By MALUM NALU
A new book, Nameless Warriors, launched on Remembrance Day on July 23 by former PNG Defence Force Commander and now PNG Ambassador to Indonesia, Peter Ilau, tells the story of the “nameless warriors” for fought for PNG during World War 11.
Nameless Warriors, written by Lahui Ako, describes the life of one of PNG’s last remaining WW11 veterans, Ben Moide.
|Nameless Warriors: The Ben Moide Story is selling for K80 at UPNG Bookshop.|
Fitting, it was launched on the 70th anniversary of the first engagement by PNG and Australian forces against the invading Japanese in WWII.
Out of the chaos and death that followed came the enduring heroism of the Kokoda Trail, and the special relationship that has bound PNG and Australia ever since.
One of the bloodiest campaigns of the Second World War began 70 years ago, on July 23, 1942
And it has forever sealed the relationship between Australia and Papua New Guinea.
It was on this day, in 1942, that Japanese troops landed on the northern coast of New Guinea and unexpectedly began to march over the Owen Stanley Ranges with the intent of capturing Port Moresby.
Had they succeeded, the mainland of Australia would have come under dire threat.
July 23 - Remembrance Day - marks the 70th anniversary of the first engagement between the opposing troops on July 23, 1942, and from that engagement, as the Australian force was progressively outnumbered, began the long fighting withdrawal over the Owen Stanley Range.
“We fought, but according to the bulk of the taubadas (white men), we remained nameless, we were just the native scout or the Papua guide to them,” Moide says in the book.
“Still, to the gallant few who addressed us by name, I owe them my undying gratitude for treating us as mates.
“But the fact remains, without the help of all those nameless warriors and carriers, who braved the sickness, rain, mud, hunger and despair and enemy of the campaign, all would have surely been lost.”
Moide ran away from home to join the Papuan Infantry Battalion at the age of 16 in 1940.
In July 1942, he was part of the PIB platoon that ambushed the Japanese at Awala.
The taubadas’s order to fire on the advancing enemy, and the ensuing action, propelled these mostly nameless warriors into the annuls of PNG history.
From Awala, from Kokoda to Deniki, to the Opi and Warriors rivers, and the Scarlet Beach landings, Ben Moide beat a busy track with his comrades before returning home in 1944 to act as a PIB instructor and final demob in 1945.
Life after the war proved difficult as the PIB veterans struggled to find their feet in a society that had passed them by.
But Moide perserveres and starts a family and legacy that saw him drive Administrator Murray for a while before he became Dr Gunther’s drives to the Waigani Swamp to spy out land for a learning institute.
Moide was a member of the Hanuabada rugby league build-up in the 1950s, was a member of the mighty Magani outfit in 1961-1962, and was employed with San Miguel and SP Brewery before retiring in 1991.
Nameless Warriors is one of the very few books written by Papua New Guineans on PNG wartime history, and should be embraced by everyone, especially this generation which continues to take their freedom for granted.
Author Lahu Ako, hailed from the large Motuan village of Hanuabada, in the Naational Capital District.
This is his third book.
His first was Upstream: Through Endless Sands of Blessing (2007), which was followed closely by A Logohu in China (2007).
Nameless Warriors: The Ben Moide Story. By Lahui Ako. University of PNG Press. Port Moresby, 2012. 246 pages. K80 from University of PNG Bookshop.