PNG 2015-10-10 – Day 8 – Popondetta to Port Moresby – A Day at Bomana with a lot of Help from the Family

A big day planned – travelling from Popondetta, visiting Bomana CWGC Military Cemetery just out of Port Moresby, McDonald’s Corner, and Owers Corner, the southern end of the Kokoda Track, before returning to Port Moresby.

There was also some military action around the Port Moresby area in WW2, although it is less well known than Kokoda, just as Milne Bay, the Northern Beaches and the Markham – Ramu, Lae, Wau and Rabaul campaigns receive far less prominence in the general public eye than Kokoda – which is not to diminish the significance of Kokoda. Despite the substantive focus on Kokoda,  only 10 Illawarra men died along the track – of the over 300 Illawarra men who died in WW2 and the 64 or more who are commemorated in Papua New Guinea Military Cemeteries.

Our first big stop was at Bomana CGWC War Cemetery, Port Moresby, where I had arranged to place a wreath from my local Woonona Bulli RSL Sub Branch.  It was emotional, as always, to speak the words of the Ode of Remembrance standing in front of the Cross at Bomana Military Cemetery as it was at Kokoda Station a few days earlier and at Lone Pine in Gallipoli in July 2014.

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.”

Previously my PNG cousin Steve Sims had photographed a couple of graves at Bomana for me, for which I was very grateful – especially as he offered to photograph any that I might have missed while we were in PNG in 2015. You have to love family for that sort of support!

I was also to lay poppies made by Woonona Girl Guides on the graves of four men in my family networks  who never made it home after WW2 :

  • McKenzie Family : Joseph Montague “Monty” Dwyer – 2/12th AIF 18th Brigade – killed at Milne Bay and initially buried there – Monty and I are descended from Woonona pioneer Alexander McKenzie who owned land near to or on the Woonona Bulli RSL site.
  • Hicks Family Connection : Allan Vincent Charles Hurlock – 2/14th AIF 21st Brigade – killed at Gona and initially buried there
  • Hicks Family : Herbert Charles “Bert” Rogers – 2/2nd AIF 16th Brigade 6th Division – killed on the Sanananda Track area and buried at Soputa before Bomana
  • Hicks Family : Lyle Hicks – 2/9th AIF 18th Brigade 6th Division – killed at Cape – killed at Cape Endaiadere near Buna and initially buried there
  • note Bert, Lyle and I are descended from Austinmer – Russell Vale pioneers James & Margaret Hicks

A big focus for me on this day was also to lay  poppies on the graves/memorials of what I thought was the 35 Illawarra servicemen who never made it home and were buried/commemorated at this Cemetery – and photographed their graves/memorials – that number is now 38 Illawarra men. My Waters Cousin Steve Sims completed the extra photos for me.

The poppies were made by several Guides from the Woonona Girl Guides Unit, as part of their service activities for their Junior Baden Powell Award – our daughter is the Guide Leader of the Unit. On our return to Australia, the aim is to upload the photographs to Find A Grave for Bomana CWGC Military Cemetery website. We lost over 300 Illawarra men in war service in WW2, including the 38  who lie, or are commemorated,  at Bomana. They had perished at Kokoda, Milne Bay, Gona, Sanananda,  Buna – Cape Endaiadere, Port Moresby, Shaggy Ridge, Bougainville, Nadzab, Madang and other places in New Guinea. After examining some of the records several years ago, I realised that Bomana at Port Moresby holds the largest number of Illawarra WW2 Servicemen’s Graves – others are buried from Egypt to England to France and beyond. PS. There are another 26 Illawarra men buried at Lae in PNG – however we didn’t get there on this trip – which makes 64 Illawarra men buried in PNG during WW2. Others in our group had their own area of focus at this almost overwhelming site.

