Papua New Guinea commemorated ANZAC Day today with a dawn service at the Bomana War Cemetery where the Prime Minister Peter O'Neil delivered a moving message to those who were present.In a press statement he acknowledged all who were present at the occasion and welcomed everyone to the significant event. The Bomana War Cemetery has a deeply significant place in the history of Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea. It is on this day that we commemorate the bravery, sacrifice and service of many thousands who fought on our lands, and in our waters, over seventy years ago to preserve our freedom and liberty, our well being, and our future. It is especially appreciated by our own surviving World War Two servicemen, and carriers, and their families…..partners, sons, daughters, and grand and great grandchildren who are here with us today. The passage of time has not diminished the importance of the celebration of ANZAC Day, and the service and sacrifice by so many Australians, New Zealanders, and our own heroes.
If anything, there is a wider, and growing, understanding of the history of the World War Two campaigns in Papua and New Guinea.The focus on Kokoda Track especially underlines the increasing interest in the campaigns, and the sacrifices, that we remember today. Papua New Guineans will never forget easily the courage and sacrifice of Sergeant Katue of the Papua Infantry Battalion, Sergeant John Ehava, Corporal Sanopa of the Royal Papua Constabulary, and men and women like them who served in Kokoda, Buna, Salamaua or Milne Bay. Our government will continue to work with the Australian Government, and with service and ex-service organisations, to preserve our history, to ensure we always remember those darkest years when the bond between both countries was strengthened through the deeds of our servicemen. This sacred place is the final resting place of 3,069 Australian service personnel, whose names are known, and faithfully preserved and recorded. It is also the resting place of at least 39 members of the Papuan Infantry Battalion. Today we remember the sacrifices made by these very brave men and women. As we chart a course for our future, let us not forget that our nations stand strong, proud and free today through the selfless deeds of our heroes. They have a special place in our history, and we always remember them n years to come. Let me finish here by reciting the words of Milne Bay nurse Maiogura, who risked her life seventy one years ago to save Australian Aircraftsman Donegan who was found drifting in the sea after being downed by enemy gunfire. She hid him in her village, which was already behind enemy line, and nursed him until he was able to return to his unit. In a ceremony held later by the RAAF to thank Nurse Maiogura, she simply said, “I give thanks to God that I was able in some small way to assist my very good Australian friends”. That is the spirit of the friendship that binds us. Lest we forget.