Fuzzy Wuzzies the real heroes

Editorial, Normal


THE flag was raised by a Kokoda veteran, alongside a PNG flag raised by a surviving Fuzzy Wuzzy Angel. He said the Kokoda Diggers had fought in the worst conditions imaginable and forced the enemy to retreat.
“They stopped a threat which, if successful, would have exposed the entire Australian mainland to invasion,” Mr Lynn told the gathering.
“It’s been said that the first Anzacs created a nation, but Kokoda saved a nation.”
He praised the 10,000 Fuzzie Wuzzies. “They were paid 10 shillings a month,” Mr Lynn added, “and we would have been defeated without them.” – The National


Charlie Lynne is a recognisable authority to the many Australians who are becoming more and more attracted to the idea of Kokoda as some sort of mumbo-jumbo, media-driven proving ground for the affirmation of the Howardite “Australian Way” and to impart some sort of mystic meaning to lives which like lives everywhere are largely pointless and best to be lived for the day.
These are men and women who think nothing of making it plain that they intend to raise money for pet charities by walking the Track; causes located far and away from PNG.
Ever more addicted to that version of vocal patriotism which Dr Johnson famously characterised as the last resort of scoundrels, Australians are becoming ever-more embarrassingly loud in their proclamation of a unique, perceived national character, proclamations voiced in terms which ignore the fact of the very broad mix of ethnicity present in Australia today.
This is why I have chosen to make the real position clear and attempt to scrub away the scum of patronising spin with which Australians, especially the tour operators, increasingly smother the reality of the deeds of the native combatants in the WWII campaigns we are talking about.
The native men, later named Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels, were in fact a largely unwilling and confused corps of young-to-middle-aged conscripts who had much in common with the also conscripted and also resentful militia component of the Australian forces they supported.
The Fuzzies, all unknowing, were the real pioneers of modern, independent PNG simply by being among those who faced and fought and ultimately subdued the rapacious Japanese empire.
They were heroes in this context and this needs to be said, loud and clear, in PNG today.
The services they provided to Australians were a subsidiary issue, and we do PNG’s few remaining ex-WWII servicemen, police and the ex-Fuzzy Wuzzies great insult by placing them in a historic role as loyal, smiling, simple and subservient native helpers for the Australians.
They were warriors in their own right, and served and fought in brave and often special force-like defence of their own land, when the truth is told.
The truth needs to be told for the benefit of young, present day Papua New Guineans as much as to correct the egregious sales pitch spin of the tour operators.
The truth is that the Fuzzy Wuzzies, with the Papuan Infantry Battalion and the police of both Papua and the then Territory of New Guinea, all of whom served right through from 1942, were the pioneers of modern, independent PNG.
Not the Pangu Pati in its white socks and polyester shorts, nor the United Party with its Australian Country Party contacts and Uncle Tom ideals.
These fighting men were real blood sweat and tears pioneers who helped to see that their proto-independent nation remained free of lasting Japanese imperial occupation, firstly, and secondly, and only secondly, helped to protect Australia from a similar fate.


* John Fowke worked in PNG’s coffee industry four nearly four decades and now lives in Queensland, Australia. See another article by Mr Fowke, ‘The Sleeping Secret’, in the Weekender magazine today.