Australia Will Never Forget!

Australia Will Never Forget!

Oro Province Governor, Gary Juffa, Anthony Albanese and James Marape at the start of their historic walk along the Kokoda Trail

After spending two days walking the Kokoda Trail in often arduous terrain, the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, the Hon. James Marape, and the Australian Prime Minister, the Hon. Anthony Albanese, laid wreaths together during the Dawn Service at the war memorial at Isurava to symbolise the close bond between Australia and Papua New Guinea—and as the sun began to rise over the mountains, an Australian Army soldier played the ‘Last Post’ before the attendees observed a minute’s silence.

Mr Albanese addressed about 400 people at the memorial—the site of an intense six-day period of fighting by Australian and Papuan infantry against Japanese soldiers. Ninety-nine Australians died in the Battle of Isurava in 1942, and more than 1,600 were wounded—a pivotal moment in the successful effort to repel Japanese troops who invaded what was then Australian territory.

Mr Albanese used the speech to highlight how the events of the war forged a powerful bond between Australians and the people of PNG. He told the crowd that they were standing on ‘ground made hallow by Australian sacrifice’, and we are gathered in a place that has known the most pitiless ferocity of battle,

The walkers are set to arrive at the Isurava Memorial

fought with bullet, bayonet, mortar and the desperation of bare hands. It is also a place that has seen the unadorned strength of the Australian spirit.

‘We feel the weight of history as we gather here along the Kokoda Trail, this great artery of mud and suffering and perseverance that has come to occupy a place of singular power in Australia’s shared memory.’

The Australian Prime Minister also paid tribute to the local villagers who risked their lives to feed, guide and shelter Australians in desperate need along the Kokoda Trail. ‘They were angels walking tall through the hell of war,’ he said. ‘For the Papua New Guineans, this was not a theatre, a backdrop or a battlefield. It was home.

The two prime ministers lay wreaths at the Isurava Memorial Dawn Service

‘We thank every one of them who helped Australians in the face of retribution and sometimes unfathomable cruelty,’ he said. ‘The troops, the coastwatchers, the shipping pilots, the villagers and the stretcher bearers whose courage was matched only by their kindness.’

‘To the people of PNG, I offer Australia’s promise:

We will never forget.’

The prime minister also honoured those who fought in other parts of the world, as well as serving members of the Australian Defence Force.


Worked for Burns Philp in Popondetta and Port Moresby from 1980 through 1987

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