Bomana Cemetery Port Moresby PNG

Bomana Cemetery Port Moresby PNG

A
ANLEZARK, Reginald Frederick Kurri Kurri Corrimal Paddington Papua New Guinea August 25, 1943 26 Port Moresby War Cemetery – NX28037 – 2/6th Armoured Regiment AIF – Service Record  – died 2/9th Australian General Hospital at 17 Mile out of Port Moresby – AWM Roll of Honour

B
BLAMEY, Jack Murray Dulwich Hill, NSW Wollongong Paddington Papua New Guinea November 26, 1942 Port Moresby War Cemetery, PNG – NX34853 – 2/2nd Battalion AIF (Unit Diary) – Service Record not yet digitised – died Sanananda – AWM Roll of Honour – AWM Roll of Honour

BRAY, Colin James Thirroul Petersham, NSW Paddington Papua New Guinea March 13, 1944 23 Port Moresby War Cemetery, PNG – NX97238 – 7th Provost Company AIF – Service Record  – died Markham Ramu Valleys – AWM Roll of Honour
C
CAMERON, Charles Reuben England Woonona Dapto Papua New Guinea March 1, 1945 25 Port Moresby War Cemetery, PNG – NX128145 – 2/25th Battalion AIF  (Unit Diary) – Service Record  – no photograph included in service record – died Bougainville – AWM Roll of Honour
COLLINS, Da(e)rrel George Waverley, NSW Wollongong Richmond, NSW Papua New Guinea July 29, 1940 21 Port Moresby Memorial, PNG accident  – 2988 – 11 Squadron (Catalinas) RAAF – Service Record not yet scanned  – Accident Report not yet scanned – died Solomons flight – AWM Roll of HonourDarrell Collins
CRIMMINS, Colin James Wollongong Port Kembla Dapto Papua New Guinea December 28, 1942 20 Port Moresby Memorial, PNG – NX130650 – 2/10th Battalion AIF (Unit Diary) – Service Record – no photograph in service record – died Cape Endaiadere Buna – AWM Roll of Honour
D
DICKSON, Howard Joseph Parkes Wollongong Dapto Papua New Guinea January 27, 1945 38 Port Moresby Memorial, PNG – NX125074 – 34th Battalion (Unit Diary) – 2/6th Commandos – Army Catering Corps AIF – Service Record – no photograph included in service record – died Torricelli Mountains – AWM Roll of Honour
DUFF, Gordon Wallace Auckland Corrimal Wollongong Papua New Guinea October 24, 1942 27 Port Moresby War Cemetery – NX4802 – 2/3rd Battalion AIF (Unit Diary) – Service Record –  died Kokoda – AWM Roll of Honour

H
HALE, Gordon James Adelaide Coniston Paddington Papua New Guinea November 27, 1942 23 Port Moresby War Cemetery, PNG – NX15342 – 2/3rd Battalion AIF (Unit Diary) – Service Record not yet digitised – died Sanananda – AWM Roll of Honour
HAYES, Patrick William Wollongong Wollongong Cowra Papua New Guinea May 1, 1945 19 Port Moresby War Cemetery, PNG – NX176681 – 58-59 Battalion AIF (Unit Diary) –  Service Record  – died Bougainville – AWM Roll of Honour
HAZELTON, John Martin Shellharbour Shellharbour Paddington Papua New Guinea November 20, 1942 25 Port Moresby Memorial, PNG – NX17971 – 2/1st Battalion AIF (Unit Diary) – Service Record not yet digitised – died Sanananda – AWM Roll of Honour
J
JONES, Cecil John Woonona Unknown Sydney Papua New Guinea April 3, 1944 21 Port Moresby War Cemetery, PNG – S5192 – various ships – based at HMAS Ladava Milne Bay  Navy- Service Record – no photograph included in service record – died Milne Bay – AWM Roll of Honour
L
LEGA, Arthur Lovell Bulli Redfern Forest Lodge Papua New Guinea December 19, 1942 19 Port Moresby Memorial, PNG – NGN1158 – 55-53 Battalion AIF (Unit Diary) – Service Record – no photograph included in service record – died Sanananda – AWM Roll of Honour
LEIGHTON, Lancelot Arthur Chatswood Corrimal Sandy Creek, SA Papua New Guinea January 19, 1943 21 Port Moresby Memorial, PNG – NX130129 – 2/9th Battalion – AIF  (Unit Diary) – Service Record not yet digitised  – died Cape Endaiadere Buna – AWM Roll of Honour
LUCK, John Douglas Drummoyne Clifton Dubbo Papua New Guinea February 1, 1945 22 Port Moresby War Cemetery, PNG – NX178310 – 31/51 Battalion AIF (Unit Diary) – Service Record not yet digitised – died Bougainville – AWM Roll of Honour
LUDBROOK, Gordon Keith Wollongong Penrith Paddington Papua New Guinea October 12, 1942 25 Port Moresby Memorial, PNG – NX14326 – 2/33rd Battalion AIF (Unit Diary) – Service Record not yet digitised – died Kokoda – AWM Roll of Honour
M
MARSHALL, Bernard Royston Coledale Brownville Dapto Papua New Guinea December 26, 1942 22 Port Moresby Memorial, PNG – 2/10th Battalion AIF –  NX128147 (Unit Diary) – 55-53 Battalion AIF (Unit Diary)  – Service Record – no photograph included in service record – died Sanananda – AWM Roll of Honour
McIntosh, Thomas Alic Thirroul Boggabri Gunnedah Papua New Guinea Ocober 27, 1942 21 Port Moresby War Cemetery, PNG – NX1764 – 2/2nd Battalion AIF (Unit Diary) – Service Record not yet digitised – died Kokoda – AWM Roll of Honour

