ONE of the last surviving Papua New Guinean World War II veterans, Sergeant Ben Moide, 83, has commissioned Lahui Ako, one of Papua New Guinea’s budding writers, to write his autobiography.
Mr Ako, who has already authored two books titled Upstream, Through Endless Sands of Blessings and A Logohu in China, said he was greatly humbled by this task.
“For one of the living legends of PNG wartime history to single me out, amongst a host of famous writers from PNG, Australia, New Zealand, and even England who have been hounding this old warrior for his story this past decade, has rendered me speechless and greatly humbled,” Mr Ako said.
“While one may see this as a great honour, I view this as a mammoth task and a huge responsibility!
“I have now been entrusted to record and document Papua New Guinea’s much awaited war story – a story about a group of teenagers, some, who will never live to grow old, who never knew what they were fighting for, but still walked into the jaws of death, if only to defend themselves against the invaders,” he said.
Mr Ako said that during the initial interview, he was dumbfounded when the old warrior told him that none of the raw recruits who signed on for three years at the training grounds (at what is now the Aviat Club in Port Moresby) were told by the taubadas that they were going into battle.
They only found this out upon their arrival in Buna after a six-day trek from their training camp at Bisiatabu!
The veteran himself, signed on at the tender age of 16 on a Friday, without the consent of his parents who thought that he had, as usual, gone to visit some of his friends after school.
It was only during the weekend that some wantoks visited his parents’ home at Pari village to break the news.
His mother’s attempts to get her son’s name off the list the following Monday, was in vain.
Private Ben Moide could only look on sorrowfully from afar, as his poor
mother, now wailing openly, was ushered out of the Recruitment Office to began her long walk back to Pari Village, empty-handed.
The Ben Moide autobiography will become the first World War II autobiography on PNG ever written by a Papua New Guinean.
All the books on WWII encounters in PNG have been documented by mostly Australian writers, some for education purposes, others for self-interest.
The Ben Moide autobiography will be launched during the Remembrance Day celebrations next year.