WWII Diggers laid to rest, at last

National, Normal


THE recently identified remains of four Australian soldiers killed during World War II were finally laid to rest yesterday at the Bomana War Cemetery outside Port Moresby.
The remains of the soldiers were recovered from World War II battlefields around Buna, Sanananda, Isurava and Popondetta, and had been identified by an Australian Army History Unit investigation team.
L/Sgt James Garrard Wheeler, Lt Talbot Tim Logan and two unknown Australian soldiers were buried with full military honours alongside their fallen comrades.
Deputy chief of the Australian Army, Major Gen Paul Symon, Australian High Commissioner to PNG Chris Moraitis, and PNGDF commander Commodore Peter Ilau were present at the ceremony along with members of the families of L/Sgt Wheeler and Lt Logan.
Helen Kirton, who is the sister of L/Sgt Wheeler, and Fred Logan, the son of Lt Logan, were presented with each soldier’s medals at the ceremony.
“Now these men can be laid to rest alongside their mates, and for Lance Sergeant Wheeler and Lieutenant Logan, their burial places can be formerly registered after all these years,” Mr Moraitis said.
Major Gen Symon said the four soldiers were killed while fighting for their country and defending the values and way of life that Australians know and enjoy to this day.
“We, in the Army family, deeply respect the sacrifice that these fine Australians had made and feel honoured to have laid them to rest with their mates,” Maj Gen Symon said.
The two unidentified soldiers recovered from the area around Popondetta, were buried alongside Lt Logan and L/Sgt Wheeler with the headstone marked ‘Known Unto God’ in accordance with Commonwealth War Graves Commission protocol.
The ceremony yesterday included an honour guard provided by the Australian Defence Forces Federation Guard firing volleys over the graves, and the Last Post played by a bugler.
The hymn Pie Jesu, sung by school friends of Elsie Stewart, the great-niece of L/Sgt Wheeler, was played during the moving service which was led by an Australian Defence Force chaplain.