Australian and Papua New Guinean veterans of the Kokoda and Beachhead battles and Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels participated in a range of commemorative services in Kokoda, Northern Province, and Port Moresby over the weekend.
|Oro dancers with former Australian Diggers|
From July to November 1942, Australian soldiers fought side-by-side with Papuan infantry on the treacherous terrain and jungles of the Kokoda Track.
More than 600 Australians lost their lives whilst the Japanese were eventually pushed back. Assisting the troops were civilians who became affectionately known as the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels.
After retaking Kokoda, Australian soldiers joined American forces in attacks on the Japanese positions at Buna, Gona and Sanananda in late 1942. More than 1200 Australian troops perished in these battles.
On November 3, 1942, the Australian flag was raised at Kokoda after the Japanese had been pushed back from the village.
Jason Clare MP, Australian Minister for Home Affairs, Justice and Defence Materiel, during his official speech at the Kokoda service said: “You don’t need to go to the movies to see heroes. They are here in front of us.”
Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels’ Day was also celebrated on November 2. Mr Clare remarked on the care and assistance provided by the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels along the Kokoda Track.
He said “not all heroes carried a bren gun or a 303. They carried the wounded on makeshift stretchers. Fuzzy haired heroes who forged a very special bond between our two countries. To them we owe a debt that can never be repaid.”