Margo Doilegu - Oral History interview recorded on 06 April 2017 at Alotau, Milne Bay Province


Margo Doilegu talks about her childhood memories of what she and her family experienced when the War came to Milne Bay. She also talks about Maiogaru Taulebona.



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 Margo Doilegu taped on the 6th of April 2017 at Alotau town. Interviewed by Anne Dickson-Waiko, Elizabeth Taulehebo and Keimelo Gima.
I was five years [when the war came]. I was staying there across on the other side of the Bay, Gamadoudou. That's one of the villages there. My parents were Pastors, teachers there [Mission Teachers]. So when we heard about the war, you know awareness was on that time. My father died on Kwato Island so we have to go for the burial and when we came the awareness was on so we packing our things getting ready to go. We planned for some to move over to Buhutu, some went to Naura, right inland. And some of us have to go over to the other side of the Bay, Huhuna, Guga and those areas. That's Maramatana side. That is the safest place of all. Because it's in the map that war is not on that side. And that is the safe place to move.
I went with my mother. My mother was a widow, three of us. my brother is about seven years old and I was [five years] and my little sister, Lowesi's mum is about one or two years old. We had a hard time you know without our father. So my mother was a widow and she has to you know she was so strong to . you know we have to live all by ourselves. Only two boxes with all our good things we have to take that and come away to Divinai. We went to Divinai and while we are waiting there, the awareness was still on; it was very .getting worse. But when we were small, we are so excited to see the war. We are happy because you know the food when bombed the ship, one of the ship that carries cargo the Army, they shot that ship and food is everywhere, apples and pack of food like tea and sugar, milk everything is inside. Biscuits and we carry our bags and just go and pack, pack and we are so excited to see them you know this little what they call them, those little single pilots you know.
They were fighting with Americans or Australians and we say, 'oh Japanese, Oh Japanese, Oh.' We are supporting, 'oh Australians, oh Australians.' but we didn't know and our mothers they had to come and hurry up, pack and go. But we are exciting about those foods, apples and . we are not hungry.
About, maybe awareness was on for few, six months and so we were there for two months. And that's where this pilot was shot. One of the pilots was shot. He had to come right up, swim right up to where our place is. And he was there for nearly week. At Divinai beach, not Divinai but another village next to Divinai. One of my uncle found him, found him with all . you know all sores everywhere, you know what we call those sand flies, those little insects. They did in the . digging his sores and flies and he just put his head on the I mean one of the sandbank and then one man was, one of my uncles walking down and he found him. And then he came and told the community to go down and bring him up. And so he was looked after by Maiogaru.
At that time you know Maiogaru was at the hospital, Mission hospital, just a small Aidpost. And my mother was cook for that patient, that wounded man and Maiogaru was the Nurse. You know they have to come and all bound him up, right up, everywhere. Right up, only the face. Yeah [saw him]. We were looking after him so we saw him because we used to go and sing songs and choruses. And he's happy to have children around. His arm was still there but all was . burnt. Burnt and he looked so ugly. Everything was so . I should have known [his name]. I should have asked my mother that time. That's one of the thing I don't like, maybe people at Divinai would know his name but all the older people have gone, that one no people .
Okay then one day the Japanese are landed at Wahuhuba and they were walking down trying to get to Gehua, Kainako because the Americans are coming that way. And Japanese were just close to our village Divinai here at Bou. Bou and the . We were at Divinai but we heard that they were coming at Bou . And so we have to move. My mother was cooking kaukau for that wounded man and Maiogaru has to say, 'I think Lele, my mother's [name is] Lele. 'Lele we have to move this .' He told us, 'please just leave me', the wounded man. Just leave me. I am a, what you know . but you have to escape. You have to go. I can just stay back' I am a what, I don't care whether they come and . I just . but Maiogaru said, 'no .' carry him and put him in the drain. They got a little mattress and cover with a little bed . what they call those army . [hurricane lamp] with his kaukau and water bottle and they cover him with coconut leaves and then on top they put rubbish. And then we ran away. We went up for one whole day, one night. And lucky that my mother cooked some kaukau in the billy can and she carried for all the children and have to feed them.
