This interview is with Laudiyole Lolo and she will retell her war time story and experience.
Her story is recollected by her daughter Milio Lolo.
Her uncle participated during the war as a labourer. He was a young man and the government law came around that they needed labourers to help in the war so her uncle was one of the recruits. Only two of them, her uncle and her mother. So her mother was here and her uncle was taken away to labour at Giligili. He was working at Balaga as a labourer and they moved up to Ahioma. They used to load drums and transport them from one location to another. One time he was loading the drums and one rolled down and killed him instantly. His body could not be brought home here because its war and people from here ran away to the other side so her uncle was buried at Ahioma.
The war was still on and he was working there. He was a labourer so I am not sure what specific tasks he was given but I was told that he was assigned to loading and offloading drums and barrels from the vehicles. I also don't know what things were inside the drums but I think they were war things. One of the drum accidently fell and hit him and he died instantly. He died so he was buried at Ahioma. My mother's mother's brother, so it's like my grandmother's brother. My mother's biological mother already passed away before the war so she was looked after by her aunt and they all ran away to the other side, North coast. They took refuge at Hiliwau.
During the war . the war was on when her uncle was killed so you know who would bother to deal with the dead so they had to bury him there. But they heard the news of his death but war so they would not come for the body for proper burial. They were also so they stayed there. Like you know war so who knows how they buried him, whether it was a deep grave or may be a shallow grave and they just dump his body there and buried him. To us is like his body was dumped at a foreign place.
He was buried at Ahioma by different people at their graveyard.
He was recruited to work for one year but we don't know how many months or how long he worked before the accident. The accident occurred anytime during that one year and he was killed so his friends could not bring his body home but buried him there. They heard of the news of his death but then what more will they do but to mourn over his absent body which was buried in another place without proper burial in our cemetery.
After the war his friends returned home and retold the accident but how, it was war so they were all busy.
When the war came, the government instructed them to go over and live there. Some lived with relatives while others made new friends to live with because we are human beings and we think differently so some of the people were kind enough to take them in and provide shelter and food to them. They were living and eating food provided by the people there, but then the food there was not enough to feed all of them every day because they were a lot of them. While they were there, some of the men used to return here and look for whatever food they could find in their gardens and also like that old man (Lolo Tubaiyodi) mentioned, a barge sometimes called in there to supply them with some rations. So the food supplied supplemented whatever food they had to live on. Foods like rice, bread and biscuits.
We were supplied with rations once in a month and it was not enough because there were a lot of people living there. Some of the people here went to Suau. The food was not enough because they used to distribute rice by pouring the grains onto laplaps and advised us to ration it well. Even sugar and biscuits. There were no dishes so we had to spread laplaps and our food was rationed out. There were many of us.
We did not see any Japanese coming that side. The Japanese ran away this way but not to where we were living and many of them were killed by the Australians so we did not see any on that side. I would not say there were many; I think just a few of them. Our mothers who left their grass skirts here were worn by the Japanese to disguise themselves. They also carried coconut baskets and were pretending to be like the village women. Some of them carried clay pots on their heads. They were doing that to fool the Australians so they could not shoot them. They were playing tricks on the Australians.
After the war, they all returned home here. All their things were destroyed when they returned.
While they were living on the other side, they were just staying because that's other people's land. They were not making gardens. They were only helping the people in whatever activities they requested them. They were also sharing their food supplied by the government with the people there. The government was only supplying us with food stuff like rice, sugar and biscuits and nothing else. They were stored in the drums.
The government stopped supplying us food when the war ended here so we had to look for our own food elsewhere. The government was supplying food during the war and they stopped when the war ended. The people who went to Suau were also supplied food by the government. The barge used to call in and the village councillor used to organise the people to collect their rations of rice, sugar and biscuits.
All our gardens were destroyed during the war but there were some food seedlings or plants left behind from the gardens and we also brought some seeds from the people we were living with and we replanted our food gardens. We were away for one year but some of the food had new growths, like yams, taro and banana seedlings. As I said, all our food gardens were destroyed when we returned. The government was not supplying us food when we returned so we had to feed on whatever was left while we planted new gardens. We were feeding on bush fruits and wild nuts like chestnuts and sago. We used to make sago and feed on it.
I was a small girl when the war came and to me it was very bad, and it was scary also.
They were really scared too. I think they were wondering why different people came to their land to fight a war which was not theirs but you know they were young so they would not understand the meaning of the war. They would have questioned the war had they been mature enough. They did not understand the meaning of the war.
But we had to run away because that's what the government told us to do. The government warned us so we had to run away. And after the war, the government asked us to return to our homes.
The government had to compensate us for the damages done to our things and they paid us with money. War claim money that the government paid us for the damages done to our houses, clay pots and costumes and traditional materials like fishing nets, hunting nets and anything valuable that was destroyed during the war was compensated for through the war claim. We were asked to list the things damaged and the government paid us.