Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels

25 December 1942, Paupa. Australian soldier being helped by Pauan native.

During the war in Papua New Guinea, the local population who were sympathetic to the Australian troops would assist where they could.

Notably they would help in transporting stores and equipment over the rough terrain. A close relationship and bonds of friendship developed between these local men and the Australians, particularly when the sick and wounded required transporting back to field aid stations.

It is a well accepted fact that many men would have died where they fell in Papua New Guinea had it not been for these men who became affectionately known as the ‘Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels.’

One iconic photo taken by the war correspondent George Silk was of Rapahel Oimbari assisting Private George ‘Dick’ Whittington who was wounded on Christmas Eve 1942 during an attack at Buna.

Whilst recovering from his wounds, George later died as a result of contracting scrub typhus on 12 Feb 1943.

Australia had been presenting commemorative medals to family members of the ‘Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels’ in recognition of their service to Australian Servicemen during World War Two.

The most recent medals ceremony was conducted at Popondetta on 3rd Nov 2011 and was supported by Australia’s Federation Guard and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Source: Field Guide to the Kokoda Track (Bill James) and the Australian War Memorial Website