McLean, George England Coledale Leichardt Papua January 5 1943 21 Port Moresby War Cemetery, PNG – N185114 – 36th Battalion AIF  (Unit Diary) – Service Record not yet digitised – died Gona – AWM Roll of Honour – – Media Stories – 1, 2, 3,
MOORE, Arthur Helensburgh Helensburgh Helensburgh Papua New Guinea December 19, 1942 20 Port Moresby Memorial, PNG  – N265786 – 55-53 Battalion AIF (Unit Diary) – Service Record not yet digitised – died Sanananda – AWM Roll of Honour
O
O’CONNOR, John Arthur West Maitland Windang Dapto Papua New Guinea December 26, 1942 24 Port Moresby Memorial, PNG – NX128149 – 2/10th Battalion AIF  (Unit Diary) – Service Record not yet digitised – Died  Cape Endaiadere Buna – AWM Roll of Honour
O’DEA, Vertred Henry Coonabarabran Thirroul Paddington Papua New Guinea October 20, 1942 24 Port Moresby War Cemetery, PNG – NX57890 – 2/2nd Battalion AIF (Unit Diary) – Service Record not yet digitised – died Kokoda – AWM Roll of Honour
P
PERRY, Maurice Randwick Kiama Paddington  – NX48930 – 7th Machine Gun Battalion AIF – Service Record – died in Milne Bay – May 12 1943 – AWM Roll of Honour – Died Aged 17 years – One of the Boy Soldiers  of WW2 – Media Stories – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8,

PURSS, Leonard William Warwick, Qld Wollongong Wollongong Papua New Guinea November 6, 1942 28 Port Moresby War Cemetery, PNG – NX4897 – 2/3rd Battalion AIF (Unit Diary) – Service Record not yet digitised – died Kokoda – AWM Roll of Honour
R
RAFTERY, Bernard Patrick Dapto Liverpool Sydney Papua New Guinea November 7, 1943 27 Port Moresby War Cemetery, PNG – 33032 – No4 Squadron (Boomerangs – Wirraways) RAAF – Service Record not yet digitised – Accident Report not yet digitised – died Nadzab to Madang – AWM Roll of Honour
RILEY, Horace Vivian, PNG Gerringong Bellevue Hill Unknown Papua New Guinea October 3, 1942 31 Port Moresby War Cemetery, PNG – N27135NX76369 – 2/5th Field Company AIF – Service Record not yet digitised – died Milne Bay – AWM Roll of Honour

ROBERTSON, James Austinmer Thirroul Paddington  Papua New Guinea January 24, 1945 23 Port Moresby War Cemetery, PNG – NX79252 – 55-53 Battalion AIF (Unit Diary) – Service Record – died Bougainville – AWM Roll of Honour

