Aust soldiers exhume final 13 WW2 Diggers from Aitape


A TEAM of Australian Army personnel have completed the exhuming of war casualties at Vokau village in Aitape, West Sepik, with the unveiling of a memorial plaque in the village to honour the war heroes.
The team led by officer Major Barry Hampson have been working on the particular site since 2013 and were now ready to depart with the remains of the final 13 Diggers.
The Australian Military Cemetery at Aitape which was operational from November 1945 to October 1945, held 118 burials of whom three were unidentified Australian soldiers.
Other unknown Australians were also exhumed from an American cemetery nearby.
The man buried at the cemetary died in various circumstances including the nearby battle of Matapau, the battle of But West (airfield), the battle of Torricelli Mountains and also from, accidents, disease and injuries.
The burials included 110 from the Australian Army, five from the Royal Australian Air Force and three unidentified Australian Servicemen.
When the cemetery at Aitape was closed the remains were again exhumed and transported to be interned in Wewak.
The Wewak War Cemetery was closed in November 1946 and the remains were then moved to Lae War Cemetery for their final internment.
The Australian Defence Force thanked the locals for their efforts in maintaining the site to enable the Australians to commemorate and recognise their dead.
The normal Australian practice of reburial was for the remains to be wrapped in a shroud (blanket or cloth) bound in cord or cable and then buried in a marked and recorded grave.
At each stage of exhumation and reinternment, the remains would have been completely packaged.
A total of 2240 Australian war casualties from WWII are yet to be found across PNG.

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