Selip Igai - Oral History interview recorded on 15 June 2017 at Salamaua, Morobe Province, PNG


Selip Igai tells the story of his parent's experiences during WWII.



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.

[Interviewer]: Sir we want to take a film of you, if you agree say yes, if not, say no.
[Interviewer]: Ok sir you can tell us your name and where you are from.
My name is Selip Igai, and I’m from this place and I was born in 1938 July 5th. I was 5 years old when the war came.
The Japanese had a tunnel under this mountain. They lived and set up their weapons here. And when the Australians and Americans arrived here, they bombed them, and they ran away into the kunai bushes.
Some of them ran away and escaped. Some came and hid with us the natives at gun point. The white men got their place and bombed them on the mountain. The Americans felt sorry for us, so they took us with them on their barge to a place called Mou at Morobe.
When we got down from the barge the Japanese tried to bomb us. They’ve put white flags on their aeroplanes. When they came flying down, they threw their bombs and flew away. The barge carried black men.
They fought on and on and after fighting, the government brought us back. And the few (Japanese) who remained were killed by our fathers in their garden over there. The Japanese used to go up there and steal food from our gardens.
When our fathers saw them, they killed them there. Some of them followed this truck to Wau.
The Japanese went back to Madang and went to Rabaul and went back to their own country. I searched for them here and there. And even further but I couldn’t find them.
They set up a bridge over there. They used to go up and down that bridge and fought over there.
The soldiers buried heads of their dead on the ground over there and now that place is being marked. Later when the barge came they took it to some place I don’t know. My story comes to an end now. I cannot tell more stories because I was just a small boy then and couldn’t remember much about the war.
There was a woman from Launakanu who was pregnant then. And when a bomb exploded, a tree fell on top of that lady and pierced her belly and poor lady, she died. Also, an old guy from Launakanu was killed by a fallen tree. The accidents happened at the same site under that mountain over there. These stories I heard from my elders. I think that’s all the stories I have to tell.

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Deakin University
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“Selip Igai - Oral History interview recorded on 15 June 2017 at Salamaua, Morobe Province, PNG,” Voices from the War, accessed May 30, 2024,