Gideon Warite - Oral History interview recorded on 3 September 2014 at PNG National Museum and Art Gallery, Waigani, NCD, PNG


Mr Gideon Warite tells the story of his father Warite Koare who worked as a carrier for the Australians during the War. He also speak about his mother and the other villages having to hide in caves during the War to avoid the fighting.



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.

Today Wednesday 3rd of September, National Museum, we are interviewing Gideon Warite, he will be talking about his father, Warite Koare, was one of those carriers, porters during the war.
First of all I would like to say thank you to our museum. I'm happy and glad that I will share a little bit of my father's tory. First of all I will introduce my name. And then later on I will brief only, short story about my father, how he was engaged in the war. OK. My name is Gideon Warite on behalf of my father, late father, he's from Sogeri village, Central Province. Currently I'm living at Gagabe [?] village, 17 Mile, next to Hombrom Bluff, lookout. I'll relay just a little bit of my father, only the basics, how he was engaged to the war.
Before the war, it was around 1938 and 39. They were engaged at the copper mine at 17 Mile, that is around 1938 and 39, and at the same time, the white mans informed them that the war is coming and from there, 1938 and 39, they informed them to shift the village people to the caves, to hide them, that's around Hombrom Bluff area, the main caves are around Hombrom Bluff, the main caves are three of them, two are around, below Hombrom Bluff, that's next to Blamey's garden, and further up inland there's another one there, next to Ilolo rubber plantation. Called Wohogura [?]. So there are three main caves, that's where they started to send their families, to hide them in the caves, to avoid the war.
OK before the war he was a village policeman. OK. Then they interview them around 1939 and around 40s. They interview them. So that some of them would be engaged to PIB, some of them would be engaged to carriers, some would be say would be like general duties, supervisors. While waiting for the war the supervisors tell them to start clearing the area, and then getting the supplies from Moresby and starting to put them up to each of the bases from Moresby as far as to the starting point at 17 Mile.
From there, they dropped some at all the way from 17 Mile to Hombrom Bluff, and from Hombrom Bluff there's a village there, Toronumu [?], from Toronumu to there's a track, going up to PIB camp next to Bisiatabu, from Bisiatabu it went as far as Ower's corner, and he said they delivered supplies as far as Ioribaiwa, that's what he said, that's only the basics I know. But during the war, he probably went further went to Kokoda trail I don't know. OK. And then his two supervisors were Mr Ambrose [?] and Mr Jackson [?].
That's starting from 17 Mile, going up towards Hombrom Bluff, Toronumu, goes to PIB camp, carrying cargoes from that location to as far as Ioribaiwa. From there returning they usually carried another some cargo, so something like wounded persons, and then bringing them down to PIB camp, and then further down to 17 Mile, because that's where the big base is, hospital, 17 Mile, the base hospital itself and food supply. So still the villages are there, and
During the war, the parents were still in bush caves, so after the war ended they came in and still settled at old village, Bohubua [?], that's next to Ilolo rubber plantation, so after around they were still living there around 40s, end of '49, and around 40s too they are still living in that cave, and around end of, middle of 1950s they came to our village called Manurinumu, that's around 50s. So during the war it's probably generally I would say he's a carrier. So that's a little bit of my father's story, just only the basics. Thank you very much.
Can I ask a question? Did he talk much about, while he was alive, about what the life was like about being a carrier? How hard he had to work, or did he mix, make friends with men from other parts of PNG? What did he say about his life working as a carrier?
Basically about what they had done during the war was really tough and dangerous also. But I don't know how he looked after himself and he was still alive after the war. That's what I ask him, and he said, in the war we look after ourselves and then he said while we are carrying cargoes through the supply we used to look after ourselves too. Because the enemies might come and attack them and they might run away. After the war, he sat around our village, when the war ends around slows down around 50s, they shift from that cave to the main village, next to the main village, where Maruninumu is, from the cave to the village.
So they stayed in the cave right through into the 1950s?
Yes middle of 50s. So from there, the white man tell them, OK now the war has settled, so all of you can leave that cave and come to the main village next to the main road.
And were you born in that village or were you born in the cave?
I was born in around '62.
Ah so in the village. How old was your father when he was a carrier?
Roughly around 25, something? 25 upwards.
So he was a fully grown man.
Yes he said he was married in 1937. That's what he said. So probably was around 25 upwards.
Did your mother have any stories about the war and what life was like while he was out working?
While my father was away they hid in the cave and they got instructions from my father, not to light fires, so probably they make fires at night, to avoid the enemies seeing them. Because during the war most of the bombs fell from the Bisiatabu near them, it went down to, by the time the aircraft unload the bombs, they usually hear the whistling sound, they really hide in the caves during those days.
Did your father tell you about during the war the villagers hiding in the caves, did they come out at all or did nobody move around, only the soldiers?
When they see when it's a little bit OK they come around to fetch water, collect firewood, or looking for foods. When it's enemies coming close or stick for them, they will tell them to go back to the caves. Go back to the caves again.
That's quite a story. What it must have been like.
That's a long story but I'm saying basics only.
Well if there's anything else you'd like to say we'd be interested to hear your story, remembering that this is for generations to come.
As far as I note my father's story down. It's here at my house for my kids to pass the stories when I'm passed away.
Thank you very much.

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“Gideon Warite - Oral History interview recorded on 3 September 2014 at PNG National Museum and Art Gallery, Waigani, NCD, PNG,” Voices from the War, accessed June 16, 2024,