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SEVEN decades after the
conclusion of the WWII cam-
paign in Papua New Guinea,
eight Australian veterans
returned to the country they helped
save to commemorate the anniversary
of the campaign.
Along with members of Australia's
Federation Guard, the eight veterans,
aged between 89 and 93, attended three
commemorations to mark the 70th anni-
versary of the Battles of Kokoda and the
Cyril Allender and Bob Iskov, of 2/14
Bn, Ray Baldwin, of 2/27 Bn, Les Cook,
of 7 Aust Div, Len Griffiths, of 3 Bn,
Ken Kell, of 2/1 Fd Regt, Bill Stuart, of
39th Militia, and Eric Sambell, of 2/27
Inf Bn, attended services at Kokoda
Village, Port Moresby (Bomana) War
Cemetery and Popondetta during their
visit to PNG.
Papua New Guineans who helped
the Australians during the campaigns,
and who came to be known as "Fuzzy
Wuzzy Angels", were presented with
Fuzzy Wuzzy Angel Commemorative
Medallions at the Popondetta service.
The Battle of the Beachheads encom-
passed battles fought between Japan and
the Allies at Buna, Gona and Sanananda
from November 1942 until January 1943.
Veteran Ray Baldwin, who served in
Syria, PNG and Borneo during WWII,
said although the trip had been an enjoya-
ble experience, painful memories returned.
"When I left home I knew I would
have two feelings; one of emotion and
one of pride," he said.
"When we left Australia and landed
in New Guinea, we had 870 ORs and
37 officers. After the Battles of Kokoda
and Gona, which was a hell hole, we had
three officers and 37 ORs, so those are
the memories I have.
"I knew so many of them and I've
never met better people in my life."
Len Griffiths, who supervised the
raising of the Australian flag at Kokoda
after the Australians recaptured the vil-
lage in November 1942, said he still
had vivid memories of the mates he left
"Three of my mates are buried here
in Port Moresby, so I paid my respects
to them and wished they were still alive,
but unfortunately they aren't," he said.
"Of course, it made you think about
the fellas who didn't make it home."
LS Andrew Cleghorn, of Australia's
Federation Guard, said it was an honour
to be a part of the trip.
"To see the vets walking among the
headstones, to see the names of their
mates is a very moving experience and
I'm very happy to be a part of it all," he
"Being able to talk to the vets and
hear their stories of what the campaign
was like has been amazing.
"These guys and their mates who
died are an inspiration."
WWII veterans return to the home of many painful
memories, Lt Adrian Miller reports.
Inspiration: Pte Craig
Newson, from Australia's
Federation Guard, and
Battle of Kokoda veteran
Bill Stewart view the
headstones at Port
Moresby (Bomana) War
Left, Veterans Ken Kell, Bill
Stuart and Bob Iskov pay
their respects to the fallen.
Right, Pte Natalia
Lawrence Presents Arms
during the service.
Photos by Cpl Raymond Vance
Army November 22, 2012
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