Some of them [people], they are not ready. They got just mat and lucky that time it was no rain. And then the men used to come and watch them. They killed pigs and chicken. They made a big feast. Those Japanese. They killed pigs and chickens and not only that but they destroyed some of the things. They just put their rubbish everywhere. They destroyed our pots too and all these. And the next day, they send the men down to spy whether they are still there. They went and they are still there but they are packing and then they waited till five o'clock, four o'clock, and then they start moving. Night. Evening. They have to move in the evening because some armies are already there too at Hihila. You know Hihila Plantation. . really so many of them. That's the time my brother Aron and other boys they used to go down and cook for them, cook for army. [Cook for] our Army [Australian].
One time I remember, there was a movie on and that movie was about you know about this uh African movie for Americans, [sings] 'weere you there when they crucified the Lord', that eh . so we all went down. Only my mother and them went and they stop us not to go. Not for children but we just force ourselves to go down. Our mother went and she didn't know that we were there too. We were there and it was uh what we call uh Japanese were looking, you know searching around so they put blackout, lights off. And the movie stopped. Air raid, air raid. Air raid was on. Everybody was . no lights on in the villages. No lights. And they came 'ooooooo .' they were . and then my mother was so very . to move back to Divinai. And then that's the time we have to move to the other side of the Bay.
When we went to Huhuna and Guga and there's no gardening and during the time, three, four months we live on coconut, on chestnuts and greens. No, No, ANGAU didn't help us with food. Nothing. We just survive with our, you know whatever is there. Our people there, Guga people they don't share their garden foods. We just live on fruits and . I remember my father, oh my mother got married again to one of our Pastors at Divinai. Beniyamina. His name is Beniyamina. And we are lucky that he made garden for us. and the garden was, ha that time was one month old. He said, 'Margo carry our basket, lets go and . and our potatoes are not [ready yet]. The young ones but we have to you know . and then we went up and sometimes is coconut, what we call them embryo. We cook that with greens and have it. So when we went down we washed the kaukau, we don't peel them just wash them and mix them with our greens and [cook].
Oh yeah I did not complete that story. Because we were going to run away so you know Maiogaru has a very strong, she has confidence that she has to look after . have to paddle across to Gamadoudou, not Gamadoudou, Gwavili. Gwavili is a general hospital for all Army for the wounded. So she put it out [announce] at the community meeting so one of the man said, 'alright I'll come with you.' so they did the same thing. They put little platform underneath the canoe, outrigger and they laid the mat and then the wounded man slept underneath and on top they put leaves and pot, cooking pots, firewood and you know like village people. and then they start paddling. Maiogaru is the one that you know . and that man paddle. So one hour, one and half hour they made it to go to Gwavili and they left the wounded man there and they paddle back. During the day [they paddled] and these planes came and you know the Japanese they go like this . They were watching at the white people there but they saw the black people and they said, 'oh this couple are trying to move away across the Bay' so they didn't do anything. Because they cover him with . Kidiloni and Maiogaru [paddled over]. My uncle Kidiloni from . [He helped Maiogaru] yeah to paddle across to . [my uncle] my father's side, my father's cousin brother.
But also when we went across that side, the Army used to come around that side, our Army, ''barges, barges coming.'' And then they come out, oh, this army you know they want to go also for young girls and our councillor has to put young girls away from them. When they are coming, they say, 'young girls everybody had to move away.' Because they don't act you know . But sweets when they arrive they give sweets to children. when we the army we rush come and say, 'ay! Lucky, we are going to have some.'
[Comment on the wounded solider and Maiogaru: the soldier, he was in a stage where he could not feed himself, so you have to feed him, he was washed], yes that Australian man. Yes Maiogaru had to you know take him [to use the loo .] . And every morning when time for meals, we go and sing for him. I still remember our song .'Two little eyes to look to God.' ''Two little eyes to look to God, two little ears to .'' He loved that song. And also 'Jesus died for all the children,' red, black and white children, all the red . He loves that and he smiles like we help him to you know [recover], yeah with the children. He really loves it. When she was going to paddle, we are dropping tears for him.
[I just want to go back to that night that's you left him in the drain and you went out: the next day when you came back, how was he?] Oh, he was okay. He was smiling at us and Maiogaru said, 'come on man', she put him back into . You know she's a very strong woman. Oh yeah. Men had to come and assist us to carry him very, very gently and put him in the canoe gently. We say goodbye. So that's the story.
