As the cloud lifted and the sun rose on the morning of ANZAC Day in 2012, Alan “Kanga” Moore paused to reflect on his mates and comrades who had fallen in the World War II campaigns in Papua New Guinea.
Arriving in Port Moresby the previous day, Alan had been able to visit the Bomana War Cemetery to pay his respects to Australian soldiers buried there.
Alan said he could have laid thirty poppies on headstones but returning to the Bomana War Cemetery was always incredibly sad contemplating of the great loss of life of young men who died during the conflict.
“I asked my daughters to lay a poppy for one of my closest friends in the 39th Battalion, Lieutenant Bob Saunders, who I had just finished talking to when he was shot dead by a sniper on the beach at Gona,’” said Alan.
The moving Dawn Service was an emotional experience for Alan, particularly when the bugle call was played from Monument to the Missing on the hill above the cemetery.
From the Dawn Service the veterans then boarded a helicopter to Isurava located high up in the Owen Stanley ranges. On arrival, the veterans received a rousing reception from the many trekkers who had camped overnight to join the service on Anzac Day.
The crowd of Australians and locals then formed a guard of honour as the veterans made their way down to the memorial.
“I have never shaken so many hands at Isurava. It was heart warming to see that these young Australians knew so much about the battles we fought,” said Alan.
Alan describes the Kokoda battles as Australia’s Gallipoli, as like Gallipoli, many young Australians went into action for the very first time in Papua New Guinea.
“I have been to Papua New Guinea a few times since the war but this was the first opportunity to bring my daughters and it was an unforgettable experience,” said Alan.
Alan joined the 39th Battalion in the hope of seeing action. On arrival in Port Morseby, the 39th Battalion spent weeks guarding the airfields before joining battles along the Kokoda track including campaigns on the northern beaches at Buna, Gona and Sanananda.