New Ireland Province

Beach at New Ireland

New Ireland Province takes in the 360 kilometre long main island that stretches to the north and east of New Britain, as well as the chain of tiny islands further out into the Pacific Ocean, including Mussau, Emirau, and the Tabar Group.

Its administrative headquarters is at Kavieng, situated at the north of the main island, and in 1941 the first impact of the War came when a small detachment of Australian soldiers was stationed there. When the Japanese invaded in January 1942, the tiny Australian garrison was swept aside, ushering in nearly four years of Japanese occupation.

At first, the people of New Ireland mostly found the Japanese presence to have been relatively light. Japanese language schools were established and the structures of civilian administration were maintained. Japanese aircraft based at Kavieng and Namatanai carried out missions against US forces in the Solomon Islands. However, as the War progressed, the situation became increasingly difficult for the New Irelanders.

The Japanese military police, or kenpeitai, pursued anyone suspected of aiding the Allies and dealt with them harshly. As the Japanese became increasingly isolated, the people were forced to grow food for the occupiers and any perceived resistance met with imprisonment, beatings, and executions. With the American landings at Torokina in Bougainville, the front line came closer to New Ireland, and the Allied occupation of Nissan and Emirau meant that air raids and attacks on Japanese shipping and coastal installations became more frequent.

Although an Allied invasion was anticipated in early 1944, the Japanese occupation continued until the War’s end in September 1945.

Items in the New Ireland Province Collection

Damaris Asi - Oral History interview recorded on 02 April 2017 at Lakurumau, New Ireland Province
Mrs Asi shared accounts of what she first saw when the Americans bombed the places around her village because the Japanese were based here- Lakurumau. She witnessed these as a little girl. Her family fled into the bush. She also told of how the…

Pauline Ayuk and Tokamit Loko - Oral History interview recorded on 02 April 2017 at Lakurumau, New Ireland Province
Mrs Ayuk relates her experiences of both the first and the second second World War. At the time of the first war, she was newly married. It was at time that she witnessed Japanese invasion of Lakurumau. She tells of an experience where (she believed)…

Francis Jossan and Paparas Mokis - Oral History interview recorded on 16 May 2017 at Luburua, New Ireland,PNG
Mr Jossan tells about what he witnessed with the Japanese when they invaded his village. He also tells of how the Japanese taught some skills to people and how used the people to do different tasks for them as labourers. He also explains how the…

Demas Malvu Kavavu - Oral History interview recorded on 16 May 2017 at Kavieng, New Ireland Province
Mr Kavavu provides an overview of New Ireland's history, before describing his own experiences as a child under Japanese occupation during the war. In this interview, he sings one of the Japanese songs he was taught while at school.

John Knox - Oral History interview recorded on 01 April 2017 at Kavieng, New Ireland Province
He shares his father's experiences of the war; how he was imprisoned because he was found to be of mixed parentage (Chinese/New Ireland). He also states somes experiences of how imprisoned locals in the cave, how they were beheaded and how one local…

Bruno Leto - Oral History interview recorded on 30 March 2017 at Tatau, New Ireland Province
Mr Leto tells about his relationship to Aisoli (elder brother) and clarifies the ancestoral background of Aisoli Salin's family and the chief status.

Ekonea Malvu - Oral History interview recorded on 16 May 2017 at Bol, New Ireland Province
Mr Malvu tells of his family's experiences during war; particularly how the Japanese treated them.

Patrick Marris - Oral History interview recorded on 02 April 2017 at Belifu, New Ireland Province
Chief Maris tells of stories told to him by his parents of how the Japanese mistreated his people through cheap labour.

Francis Minu - Oral History interview recorded on 02 April 2017 at Madina, New Ireland Province
Mr Minu tells about his father's experiences of the war. These experiences were mainly about how the Americans and Australians aimed to gain territory in Kavieng but since the Japanese landed and claim main Kavieng area, the Americans and Australians…

Lesley Momoko - Oral History interview recorded on 02 April 2017 at Madina, New Ireland Province
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 for them. Villagers were divided into different groups and locations to do certain tasks for them.…

Epineri Panambung - Oral History interview recorded on 02 April 2017 at Belifu, New Ireland Province
Pastor Panambung tells of what he saw and experiences as a young child during the War in 1942 at West Coast, Kavieng and how his father worked for the Japanese as a food carrier.

Salatiel Suap and Joseph Lamangau  - Oral History interview recorded on 31 March 2017 at Lavabat, New Ireland Province
Mr Suap tells of his experience of being one of Aisoli Salin's student. He tells of how Aisoli Salin emphasised the importance of education.

Mr Lamangau tells of how he heard about Aisoli Salin when he was a student; he also found Aisoli's book…

John Yip and John Mark - Oral History interview recorded on 16 May 2017 at Kavieng, New Ireland Province
Mr John Yip gave some accounts of details of World War II as told him by his father.

Mr John Mark tells stories about his uncle's involvement in World War II; his uncle helped the Americans and was based in Emira.

Esther Lunga and others  - Oral History interview recorded on 31 March 2017 at Karmelboet, New Ireland Province, PNG
Mrs Esther Lunga, Mr Junias Lunga, Mrs Francesca Kote, Mrs Elsa Telum, Mr Aisoli Topu and Mr Bruno Leto discuss their late family member, Aisoli Salin, and what he did during his life.

Wilma Salin and others - Oral History interview recorded on 30 March 2017 at Rabe, Tatau, New Ireland Province, PNG
Mrs Wilma Salin talks about her memories of her late husband, Aisoli Salin, and she is joined and supported by her family members, Mr Alfred Lalu Salin, Mrs Rachael Salin and Mrs Rosie Salin.

Joe Bomgut and others - Oral History interview recorded on 29 March 2017 at Tatau, New Ireland Province, PNG
Close relatives of Mr Aisoli Salin talk about his life before, after, and during the War, when he served as a coastwatcher and observed Japanese movements and their treatment of the people of the Tabar Islands, New Ireland Province.

Joseph Kaletau - Oral History interview recorded on 16 May 2017 at Luburua, New Ireland Province, PNG
Mr Kaletau tells about how he witnessed the initial arrival of the Japanese.

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