Annette Popoyou - Oral History interview recorded on 28 March 2017 at Kaloi, Milne Bay Province


Mrs Annette Popoyou tells the story of her brother Mr Tobby Auhewa Anania 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.

This is an interview with Annette Popoyou conducted by Anne Dickson Waiko, Keimelo Gima and Elizabeth Taulehebo at Kaloi village in Maiwara area dated on the 28 March 2017 and she's going to talk to us about her brother Tobby Auhewa Anania.
He joined in that Second World War and then he travelled from Milne Bay to Rabaul at Kokopo. He took part with the armies at Rabaul. He joined the PIB in 1942. He did not go and train anywhere. Just uh recently got them . yeah recruiting came and got him and went. He went straight to the war at Rabaul. He didn't go and train anywhere.
My brother's name is Auhewa Tobby Anania. I can't tell how he learned to handle a gun, maybe he was trained in the army because there was no army recruit [training] like that then training and after that they go to the battle. This is he was in the village and they came and got him and went so I can't tell where he was trained to use the gun. I heard stories from Alex that he actually went for training somewhere in Moresby but not for a long period of time that's what he said. And they trained him on bayonet, this knife whatever so he's very good at fighting with the bayonet.
So when they went to Rabaul there, I was listening to what our daddy was telling us about the story of the old man. He said when they went to Rabaul their enemies were still there, these Japanese were there. Actually they went through a short period of training. Probably in Moresby somewhere there. That was what our daddy was telling us. and they trained him on how to use the bayonet and he was the one who went up and, he crawled and went up and . I mean they dived, they were shooting at them from the mountain and they were in the sea and him and his other friend dived out and swam up around somewhere there and they went up and they crawled up and he was the one who went and he killed the person who was operating the machine gun. He killed him with the knife and he took over the machine gun aimed where their enemies were now and started shooting them. That was a brief story I heard from my husband because he always tells story with them. That took place in Rabaul. Actually they went for training but . they said Kokopo is where the war place was.
When he came back and after marriage he settled down and he told us the stories to us children. He really told me the fighting stories or how they went and fight in the battle there at Rabaul. After that fighting was over and the he came back again. He said he was the only survivor. Some of them, this Asalio and Dubobo and those ones joined the PIB or what they call them, came back alive. But he survived and came back again. That just a brief information but the whole story of where he trained and whatever will be from his children's children .. That's the lady I was talking about, Dorothy, but the son died already, only the adopted daughter is there. But only the adopted daughter that's the one at the hospital, she's in ward five. You'll get the full information from Dorothy there. Actually they went through a training.
He did enjoy the war but he said it's very hard to fight . the way we shoot people, died and I saw them he said about them, but I said you went for it so what will I say. Four people we shoot them, these Japanese, yah, he was telling me like that. But he said no we went for battle so we do it. Yeah he did shoot some Japanese. He did. He was the one who went up and killed the man who was using the machine and he turned that gun around at their enemies . they went right up on top of the Rabaul mountain there. And then he said we have enemies there. And how we fight against them he was telling us. How and we fight for those people, we know how to go against them, we hide and like this and like that and I said eh. You know we were children so he used to tell us in a .. He said we have to know to survive so fight against them. But I said big bro that one . but all of us went to . but you know if we are . enough to avoid the enemies then we are survive. But if we don't avoid them then we are shot. I said okay. That's how we went through he said. I said you are very smart to avoid those enemies and you have survived the Second World War and he came back again. He said some of my friends died during the world war.
It might be two or three years he was in Rabaul after the . because 1942 the Second World War came .. Maybe two years he was at Rabaul. I was not born when he went to the war. I was born in 1948.
People from this place ran away. Some went up to Naura, some right up to Nihaniha there. These places were just . nobody was staying here. All of them just went up to the mountain there. They escaped. Mostly they went up to Naura and they stayed there until the war ended and they came back again. They've been there when this cyclone came destroyed the village at Naura, flood during the war and some people lost their children when they were going across the water. Yeah they found it very hard living at Naura. They had their own gardens to survive on because they didn't provide them with any food. Naura is not far from here, a day's walk up. It's half a day's walk. Not far. It's just below the valley there not up on the mountain, flat land. The war didn't go up that way.
