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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

Margaret Embahe - Oral History interview recorded on 14 June 2016 at Popondetta, Northern Province, PNG

http://pngvoices.deakin.edu.au/files/temp/embahe-photo-2016.jpg

Mrs Margaret Embahe tells the story of her parents' life and her own, inclduing her parents' time in Milne Bay during the war, when her father was a…

Claude Gegera Peututu - Oral History interview recorded on 21 May 2014 at Deboin, Northern Province, PNG

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

Mr Claude Gegera Peututu tells his own story about this experience as a young man being recruited and working as a carrier for the Australians during…

Julian Justus Eroro - Oral History interview recorded on 26 March 2017 at Alotau, Milne Bay Province

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

Mr Julian Justus Eroro tells the story of his father Mr Justus Eroro who was recruited by the Australian army as a native soldier and fought during…

Patrick Marris - Oral History interview recorded on 02 April 2017 at Belifu, New Ireland Province

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

Chief Maris tells of stories told to him by his parents of how the Japanese mistreated his people through cheap labour.

Ivan Nitua - Oral History interview recorded on 3 July 2014 at Kovelo, Northern Province, PNG

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

Mr Ivan Nitua tells the story of his father worked as a carrier for the Australians during World War Two. He speaks of the effect the War had on…

Fred Gerowaga - Oral History interview recorded on 1 April at Rabe, Milne Bay Province, PNG

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

In this interview, Fred Gerowaga talks about his father, Tiobi Geruwaga, and his uncle, Allen Sene, who was a medical orderly, and their experiences…

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