In the verdant East New Britain Province of Papua New Guinea, approximately 40 kilometres from the volcano ravaged township of Rabaul, and beyond the new centre of Kokopo and catholic mission of Vunapope, is the beautifully maintained Bita Paka War Cemetery.

This cemetery contains the graves of over 1000 Allied Second World War dead, predominantly Australian soldiers, who died in the surrounding regions between 1942 and 1944. Additionally there are graves of Indian soldiers who died as Prisoners of War in Rabaul following their capture and transport from Singapore. There are also large memorials to those Australians who died without burial, including the more than 1000 Australians who perished with the sinking of the Montevideo Maru off Luzon Island in the Philippines on July 1
st 1942. The uncertainty of the precise outcome of those aboard the Montevideo Maru (viz 7.30 Report, 6th October 2003) has been the legacy of family members for the past 60 years.

Panel 8 bears memorial to AIF Gunners and carries inscription to Gunner J Mills SX11448.

The Bita Paka gardens and cemetery are meticulously maintained, with stone pylons leading to a cross of remembrance. When visited by me on 27
th August 2003 the Bita Paka site emanated reflection and commemoration to those who died, in a background of tropical beauty. The surroundings provide a perspective on the power of nature in the past and ongoing struggles of humanity.

Lachlan Warren

Bita Paka 2003 photos