Fuzzy Wuzzy Angel
"... like the care of a nurse and the love of a mother."
(Lt Col. Ralph Honner CO 39th Bn)
Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels is name given to the caring native carriers of Papua New Guinea. Six hundred Australian lives were lost during the campaign but without the help of the "Fuzzy Wuzzies" the loss would have been much greater. Not only did they carry the wounded out but they also carried the ammunition, food and other supplies in. With the average load weighing over 40 kgs and often under heavy fire from the Japanese, the Fuzzy Wuzzies battled the terrain and the enemy as they painstakingly carried the wounded over the tough terrain. The great majority of the 18,000 New Guineans who participated in the campaign did so as carriers of supplies for the Allies, though 800 men from the Papuan Infantry Battalion and the Royal Papuan Constabulary fought against the Japanese in 1942.
With a party of eight, they constructed a stretcher out of branches and blankets, working four at a time. There is no known case of any wounded Australian solider being abandoned by the Fuzzy Wuzzies. They themselves were greatly affected by the war. Many villages were destroyed, food crops and pigs were raided and they could no longer occupy their huts, having to relocate their village further out in to the wilderness.
Fuzzy Wuzzies traversing the harsh terrain with a load of much needed supplies.
The incredible human chain which they formed across the Owen Stanley, gave the Australians the advantage over the Japanese. Organised by Bert Kienzle and Dr Geoffrey Vernon, important bush skills and local knowledge were employed by the New Guinea Natives.
'Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels'
Many a mother in Australia
when the busy day is done
Sends a prayer to the Almighty
for the keeping of her son
Asking that an angel guide him
and bring him safely back
Now we see those prayers are answered
on the Owen Stanley Track
For they haven't any halos
only holes slashed in their ears
And their faces worked by tattoos
with scratch pins in their hair
Bringing back the badly wounded
just as steady as a horse
Using leaves to keep the rain off
and as gentle as a nurse
Slow and careful in the bad places
on the awful mountain track
The look upon their faces
would make you think Christ was black
Not a move to hurt the wounded
as they treat him like a saint
It's a picture worth recording
that an artist's yet to paint
Many a lad will see his mother
and husbands see their wives
Just because the fuzzy wuzzy
carried them to save their lives
From mortar bombs and machine gun fire
or chance surprise attacks
To the safety and the care of doctors
at the bottom of the track
May the mothers of Australia
when they offer up a prayer
Mention those impromptu angels
with their fuzzy wuzzy hair.
Sapper H "Bert" Beros
NX 6925, 7th Div., RAE, AIF
"When I was young, I was going to Port Moresby, looking for work, in 1942. The Japanese dropped a bomb and started to fight with the Australian Army. The Japanese dropped more and more bombs. So I ran away from Port Moresby to Naduri. The Australians were at Uberi and Owers' Corner, near Sogeri. Their camps moved to Iorabaiwa, Naoro, Menari, Efogi and Kagi. It was a bad time. My father was a police man. There was a store for food and shells at Myola Lake . The Australians moved on to Isurava and Kokoda. The Japanese were camped at Buna and were moving down to the Australians who had to move back to Iorabaiwa again. The Australians fought back and pushed out the Japanese and won. The war was finished and the Japanese ran away to Buna. The fighting damaged all of our food gardens for the village people of Kagi and Naduri. We had no money. It took hard work, at a bad time. I keep the medal for my father now. 1942-1945 is a bad time."