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Army November 26, 2009
By Sgt Andrew Hetherington
ON THE 67th anniversary of his
death, LSgt James Wheeler will
finally be laid to rest.
LSgt Wheeler was killed on
December 1, 1942, when he tried to
recover the body of a lieutenant shot
by a sniper.
His remains and those of three other
Australians killed during World War II
will be buried with full military hon-
ours at the Bomana War Cemetery in
Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, on
LSgt Wheeler, 2/1 Fd Regt, and Lt
Talbot Logan, 2/12 Aust Inf Bn, will
have marked graves but the other two
sets of remains are unidentified.
The process of identification began
last year after the Australian High
Commission in Port Moresby notified
AHQ that it had the remains.
Manager of Unrecovered War
Casualties – Army Brian Manns said an
investigation team returned to PNG in
February after a preliminary visit to the
High Commission last November.
“We examined remains of seven
individuals and recovered another set
of remains from the village of Buna.
It was the grave in Buna that held the
remains of Lt Logan,” Mr Manns said.
“ They were originally found by
a man who was digging in his yard
beside his house.”
The team’s forensic experts – Sqn-
Ldr Denise Donlon, Leut-Cmdr Russell
Lain and Col Geoff Stacey – carried
out a detailed examination of all the
They found that four sets of remains
were Caucasian and the other four
Lt Talbot Logan
Lt Logan was shot by
a Japanese sniper just
short of the beach at Buna
between the mouth of the
Simema Creek an Giropa
Point on January 1, 1943.
He was in command of
9 Pl, 2/12 Bn, during the
attack to capture Buna
Mission. Lt Logan was born
on February 10, 1913, at
Kuambu in Kenya. He enlisted on October 20,
1939, at Hughenden, Queensland.
LSgt James Wheeler
In January 1943, LSgt
Wheeler was part of a two-
man artillery forward obser-
vation team. He was the for-
ward observer assistant to
Lt T Daniels. They were with
2/1 Fd Regt, supporting a
US infantry unit operating
near Huggins Roadblock.
While attempting to retrieve
the body of Lt Daniels, who
had been hit by a Japanese
sniper, LSgt Wheeler was shot and killed. He was
born on August 29, 1919, at Narrabri, NSW, and
enlisted at Narrabri on October 29, 1939.
Diggers to rest at last
were Asian. Mr Manns said a search to
identity the remains thought to be of
Australian soldiers came down to two
“Due to the accuracy of the records
we worked from, and our own careful
recording of recovery locations, we
were able to ascertain that only Logan
and Wheeler had not been recovered
by Australian Graves Recovery units
during WWII,” he said.
DNA testing confirmed the identity
of both men.
In a statement, LSgt Wheeler’s fam-
ily said it was “grateful that Army has
persevered in identifying Jim”.
“ It is extraordinary and fitting that
Jim’s burial in Bomana coincides with
the 67th anniversary of his death,”
they said. “ It is wonderful to know that
Jim will be at rest at last, surrounded
by his mates.”
Lt Logan’s sister and LSgt
Wheeler’s son , along with the Deputy
CA Maj-Gen Paul Symon, will attend
The two unidentified sets of
remains will be buried alongside LSgt
Wheeler and Lt Logan under a head-
stone inscribed “Known Unto God” .
The other four sets of remains will
be transferred to the Japanese Embassy
in Port Moresby.
Mark of respect: Basil Kohe (left), and family, near the spot
outside his PNG home where he found the remains of Lt Talbot
Logan while digging.
Photo by Sqn-Ldr Anthony Lowe
THE first phase has begun for
the construction of two memori-
als at the end of Anzac Parade
on the shores of Lake Burley
Griffin in Canberra.
Chairman of the World War I
and World War II Memorials
Development Committee Mike
Buick said the project was in the
“The estimated cost of the two
memorials is $21 million,” Mr
“However, as part of the ini-
tial phase, $3 million needs to be
raised for design approval, includ-
ing completion of architectural
drawings and project costs prior to
This phase is planned for com-
pletion by mid-2010.
The bulk of funds is expect-
ed to come from philanthropic
donors and corporate sponsors, but
donations are welcome from all
Australians. All donations to the
project will be tax deductible.
Construction will take about
18 months and is planned to be
completed in 2015, just before the
100th anniversary of the Gallipoli
A model of the proposed
memorials has been on display at
Russell Offices in Canberra.
For more details, visit the website http://
VC from an unnamed lender
THE Victoria Cross awarded to Sgt
John Whittle in 1917 has been lent to
the Australian War Memorial by an
Memorial senior historian Peter
Burness said the VC would be placed
on display so all Australians would be
reminded of the sacrifice made during
Sgt Whittle won the VC for a series
of actions at Boursies and Lagnicourt
in France. He died in 1946.
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