Adrian Boitewa - Oral History interview recorded on 24 March 2017 at Gamadoudou, Milne Bay Province


Mr Adrian Boitewa retells the story of his grand uncle (his mother's mother's brother) Mr Bedaiyelo Lobeseni. He was a recruited by the Australian and American allies as a cook during the war.


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. This is Elizabeth Taulehebo doing a recording dated the 24 March 2017 held at Gamadoudou ward, and the interviewee is Adrian Boitewa.
He will be recollecting and retelling the story of Jack Robeseni who was a cook during the war.
I am in the third generation after the war so I will not tell much about the war, but I will recollect what my elders, grandmother and mother have had passed on to me about him. And that's the story that I will tell today. My story will be about my grand uncle- my mother's mother's brother. His name is Bedaiyelo Lobeseni.
Bedaiyelo Lobeseni was a cook for the Brigadier. Before the war, he worked as a cook at Samarai during the colonial era. He worked as a cook for one whiteman at Samarai, but I can't remember the Whiteman's name.
When the war came in 1942, there was recruitment for natives to participate such as soldiers, cooks, mechanic, carpenters and others. They wanted these men to assist the Australian and American allies. During the recruitment, they found out that Bedaiyelo was an experienced cook before so he was taken. During that time Bedaiyelo was residing at Gamadoudou with his father Lobeseni and mother Nunumole. Their hamlet's name was Aikwanokwano, down at Gamadoudou beach.
He returned from Samarai, when the war reached Milne Bay in 1942. He was recruited as a cook and taken to Giligili. At Giligili, there were several other cooks and they needed a special cook for the Brigadier. The recruiting officer conducted a cooking test for the recruits and Bedaiyelo was among them. They found out that Bedaiyelo's recipes were the best so he was selected as the Cook in charge of the Allies' Brigadier at Giligili.
Apart from being a cook, he was also trained on how to handle and use a gun because it was war and for precautious purposes. They had to prepared and alert because the Japanese would attack anytime.
He was also a personal protector for the Brigadier. He was only concerned with the Brigadier and was confined to his residence.
His native name is Bedaiyelo as named by his parents when he was born.
During the war, he worked with the Americans and the Brigadier and his name was long and hard to pronounce so his American friends named him as 'Jack'- Jack Lobeseni. He was still a young and single man when he was recruited to be a cook. He was about 25 years old at that time.
He was always in the Brigadier's house so when bombs were thrown by Japanese at Giligili, he heard and felt the effects but he didn't see them. He was scared because it was war and death was unavoidable, but he had to be confident because he was with the Brigadier.
There were times in the nights that he would feel some forces present. He used to sleep with the Brigadier in his house and not with his mates in their camps. Sometimes the Brigadier will question Jack in the mornings that there was a visitor in their house during the night. So Jack would reassure his boss that it was their custom and that anywhere they go, the mothers [witchcraft] are always there to protect and watch over them against harm. So it's similar to me, I am away from my mother so she has to invisibly protect, and not only me but you as well. They were not harmed or injured in any way during the war. They didn't encounter any harm during the period of the war because Bedaiyelo's mother was always there to protect them.
His mother was living here, Gamadoudou but due to the war so she took her whole family and they ran away to Iwame. His mother, father, two sisters and two brothers fled to Iwame.
Before the war his mother was living down here [Gamadoudou] and during the war they all ran away to Iwame, the other side of Sagarai. Only Bedaiyelo was recruited as a cook for the Brigadier.
During the night times when they are asleep, the Brigadier used to feel that someone was in the house but he could not see who it was but only felt the person's presence. Bedaiyelo had to explain to the Brigadier about the invisible visitor that based on our custom, my mother must visit me each night to protect me so that no harm befalls me.
After the war in Milne Bay, they wanted to transfer him to Rabaul where some Americans and Australians were there. He wanted to go but then changed his mind. Also the Brigadier admired his cooking skills so wanted to take him to America but his parents did not allow him to go. He did not go anywhere and after the war in 1945, he returned to the village. His parents were returning from Iwame and on the way settled at Da'amiyabulu at the mountain. He went to them when he returned from the war.
