Bougainville: Why Job Is Necessary
Special to the Auckland Star By MARC T. GREENE
TJ ERE are the bases, New Zealand •*•* and Australian both, of the vital operations which alone can prevent the spread of the Japanese once more over much of this area of the South-west Pacific.
For the enemy has by no means given up hope. He has dug himself into the country, both literally and economically. That is to say, he has set up with his usual thoroughness in this regard an agricultural economy that sustains him without aid from elsewhere. His gardens still spread over a great area in the Buin district and down the eastern slopes of Bougainville. Aerial photographic reconnaisance has given us a good idea of what he has been able to do, despite daily bombings and strafings directed with the utmost skill and never failing of some objective.
But you can't bomb out gardens entirely and it seems apparent that the "Nip," as he is always known here, spends, a good deal of the night working in them. He certainly doesn't get much peace by day, for the R.N.Z.A.F. is at him all the time, and close on the iieels of the bombings come crashing through the steamy jungle the valiant Aussie land forces. . .
Planes go out in large numbers two or three times a day and each airman knows exactly where he is going and what he is supposed to do. He generally does it. The work gets monotonous, that is true, and it may be that some of the chap? here would prefer being up with the main operations, preparing for the invasion of the Nip's home country. But however that may be, I have heard no complaints here, seen no evidences of dissatisfaction. These men know they are doing an important job and are reasonably content in that knowledge. They are always cheerful, always studiously and painstakingly on the job. They have no time for all this talk back home of "wastage." They know quite well that they are pot being wasted and they want their friends and kin to know that they know it. ;
Worst Kind of Fighting
I wish every New'Zealander could! have a look at this place, at this particular camp where I am writing,' at <*he continual activity, the\ constantly moving planes, the earnestness of the men, their fine morale. I wish also that the back-home critics • could see the Aussies at work in the jungle, as I have lately. I wish they couid Understand something of what this jungle fighting really is, the worst, hardest and most disheartening form of fighting ever knewn anywhere at any time.
If these men, these New Zealand airmen and Australian infantry had
any feeling that it wasn't necessary they could not help showing that, feeling. But they have no such feeling. They know it is necessary and deplore the lack of understanding of people back home, politicians many of them, who have or pretend to have the notion that it isn't. j Take the case of the Solomon • Islands natives in itself. This region' has been for years part of the New Guinea mandated territory. Has the British Empire, then, any responsi-! bility in respect of these natives, of I their lives and their deaths, or has! it not? That appears to be a per- : tinent question. I
Well, then, the Japanese, though not apparently guilty of any active persecution or atrocities, have been simply starving the blacks, and certainly still are in the regions they control. I can assure you that much because I have seen it.
I saw a native hospital near here with more than 400 sick blacks in it. The condition of most of these is due, directly and indirectly, to malnutrition, to half-starvation. The Japanese came to their villages, took their gardens and everything they had in hand, and told them they could go into the jungle and live or die—it was of no consequence to their conquerors. His Blood for the Native That they did and a. lot of them died. Others made their ways into our areas. Sometimes our men found them and brought them in for treatment. The hospital I mentioned is run by the Australian Army and is under a highly efficient staff. Let me relate an incident of one of them. It happened while I was visiting the place. An elderly native was dying of malnutrition but it was believed, a blood-transfusion could save him. Two or three husky natives were asked to give it, but inasmuch as they could not understand what it was all about, even through "pidgin," it was of course impossible to force them.
And so, for the sake of an, old black Solomon Islander whom you may perhaps say wasn't worth it, an Australian medical officer, gave without question, flamboyance or hesitancy, a pint and a half of his blood—to save an Island native.
I wish you would reflect for a moment upon this magnificent act, and I use the superlative advisedly because I think it was just that.
. However, the great point is that our Empire responsibility in respect of these natives is recognised here, by everybody. If there were no other reason for clearing the Japanese out of this whole area, this one alone is sufficient.
But,, as it happens, there are plenty more reasons. The Japanese came here with the intent to colonise and they have by no means given up that hope. What, think you, would it mean to this part of the Pacific, and perhaps ultimately to New Zealand or Australia, if the Japanese were left to set up a colony here? Would it be a menace, socially if not politically, or would it not? Is there more than one possible answer to that question?
The men here hold it strange that all this is not understood at home. And, as I said the other day, they feel pretty middling sore when they hear it said, and written, that they are being , wasted and ought to be taken away before their job is complete.
Japs Being Forced Back
And they will complete the job, never fear. The best evidence of that, if you are unwilling to believe it without tangible proof, is the steady progress that is being made down south of here, also up north in the Buka district.
I, was along the Hongorai River and beyond it the other day. It is a dreadful country, yet all through it the fighting went on no more than a few weeks ago. You see* the fox-holes, both ours and the enemy's, the* wire, remains of equipment and clothing of all sorts. You are told that 20 Japs were buried here, twoscore yonder. Fighting desperateiy, as is their wont, they were nevertheless forced back, and they are still being forced back, by the remarkable teamwork of the R.N.Z.A.F. and the Australians, who work in perfect liaison and with striking friendly accord.
The "Nip" is being forced back and the space in which he can live and operate unceasingly restricted. His position becomes less tenable every day. Realising that, he has in many cases come out and voluntarily surrendered, deserted, something no one who knows the Japanese and their code ever expected him to do. The fact that he has done so is highly significant Questioned, the deserter says there is no hope, so why should he struggle and halfstarve further? He was living fairly well for some time, but now he scarce dares work in his gardens by day at all. He is kept constantly on the move, on the qui vive, and his morale is going. Is this a fine and necessary achievement by our men, or is ft "wastage?"
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Bougainville: Why Job Is Necessary, Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 167, 17 July 1945
Bougainville: Why Job Is Necessary Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 167, 17 July 1945
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