Sapiedi Loiyabada - Oral History interview recorded on 24 March 2017 at Gamadoudou, Milne Bay Province


Mr Sapiedi Loiyabada was 15 years-old when the war came to Milne Bay and this family were evacuated from their village. His uncle Inudei was recruited to be a PIB solider.



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 the second recording done at Gamadoudou on the 24 March 2017, for Sapiedi Loiyabada.
You will first tell your story about the war and later your uncle's story.
How old were you when the war reached your home?
I was born in 1927 and in 1942, the war came. I was 15 years old at that time. I was living at Kilakilana village when the war came.
When the war came, it was war and it was fought between the Americans and the Japanese. The Japanese landed at Wahuhuba and the Americans had their base camp next to Waigani at Giligili. Waigani and down to Alotau, Milne Bay, that's where the war was fought. There were a lot of planes and steamers. There was one steamer that was bombed on the island.
We all ran away to Suau. Some of us went to Sivalai while others went to Modewa. Before that, the government did inform us about the war so we were all aware of it. My mother, father and my siblings and I went to Sivalai and lived there during the war.
In 1946 [1945], the war ended and we all returned to our villages.
At Sivalai, the government asked to remain until the Americans and the Japanese left before we returned to our village at Kilakilana.
My mother passed away while we were at Sivalai and I returned with my father, my brother and my sisters. My other brother passed away too so he was also buried at Sivalai. He got sick and passed away. When we returned to our village, we were informed that we will receive compensation for the damages done to our properties.
We were paid K10, 000 for the damages done to our properties. The death of my brother was compensated with K1, 000. That was done by the government. Those were the amounts of money we received for damages done to our homes, pigs and betelnuts and other things. The government came and paid us with money.
I was scared when the war came because some of things I never saw in my life and for the first time I saw them like plenty planes and steamers. Bombs were thrown and they lit up the some of the steamers, especially the small islands in the bay.
The Americans shot the Japanese and the Japanese shot the Americans.
I remember seeing one plane being shot down by the Americans at Yahu, over at Sagarai side. I saw plenty soldiers, like the Japanese, the Americans and the Negroes [Black Americans]. I made friends with some American soldiers and the Negroes sometimes come to our home [at Sivalai]. They were good to us.
The soldiers however did not interfere with our women. They showed respect to them. They asked the women to weave handicrafts for them to buy with money or sometimes we exchange with other goods.
In 1945 the war ended and 1946, we returned and stayed at Buhutu. 1947, we arrived at our village. By then the Americans and Japanese have left Gamadoudou already.
I am the eldest in the family. After the war my father and my siblings and I returned home. My father acted as both our father and mother after our mother passed away. He took good care of us and provided our food, that's after the war. While we were at Sivalai, our food was supplied by the government [ANGAU]. Food such as rice and flour.
I used to think of my home and miss it a lot while at Sivalai. I used to wonder what will happen to all my things that I left behind.
The Japanese landed at Wahuhuba with their planes and Sikana carried . and travelled on foot towards Waema where he was killed. Two American brothers, planned to kill him, so while he was crossing the river, they killed him.
The government recruited my uncle Inudei, Mr Smith enlisted him. He was informed that he will fight as a soldier. He was sent to Rabaul. From Rabaul. He was sent to Buna then to Kokoda and he fought there. He was at Kokoda and the war ended. And he returned home. He helped the Americans to fight. He joined the Papuan Infantry Battalion [PIB] to fight in the war.
He told me stories about the war when he returned home. But he did not tell me if he killed any enemy soldiers and if he did then how many he killed. He told me that the war was with the Japanese. At the end of the war, he came home and the government did pay him some compensation. He kept his documents but they were destroyed in a boat that sank. If not, the documents should be still here and I would have shown them as proof to you. But sadly he was not given any medal for taking part.
He was happy that he participated in the war. He regarded the Australians as his friends and the Japanese as his enemies. I remember that my uncle was a young man when he joined to fight in the war.

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“Sapiedi Loiyabada - Oral History interview recorded on 24 March 2017 at Gamadoudou, Milne Bay Province,” Voices from the War, accessed July 17, 2024,