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The sculptural afterlife
of an iconic 1942 New Guinea photograph by George Silk (1916-2004)

A moment captured

George Silk’s 1942 photograph known as the “fuzzy wuzzy angel” is a well-known image that now has strong links to the World War II battle against the Japanese along the Kokoda Trail in the Owen Stanley Range, Papua New Guinea. It was taken on Christmas Day 1942. The photograph is of a Papuan carrier gently guiding a blinded Australian Infantryman away from the front line to a base hospital in the Buna area.

The image stands comparison with the role of the number of sculptures and graphic images based on photographs of now legendary medic Simpson and his donkey at Gallipoli in World War I.

Iconic photographs often serve as the basis for graphic take-offs, monuments and memorial sculptures. The most famous being American Joe Rosenthal‘s photograph of the raising of the US army flag on Iwo Jima in 1945. It is now known that this action was re-staged for the photographer. The photograph is the basis for the national memorial to the U.S. Marine Corps in Arlington, Virginia in 19541 but also endless reinterpretations in other artworks, cartoons and posters.

New Zealand born George Silk was an official war photographer with the Australian Infantry Force (AIF).

Silk had served in the middle east, North Africa and Greece before being posted to Papua New Guinea.

His photograph of the Papuan carrier assisting the blinded AIF soldier to an aid station, quickly became a well-known image after publication in March 1943 and has been in use ever since its publication in the 1940s.

A second surge of interest in the photograph occurred in1970s when the two young men in the photograph were identified publicly for the first time.

The image is not of the Kokoda track nor the battles there but has becoame inseparably associated linked with Kokoda campaign anniversaries and sculptural monuments. There has been little acknowledgment that the location of the photograph was near one end of the Kokoda trail and that the soldier was wounded in an engagement around a coastal airport.


Nevertheless, the image remains unique and has been used for variations of Kokoda sculpture renditions since the 1970s.

The soldier in the image is Private George Whittington. He recovered from his wounds but died shortly after in February 1943 from fever. His Papuan carrier Raphael Oimbari was one of some 50,000 Papuans ‘recruited’ to the war effort by bringing food and ammunition into the front lines and then carrying wounded out.

Oimbari survived the war and in later life became a campaigner for recognition of Papuan orderlies and war efforts. He made five trips to Australia including in In 1992 for the he travelled to Canberra and Brisbane for the 50th Anniversary ceremonies of the Kokoda Campaign and was awarded an OBE in 1993. He died in 1996.

George Silk, who was already ill with malaria when he took the photograph on Christmas Day, collapsed on New Year’s Day. He was repatriated to Sydney. By October 1943 Silk had resigned his Australian commission in frustration with the attitude of the Australian Department of Information’s and their refusal to use Silk’s photographs (being deemed to be too sensitive).

He soon became a staff photographer with LIFE magazine. He reported on the War in Europe and Japan and worked for LIFE until the magazine’s close in 1972. He died in Connecticut in 2004.

Silk’s image, taken near the trailhead of the Kokoda Trail, has subsequently been used as the basis for a number of Kokoda memorial sculptures for the Kokoda Trail. The earliest rendition is a bronze sculpture commissioned by Narrabundah Returned Soldiers League in Canberra that was unveiled on ANZAC Day in 1970 as a Kokoda memorial.

Other versions in two as well as three dimensions have been located in Australia and in New Guinea mostly associated with the Kokoda campaign. Each commission slightly tweaks the simpler humanitarian compassion meaning of the original photograph to accommodate memorialising a battle and Australian soldiers.


The Original Photograph

On Christmas Day 1942 three young men crossed paths and destinies on a track through Kunai grass leading to and from the front at Buna in the Owen Stanley Range of Papua, New Guinea. Fighting was still active at the northern end of the Buna ‘Old Strip’ established by the Japanese.

The image shows twenty-three-year-old Private George Charles Whittington of the 2/10th Australian Infantry Battalion with both eyes bandaged having been wounded in the battle for Buna airstrip the day before. He is being led to an AIF field hospital at Dobodura by Raphael Oimbari, a Papuan Papuan recruited as a carriern orderly by ANGAU (Australian New Guinea Administrative Unit).

George Silk was heading back to the front when he saw the pair and took their photograph. The image was first published by Silk in LIFE magazine on 8 March 1943 and so began its path to iconic status.

