Norris Cardigan - Oral History interview recorded on 30 March 2017 at Waema, Milne Bay Province


This is an interview with Norris Cardigan who was six years old when the war came in 1942. She talks about her father, John Pilacapio, who was a carrier for the Allies 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.

This is an interview with Norris Cardigan, she was six years old when the war came in 1942 and she's going to talk about her father and his participation, John Pilacapio. This is being taped on the 30th of March 2017 by Anne Dickson-Waiko, Elizabeth Taulehebo and Keimelo Gima at Waema village.
My father joined as a carrier during the war. That's all I know. Mostly he was with that old lady Maiogalu when they shot some of the people and then they were helping that old lady shifting the wounded soldiers. I don't know where that was, that part I don't know. Because we already left and he was here so I can't tell you much about what else he did.
During the war, we went to Suau. Before that we were living at Kainako, this place we were living on top of the hill there with my father and mother . and that's how when the war came we walked to Suau. We walked to Suau but on the way we used to stop to rest and overnight until we reached the .. The war started so we went. Because we were living close to Giligili so we heard about the war coming before 1942. We saw the Australians coming and preparing the place. I was too small to remember what work they did and I can't remember. My father passed away just after the war.
Yeah, I was adopted by father's first born brother. I was born at Misima.
She was at Misima with her mother. But you know like the father didn't want to marry the mother so the mother went and gave birth to her at Misima. And the father stayed here with the brother who was married. Her father is John Pilacapio. The brother is Steven Pilacapio. He got married to a lady from Suau Miuli. His mother gave birth there. One of our bubus was working on the boat. His wife saw my bubu working on the boat to travel all the way to Misima to bring my mummy so he went up there and brought my mummy here and he told my bubu and the wife to look after her.
So upon their staying here and war broke out so she had to travel with her stepmother to Suau. That's where she stayed till the war was over.
Her father died of illness after the war. He died up there at the place called Baraga [Balaga]. My father helped the woman Maiogaru during the war. But you know when they shoot some of these people and they are wounded, they used to go and help the old lady and take those wounded soldiers and take them to the hospital. And took care of them. That's all I know. Maiogaru was a nurse. And she became famous for saving that airman that crashed at Divinai. I was too small to remember. I was six years old. I was born in 1937.
Because my uncle was in the ANGAU too. He was working with the ANGAU. I can't remember what he was doing. Like he didn't tell me anything. But my uncle speaks good English. He worked when the war started until it ended, duration of the war. I don't know, like he didn't tell me anything. They were all awarded with medals. After the war my father was ill, maybe because of the war or just sickness and he died. 43 years old and he died after the war. So my mum stayed with the brother Steven, the father's brother. Steven is the elder brother. John is the younger one.
Steven worked with the ANGAU but I don't know what work he did. He was here all the time up at Bubuleta. He used to come for breaks and see us and go back. Sorry I haven't got much to tell.
It was nice staying at Suau. I liked it staying down there. We grew our own food but my father who was in the ANGAU he used to bring some supply of food. I'm referring to Steven as my father. He was the one who used to bring food for us. When his break he used to come and . every month I think.
After the war we stayed long at Baraga then we came here. Because we stayed at Baraga there because still the Americans and all that were still here. We used to stay there and they used to come up there and come back and all that. We stayed at Baraga about 1945. Because all the ANGAUs used to come, the negroes people. We used to get scared of the negroes people coming there. We were children so we used to get scared of them. I was not scared of the white men but the negroes yeah, I got scared of them. You know what type of people so we got scared. They looked scary. Especially the girls that's why we used to get scared. I mean you know young girls were with us too and screaming out at them and we used to get scared because we were small. No young girls made friends with them because they got scared. No boyfriends or girlfriends because they got really scared of them. The girls were scared of the negroes. I don't know if the girls made friends with the white men, I don't know about that one.
I didn't see the actual fighting. No air raids only we were there and heard that this Regi Guise they shot him here at Ahioma because they said air raid and he didn't go into the shelter but he was looking up when they let the bomb go and it killed him. They killed him. But I mean those little parts I can't, I don't know anymore. Sorry I can't remember any other stories because it was too long ago and I was too small. I think the war was okay, frightening but we went right away so like we were safe there. I was safe but we always worry about my father working in the ANGAU and my real father too but we lost my real father after the war.
My daddy was a carrier during the war. He was helping that old lady Maiogaru. He was with Maiogaru. His photo is still here. They had photos of them and Edward Guise was amongst them. And then in that monument you'll see them there with their names. My father's photo is there too. And then they gave us their medals or what and how many times they told us to go down to those people who will come up and give us money when we go and nothing. I said I won't get it till I die.
But they said the Japanese they should give us this money but it's time they tell us . all my friends used to go, they think it's like they gonna give us the money but when they go up there and come back and I asked and they said no nothing, I said you see me I don't want to go. Already how many years they said oh all those people they'll come and we give them their money but nothing so I said stop lying.
My father played a prominent role because his name is on the monument but I don't recall his stories and I didn't find out any stories of him from others but they told us stories about him but we are not really sure but stories like what he was doing like helping that old woman Maiogaru. That's the only story I was told and remembered. Because they said they helped a lot of wounded soldiers and I mean they need men to help so they were helping. Men to carry the soldiers because the women couldn't carry. But very nice lady too that Maiogaru. Very brave lady. She went through all those hard work.
Okay. Thank you very much.

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“Norris Cardigan - Oral History interview recorded on 30 March 2017 at Waema, Milne Bay Province,” Voices from the War, accessed May 22, 2024,