Matthew Ware - Oral History interview recorded on 20 May 2014 at Hanau, Northern Province, PNG


Mr Matthew Ware tells the story of his father Ware Toja and his uncle Jawoambu Toja who worked as carriers during World War Two.



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.

OK tape rolling. OK. This is interview number 5. We are talking to Matthew Ware from Hanau village will be telling the story of his dad Ware Toja, Christian name Adam, who was a war carrier, and he will also tell the story of Jawoambu Toja, Christian name Fabian, his uncle. They were both war carriers. Incidentally Matthew Ware was a former policeman who served in the Australian Administration including the Papua New Guinea government. He’s retired and he’s back home at Hanau, and he’s the chief of this village. This is Matthew’s story.

I Matthew Ware, of Hanau village. I’m a clan chief of Toja clan. I will tell some of the brief history of my two fathers, during the war. Buna 1942. Since 1942, the Japanese captured Buna government station. All officers, and the constables, officers and the governor, by the name Mr Smith, the all shipped up to Port Moresby. After Port Moresby, when they get the uniforms they came back to Oro Bay. At Oro Bay, Colonel Sydney Smith ordered Constable Sebastian Goro of Sanananda village to recruit some of the villagers, to help the Australian and American soldiers to help and help with the administration, and the soldiers, and also the dead bodies in the battlefield. So two brothers who live at oreva [?] in the bush, oreva, that is bush.
When the Japanese came, they leave homes and everybody scattered into the bush. And two brothers they live at oreva, in the bush. After that Mr Sebastian Goro was sent by Captain, Colonel Sydney Smith to recruit the people in the village. So Mr - Constable Goro of Sanananda came along the beach to Hanau village and looking for people to recruit them to help the soldiers and to carry the administration and also to help in the battlefields.
So they left Oro Bay, and led by Captain Champion to Buna, where the battle area. At that time, Mr Toja and Mr Jawoambu were joined together with some of these partners from Hanau and from Barisari. They all go together to Buna. On that day, they were all settled at Maihinta village. All the carriers and the Captain Champion, they camped at Maihinta village.
And also, when the battle starts, all the carriers, they sit down, to Duropa, where the Siremi Bridge is… The Red Cross was on top of the swamp area. Siremi Bridge is along the beach side. At that time, our fathers were kept by the Captain close to a Red Cross because it’s open battle, so they might be wounded by the bullets. So every carriers were kept on the side of the Red Cross. Nobody is touching the battle area because there it’s open battle, it’s cross fire, so they will get accidents. So everybody stay on the side. No carriers had been entered the battle area, no.
Everybody stay outside, unless the commander gives order for the half times. When they fire, there is no carriers enter the battlefields because it’s a war. So everybody kept outside, so our father, two fathers, they told us there’s nobody giving the bullets inside because it’s firing. So everybody stay outside the battlefield, unless, when the half times they used to send it’s a koro act, they koro acts they used to give the dead body, they set the dead body, it’s not the carriers but it’s the soldiers. Ship them out to the carriers.
At the end the carriers took them to the Red Cross, ready for them to carry them out to aid station at Doboduru. On that day, during Christmas Day, there is a open battles, open battles, everybody was there outside the Red Cross. At that time, the Mr George Washington was wounded. It’s picked by the Australian soldiers and take them out from the field to the Red Cross and get them to the carriers.
OK, at that time, the carriers, who took those people out, dead body, and at the same time, the wounded solider George Washington, given by Mr Fabian Jawoambu, Heita, Sirima, Anamo, Oanda, Hibiti, Ware, Jaboko, Kokoro, and Gomba, they helped all the dead bodies and the wounded soldier. They help them and they put it on the stretcher to pick it up, carry it out to Dobuduru aid station. At that time, my father, Ware Toja, broke the stick and he came and give to George Washington
to support him to come to Dobuduru. The stick was given by my father, Ware Toja. And at that time I mention the carriers they lead him, and also they carry the body of the wounded, dead bodies and also they lead Mr George Washington. And they lead, they lead him by the carriers and also some of the carriers they carry the body up until that time when they hand over the wounded soldier to Mr Oembari. At the same time, the filmer took the photograph. And they took them up to Doboduru aid station.
And there, they sent them to Port Moresby. At that time, our fathers used to carry the dead bodies up to Dobuduru, they placed them there. At the end they came to sleep, they stayed at Mahita, the base camp is Maita for carriers. All the carriers they used to stay at Mahita, until when the war was over at Buna, all the Japanese they all chased across to Sanananda, all the carriers they sent down to Borio and Hariko villages, that’s 2 kilometres of Duropa plantation. And there they all walk across, they all advance across to Sanananda, and they settled there for last battle at Sanananda. When the war over at Sanananda, all the carriers they
splitted into two groups. One: Salamaua trail. Two: Kokoda Trail. So our two fathers followed Kokoda Trail, up to Kokoda, go down to Isurava. At that time Mr Saropa was in that battle. So when they were there, Saropa was brought by the Japanese, so Saropa he crawled up across the mountain and lead soldiers down on the Alola creek and he dumped all the Japanese in the war at Isurava… At that time, our fathers, carriers, soldiers, and the commanders they all come back to Oro Bay… After that, they were having, they were having party, farewell party, that’s the end of the war. Farewell party, after that, a big bonfire. A big bonfire, and the war finished. That’s all I have to say. And this is the story…

