ABC Kokoda Documentary

So an email here from Peter a frequent visitor to the blog.

Dear Emmanuel

You might know that the ABC has recently broadcast a 2 part documentary on the Kokoda campaign. 

It can now be viewed on-line at - haunting and beautiful sound track was composed by David Bridie.

While very good, I feel the documentary does not give sufficient coverage to the local PNG people who were involved – after all it was their country.

It does not even mention the Papuan Infantry Battalion who gave sterling service in scouting, guerrilla action and intelligence gathering.  See -

Their decorations included –
* 1 Distinguished Service Orders (DSO)
* 3 Military Crosses (MC)
* 1 George Medals (GM)
* 3 Distinguished Conduct Medals (DCM)
* 15 Military Medals (MM)
* 3 Mentioned in Despatches (MID)



4 thoughts on “ABC Kokoda Documentary

  1. yes peter Your criticisms of the documentary7 are valid.It was a very humane story but its oversite of the Papuan contribution to the story apart from some telling yet brief interaction was unfortunate

  2. Thanks David.

    There is some interesting information on the Australian Government’s Kokoda Track web site.

    Which goes some way to put the record straight. Here is an extract –

    “Papuan Warriors

    Corporal Sanopa was a member of the Royal Papuan Constabulary, a forerunner of the present day Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary. The RPC, an armed police force, is less well known than the Papuan Infantry Battalion but it made a similar substantial contribution towards the Allied victory. By the end of the Papuan Campaign there were 1,127 members of the RPC.

    Sanopa was stationed at Buna before the war and knew the Kokoda track well. While serving temporarily with the Papuan Infantry Battalion during the Kokoda campaign he was praised for his bravery on several occasions. The best known of these was on the night of 25/26 July 1942 when the Papuans and Australians were almost surrounded by the Japanese at Oivi east of Kokoda. Sanopa found an unguarded track and led the entire force to safety. Sanopa also fought at Kokoda, Deniki and Isurava. He was awarded the Loyal Service Medal.

    Sergeant Katue was from Gora village in the gulf district of Papua. As his low service number PN4 shows, he was one of the first to join the Papuan Infantry Battalion when it was raised in 1940. He was the first member of the Battalion to be awarded a Military Medal. His medal citation reads as follows:

    In the Awala-Buna area during the night of 22-23 July at great personal risk and alone, this NCO penetrated to the rear of the enemy lines for a distance of several miles and returned to his headquarters with valuable information of the enemy strength and disposition, thereby enabling his unit to take up a strategic position and greatly retard the enemy advance. This NCO repeated his feat on 26/27 July 1942.

    Another gulf district Papuan, Sergeant John Ehava, won the Distinguished Conduct Medal, the highest bravery award given to a Papuan during World War two. At the end of the Papuan campaign an element of the Papuan Infantry Battalion under Ehava was ambushing Japanese who were escaping north along the coast towards Salamaua. Ehava’s award citation describes what followed.

    On February 8, 1943 at the Kumusi River mouth a patrol under Sergeant Ehava attacked an enemy party attempting to cross the river. During this engagement Sergeant Ehava saw another enemy party approaching on his left. He immediately detached himself from his patrol and, at great personal risk, took up a commanding position and armed with a Bren gun held his fire until the enemy was less than 40 yards distant. He repulsed the attack and personally killed 30 of the enemy.

    Ehava’s brother, Lance Corporal Gabriel Ehava, served with him at this time and won the Military Medal two weeks later.”

    1. My name is Dale John Kirby, my mother was Topa Ehava, sister to Irene,John,Eva and i believe Patrick Ehava all sons and daughters of John Ehava. I have searched so long for information regarding John Ehava . I would apreciate any more information if you know where else to find it.

  3. Yes the Fuzzy Wuzzies were a big help in New Guinea
    and they also fought the Japanese. There were hundreds of
    islanders brought from Rabaul by their Japanese liberators, to walk in front of the advancing Jap as a shield. They were used as carriers by the Jap to keep supplies coming over the Kokoda trail. When they fell down a Samurai would hamstring them and leave them to die so slow. An Aboriginal Harry West M.M. from Goodooga saw this happening . He went native after the Japanese killed his mate.

    The Kadaitchi (Witch Doctor) Knight
    Harry stood alone and sniffed the breeze
    a pongy hay smell, Jap
    Harry sheltered there beneath a tree
    a gum tree dripping sap

    The Black Knight shed his lap lap
    joined the natives from Rabaul
    he took the weight from one sore back
    when a native carrier fell

    Samurai sadist with a sword
    shouted at this poor man
    The carriers head then went forward
    Blood rushed out oer the sand

    It was Kokoda 1942 our Harry West had seen,
    the timeless trackless mountains all made of jungle green,
    yellow peril so sadistic take a life with casual ease,
    slaughter in a jungle where Aussies fought with Japanese

    At nightfall all lay down their load
    And drifted off to sleep
    But Harry slyly watched the toad
    Then upon the Jap did creep

    The blunt pocket knife did cut
    The yellow perils throat
    The carriers then were free, but
    No time to stay and gloat

    Harry went back and got
    sugar bag full of grenades
    machine gun pit blown, the dead to rot
    Harry reigned on their parade

    You couldn’t follow Harry
    He’d learned his craft too well
    Cassowary moccasins would carry
    Harry left no track or smell.

    Japanese thought he was evil, when
    He didn’t give em any chance
    Just threw grenades amongst them
    To watch em scream and dance…..Don Johnson

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