 75th anniversary.

According to former Australian Army major, Vietnam War veteran and NSW Liberal state MP Charlie Lynn, who for the past 25 years has run treks on the ­Kokoda Track, $65 million of Australian taxpayers’ money has been directed through “a conga line of consultants” to green-leaning and leftist development projects promoting Australian liberal values such as gender equity on the track.

At the same time, he claims, bridges and toilets on the track have fallen into disrepair and Australian-sponsored aid projects such as schools have no desks and clinics no medicines.

Continue reading "Charlie Lynn pounces on attempt to take ‘mateship’ out of Kokoda" »


75 years on, shocking Tol Massacre forgotten in Australia & PNG

Tol Plantation killing fieldMAX UECHTRITZ

IT WAS one of the most callous atrocities of the Pacific war.

Seventy-five years yesterday, 160 Australian prisoners were bayoneted, beheaded, shot or burned alive by Japanese troops – on what was then Australian territory.

So horrific was the Tol Massacre on the island of New Britain that the Australian government suppressed details for 47 years.

That this tragedy is barely remembered and rarely commemorated blights Australia’s national conscience and to this day rankles the distressed families of the victims.

Few Australians know of the carnage at neighbouring Tol and Waitavalo plantations  - nor that it came soon after one of the most shameful episodes of our war when 1,400 diggers and civilians were abandoned as ‘hostages to fortune’ ahead of the Japanese invasion of Rabaul on 23 January 1942.

Rabaul was the capital of Australian-mandated New Guinea and was protected by a tiny garrison consisting mainly of the 2/22nd Battalion Lark Force.

Continue reading "75 years on, shocking Tol Massacre forgotten in Australia & PNG" »


Restorers finds curious signature hidden in a WW2 warplane

Section of P-47 showing names 'Eva and Edith,' two unknown war workersTRISTIN HOPPER | Regina Leader-Post (Canada)

THE fighter plane known as P-47D-23RA managed to survive World War II in the Pacific.

Unlike many others from that era, it then dodged the scrapyard torch when it was abandoned in Papua New Guinea, where it spent decades in the yard of a private home.

And throughout these years, this P-47 Thunderbolt held a secret: a grease pencil signature inscribed inside the wing which read ‘Eva + Edith’.

“There are many more similar tales buried within these aircraft,” said Sara Zimmerman of AirCorps Aviation based in Minnesota, a company specialising in flight-worthy restorations of World War II aircraft.

Continue reading "Restorers finds curious signature hidden in a WW2 warplane" »


The story how Aitape War Museum lost aircraft worth millions

B25 Mitchell Bomber 'Feather Merchant' at Aitape High SchoolROB PARER

OVER many years, American billionaire David Tallichet (1922-2007) was interested in the World War II aircraft left behind in the Sepik.

Tallichet, who made his fortune as ‘the father of the themed restaurant’, had piloted bombers over Europe in World War II and his post-war hobby was in restoring some of these aircraft.

He corresponded with me on a number of occasions and, coming from a family of aviators myself, I was always eager to help where I could.

There were other guys like him in the 1970s, such as John White from the Australian War Memorial who when in Aitape loved talking to Rev Fr Urban Reid, who as Flying Officer Danny Reid DFC was the only Allied pilot to shoot down of one of the Luftwaffe’s rarest aircraft, an Arado AR-234 jet.

Continue reading "The story how Aitape War Museum lost aircraft worth millions" »


Fred Schipke befriended enemy in World War II aftermath

Fred Schipke (Anna Rogers)JANESSA EKERT | The Cairns Post

IN THE aftermath of World War II, an Aussie and Japanese soldier became friends.

Cairns man Fred Schipke had been stationed in Bougainville with the 16th Field Company Royal Australian Engineers when peace was declared.

Mr Schipke was sent to New Britain. “Peace had just been declared in August and we went over in September,” he said.

He said his first job was to fix the main runway of the Vunakanau air base so supplies could be brought in. Mr Schipke and two others ran the bulldozer 24 hours a day.

Continue reading "Fred Schipke befriended enemy in World War II aftermath" »


Is the story of the execution of chief Karao’s wife & child true?

Japanese prisoners arriving at Brisbane from New Guinea,RYOTA NISHINO

I HAVE been working on a project on Japanese travel writers’ accounts of Pacific War battle sites.

Your readers seem to be a fount of knowledge about Papua New Guinea and the Pacific War and I have a question to ask.

One Japanese travel writer has related an anecdote of a New Guinean chief, Karao (I am uncertain of the spelling) who was apparently a ‘big man’ in the Wewak area during the war.

He took pity on the Japanese and fed and looked after them.

Continue reading "Is the story of the execution of chief Karao’s wife & child true?" »


Great tributes as the last Fuzzy Wuzzy Angel dies

Faole BokoiKEITH JACKSON

FAOLE Bokoi, the last living Papua New Guinean link with the World War II battles of the Kokoda Track, died in the early hours of yesterday morning

He came from Manari village on the Track and was the last surviving Fuzzy Wuzzy Angel.

The Angels were so-named by Australian soldiers to refer to Papua New Guineans who assisted and escorted injured troops along the Track.

Some 650 Australian lives were lost in the Kokoda campaign and it is said this number would have been much greater had it not been for the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels.

Continue reading "Great tributes as the last Fuzzy Wuzzy Angel dies" »


Let’s declare Kokoda a consultant free zone

Charlie LynnCHARLIE LYNN | Kokoda Nuisleta

THE most important asset in the development of a sustainable trekking industry along the Kokoda Trail is the client who pays for the journey.

Without him or her there will be no trek fees, no employment for guides and carriers, no shared benefits for villages, no campsite fees – no sustainable trekking industry.

Of equal importance in a country with complex traditions regarding customary land ownership are local landowners.

Unfortunately the people in charge of dispensing government aid programs from Australia seem to have little appreciation of these essential basics.

Continue reading "Let’s declare Kokoda a consultant free zone" »