Mildura Weekly : Friday January 10 2014 Vol 8 No 10
Mildura Weekly – 10/01/14 13 www.milduraphonebook.com.au MILDURA’S Carol Kennedy had lit- tle idea of the hardships that her fa- ther, Walter Scott, faced in the harsh terrain and primitive conditions of war-time Papua New Guinea...until she read his diary. For almost seven weeks from Oc- tober 28, 1942, Corporal Scott was among a 45-strong group of Aus- sie Diggers, including stretcher-cases and walking wounded, cut off from the main Australian attack force as they fought their way through the harsh jungles of the Owen Stanley Range to safety. Their amazing trek, which in- cluding cutting their way through the jungle, shooting wild pigs to survive, scavenging for abandoned food, and having to leave a party of seven in a remote tribal village, made headlines in Australia, the UK and America. Tragically, the seven Diggers left in the care of PNG na- tives in Sangai village were betrayed, handed over to the Japs, and execut- ed. Those put to death included the courageous Johnny Metson, who had earlier been wounded in ac- tion and who, despite severe bullet wounds to his ankles, refused to be stretchered, crawling instead up and down hills in near-impenetrable jungle before reaching the village. Carol is the first to admit she shed more than a tear or two after reading her father’s graphic account of the gruelling trek. She had earlier attended the funeral of one of the last of the 2/14th Aussie Diggers, Robinvale’s Norm Stringer, whose life story was documented in a re- cent edition of the Mildura Weekly. Carol is not the only one who thought highly of her Dad. He was mentioned in despatches, and in a 1986 letter to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs in support of Cpl Scott, his former command- ing officer, Captain (later Brigadier) S.H .Buckler described the Aussie Digger as “a fit country man of high integrity and good character.” Walter’s seven page hand-writ- ten account of that terrible ordeal in August, September and part of October, 1942, holds pride of place among Carol’s collection of news- paper clippings, photographs and other historical documents centred on the Kokoda campaign. Headlines of the day screamed out to readers; ‘Incredible 40-day jungle trek,’ ‘Lost and starving in Papuan jungle,’ and ‘Australians es- cape after terrible ordeal.’ Walter Scott’s diary documented the amazing journey in typical Aus- sie fashion...no drama, no fuss, no frills, no bravado...labelling it sim- ply “my experiences in trek from Isurava to Government Plantation near Rigo - New Guinea campaign, 1942.” What he didn’t say was that throughout the New Guinea cam- paign, the Australians were out- numbered more than six to one by the elite and previously undefeated 13,000-strong South Seas force of Japanese invaders. The Diggers were in unfamiliar territory, under- equipped and outgunned, battling tropical diseases, lack of expert med- ical help and atrocious weather con- ditions. And the enemy was never far away. Cpl Scott’s diary begins after his section was cut off from the main group, and coming under heavy ma- chine-gun fire before being ordered to withdraw. “Bullets and grenades were bursting all around us,” he wrote. “The order came through for us to stand by our wounded, which we did to the best of our ability.” • Continued Page 14 More than 70 years after the start of World War Two, there are very few documented eye-witness accounts of the conditions, under fire, that Australian soldiers had to endure at the front line. As these Diggers pass away, one by one, their brave deeds die with them. But as the Mildura Weekly’s ALAN ERSKINE reports, one story is now able to be told. Diary tells amazing tale of PNG survival • PNG DIARY: Carol Kennedy of Mildura reads an extract from the diary of her father, Walter Scott, INSET. Real Estate Sales Consultant Air conditioners were a breeze Joe Chisari MILDURA 79 Pine Avenue 03 5021 4600 Your red carpet experience Call 1300 REAL ESTATE (1300 732 537) barryplant.com.au Call Joe today 0418 596 487 for the service you know and trust.
Friday January 3 2014 Vol 8 No 9
Friday January 17 2014 Vol 8 No11