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An oral history collection recording the memories and stories of Papua New Guineans about World War Two

Background image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial 071537

The Provinces

  • Milne Bay Province

    Milne Bay Province Map
  • Morobe Province

    Morobe Province Map
  • Central Province

    Central Province Map
  • New Ireland Province

    New Ireland Province Map
  • National Capital District

    National Capital District Map
  • Northern Province

    Northern Province Map

The five Provinces and one District that are included here represent different aspects of the War’s impact.

Some parts of PNG experienced savage fighting, as the front line pushed back and forth. The interviews from Northern and Morobe Provinces give some sense of what this was like for the villagers whose homes and gardens were destroyed, and who themselves faced grave danger from the fighting.

Other parts were occupied by Japanese forces for the whole of the War. The interviews from New Ireland Province talk about what this was like for the ordinary people in villages.

The enormous Allied bases at Oro Bay, Milne Bay, and on the Sogeri plateau profoundly influenced the people living around them. The interviews recorded in Northern, Milne Bay, Central and the National Capital District relate something of this impact on the local people.

Although the interviews inform us about some of the War’s impact on Papua New Guinea, countless other stories remain to be recorded for the benefit of all Papua New Guineans.

Background map: H.E.C. Robinson Pty Ltd, Map of the Territory of New Guinea administered by the Commonwealth of Australia under mandate from the League of Nations and Papua, a territory of the Commonwealth of Australia, MAP, National Library of Australia, MAP G8160.
Derivative individual maps are based on this original artwork and may be re-used in accordance with the CC Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

The Voices

Nester Isoroembo Ewada - Oral History interview recorded on 14 May 2017 at Port Moresby, National Capital District, PNG

http://pngvoices.deakin.edu.au/files/temp/ewada-photo-2017.jpg

Mrs Nester Ewada describes how her grandmother fled with her mothers from the war at Oro Bay, Northern Province, and how her grandmother tried to keep…

Sapiedi Loiyabada - Oral History interview recorded on 24 March 2017 at Gamadoudou, Milne Bay Province

http://pngvoices.deakin.edu.au/files/temp/loiyabada-photo-2017.jpg

Mr Sapiedi Loiyabada was 15 years-old when the war came to Milne Bay and this family were evacuated from their village. His uncle Inudei was recruited…

Nester Isoroembo Ewada - Oral History interview recorded on 14 May 2017 at Port Moresby, National Capital District, PNG

http://pngvoices.deakin.edu.au/files/temp/ewada-photo-2017.jpg

Mrs Nester Ewada describes how her grandmother fled with her mothers from the war at Oro Bay, Northern Province, and how her grandmother tried to keep…

Baroni Douglas - Oral History interview recorded on 12 April 2017 at Bou, Milne Bay Province

http://pngvoices.deakin.edu.au/files/temp/douglas-photo-2017.jpg

Mrs Baroni Douglas was a young girl at the age of 18 years when the war came. Her peaceful beachside home was invaded by soldiers one quiet evening…

Keith Tembure - Oral History interview recorded on 20 May 2014 at Hanau, Northern Province, PNG

http://pngvoices.deakin.edu.au/files/temp/tembure-photo-2014.jpg

Mr Keith Tembure tells the story of his father Dandase Perija who worked as a carrier during World War Two for the Australians and Americans.

Lesley Momoko - Oral History interview recorded on 02 April 2017 at Madina, New Ireland Province

http://pngvoices.deakin.edu.au/files/temp/momoko-photo-2017.jpg

He tells about experiences of the invasion by Japanese in his village, how villagers fed the Japanese by selling food to them and make food gardens…

These stories bring to light many forgotten voices, the voices of the people of Papua New Guinea. Listening to them is a moving experience. Some of the people who contributed describe their own experiences during World War Two. In other cases, the voices belong to their children and grandchildren, who relate the stories that have been handed down to them.

Some talk about horrific violence and others are sad. These remind us that war is a terrible thing. All of the stories highlight the strength and resilience of the ordinary village men and women who endured so much when the War came to their country. They demonstrate that Papua New Guineans were capable of great creativity, courage, and leadership in the face of adversity. They inspire us to learn from the examples set by these ordinary people as we face today’s challenges.

Contact

Managed by Deakin University in close liaison with Papua New Guinea’s National Museum and Art Gallery. Supported by the Australian Government in partnership with Papua New Guinea.

PROJECT PARTNERS

Email

For questions related to the interview content or World War Two, contact nationalmuseum@museumpng.gov.pg
For technical assistance or questions about the site, contact pngvoices@deakin.edu.au
For questions about the research project, contact jonathan.ritchie@deakin.edu.au