From: Defence Media Centre
Date: Tue 24/04/2012 7:19 PM

Veterans return to PNG field of battle this ANZAC Day

The Chief of Army, Lieutenant General David Morrison will commemorate this ANZAC Day in Papua New Guinea (PNG) marking the 70th Anniversary year of the World War Two PNG campaigns. He will be accompanied by three veterans of the 39th Battalion, along with their personal carers and an Army Cadet from The Southport School, who is from a cadet unit with links to the 39th Battalion that fought on the Kokoda Track.

The Chief of Army and veterans will attend two ANZAC Day services while in PNG, starting with a dawn service to be held at the Bomana War Cemetery. Established in 1942, the Bomana cemetery lies just north of Port Moresby and is the site of 3351 Australian war graves. Later in the day the party will make the trip up to the Isurava Memorial on the Kokoda Track, which was opened on the site of the battle in August of 2002.

At the Isurava Memorial the veterans will lay a wreath before meeting with the Chief of Army ‘I’m an Australian Soldier’ scholarship recipients who have been trekking the Kokoda Track.

The 39th Battalion was a militia unit formed in Victoria in late 1941. In July 1942 elements of the Battalion were the first Australians to engage the Japanese Army along what became known as the Kokoda Track. Fighting a series of desperate and dogged delaying actions, the men of the 39th are remembered as those ‘ragged bloody heroes’.

This year marks the 70th Anniversary of the World War Two campaigns in PNG: the Battle of Milne Bay, the Kokoda Campaign, and the Battle for the Beachheads at Buna, Gona and Sanananda.

The Chief of Army is in PNG with the Minister for Defence Stephen Smith and Department of Defence Secretary Mr Duncan Lewis.

Media notes: Imagery will be available on the Defence website during the afternoon of the 25th of April.
Media contact: Defence Media Operations: 02 6127 1999