Dudley Banaga Nongori - Oral History interview recorded on 24 May 2014 at Beama, Northern Province, PNG


Mr Dudley Banaga Nongori tells the story of his father-in-law Corporal Depona Doga who was a member of the Papuan Infantry Battalion during World War Two, serving in Bougainville.



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.

Interview number four at Beama village, on 24th of May 2014.
The interviewee is Dudley Banaga Nongori. Beside him is his wife, Clarissa Bobura.
Dudley Banaga Nongori is going to present the war story of his father in law, Depona of Koirapusi village, Popondetta, Northern Province, Papua New Guinea. Depona became a member of the Pacific Islands Infantry Battalion. His son-in-law, Dudley Banaga Nongori is going to recount his experiences.

My father in law, late Corporal Depona Doga from Koirapusi village, Ambasi area in the Northern Province of Papua New Guinea. He, among the other fellow of his age and older, he was among them when the war started. They started with the recruiting of labourers. Most people in that area used to have their communication through the Anglican church at Gona, through Ambasi church. He was among those recruited, sorry, sent in there, actually for the labourers. But when he came to Gona, he realised that he was a young man and he could not carry the cargo. He could not carry those heavy things. At the same time you heard there was also recruiting of
PIBs, at Sanananda and Buna, so he decided he should go to join the PIB. So he just made his own mind and he went with some of the bigger boys to join the PIB. And his bigger cousin, from the same village, Koirapusi, Harold Abana, he saw smaller boy going for to join the army, so Abana decided to go with him to join the force. So they all went together, they went and joined the army. They got recruited and joined PIB.
They all went together, had like anybody else, what they did, they all was taken across to Port Moresby through Kokoda Track. From there they were all selected to go join in the grouping, and he was sent to C Company, under the leader of Captain Smith. All this story was only
By verbal, by his mouth, because he was not educated. My father-in-law hadn't been to school. Alright from there, they were sent out, because the Japanese were already in part of our land already, so they were sent to join when the war was at Salamaua, Lae, and Finschhafen, and he was sent in the group to join the war at Salamaua, and Tulai and Finschhafen, all those landing, he was among them. So and then later in the group, Depona, was a really young man. He contributed that task to fight for the country, and face that and join all that whatever the conditions, with the fellow mates of Australian, he has faced all that together in the land and the sea, in that war. So he was among them.
and fought all the way to Rabaul, and then went to Bougainville where the war ended, so they all came back from which area they all come, but when they came back they came by ship and they all ended up at Oro Bay at Beama, and their friends and relatives came by outrigger canoe and took them back.
While Depona Doga, he could not go there, go straight to Ambasi, so he was at Dombada. He stayed at Dombada and he stayed there for some times, and the relatives from Ambasi came on the outrigger canoe, and took them back. While others from this area went to their villages, Depona Doga and this other fellow soldiers from Ambasi area, they were all in here and at Dombada and all their relatives came and took them, paddled them to their respective villages.
From there, in the village, he was in the village like anybody else. In 1960 the government had decided to bring those ex-servicemen back to, they're put in their blocks, cocoa blocks, he was among them, he came to, he was brought to a civilian block, where he stayed and before they came in here, he got married. They had two children,
and they're both girls, and she's the second one. The elder girl, unfortunately she had big sick and went disabled and mentally affected. In the block, both live in the block at Disibini [?]. They stayed there, at Disibini, and he died in 1977.

In Notu.
OK, Dudley, tell us some intricate experiences of your father-in-law. Did he feel cold, did he go hungry, what were some of these details?

In Bougainville he got accident in one of his foot, where he got sore. He got the sore and that sore was very hard to recover. So he came in, came here, he came home with that sore. That sore never developed, never got healed, so he was then taken to Higaturu hospital, that sore he received during the war in Bougainville. Somehow for some reason that sore never healed. He was at Higaturu hospital and about four to five days before the eruption he decided to run away after he got hungry in the hospital.
So he has to run away from the hospital through the other side of the Kumusi River, he came down to Aka [?] area and went to the Ope [?] River and went down, he was on his way down and the volcano erupted and killed all those people and he survived. That is what had happened to him. He was alright, but only he got that accident on the foot and that developed the sore. That sore never healed until he brought that sore to the village.

It got better?

Yes it got better, it got better but the sore was still in there. The sore in there, not recovered until he was so he had that sore with him when he died.

Was he accidentally cut by some sharp instrument, or how did he get that sore?

No, while he was walking because his eyes was watching for the enemies, he got hit on a piece of log and the sore developed. And then in that one, at Bougainville also, he gunned down two Japanese soldiers.

In Notu.
In Bougainville there were two Japanese who were in the bush. They were hungry and they had coconut shoots, they were having those and he went in then and so there was him and another fellow also, Byron Durarago from Iwaia, both of them went in and he fired, and he killed two Japanese. And one of them had his false teeth dropped off, and he got it. He got it and his daughter has been looking after these false teeth. That's the ones she's holding. That's the Japanese false teeth. He got it from Bougainville.

For the interview we're all open mouthed with wonder. That's remarkable. I was going to ask you what stories your father-in-law had about the war. That's very interesting. Can I ask a question about when he returned from Bougainville and went back to his village, were there big celebrations and big feasts to welcome him and the other men back from the war? How were they welcomed?

They didn't welcome him but somebody had told lies to my grandfather and mother. They said they killed my Daddy, the Japanese killed my Daddy. So my grandfather and grandmother, they were in the house. Our custom they put them in the house until my father came. They didn't make feast but they got my bubus down. Little feast, family around only, not a big feast, just a small feast only for the family.
Because they thought he was dead?


It must have been doubly wonderful for them.

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“Dudley Banaga Nongori - 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/308.