S
SALMON, John Edwin Corrimal Corrimal Greta, NSW Papua New Guinea June 10, 1945 20 Port Moresby War Cemetery, PNG – NX178967 – 58-59 Battalion AIF (Unit Diary)  – Service Record – died Bougainville – AWM Roll of Honour
SMITH, Joseph Roy Moree, NSW Wollongong Wollongong Papua New Guinea October 30, 1942 26 Port Moresby War Cemetery, PNG – NX4904 – 2/3rd Battalion AIF (Unit Diary) – Service Record – died Kokoda – AWM Roll of Honour
SMITH, Noel John Kiama Kiama Paddington Papua New Guinea June 9, 1945 31 Port Moresby Memorial, PNG – NX14999 – 31/51 Battalion AIF (Unit Diary) – S – Service Record – died Bougainville – AWM Roll of Honour

STACE, Kayal Edwin Port Kembla Tamworth Paddington Papua New Guinea April 1, 1945 19 Port Moresby War Cemetery, PNG – N466206 – 2/9th Battalion AIF  (Unit Diary) – Service Record not yet digitised – died Madang – AWM Roll of Honour
STEEL(E), George Lithgow Warrawong Paddington Papua New Guinea October 20, 1942 34 Port Moresby (Bomana) War Cemetery, PNG – NX4791NX57876 – 2/2nd & 2/3rd Battalion AIF (Unit Diary) – Service Record – died Kokoda – AWM Roll of Honour
STIBBARD, Noel Royce Sydney Wollongong Sydney Papua New Guinea September 18, 1945 24 Port Moresby War Cemetery, PNG – 42110 – 38 Squadron (Douglas) RAAF – Service Record not yet digitised – Accident Investigation Report – no photograph in service record no accident report – plane found 1970 – died Biak – Moratai – AWM Roll of Honour
W
WESTON, Frederick Frank Wollongong Earlwood, NSW Paddington Papua New Guinea September 8, 1943 Port Moresby War Cemetery, PNG – NX15257 – 2/33rd Battalion AIF (Unit Diary)  – Service Record not yet digitised – died Lae -Nadzab – AWM Roll of Honour
WHITE, James George Bowraville Corrimal Bulli Papua New Guinea December 30, 1942 22 Port Moresby War Cemetery – N265054 – 39th Battalion AIF (Unit Diary) – Service Record not yet digitised – died Huggins Roadblock Sanananda – AWM Roll of Honour
WILLIAMS, William Stanley Woonona Woonona Paddington Papua New Guinea October 19, 1942 22 Port Moresby War Cemetery, PNG – NX73091 – 2/33rd Battalion AIF (Unit Diary)  – Service Record – died Kokoda – AWM Roll of Honour
WISEMAN, Harry Conolly Cooma Wollongong Paddington Papua New Guinea November 21, 1942 31 Port Moresby War Cemetery – NX12458 – 2/1st Battalion AIF  (Unit Diary) – Service Record not yet digitised – died Sanananda – AWM Roll of Honour – NSW
WOTZASI(C)K, Emile Ernest Sydney, Sylvania (Bulli) Cowra(Wollongong)  Papua New Guinea January 6, 1945 21 Port Moresby War Cemetery – NX179605 /N475995 –  15 Infantry Battalion AIF  (Unit Diary) – Service Record not yet digitised – died Bougainville  – AWM Roll of Honour

While I was placing a poppy on the grave of Noel Stibbard I noticed the adjacent gravestone of Private James Ivan  Tindall of the 2/16th Battlion, 21st Brigade, 7th Division – which was Dad’s battalion. He was one of nearly 150 from 2/16th buried or commemorated at Bomana – with over 260 in total never returning home from WW2. On returning home I discovered that Private Tindall had been a medical evacuation in the same plane crash that had claimed the life of Noel Stibbard. Their remains were not discovered until 1970. So sad to have survived so long and die in an air crash after the war had ended.

