Standing Together: New Guinean Villagers and the Pacific War in the Huon Peninsula

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Abstract

This article analyses the struggle of civilians at the home front during the Pacific War (1941–45). The home front under analysis is the Huon Peninsula, a strategically important stretch of coastline on the New Guinea mainland. From late 1941 the Huon was a ‘borderland’ of overlapping colonial rule, partly occupied by Japanese forces, still patrolled by Australian coastwatchers, and serviced by (three) remaining German missionaries. From 1943 onward, large stretches were heavily bombed by Allied forces. Histories abound on battles and army units that moved through the region, memoirs of coastwatchers tell of survival and clandestine operations behind enemy lines, and mission histories focus on the missionaries’ sacrifice. In contrast, this article places New Guinea villagers as the central focus of the story by using rare documents written by village elders during and shortly after the war as the central documentation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)340-359
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Pacific History
Volume55
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jul 2020

Keywords

  • Pacific islands
  • World War II
  • Papua New Guinea
  • civil–military relations
  • Germany
  • Australia
  • USA
  • Japan
  • Lutheranism
  • Christianity
  • Death
  • Food
  • Japanese army
  • Australian history
  • NG villagers
  • Pacific War
  • food and food exchange
  • German Lutheran mission
  • schooling

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