Matthew if you may allow me to thank you. That was remarkable story you have told us, but if you will allow me to ask just a few questions.
Were you born before the war or after the war?

I was born after the war. Since 1948. 1948, I was born.

When your father, your uncle and all the young men around here, when they were recruited, where did the womenfolk and all the young girls and children go?

All the children, and all the people of the village, they all shipped up to number 3 care centre, in Motinota, care centre, what I say… Vasenge mountain. They sent up to Vasenge near Ijika [?]

Who shifted them up to the place you’re mentioning?

That’s the MP, military, they shipped all the villagers up to number three camp at Vasenge mountain.

When the war eventually came to Buna, were the local people aware of the war? Were people in the villages aware of the war?

No… that was accident. So I couldn’t mention because I didn’t know about it.

Getting back to the recruitment of our young men into the carriers, did they – who actually recruited them?

Who actually recruited, that’s Constable Sebastian Goro of Sanananda.

Who sent constable Sebastian Goro?

Sent by Colonel Sydney Smith.

From ANGAU is it?

From ANGAU at Oro Bay.

OK. Do you have any other further comments you’d like to make?

Yes please. My comment is past history, of the fuzzy wuzzy is not real. It’s not original. Original story I present it. The past years people are trying to, they are rumours, they are trying to write, they use their knowledge, and write any how. That’s why it’s 70 years, nothing happened. The original fuzzy wuzzy is Hanau, Gararai, Maita, and Barisari villages, and not Buna. And not anywhere. Doboduru, they all set up, and Buna is a battlefield. Everybody, they went up to the bush. They used to stay in the camp and nobody’s fuzzy wuzzy from Buna. And also Dobuduru. And nothing at Siremi. Original fuzzy wuzzy is… Hanau, Barisari, and Maita villages.
They are they real and they are the original fuzzy wuzzy. They are the carriers of the body and not the cargo. So fuzzy wuzzy means they are carrying the dead people, so it must be, the number is not over 50, it must be under 50 carriers. There are two types of carriers, the administration carriers and the war carriers, two carriers, administration carriers means cargo and the fuzzy wuzzy they are the carriers of the dead body. They are the real. The real is Hanau and Barisari. For the past 72 years, nobody know about fuzzy wuzzy because the history written was a false history. I say it. I admit it. Because that’s another fact. They never know about it. But our fathers they told us, they brief us, this is the time. So my thank you to everyone here.

Obviously your father might have had some experience. Was he scared?

No, my father was a heavy carrier. And American soldiers they used to call him bully, the heavy carrier. And also my father, Jawoambu, he’s a young man, and he’s a giant, I should say it, because he’s a giant on that day. It’s my father’s day. So every carrier must be honestly speaking.

During the fierce battles, were some of the carriers killed too?

Yes – No! Carriers, some of them they are sick and died, but not killed. Everybody they were alive.

Thank you Matthew, for talking to us, thank you for your time.

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“Matthew Ware - Oral History interview recorded on 20 May 2014 at Hanau, Northern Province, PNG,” Voices from the War, accessed July 17, 2024,