George Charles Whittington, a painter by trade from Nundah Queensland, was born on 18th October 19192 in the Queensland rural town of Kilcoy. He was the only son of Francis Cecil and Mary Waise Whittington of Northgate. ‘Charlie’ as he was known to family3, had married Constance Matilda Greensill on 20 January 1940 in Brisbane.

Whittington had enlisted on 27 September 1941 and to see active service, stowed away on the "Taroona" which was taking reinforcements to New Guinea. He re-enlisted at Milne Bay4. He was wounded around his eyes during the Battle of Buna airfield on 24 December.

Five ANGAU orderlies Raphael Oimbari, Fabian Javoambo, Stonewight Haita, Noah Javoko and Adam Ware from the Orokaivan village of Hanau southeast of Cape Sudest, about ten kilometres away were tasked on 25 December to take one stretcher case and one walking wounded to Dobodura casualty clearing station.

Oimbari was one of two sons of Gamopa and Sirere Hiriki, born about 1925. He had married earlier that year, was the oldest member of the party and the third orderly to escort Private Whittington that day. Adam Ware had cut a walking stick to assist Whittington. Whittington is in shorts and no shoes. His other kit was possibly carried by one of the other orderlies who were further ahead on the track. Oimbari wears a traditional loin cloth and has a satchel of some kind on his shoulder and a neck chief.

In late life George Silk explained that on that day he was taken by the tender guiding hand of Oimbari on Whittington’s upper arm. He squatted slightly about ten feet away and made a photograph on his Rolleiflex, then continued on his way. Silk was ill with malaria and collapsed while photographing the fighting at Buna on New Year’s Day, and was evacuated to hospital in Port Moresby, where he recovered and on discharge, returned to Sydney.

The power of the images is the gesture of the fine-looking young Papuan who Silk described as ‘nude’ in native dress guiding the soldier. He does not look to camera. The contrast with the wounded man in crumpled partial uniform is poignant. It is Christmas day and thus evokes the Biblical good Samaritan.

The young man is walking. He accepts help. He is not beaten or totally dependent. They are not on the ghastly mud soaked tropical jungle of the Kokoda track, battlefield or in the aid station where carnage and battle debris would bring home the realities of war. The image could not disturb or undermine the war effort. The soldier with his eyes obscured by bandages also makes the image more generalised. It is always a punch to hear of Whittington’s death not on the field or from wounds but the diseases of the tropics.

Silk had no opportunity to see his pictures developed as the negatives were sent to the Department of Information as required. However, he felt there was strong imagery in them and was able to secure some prints.

LIFE Magazine 8th March 1943


Without clearance, Silk sent the image of Whittington and Oimbari to LIFE magazine. Executive Editor at LIFE Wilson Hicks had already run an image of a New Zealand cow sent by Silk in the February 1943 issue. The New Guinea image was published on 8 March in a small 'Picture of the Week' column under the heading; “BLIND SOLDIER: Papuan native leads an Australian infantryman away from Buna front”.

The commentary spoke of the ‘white soldier being aided by a native whose tribe not long ago were head hunters’. It also commented that the Japanese had looted Oimbari’s remote village and forced the villages to labour until they were relieved by ‘white men’ (the Australian Infantry). After that ‘He was ready to care tenderly for their wounded’.

Back in Sydney Silk did not know that Whittington had survived his injuries but had succumbed to ‘scrub typhus’ and dysentery on 18 February 19435.  George Silk soon resigned his commission. His desired appointment as a staff photographer was noted in a small text block with portrait in the October 11 1943 issue of LIFE. He remained on staff until the magazine’s closure in 1972. Later Silk became known for his innovative sports action colour photography. He married an American nursing sister and became an American Citizen in 1947 and lived in Westport, Connecticut until his death there in October 2004.

Silk's Whittington/ Oimbari image appeared in Australia in May 1943 as the first plate in War in New Guinea: Official war Photographs of the Battle for Australia published by Frank Johnston. In mid 1943, Johnston also published The Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels and other verses by Sapper Bert Beros.

A drawing based on a photograph of a soldier aided by a Papuan in the harder slog conditions of the Kokoda trail appears in one edition of the Beros book. Silk’s image was never used in conjunction with the poem.

The poem (link to full poem below6) was written on 14 October 1942 at Dump 66, the first Range of the Owen Stanley and tells how:

The look on their faces
Would make you think that 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.

