Godfrey Daima - Oral History interview recorded on 24 May 2014 at Beama, Northern Province, PNG


Mr Godfrey Daima tells the story of his father and grandfather who worked as carriers during World War Two for the Australians and Americans.



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.

Good afternoon. Tell us who you are, your age, where you come from, and introduce your subject. You might like to tell us whether you were a professional man before.

Yes, yes, Mr Orere, I've been a dentist with the Health Department for a couple of years, and then I retired and came home. I'm almost reaching eighty years now. As far as my date of birth and other document goes, I was born somewhere around 1940 just before the Pacific War.. My name is Godfrey Daima.. I should have introduced myself before. However I am here to tell a brief history, a story about my father's younger brother.
He was recruited together with others like Mr Augustine Angaro, such as Robert who is interviewing with Barnabas Orere, and Ongari Bogari, they were actually from the same village, Busiga village. I'm from Busiga village in Oro Province. So these three were recruited as PIB during the war.
And they were given a short training before they were engaged into active fighting. They were given short training and then they were allocated to different group. I think I haven't heard much about my daddy's brother's history about this war, story. I was around twelve when he died, my father called him Gomba. He died young without having any children, and my father took the responsibility of his documents but since I was not keeping those documents in order so they were all lost. I only hold, after my own father's death I was holding on to his medals that were given to him such as Gai Bonga said.
Actually Gai's father is brother to my father, and my father's younger brother was actually engaged in the PIB. So I was only holding on to his war medals, like King George's medal and Pacific Star, and his regimental number if you are interested in this information I will give you his regimental number, his regimental number is PN 3781. That is his regimental number, PN 3781, under which he was recognised during the fighting.
I think he, I didn't know much about which company he was attached to, but most likely because these two people were from same village, my assumption is that he must have been attached to C Company where Sergeant Augustine Angoro was and Bogari was, so they were probably attached to C Company, being people from the same village, they have relationship you know, so they must have served in one Company. And then after the war, wherever they went, they served in Bougainville campaign, Morobe, various other areas in Papua New Guinea.
And then just like what Robert has said, after the war they returned to the village but you know in those days, people were not so much in the position to welcome them as soldiers so they would just welcome them as members of the family and came home to live. Some of them have died, among others, my father's brother passed away when I was about twelve, thirteen years. I didn't have the opportunity to get any accurate information about his war career and all that. That is the brief history about my father's war service.

What was the name of your uncle again who fought in the war?

Gomba, he was registered, he was registered as Gomba.

Did he serve just around here or did he go somewhere else?

Not around here, but being PIB a soldier he went and served at Morobe, and then to Rabaul, and to Bougainville and then he returned. And then whatever areas that most PIB have served, he served in those areas as well.

This story, account that you have just given, who gave it to you?

This account was given to me by my father, and also Gai Bonga's father. They're brothers you know, Gai Bonga's brother, Gai Bonga's father and my father, and their small brother is the biological brother.

So they were three men from the same family?

Three men, I forgot to mention, one incidentally I forgot to mention Timias Saragtu, he was engaged into the police force during the war. So there were four brothers totally engaged into this service, but my father decided to withdraw because three of them were out, and there was nobody to care for the old people you know, so he has to withdraw himself from the active service and came home, and he was looking after the family.

So how many boys or men altogether from your Busiga village went in to the war?

Actually there were three, three men from same village who enlisted as PIB in the war.

And they all returned home safely?

They all returned home safely, and have been living with us, but incidentally, my father's brother died younger, as I said, when I was about twelve or thirteen years, my father's younger brother died.

Do you have any specific stories .. from your father about Gomba fought in the war?

I'm afraid that there are no specific stories that I can offer, but what I've said is what I know of, I cannot give you any specific action that he took part in during the war. That has not been told to my father, maybe, he didn't tell what actually he did and that's why there is a lack of information about this activity during the war.

What made you come here to give us this short account of Gomba?

Well, I think that those who serve with the Australian counterparts, I think they deserve recognition you know, and a kind of monument or maybe something else that should be set up so that we can honour their service with the Australian soldiers, with their counterparts, so that we can keep a memory of them. Some of them have been heroes, some of them assisted the Australian and American soldiers, they stood side by side to face the difficulties and problems.
So I think Papua New Guinea government should erect something in memory of these people so the future generations can know the history about what was done and how they survived during the war. And I think it's good to establish something in Popondetta so that we can keep a memory of them and keep the history together.. I came here to emphasise this because it's long been forgotten.

Thank you, if I could ask a question. You mentioned your age and that you were born at the start of the Pacific War or before the Pacific War. Could you talk about your own life and your own experiences?

Yes, yes, yes, I can tell you. I remember, my mother used to tell me a story about myself, I was an infant, baby, and she carried me around during the war, from places to place, because Oro Bay was a base, as in those days, Oro Bay was the base and all the war missionaries and everything were shipped to Oro Bay and then was given to the supporting company, ammunition whatever, whatever, so during this war there was a lot of bombing, a lot of fighting,
so my mother has to carry me to prevent bombing and firing, so she has to carry me around even to what's this place named up the mountain, Garawuji, to avoid being shot, or killed during the war. I have not heard the sound of a bomb, I have not heard the sound of a fighter or bomber, or mortar or whatever. I was so small that I don't know anything about the War. But later when I grew big my mother used to tell me a story of myself, she used to carry me around to avoid me getting killed. So that sort of thing.

That's quite a story.

Thank you very much. Thank you for your time. Thank you for your contribution.

Good afternoon, have a nice day.

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“Godfrey Daima - Oral History interview recorded on 24 May 2014 at Beama, Northern Province, PNG,” Voices from the War, accessed June 16, 2024, https://pngvoices.deakin.edu.au/items/show/288.