Dago Philemon - Oral History interview recorded on 25 March 2017 at Wagawaga, Milne Bay Province


Mr Dago Philemon tells the story of his father who was recruited by the Papuan Infantry Battalion as a soldier 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.

Continuous recording from Darume Falaniko
There was recruitment for men to join and help in the war so he was recruited to be in the PIB from this area. The one we are talking about is my father's elder brother Iuliu Philemon but they call him Giligili. He's from Wagawaga (Ealeba side). My father was the second last born. When our grand mum got married first, our mother's father. And then grand mum got married again and that's my father. Her elder brother helped in the war.
He was recruited to join the PIB and they went down to Moresby for training. It was war so the training was short, they just show them how to shoot, few basics and then they went off. So from there when he finished they sent him to Buna, front line. From there him and one of this Gwavili guy, when they came back he married the Gwavili . the man is from Wagawaga too and the father is from Wagawaga and his mother is from Gwavili. When they came back he got married that Gwavili man's cousin sister.
He was held up by these Japanese and dad walked behind him and just shot the Japanese guy down. He shot him with the bayonet.
Something that he used but I don't know we couldn't believe it but he told us that he used a rope to put it in the gun to shoot with and he did kill some Japanese. He used a special vine to stuff into the barrel of the gun and used it to shoot. He ran out of bullets so he used the vine in the gun and used it as a bullet and he started to shoot. He didn't tell us how many Japanese he killed. But he was assigned to be the first scout. He was number one man who goes and find out and then the other troops come behind. So he also check and see what's happening then he move the soldiers in. that's his job. That's why I don't know they gave him how many medals more than his friends. He was awarded about five or six medals. He was a tough and big built guy. Among his brothers he was the tallest.
I don't know how he felt by helping in the war but like they were happy to join and help the Australians to fight the war. But he said when they feel like killing a man, they want to kill more. That's what he was telling us. If you kill one enemy, you will want to hunt for more and kill them. That was his first time to join in act where he had to kill humans. Like I said when they were recruited, the war was already on the move so they trained them maybe one week or two weeks just basics only, use the gun, get it up and shoot or use whatever and then they were sent out.
From here that's himself and Gwavili one is Dasi. Kotoia is when the war is about to finish when he joined so he didn't take part in any fighting activity. He's from Maiwara but he got married to a Wagawaga woman. He was the last person who was recruited after them Kotoia was recruited but when he was moving in the war ceased. So he didn't do much, only dad and Dasi they were in the fighting zone.
When my father returned from the war and when we ask him about the war, he just tell us how the war was. He enjoyed telling stories about the war, how he joined and . they enjoyed telling stories about the war because we have not seen the war so he told us how they joined and fought. But like I said he was assigned as the number scout so how he moved to observe on the enemies that were coming in then he make signs to his friends to move in. that's part of his job.
So he was happy in telling us his stories when we ask him. How's the war? He says we feel good when we fight .
He said it is because of our mothers that we joined to fight the war. And nobody was killed, all of them returned. So all of them that were recruited from Huhu, when they went for war, all of them returned. Nobody died. People in the Huhu area were recruited to help in the war. Like they were selected, from here they got dad . They came recruiting and some of them went, two or three brothers were interested in joining. So dad went with his brother but they said no, no we are only recruiting one from each family. So one has to remain and one went. Some of them stayed back and one male was picked from each family to join.
They had to consult their mothers first before they were taken. They didn't worry too much about consulting the fathers.
He was young, about sixteen that time when he was recruited to join. When he returned then he got married. Only the elder one was married so the daughters were born at Sagarai. He was the third born. He was married before he went for war. His elder daughter died already. He was married and already had his first born daughter when he joined to fight.
As his child, I take pride in my father's story and that he took part in the war so we are part and parcel to the war. So when they ask me, what have you done and I say, 'my father went to war and he helped win the war.'
Thank you.

Click to show/hide Additional Interview Details

Family Relationships


Dago Philemon

Interviewee Gender

Interview Date


Interview Duration


Interview Translator

Download Files

Rights Holder

Deakin University. All rights reserved.





“Dago Philemon - Oral History interview recorded on 25 March 2017 at Wagawaga, Milne Bay Province,” Voices from the War, accessed May 22, 2024, https://pngvoices.deakin.edu.au/items/show/359.