Mesiko is at Laviam, that's the other adopted son. His adopted children . is the other one up at Naura, and Matthew but he's using two names so. Mathew Tobby or you can Christopher Loihai because his father's name is Loihai but my brother adopted them so . Mesaki. Christopher Loihai's son is that Matthew up at Naura, Balaga and you'll get full information from them. But the real story is what Dorothy is holding the . but she's using two surnames so I don't know what name is she using at this moment. Meseko is easy to find at Laviam but inside. But in that case they can drive in, there's big road leading up. CRC church and up inside. Dorothy but at the moment she's very sick. Meseko is using Tobby. Ask the people at Laviam and they'll tell you where he's living. Say Meseko Tobby. Check where the CRC church is and inside. After the Catholic Mission. School, Catholic Mission. You come to Laviam Community Center, before the Center, you can drive in through there.
He said these Americans they treat them very well but these Australian army . but Japanese were very cruel that's what they said. When they saw these Australians they really spoiled them. They shoot them like animals they shoot them and knife them. Like chopped them or what like that. The Japanese were doing that to the Australians. Yes, they also did that to the Papuan soldiers. One of this Morima soldiers, he did that to the Japanese he was telling me like that he said one of these Morima, one who went to that Rabaul battle there, he said he shot one the Japanese, I don't know what he did. He shot him and then he split him up with the knife. He cut him into pieces. I said and you and he said no, I don't do that. I said and why that Molima he did it and he said he's really angry and he did that. I said oh. Morima they are short-tempered people and he did that to that Japanese man. I said you don't do it and I said you do it or nothing and he said no I don't do that. I just went and fight and kill and that's it. I leave them and go away.
They were looked after by this Australian army. He survived because he was, what uh, taking good care of himself and he survived from there. If he does go over head to these lot and whatever he might be shot but he followed the right rules and whatever they tell them to do it when and he survived. Some maybe they went over their . and that Molima one I was talking about they went in and they shot him. Japanese shot him and he died. He said when we go to the battle and shoot somebody he was saying don't just chop them up into pieces and walk away, that's not the way. You went to the battle, shoot them and leave him and go. If you do that you might be killed. I said how do you know, why. And he said because of what I see from this Morima man because we went and he shot that man and then we went past and they shot him to death.
Yeah, that's what he was telling me but I didn't want to say it out. Because of the mother, his mother that old lady Tamaliesa bore that brother there, my brother. So he went to the battle there and the power of the mother. The mother was with him. The story he was telling me is like this, he said we went so far and we want to go across the valley but the valley is very deep and they swing the rope across to the other side and they can't do it. And him, he went first across the rope and he told his friends, you can come across. I said how, and you went and he said my mother was there with me and I went across and I told my friends to come across. They went to the other and they asked him, Tobby how, and we came across this valley from the rope? He said no I have a small power with me so we came. From that mother all through the battle he went and survived. Because his mother was taking good care of him and he was going through the war. He might be holding onto some protection things like leaves or what but he did not tell us about them. But he said my mother was with me wherever I go. He was telling me like that. Maybe the mother gave him something to protect him during day fighting. Until when he came back the mother was still alive. When my brother came back to Waema the mother was still alive. She might have confirmed to him that she was there with him during the war. I wasn't there with them so I wouldn't tell you all about it.
I would say he was a famous man in our family when he went to fight the battle. He got the medals there and Dorothy is holding the things. Because the brother Leo died already and they are holding the medal there and she's up at ward five surgical ward. Yes I'm proud of my brother for taking part during the war. I would say that because from the mother he survived, protecting him wherever he goes. That's what he told me about the fighting there and then he came back again and got married and have children. All these ones I know them because I was with them when his children were born. I stayed with them so I know them. All those other stories from during the war and what he was doing there I don't know more about it.
Okay. All right, thank you.
He himself told us. When he sees this magololo come past. Magololo is this grass skirt made from young sago leaves and dyed in maroon and yellow. So when this thing come past he knows that the mother is with him. But she's invisible but that's the sign and he knows that the mother was with him and he feels that she's protecting him. He was with the mother and traveling around.
He continued but the story he was telling me that's the one I'm telling you. He didn't say that he missed his home or family and friends while being away. He was too busy to think about family.
He was only a young kuki boi at Giligili when this recruiting came. He was a cook for that dimdim at Giligili; I don't know uh I forgot his name. He was a cook there and lack of soldiers so the army came and got him. Recruiting for boys came and they got him and went.

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“Annette Popoyou - Oral History interview recorded on 28 March 2017 at Kaloi, Milne Bay Province,” Voices from the War, accessed June 22, 2024,