The poem became a phenomenal success after publication in Australian newspapers and magazines. On 28 October 1942 the Daily Mirror reported on the poem by an unknown soldier being in circulation in Menari, New Guinea, and quoted a stanza. The Benalla Ensign of 27 November 1942 reported on a clipping sent in by Sapper Cecil Wright in the Owen Stanley Ranges.

Numerous articles carried the poem in many newspapers from that time on. Its appearance in the Courier Mail and The Australian Women’s Weekly 9 January 1943 ensured the public fame of the poem. So there was by late 1942 a heightened public interest and sympathy for the Papuan orderlies carriers which became legendary with the circulation of the poem.

On 6 March 1943 in the Melbourne Sporting Globe the author now known to be Beros referred to the poem being conceived as he slashed the grass on the very type of track that Whittington and Oimbari walked.

The poem was printed on postcards by The Courier Mail and reputedly sold 3000. Subscriptions were raised to send comforts to the Papuan sorderlies. The esteem of the role and care given by the Papuans in the battle for New Guinea was mentioned by soldiers other than Beros and continues to be recognised to the present day.

LIFE magazine had not used the term Fuzzy Wuzzy but all the Australian press did. “Fuzzy Wuzzy” seems to have originated in the 19th century with the British military referencing the Hadendoa, an East African nomadic tribe. Later the term seems to have been adopted by Rudyard Kipling who titled an 1892 poem “Fuzzy Wuzzy” which describes the “respect of the ordinary British soldier for the bravery of the Hadendoa warriors who fought the British army in the Sudan and Eritrea.”

No painter stepped up to the call but the George Silk photo fitted the quest.

It is not known for certain whether Silk knew of the poem but given the huge popularity and rapid distribution over the months of October November and December 1942, it would be remarkable if he did not. As a war photographer Silk was alert to all news and stories but he was also expert at networking with journalists. The poem’s success reflected actual sentiments among Australian soldiers in new Guinea, then Silk would have been primed by this ambience to recognise the scene he came upon as a perfect expression of that sentiment.

It was not until 1972 that Whittington’s widow Constance, now Mrs Joseph Lionel Steiger, was in New Guinea for a Jehovah’s Witness Congress and made inquiries via the Post Courier to find the man who had helped her husband. She clearly knew about the photograph.The family had known it was their George in the photograph since the 1950s

That identification of Oimbari coincided with campaigns by New Guineas who had served the war effort orderlies and victims of the war and Australian veterans to address the undervaluing of the Papuans role and requests for compensation. Oimbari, as a catholic, would have had basic English from missionary influence and that facilitated their exchange. Oimbari and Constance Steiger met and he named a grandchild grand son Washington after Whittington and a grand daughter Tiga after Mrs Steiger..

Oimbari used his profile from then on to speak for his people. In 1981 he recorded his experiences in front of the camera for the 1982 documentary Angels of War by Ronin films in association with the Australian War Memorial. In it Oimbari says that the original image may appear as if the two are in a safe zone but 'We walked until the Japanese started firing in our direction, then we hid beside the track. Shells were bursting all around us'. There are many articles on Oimbari.

The image had most currency from the 1980s on as memorialisation of the Kokoda campaign increased and anniversaries were marked. Of the iconic Buna photograph, Senior Historian Australian War Memorial Dr Lachlan Grant wrote "It's one of the most iconic images of Australia in the Second World War. Together with Damien Parer’s award-winning films of the Kokoda campaign and Sapper Bert Beros’s poem Fuzzy wuzzy angels, Silk’s photograph helped shape Australia’s view of the role of Papuans during the war”.

“For Australians at home, they saw the Papuans as caring, and helping to look after the Australian troops who were in need and had been wounded. These iconic scenes show that humanitarian aspect, and it really was quite significant. Australians probably hadn’t thought much about their nearest neighbours before the war, even though Papua and New Guinea were territories administered by Australia at the time. It really put the plight of Papuans in the forefront of the minds of Australians at home and painted them in a way that showed they were there helping the Australians.”

The Australian War Memorial website has a good article on the complex meanings and background to the 1942 iconic image.


