Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Rain Trees and Australia's First War Dead


This is one of the rain trees that stand guard at the gates to the cemetery. It is a very beautiful place and like the war graves I visited in France (my Grandfather and his brother fought on the western-front in WWI, and my Great-Uncle is buried at Boulogne-sur-mer) it is maintained with such care.

The Gazelle Peninsular became a German protectorate in 1884, and the Bitapaka Cemetery is situated on the location of Germany’s most powerful wireless station in the Pacific at that time. It was captured by a small force of Australian naval reservists, on September 11, 1914.

That day saw the first Australian killed in service of the new nation, Australia. Able Seaman Williams and the six other Australian men, also killed that day, are buried here. If you asked Australians where the first Australian soldier was killed, most would say Gallipoli. But here outside Kokopo, lays the body of Australia’s first war hero.

14 comments:

Laura said...

Awwww! The rain trees of my childhood. Memories! Thanks Jules!I'm trying to think of people from up there I know that you might know - Suzie from the Hamamas? Steve and his family from Kabaira Dive?

Laura said...

I didn't know that fact you mentioned - for an old Rabaul person - sahme on me!

The German legacy still lingers on there - I taught many kids over the kids who looked very PNG but whose surnames were German.

Jules said...

Laura - You won't believe who I have just had lunch with - Suz & Lyn (Steve's Mum) Steve is now married with a baby.

Laura said...

Jules - what a coincidence - but it's a small town - especially now. I'm using my daughter's google account to blog - can't seem to get mine to work - my name's actually Deidre. Say 'hi ' to them. Suzie & her family used to live next door to me 'in the old days' when she was just a little kid. My niece has just been up there staying at Vunagam with friends and my sister-in-law will be up with her new baby at Xmas. Steve's Mum will know our family - we are very old Rabaul.

Abraham Lincoln said...

I like your photograph and I found your description of it most interesting to read.

Abraham Lincoln
Brookville Daily Photo
My Website

Jules said...

Laura (Deidre) I will email Suz and let her know. She is an amazing person. Her husband and father dug the hotel out of the ash in 1994 and she and Bruce have stuck it out over the years with such determination and humour!!!

Nikon said...

I like the photos & the history & it seems that you are taking the place of the radio transmitter :)
It's nice that you are connecting the far-away friends!

Marie said...

Your photos always pay homage to somebody or to a group. I find it great.
Have a nice day, Jules.

M.Benaut said...

It's great to see old friends re-connecting, and new friends joining in.
Much of New Guinea's war history is a blank to many people. It's good that you are publicizing these sombre yet importants points.
This History is not disseminated in Japan, but that is a story for another day.

Neva said...

Ahh the blogging world...I just LOVE it....small world or not...how nice to connect! This rain tree is immense!

Denton said...

Honoring and remembering those who lost their lives in war is admirable ... My Grandfather served in WWI off the coast of Belgium. My family visited Flanders Field in Belgium many years later and paid our respects.

dr. filomena said...

So peaceful. I've never seen one of those trees, but some of my favourites are the old oak trees in Florida with Spanish moss hanging from them and they give me the same feeling as that first photo. Thank you for sharing the pics and the note.

Jules said...

Thanks all for your comments - yes this is what blogging is all about hey???

Dr Filomena - so nice you could visit. I am so excited to meet someone from Slovenia

Hi Nikon - thanks for visiting. Your blog sites look very interesting - will have a look tonight!!!

Steve G said...

Jules, very nice.