There were supplies of food such as vegetables, rice, potatoes and carrots and others. He cooked these foods as soup and other recipes for the Brigadier.
His relationship with the Brigadier was very close as good friends and as brothers. He cooks for him and sleep in his house, and whatever the Brigadier owns is for him also. Sometimes if the Brigadier's wife is in the shower she would call, 'Jack, bring my towel' so he used to take her towel and give it to her. The Brigadier treated him as his brother.
He lived with the Brigadier in 1942 till the war ended and he was mostly with him so he did not know much about his other friends and where they lived and worked. He did not talk about his friends and what they did during the war. He only talked about himself and his role during the war.
He was very proud of himself when he returned after the war. He was proud because that was his first time to see a massive war fought and he witnessed the war and also assisted as a cook. He was scared the first time he went but as time went by he became excited about it. During the war he was not harmed not even the Brigadier and this was another pride that he talked about. There were some soldiers who were harmed and died during the war but he was not harmed in any way. He was not only proud of himself but also about his mother. Because he had faith in her so when he joined to help in the war, he was always protected by his mother until the war ended and he returned home.
Through oral stories, I heard that his mother was one of the champion witchcrafts at that time; she does not eat people but only protect them.
While he was at Giligili and when bombs were thrown, she would use her witchy powers to cool them off or catch them and extinguish them so they would not explode, especially where his son was so he would not be harmed.
After the war, he was awarded a medal which he brought home but sadly the medal was lost by the people he entrusted to take care of.
Apart from his service medal, he was also given another medal by the Brigadier as a token of appreciation for his loyalty to him.
His parents were worried and sad when he was recruited to help in the war away from them. But then they understand that this war was on their land so they had to let him play his part on their behalf. His mother was confident that she would protect him through and bring him safely home at the end of the war so she was not really concerned about his absence in the family.
Jack also recalled one memory of the war and this story was passed through my elders Sigimilo [male] and Rahab and they passed it onto me.
He called it 'Lasty War' which was on a Friday. On that very Friday, numerous planes filled the sky in the bay area, from West Tawala to Yaleba side. They all formed a 'V' letter in the sky and this whole place was shadowed with darkness. He said it was the 'Last War.' It was in 1945. He assumed that this last war was on a Friday. This was done by the Americans. This side of the bay was in darkness due to the planes flying in the sky.
That was one of my grand uncle's story that I have told.
My other grand uncle also helped during the war but I do not know his long history well but I will only tell what I know and heard about him. His name is Deboyamina. Deboyamina was my mother's uncle. He was Nunumole's brother. Deboyamina's father's name is Yahoile.
Deboyamina was a war carrier. When the war came, he was recruited to assist the soldiers by carrying their supplies and other stuffs. His native name is Deboyamina but during the war, the Americans named him as Kennedy because Deboyamina was long and difficult to pronounce. The Americans told him one of our former Presidents' name was J.F Kennedy so we will name you after him because you resemble him in various ways like your built, height and aggressiveness. That's a short story about him but I do not have much information about his role during the war. But all I know is that he was one of the War Carriers from here.
He was a young man when he took part in the war.
He was living here in Gamadoudou with Bedaiyelo's family when he was recruited to help. His father Yahoile was also residing here. He was a carrier at Giligili.
Thank you for your time and story.
Thank you.
[Anna Peter]
The Brigadier's name is MacArthur
The Brigadier in- charge of the Allies here in Milne Bay at Giligili.
[Rima Doboela]
From Gwavili to Wagagatu, lived there at Gwavili. But Daio to Gamadoudou, all of us were taken to Sivalai. Wagawaga ones went to Saga'ahu, at Suau side. Kilakilana ones went to Iwame. They all lived there. For the Tawala side, I do not know, you'll go to that side and find out.

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“Adrian Boitewa - Oral History interview recorded on 24 March 2017 at Gamadoudou, Milne Bay Province,” Voices from the War, accessed June 16, 2024,