  1. Wikipedia entry
  2. online entry - and George Charles (Dick) Whittington  Virtual War Memorial
  3. Some captions have George ‘Dick ‘Whittington It is not clear where ‘Dick” as a nick name came from and I have excluded it without proof of any contemporaneous use. It is also not clear if Silk took Whittington’s name on the day and if so is unlikely to have been told it was “Dick’ Whittington.
  4. George Charles Whittington (1919 - 1943) Whittington was Bomana War Cemetery.    Constance Whittington remarried builder contractor Joseph Lionel Steiger by 1956. George’s father Francis  died in 1954 and mother Mary lived until 1986. His three sisters would have been aware of the revival of interest and circulation of the Silk photograph. The photograph was recognised in the 1950s as being of Whittington..
  5. The most detailed account of the image and how Silk obtained prints of his negatives held by the Department of Information is by John Phillips see Eric Johns ‘The Story behind the picture’. First published in the NSW RSL magazine Reveille UNA VOCE. PNGAA Library entry.
  6. The Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels and other verses by Sapper Bert Beros.




After the Photograph

When looking at the many sculptures based on the Buna image as well as photographs from Kokoda and New Guinea war scene we are reminded just how particularly valuable photographs are for the purpose of sculpture or model making. They provide great detail unlike some painted and graphic war reportage and that magic is felt that the subjects were in front of the lens at a moment in time and left their shadow on the film.

Below is a selection of sculptural efforts based diectly and indirectly on the George Silk photograph. There are others but for the points being made, this selection serve that purpose. For most of the sculptures the motivations has been to render the Buna image to the cause of recording battlefield horrors and gallantry. In many, the result has diminished the quiet appeal of the original George Silk image of the two men involved in a horrible war and who were bound together on that Christmas Day in 1942.


# One: Canberra Services Club


The sculpture at the Canberra Services Club was commissioned by the Narrabundah Returned Soldiers League from a young local artist Helena J Anderson. The statue was unveiled in the front garden of the Club on ANZAC Day, 25th April 1970. The Kokoda memorial project had been started some years before and guided by the treasurer of the Kingston-Narrabundah RSL and had gained official support in 1967.

Anderso,n a Canberra Girls Grammar graduate, had trained as a sculptor at TAFE but her subsequent career is unknown. After graduation she completed a two-year welding course at Canberra Technical College and was top student in the course. A newspaper item on the student awards ceremony in Albert Hall noted Anderson had had two exhibitions in Canberra as well as being the sculptor for the Kokoda Memorial at the Kingston-Narrabundah RSL Club.

The original plaque at the Narrabundah Club said ‘This tribute to the Papuans and New Guineans who assisted the Australian troops in their hour of trial on the Kokoda Trail was unveiled by General Sir John Wilton, K.B.E., C.B., D.S.O., the Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee ‘. At the time the identity of Whittington and Oimbari were not known. When the Club was later disbanded, the statue was donated to the Canberra Services Club in 1983. The sculpture’s prominence was later compromised by an insensitively placed huge tank also installed at the site.

Later inscriptions were added to the sculpture to name and honour Oimbari after his personal visit to Australia and the club premises in 1992. He carried the message of reparations needed for the low pay and conditions of ANGAU recruits. The Kokoda trail like the WWI Gallipoli landing, have become sites of pilgrimage for generations of Australians both veterans their families but also young people with no personal connections to World War II veterans.

The Canberra Services club sculpture is rendered in a semi abstract style with heavy texture and elongated thin forms that Swiss sculptor Alberto Giacometti made famous in works such as his 1960 ‘Walking Man’. The sense of the two men walking in step has been diminished and the sense of connection as Oimbari watches Whittington as well as the track ahead. The contrast of Oimbari’s lithe naked body and the wounded man is also lessened.

Perhaps the respective commissioning bodies felt that somehow the gentle image of vulnerability on the soldier's part in the original photograph was just not quite rousing enough. The work lacks the pathos and deeper meaning of the original photograph by Silk. It was a Kokoda memorial and the image was not from that rough and ghastly terrain so the harsher mood of the sculpture was more aligned with that image.

The Canberra Services Club burnt down in 2011. As of 2024, the statue stands forlornly in front of the vacant property, with that large tank threatening - on a very busy corner.

Many feel the sculpture deserves a better fate.


Oimbari visiting Canberra - in front of the Services Club statue


View of Canberra Statue before the fire


View of Canberra Statue in 2023 - with tank close by.





# Two: Anzac Square, Brisbane


The South-West Pacific [SWPA] Memorial in Anzac Square Brisbane is the second major memorial referencing the 1942 Buna photograph and is a group of three figures among statues in the parkland that mark conflicts since the 1899-1901 Boer War.