Private J I Tindall 2/16th Battalion

Private J I Tindall 2/16th Battalion


After laying the poppies I presented the two American Legion guys on our trip, Hollis and Louis, with the mini banners from our local Woonona Bulli RSL Sub Branch – it was interesting teaching them how to pronounce “Woonona”.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Earlier in the trip I had placed two other banners from Woonona Bulli RSL Sub Branch at the Museum at Kokoda Station and at  Buna Village.

Our Tour Leader Frank Taylor was there with his ever present maps OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


I really have to thank everyone on our tour for their support – military historian and tour leader Frank Taylor, husband David, Queenslander Peter, American Legion members Louis (New York City) & Hollis (California), our local PNG guides – Hobert, Basil and Peter,  as well as my Waters cousin Steve who lives out of Port Moresby. Not to mention our daughter Katrina and the Woonona Girl Guides, Woonona Bulli RSL Sub Branch, Bulli Black Diamond Heritage Centre Museum and the Illawarra History Group.


Historic Photographs of Bomana CWGC Military Cemetery

Initially Australia’s war dead were buried near where they fell, then they were relocated to sites such as at Soputa up at the Northern Beachheads. Later many were removed and finally laid to rest at Bomana. The official opening of Bomana was on August 5 1943. However service personnel, both Australian and Papuan, were being laid to rest at Bomana from 1943 – also War Correspondents.

Other Australians lie at Lae, and also Bita Paka on Rabaul – see more information from Charlie Lynn. And one of my Waters – Swaysland family connections, Clive Swaysland, lies at Lae.

The following photographs are drawn from the Australian War Memorial Collections website which has a wealth of material to aid in comprehending the dimensions of the conflicts that were WW2.

The official opening of Bomana occurred on August 5 1944.


Some American Perspectives in Papua New Guinea’s WW2 

We had two members of the American Legion, Hollis & Louis,  on our trip so of course we probably learned more about the American role in the New Guinea campaigns as a consequence. It has been reported that Australia and the United States each sustained approximately 7000 fatalities in the Papua New Guinea campaign of WW2 – note the Australian figures include those lost in Indonesia (Dutch East Indies) and in Darwin, defending Australia. It has been claimed that a provocative photograph of three dead soldiers on the beach at Buna taken by George Stock, and published by Life Magazine,  was another key step in galvanizing domestic support for WW2 in America, at a time when there was some complacency developing. This was a landmark photograph because it was the first one ever to depict dead American soldiers in a magazine in WW2 – nearly a year after their deaths, due to American Censors resistance.

Caption from LIFE.

Caption from LIFE. “Three dead Americans on the beach at Buna.”

Americans killed in the New Guinea campaign are largely buried at the American Military Cemetery in Manila in the Philippines, which we visited in December 2008.

However there is a memorial marker in the US Embassy in Port Moresby – Papua 508_10-6-2014 USA Marker. The marker was dedicated in 1992

“There is a bronze tablet located in the U.S. Chancellery in Papua New Guinea paying homage to the sacrifice and achievements of the American Armed Forces in the southwest Pacific region. Its inscription reads as follows:

The United States of America honors the courage and sacrifice of the American fighting units who with our Australian and New Zealand allies joined in combat against a determined foe half a century ago. Papuan and New Guinean Service Units, the Royal Papuan Constabulary, Scouts War-Carriers stood bravely with the allies to stem the tide of militarism in the Pacific. The bonds of friendship forged here during World War II endure to this day. This monument is dedicated in humble tribute to the legacy of freedom secured for generations yet to come by those who fought for the allied cause.

Dedicated on November 6, 1992, the 50th Anniversary of the arrival of General Douglas MacArthur & Southwest Pacific Area command in Port Moresby.”


Afterwards we travelled on to McDonalds Corner near Ilolo (where my Waters Cousin Steve is hoping to re-establish a plantation, then to Owers Corner and then back for a final farewell dinner before our flight tomorrow back to Sydney and home.

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About Kerrie Anne Christian

Interests - Travel, Photography, Developing Websites, Social Media, Writing, Local History, Researcher, Genealogy
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