“But it was so long ago…”
Should I only write about now, or tomorrow?
Looking back gives me the opportunity to reflect on circumstance, freedom to choose (or not), being directed, fearful, courageous, seeing friends hurt and die.
It is a valuable perspective, a window into our common future through the lens of war.
These thoughts are in the context of this blog, 3rdBattalion1942. It started as a diary but has lain dormant for a while. The immediate source, my father, has passed away, leaving me to store and curate his stories. He and my mother Joan collected many stories from men of the Battalion, over the years.
Through a collaboration with a good friend, the next step for this ‘diary’ is to publish a series of vignettes telling the story of the 3rd Battalion AMF on the Kokoda Track and beyond.
Stuart Boag narrates the stories of men who, through circumstance, had no choice once they were called up as Universal Trainees. They were trained in Australia, landed in Papua then sent forward to help stop the Japanese advance along the Kokoda Track. Earlier, Battalions in action around Kokoda and other villages fought hard and delayed the enemy advance, stretching their supply lines. Australian retreat became attack.
I hope that the stories and the selected poems of my father Bede Tongs, give some idea of what it was like for these Australian Soldiers from September to December in 1942.