The South-West Pacific Memorial was unveiled by Alderman Jim Soorley, Lord Mayor of Brisbane on 29 August 1992 for the 50th Anniversary of the Battle of Milne Bay and is dedicated to those who fought in Papua New Guinea and Borneo, such as the Battle of Milne Bay, the Kokoda Track, Battles of Buna Gona, Bougainville, Tarakan, Brunei Bay and Balikpapan 1941-1945. Anniversary ceremonies for the Kokoda Track on 21 July and Battle of Milne Bay on 29 August, are held in front of the SWPA group statue.

The sculptor was Queensland artist John Underwood and his artbusters foundry in Red Hill. The sculpture plaque reads ‘This memorial depicts a wounded Australian soldier descending the Kokoda Trail assisted by a strong, dependable Papua New Guinean leading him to safety. They are being passed by a fresh, determined soldier resolute in the task ahead.’  Thus while the bandaged eyes of the soldier suggests its source is the Buna 1942 image the memorial complex addresses the battle of Kokoda in very different muddy tropical terrain.

The Papuan whose features and hair are quite different from Oimbari’s as seen in the the photograph. He is on the left and leads slightly and is using the stick that Whittington had in his right hand in the photograph. The Papuan’s fine musculature is gone as is the neck chief and tasselled loin cloth. Whittington without a shirt has boots and leans heavily on the Papuan with his arm around his neck.

The soldier still carries his gun slung round his shoulder and third figure of a soldier with rifle and pack heads in the opposite direction back to to the front as if in battle mode. The ground across which they walk is sloped depicts the mud and hilly slog of the Kokoda track. A number of other Kokoda photographs appear to have been used to form this more rousing than reflective scenario. The casting has an impasto effect rather than the lifelike realism that is sometimes sought in bronze memorials.

Raphael Oimbari attended the ANZAC Square of the 29 August 1992 unveiling of the SWPA memorial. It was reported that a sister of Whittington also attended. The statue has a wide war front to reference so the recognition of Papuan service is only a part. The poignancy of the 1942 Buna image is lost.

Notes: Most recently on 27 May 2022, a dedicated memorial to Queensland’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander service men and women was unveiled in the park.   John Underwood had made the very popular ‘The Human Factor’ series of over 80 lifelike fibreglass sculptures commissioned by Expo’88 artistic director John Truscott. He relocated to Phuket in 2000.



# Three: Kokoda Memorial Walk, Broadbeach, Queensland




A Kokoda Memorial Walk Cascade Gardens Broadbeach, Queensland. Along the walk are information plaques, designed by Ross Bastiaan that follow Kokoda Campaign from the arrival of the 39th Battalion at Port Moresby and the commencement of the Australian troops journey to its completion at the village of Kokoda.

Dedicated in 2008, the images on the wall are based on the famous photos taken by wartime photographers and correspondents Damien Parer and George Silk, and are impressed onto seven panels The undulating upper edge of the installation follows the line of the track over the Owen Stanley Ranges. A relief map shows the rugged topography over which the almost 100 kilometre track passes.

David Yardley of the West Burleigh studio was commissioned to develop the concept into a complete set of plans. The images were initially carved out of plasticine, then moulded and poured in reinforced concrete.  Yardley also contributed to the Ferntree Gully commemorative wall similar to the memorial at Cascade Gardens. This was refined into a statue of a blinded soldier accompanied by two other Australian soldiers while Papuans appear as carriers in the other panels.



# Four: The Kokoda Track Memorial Walkway, Concord, Sydney


The most elaborate memorial featuring the 1942 Buna photograph is The Kokoda Track Memorial Walkway community project opened in 1996. The Track covers more than 800 metres from Rhodes railway station to Concord Repatriation General Hospital in Sydney’s inner-west, and runs along the mangrove-studded shores of Brays Bay on the Parramatta River.

The Memorial Centrepiece features iconic images sandblasted onto the walls on themes of The Golden Stairs, Return From Isurava, Forward Scouts, Mateship, Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels. Each of these signifies qualities of ‘courage’, ‘endurance’, ‘mateship’ and ‘sacrifice’ of those who fought in the campaign. The 1942 photograph is one of five graphic rendered plaques after photographs. The complex is multifaceted and the allows for quiet contemplation.

The Walkway conducts three main commemorative services: Anzac Service (April), Victory in the Pacific (VP) Day (August) and Kokoda Day (November).  Other wreath-laying services are also conducted from time to time.



