Wednesday, April 25, 2012

PNG fallen honoured at dawn service in Rabaul


The suffering of Papua New Guineans during World War II has been recognised at an Anzac Day dawn service in Rabaul. 
More than 250 people, including many Australian visitors, attended the service, which also commemorated the Japanese invasion of the New Guinea islands and the sinking of the prison ship Montevideo Maru in 1942.
President of the Rabaul and Montevideo Maru Society, Mr Phil Ainsworth, told those gathered that many Papua New Guineans had lost their lives in a war that was not of their making.
'They loyally supported the Allies in many endeavours, as soldiers, policemen, carriers and labourers,' Mr Ainsworth said.
'As a result, an unknown number of Papua New Guineans were murdered by the Japanese.'
The service was attended by two former Australian coastwatchers - Matt Foley, 91, from the Gold Coast, and Jim Burrowes, 89, from Melbourne.
Both had volunteered during World War Two to serve in Japanese-occupied New Britain and report on enemy activity in the region.
Mr Burrowes said it was only the wonderful support he received from Papua New Guineans that made it possible to operate behind the lines.
Mr Burrowes lost two brothers during WWII, including one who died on the Montevideo Maru.
The prison ship was transporting 1053 Australian prisoners of war and civilian internees from Rabaul to Hainan Island when it was sunk by a US submarine near the Philippines.
All prisoners perished in what remains Australia's worst maritime tragedy.
A monument to those who died is due to be dedicated by the governor-general at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra on July 1 this year, 70 years to the day that the Montevideo Maru was sunk.

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