We can still remember but my age group but this time young people we didn't tell, I mean we should be telling them the history about how we carry . And after two years when we came back, Kwato school started so we all went up to Kwato Island, 1945, '46, '47.
No, they [Guga people] did not [assist us while we were there for three months]. Yeah, yeah [they were friendly with us after the three months]. They were family, yes [sharing food]. Yeah, they treat us well. But some of them who have big gardens, they can share some [food] because some, their ground there it's so rocky. Yeah, grassland. Huhuna there. Huhuna bit side is okay. So what my daddy has to do is to put all the stones, gravel out and then dig right down to the soil and then plant the kaukau .
And also my mother, my mother is like nursing, she know how to help mothers to give birth, so she does that. She's a pastor, also teacher and helping, like our parents were our mother say trained in a mission so help mothers to give birth. I can't remember [how many mothers she helped during the war]. I try that one time down at Gurney, one of the Agaun patients she was [in] labour for a week and she can't give birth so the blood could not . yeah, she's trying to have baby [deliver] but she can't and there's no plane or nothing and then they rang, rang and helicopter went up and brought him [her] down. I was on my way to Moresby and then Chris Abel say, 'Margo, hurry up come, come.' I was trying to go and they said, 'there's a mother [who] want to give birth up there,' you look up there so I said alright bring her into the men's toilet. There was an old Papua New Guinea flag at the corner. We just lay it down. They are very poor. They have no clothes, nothing. First time I did it myself. And that's where I learnt a bit. That's uh just in '70s.
He [stepfather] was a pastor, continue [during the war]. He really loves us. This man like he cares for us. we are lucky to have him. I wish all the men like him today. When we see our country today men are not doing their very best. We can't blame them but they didn't get the message. So I got many experiences during the Bougainville Crisis I was telling the men to lay down their guns luckily no one fired. I went right up to the BRA [Bougainville Revolutionary Army]. They are the ones living right up . where Francis Ona use to stay.
Well I think it's good. I think but the thing uh we had all our land was destroyed, concrete everywhere even this KB land, concrete everywhere. I think this house [her house] under the concrete and they dug only the . all these are concretes everywhere and we hardly plant. But lucky because the water up here it comes underneath. It was water was this way down and we are living on top of the big river here. And then Mr Abel was here, the founder of our Church, Kwato Church, he went and told our parents, fathers to go up and block the . and change that water to go where the gravel pitch is. So everybody was bitter about the water .
I mean we are not happy because we have to come and start all over again. All over again. But I don't know whether third war will be ., I don't think we run away, we just have to because they were atom bombs.
Oh Sikana. No, no [never heard the story of him]. I know only Eli, Eli. Eli Dickson. That's the one, [I'm] not clear but somebody he borrowed it [story] and then . Uh, Japanese were coming about this land KB. They came to Ahioma, Wagawaga and they made him, everybody ran away to the mountains but they put the uh . the guns or shells, what they call. bullets. You know they making like a coat very heavy and they made him to carry that and they took him like their prisoner, wherever they go, he has to be there. They came to one of this river, from there and the Australians are already coming up with tanks. And then they shoot. When they shoot, everybody went down like this on the ground, Japanese. And that's the time, he undid this and he went. And that time it was a very black like rain and rain, very heavily. It's like a mist everywhere. And that's the time, he went up this way. Oh they were asking him, ''where is Giligili? Giligili is right down there, right down over there the other side.'' So they are trying to go but Giligili is just there. So he was telling them Giligili is right down there. But Giligili was just here. ''where is Giligili?'' Giligili [is on] the other side. and then that time Australians they are shooting. Everybody went down on the ground and bullets were coming and then chance to run up to the mountains and then he went that way to Rabe, he told Army, Japanese are here. So the war was stopped at Kainako where the War Memorial is by a very young Australian man. Already the bullets were in his body but he just took the Australian flag and ran. Ran so fast and then placed it on that and then war was over.
Thank you.

Click to show/hide Additional Interview Details

Family Relationships


Margo Doilegu

Interviewee Gender

Interview Location

Interview Date


Interview Duration


Download Files

Rights Holder

Deakin University. All rights reserved.




“Margo Doilegu - Oral History interview recorded on 06 April 2017 at Alotau, Milne Bay Province,” Voices from the War, accessed May 30, 2024,