John Yip and John Mark - Oral History interview recorded on 16 May 2017 at Kavieng, New Ireland Province

Description

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.

Interview

Warning: This site contains stories of war. Some of these interviews may include detailed and graphic descriptions of events and experiences that may be disturbing for some individuals.


Transcript:
[Interviewer]
We are with John Mark and John Yip in Kavieng town, we are doing the interview on the 16th of May 2017. Now both young men, you'll just tell us stories of the war, about the war that you heard from your Dad and (ah) maybe when you were talking with his Dad whatever you picked up. And whichever language you prefer to use, it's all good, thank you. Ah maybe you can start as far as (ah) when your Dad was. or how old was he and (ah) we'll go from there.
[John Yip]
Ah Dad's age, I don't really know I think he was a teenager then, (ah) at that time the Japanese, I think they were running some sort of school here for the young kids. Um. he and his brother they were too old to go to school so they made a mill for them. (ah) But yes, sorry to start off, (ah) their father. their father and the two brothers they came to Kavieng to pick food that time when the Japanese landed down. The mother and sisters and their younger brother, they were at Inak (Tigak electorate). The family was there, and I think they came to town, to pick up cargo, that's when the Japanese came in so they couldn't go back because the father is a Chinese.
[Interviewer]
And married to a local just to get a background
[John Yip]
Yes.
[Interviewer]
OK.
[John Yip]
So they are. so the father and my father, his father and the elder brother they came to town maybe to pick up cargoes that time now I think the Japanese landed and cut them off from going back. So they were more or less (ah) working for the Japanese, like I said, those two were too big to go to their school or any kind of school so they were set to work. And the father too, I think he was made to work for the Japanese, (ah) they did a lot of things, all of them doing ah. washing the dishes and things like that, you know, the soldiers when they come and eat and after that they just chuck their plates for them to clean up and every other thing, ah just. ah memories a bit short now (laughs). Any ways, what happened was (um), while they were working when the siren. ah when the air raid siren came on the Japanese always go underground, Kavieng is more or less, there's a lot of tunnel webs in Kavieng. So when the Japanese hear the siren they go underground and. these two brothers they don't want to go underground, they want to watch everything, they were just fascinated about the planes and the bombs and everything happening and didn't worry about going underground with the Japanese to hide from the bombs.
[John Yip]
One time they went to the beach front, during one air raid, instead of going underground they went to the water front to watch the bombs coming down again. And every time they went there I think (ah), the all clear sign went (ah), you know, the siren came on again they went down and collected the fish. And one time, later on when the sirens came on again, instead of going down they went and they were hiding behind the tree, and the tree they were hiding was pretty big, and the tree next to them was, I think bigger than the tree they were hiding in. And one shell came and it just cut that tree off, they looked and say (oh) it did kill couple of trees, next time the air raid siren comes on they went underground.
[John Yip]
Anyways, after that they did escape and tried to make their way back to the family. After they got the Japanese used to them walking around, you know, doing things, and they got their trust anyway. Yeah, they had a canoe down at Siwasat, Siwasat is the other ah. anyway they had a canoe there so when the air raid sirens came on again, instead of going underground all three of them, the father and the two sons (my father, his father and their brother) they ran away as fast as they can, they hid before and by the time they got to Siwasat it was dark. But they reckon that the Japanese kept on patrolling the area, when the siren came on they patrolled the area all the time so they couldn't move, but when they did move, they got their canoe and paddled across the island, to the Inuk area until it was dawn. When morning approach they started hiding their canoe by camouflaging it among the mangrove trees that were floating, with that, they made their way as they pushed with all those mangroves. On that time they were traveling there, to that island Inung ah. they don't know the Americans were monitoring these people, every time the planes come in, you know, they will fly low and to see whether this is a real mangrove tree or somebody hiding. I think they must have spotted somebody there, by then they had travelled further away from Kavieng and to their surprise, they were shocked to see a speed boat next to them, these men in the boat then shouted. ''If you know you are in there hiding, come out, and tell us where do you all want to go?'' They answered and said ''we all want to go to Inung to see our family there.'' Well, your family is not there now, so they took them to Inung and nobody was there. Everyone at Inung and the other Islands at Lavangai, all went to Mussau and Emirau. So they went, from Inung to Mussau, if you travelled by speed boat it will take you maybe, just a bit less than 24 hours. But that time my father was telling me it took him about 15 to 30 minutes that's how their speedy boats where.
[John Mark]
15 minutes
[John Yip]
Oh yes, about 15 minutes. Well after the war he managed a plantation at Mussau island called Talunana.(looks unsure)
[John Mark]
Taluwenalu
[Interviewer]
