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Capt Sean Childs
VETERANS and members of
Australia's Federation Guard
thought of the soldiers lost in the
Battle of Milne Bay 70 years ago as
they saluted at the dawn service on
August 25 in Papua New Guinea.
The battle holds a significant place
in Australian and Allied military his-
tory, being the first definitive Allied
repulse of Japanese land forces during
Japanese forces landed at Milne
Bay on the night of August 25, 1942,
aiming to secure it as one of two main
routes to Port Moresby. The iconic
Kokoda Track was the other.
For the veterans, aged from 88 to
93, their commemorative return to
Milne Bay evoked deep emotions.
A veteran of 2/10 Bn, Murray
Willing, 92, described one of the early
encounters with the Japanese shortly
after their landing.
"About midnight there was sing-
ing and chanting coming up the road
towards us and there were two Jap
tanks with lights on. And we thought,
well this is not very funny ... and then
it was hand to hand. And that went on
for a while," Mr Willing said.
It was the first time 92-year-old
61 Bn veteran Edwin Bousen had
returned to the area since WWII.
"I've become very emotional, espe-
cially when the Last Post is played,"
Mr Bousen said.
can't talk, because it brings back the
Memories of Milne Bay
Veterans return to Papua New Guinea 70 years after the battle that claimed more than 160 Australian lives
memory of those who lost their lives
because of what happened here at
Edmund Jones, 90, who served in
2/9 Bn, described the indelible mark
"Coming back now, all these memo-
ries come back to you," Mr Jones said.
"I thought at the time there are
better ways to settle arguments but it
was now war and that was out of the
"All through the war I realised a
lot of young people were going to
be killed and harmed during the war.
And those of us, if we survived, you
just had the feeling that we had to do
something useful with our lives. What
useful meant I didn't know, but I cer-
tainly knew that was what we had to
do."Along with their support units, two
brigades of Australian infantry fought
at Milne Bay, the Australian Military
Forces' 7 Bde (9, 25 and 61 battalions)
and 18 Bde, Australian Imperial Force
(2/9, 2/10 and 2/12 battalions).
In overall command of the Milne
Bay defence was Maj-Gen Cyril
Clowes, who estimated 700 Japanese
were killed. Australia suffered 353
casualties, of whom 161 died.
Honour: Members of Australia's Federation Guard participate in the memorial service at the Bomana War Cemetery. Inset top, veterans Arthur
Gould and William Eric Hansen lay a wreath at the Milne Bay Memorial. Inset bottom, Tpr Rodney Laumua places a poppy at the grave of Cpl John
Photos by Sgt Brent Tero
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