The National, Tuesday, May 3, 2011
THE Papuan Infantry Battalion that served alongside Australia in World War II on the infamous Kokoda Track never received any formal recognition other than mere medallions, PNG Veterans and Services League national secretary general, Lieutenant Commander John G Aiede said.
He made the comment following Anzac Day celebrations on April 25.
He said Papua battalion, among other local troops who engaged in the gruesome warfare, were then part of Australian military.
“Anzac Day is Australia and New Zealand’s day and Papua New Guineans should not be fooled. We fought as Australians because we were part of them,” Aiede said.
He said one sad thing for the local unsung heroes was that the independent state of PNG did not have a veteran affairs ministry in parliament as Australia did to recognise the sacrifice of the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels and others.
“At that time, our forefathers did not lay down their lives because of the ‘Yes Master’ ideology. It was because of the love, trust and comradeship with the Australians; to fight to the last bullet and to die side by side as brothers,” Aiede said.
It was because of that camaraderie that PNG’s independence was granted on a golden plate.
Aiede said there was no point in Papua New Guinean veterans seeking recognition from Australia because “both our noses got bloodied when we stood side by side to fight”.
With the promise of millions of kina from the LNG project, Aiede called on the government to consider some benefits for the veterans who have stamped a legacy.