# Five: Concord Research ANZAC Institute, Sydney


Also at Concord Hospital is a sculpture of the 1942 Buna image by Dr Maryann Nicholls, the late former hospital chief haematologist. It is placed outside the ANZAC Research Institute, a biomedical research institute based at Concord Hospital. It is a modest but quite faithful rendition and appropriately for a healing centre focusses on the original image of compassion and care.



# Six: 1000 Steps - Ferntree Gully (Kokoda Memorial Trail), Melbourne



Another Kokoda Trail is in the Dandenongs it is called the 1000 Steps - Ferntree Gully (Kokoda Memorial Trail) and has a three person sculpture titled Mateship based on the 1942 Buna photograph in the use of a blinded soldier but as with the ANZAC Square monument the soldier leans heavily on the Papuan and a third fit soldier with gun accompanies them.

The maquette for this work is in the The Shrine War Memoial in Melbourne.



# Seven: War Memorial Park, Scottsdale, Tasmania

Wood sculptures also exist as in the work War Memorial Park, Scottsdale Tasmania by Eddie Freeman dedicated in 2017 which is coloured giving quite a different feel to the usual renditions of the image. Here Whittington has his arm around Oimbari’s neck.

The plaque records that : In June 2008, Australian senator Guy Barnett called for his country's Parliament to give official recognition to Papua New Guineans' courage and contributions to the war effort. In 2009, the Australian government began awarding the 'Fuzzy Wuzzy Commemorative Medallion' to living Papua New Guineans who assisted the Australian war effort, usually bringing survivors and their families to Port Moresby for ceremonial presentations. Australian veterans generally complained that the recognition was too little, too late.

# Eight: Port Moresby Remembrance Park, New Guinea


The finest sculpture in quality of interpretation is the combined high relief sculptural panel by Australian sculptor Michael Meszaros who wrote in an email to me in 6 sept 2022:

The work came about when l was approached by a man called Rod Miller, who had spent some time in PNG and who had been asked by the Port Moresby District Commission (l think) to find a sculptor who could create an over life-size interpretation of the photo as a commemoration of the PNG Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels’ contribution to the WWII effort.

As representative of the Association of Sculptors of Victoria, l showed him the files of photos of various members’ work and as a result he asked me to take on the project as l was the only one with a track record of work of such type and scale.

The original request was to make two over life-size figures in full three dimensions. After some consideration, l thought that there should be a primary focus on Oimbari, representing the FWAs together with a hierarchy of importance of the elements that made the photo so potent and which illustrated in some way what made PNG such a terrible place to fight a war.

The result was my proposal to make a full figure of Oimbari, Whittington in high relief stepping out of the background panel, and the elements of the terrain filling the rest of the panel. These elements are the kunai grass (in the photo) the jungle and the mountains, which l added for the purpose of expressing the idea. The result was intended to express Oimbari leading the blinded Whittington out of that difficult country to safety with the care for which the FWAs were famous.

I did two inscription plates, one of which carried the poem which was the source of the nickname That was a major effort in itself, engraving the whole poem in plaster, backwards. The figures are 2.4 metres high and the whole work is 3 metres high.  I understand that the work has had three locations and now appears to be an important element in the Port Moresby Remembrance Park. (email 6 sept 2022 to Gael Newton)

This is probably the only occasion the Bert Beros poem has accompanied the image



# Nine: Medalions


The 1942 Buna image has been the model for medallions. The medallion was announced by (Australian) Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and (PNG) Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare on April 28 2009. 1,500 Commemorative Medallions featuring the image from the photograph were minted at Royal Australian Mint Canberra for presentation to surviving members of PNG civilians who worked with Australian troops during the war.

The first medallion was presented by Australia’s Veterans’ Affairs Minister Alan Griffin at a special ceremony at Bomana War Cemetery on 23 July 2009 to Wesley Akove [Nepe Kumanya] for his help with Australian soldiers during WWII.

After the war, Raphael Oimbari continued to live in Hanau Village Oro Province. He was married before the war and had children, but they died during the war. He subsequently had more children.

When Oimbari died in July 1996 the Australian High Commissioner, David Irvine and other dignitaries attended the funeral. His grave was later surrounded by a concrete edging and a bronze plaque on a plinth depicting the famous picture. Fabian Javoambo, the last of the Hanau Fuzzy Wuzzy Angel team of five, assisting on the Buna track on Christmas Day 1942, died in December 1998.


# Alternative image

An alternative soldier/orderly photograph (Australian War Memorial)



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