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 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
Mr Dago Philemon tells the story of his father who was recruited by the Papuan Infantry Battalion as a soldier during the war.
In this interview, Timo Deiwili talks about his uncle Barnaba Ou, who was a carpenter employed by ANGAU to construct buidings at the bases in Milne…
Mr Rodney Galahodi tells the story of her grandmother Mrs Noweni Deboyamina and the special powers they used in the war to guard them from the…
Chris Abel talks about his uncle Cecil Abel who was involved during the War in supporting the Allied forces in Milne Bay
Mrs Aida Jaruga and Mr David Juraga tell their mother's story on her behalf. Mrs Lilly Jaruga was a young girl who ran into the bush with her family,…
Mr Lucian Mongagi described his experience of the Japanese landing at Sanananda, the Buna and Sanananda communites' experiences of displacement during…
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.
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