Taluwenalu
[John Yip]
Yes, my father went to managed that
[Interviewer]
Oh, so he was on my island
[John Yip]
So he went there to manage it and every time he went there when the Americans were in control, it took him 15 minutes to get there compared to today, it will take you up to 6-7 hours to get there. Ah, that's not much on my father's side.
[John Yip]
I will tell you another related story from down on my father's side, one of my uncles, he was in the war too that time. This was around the Wilow (village) area, the Kono Agil LLG. He was there anyway and the Japanese used to be cruel to a lot of people, some they treat them good, some not. So a lot of these guys they retaliated towards the Japanese, you know, when the Japanese go into the bushes they'll kill them and you know, blame it on the soldiers killing those Japanese. So my uncle one time he (ah). the Japanese must have done something to his brother or someone close, not so sure but anyway, they got him to (ah), they want to drink kulau (coconut) so he said OK, I'll climb up the tree and get you some kulau so you guys sit there, so he told them to sit under the tree. So stupid of the Japanese that time, to sit under the coconut tree. So he went up the tree and he looked at the Japanese, there were about three or four of them, he look at them and he said ''come sit close'' so they came and sat close to the tree, and instead of getting one nut, he cut one whole branch (bunch), sadly these men didn't bother looking up or watching my uncle so he took the bunch of nut and dropped it on them killing about three or four of them all. (Laughter follows). Well that's one story I could recall but there's heaps of stories more, maybe this other John here could tell you because he worked close with my uncle and at the same time he married his niece and yeah, they were close. They shared a lot together especially after the working hours. OK John tell us a little bit about what you know, anything or any of his stories which he might have told you.
[Interviewer]
Go ahead tell us what you know
[John Mark]
During the war in Emirau, (ah) according to his stories. The war lasted for quite a while, I think upon the length of time which the Americans took ground, which was about two years, from 1944-1945. Mr Yip was with them, he was with the Americans based at Emirau Island. He shared few things although he didn't tell us everything about the war in detail, he said the two last islands in Papua New Guinea are the Murat islands which is Emirau and Mussau. They were first dominated and controlled by the Japanese, somehow to their surprise the Americans came in and settled the two islands and drove out the Japanese.
[John Yip]
Tell us about your Kandere (Uncle) how they came in and set up, him and the Americans and its Allied forces.
[John Mark]
When they came and first settled on the island, they separated themselves, (ah) the Australians and the New Zealand took one side of the island and the black skin coloured armies.
[Interviewer]
The Black Americans
[John Mark]
Yes, they stayed on the other side point of Emirau Island, the side facing Mussau island. 'Pakinah'.
[Interviewer]
Oh Pakina
[John Mark]
Yes, Pakina village. And the Americans, they covered and stationed at the top.
[Interviewer]
You mean the white Americans.
[John Mark]
Yes.
[Interviewer]
Three camps
[John Mark]
So ah, there are few things I got but I only stayed there for a little while. anyways, there were locations which they marked to set up their. you know (ah), it's a really big area.
[John Yip]
I think that's as far he could go.
[Interviewer]
No worries, at least ah. and your Dad he was at (ah) the plantation.
[John Yip]
Taluwenalu?
[Interviewer]
Yes Taluwenalu. and (ah) after the war, did he leave the plantation or did he stay and continue his work, and was he the supervisor?
[John Yip]
No he was the overall manager. And after the war was over, he went back. The Americans took them back.
[Interviewer]
Back here?
[John Yip]
To Kavieng yes, ah from here they went to Rabaul, at that time to his younger sister went back to school, his older sisters were too old to go to school. Even my father too was too old for school so he went down to Vunakope and they reckoned that he did trade. So they put him into this vocational centre where he was taught how to become a carpenter. He learnt to become a carpenter at Vunakope and umm he worked with the expatriates that built the Kuruahga Catholic church. Ah at time, he was very skilled and then (ah) left the expatriate carpenters, they had to go back to where they came from. Europe or where ever they came from, so my father had to supervise the completion of the church. After that he joined and worked with a company called united builders (UBC). I think it was because of his (ah) this island he and his brothers managed the plantation down at Mussau, that time I was still a toddler crawling (smiles and laughs), yeah not much on that.
[Interviewer]
Well, thank you very much for whatever you could share with us.
[John Yip]
But what I can do for you if you if they give me a visit card I get marked to pick up somewhat ever I'll send it over to you.

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Family Relationships

Interviewee

John Yip
John Mark

Interviewee Gender

Interviewers

Interview Date

16/05/2017

Interview Duration

00:17:21:00

Interview Translator


Rights Holder

Deakin University
Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike licence

Files

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Citation

“John Yip and John Mark - Oral History interview recorded on 16 May 2017 at Kavieng, New Ireland Province,” Voices from the War, accessed December 13, 2018, http://pngvoices.deakin.edu.au/items/show/393.

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