Damaris Asi - Oral History interview recorded on 02 April 2017 at Lakurumau, New Ireland Province
Mrs Asi shared accounts of what she first saw when the Americans bombed the places around her village because the Japanese were based here- Lakurumau. She witnessed these as a little girl. Her family fled into the bush. She also told of how the villagers were told of the end of the war.
We are conducting another interview at Lakurumau village at Lavinpin. The 2nd of April 2017. And we are now talking with Damaris Asi.
Damaris, tell us your experience of the war as well as what your father, mother, grandparents or others have told you about things that happened during the war.
Which country came to fight?
I think it was the Americans.
America and Japan?
The Japanese were already here.
Where were they? Was it here?
I think the Americans fought using planes.
They came on planes, some shouted from the sea and fired guns toward us. We saw them and ran away into the bushes.
Something was shot at us; was it mortar? I'm not sure what a mortar is but they were aimed at us from the sea. Yeah, such things.
So did you run away?
We fled to the bushes while some hid among rocks. We stayed together, with our parents.
We stayed there for a long time. Then a white man arrived in a plane. He had newspapers with him and was shouting, ''The war has ended, the war has ended!''
So we got together and were told that the war had ended.
The Japanese fled. They all ran away so we returned home.
Did the Japanese take people to work for them?
They surrendered to the Japanese.
And worked as guards.
Did they work as guards?
Yes. They provided security at night.
Was it the men who worked as guards or were there females too?
Not the women, only the men.
If they hesitated to work as guards, what did they do to them?
Nogat bai.olsem oli was long nogut sampla kam long nait.
They provided security for their things.
Not women as they fled already. The Japanese beheaded people; those called Kenpeitai and Lemetai. The Kenpeitai especially, were known for their cruelty in beheading people except for the navy.
But here at Lakurumau, no one has bad been beheaded.
Which people did they behead?
The men. If ever they were angry at them or if they disobeyed. The Japanese told them, ''if you do not obey, and if you come here, your neck will be chopped.''
But not at Lukurumau; its elsewhere.
They brought it here.
Oli go pulim ikam lo hia.
Mmm. So they go and behead there.
Did you see any other foreigners before the Japanese arrived?
Here. At Lukurumau. New Ireland, Kavieng.
No, only the Japanese.
When the Japanese arrived, did they teach your people their language?
No. They attended school but we did not learn their language.
However, my parents could hear Japanese language.
My parents understood the Japanese language but not me as I was quite young then.
Did you attend the Japanese school??
I did when I was small but then as time went on we just left and did gardens and cooked for them.
So when did you attend Japanese school?
Was it after the war?
No, during the war.
We were living in the bush before we went to Luburua and Kanagea where we just did gardens and cooked for the workers.
Are there any more stories of the war you can remember as told to you?
Stories of how they got people to work make gardens for them or did other things?
They made gardens. The women were told to plant kaukau gardens, corn garden.
Food was in abundance, especially kaukaus and corn.
For the Japanese?
There's a place where they behead people.
Where is that?
No em ya ol Siapan ya
There's a place where they behead people and step them on the ground.
Mmm, here at Lakurumau plantation?
Those men were bad but the Memetai and navy were good; they don't mistreat people.
Thank you for your stories. We are pleased with you. Thank you.