PUBLISHED: 13 September 2017
Throughout the Kokoda Campaign there was a group of dedicated Papuans who offered their man power and support to allied troops along the Owen Stanley ranges in 1942.
The Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels, named for their frizzy hair and helpful role, became famous after Australian diggers wrote home describing their efforts along the muddy and treacherous terrain.
Their only previous contact they had with the modern world was occasional visits from Australian Government officials and they had no knowledge of modern warfare until the Pacific campaign tore through their villages in July 1942.
The local men carried in ammunition and supplies for the troops and then transported the sick and wounded on stretchers back to field aid stations.
A close bond quickly developed between the Papuans and the Australian Troops as a result of the dedication of “the Angels”.
The men gained a reputation for dedication, gentleness and bravery and if it wasn’t for the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels many lives would have been lost in action.
At the peak of the war, 55,000 Papua New Guinea males served as conscripted carriers, often under dreadful conditions.
The suffering of the Papua New Guineans was never fully recorded and will never be known in all its detail. Official records show that 81 soldiers and police were killed and about 200 wounded but there is no record of the number of carriers who died or the village people who were killed in a war fought on their soil and over which they had no control.
A sculpture designed by late Sub Branch member; designer of the original Cotton Tree Cenotaph and ex-Navy man Hugh Anderson depicting a wounded Australian soldier receiving a drink of water from a Fuzzy Wuzzy Angel is prominently displayed in the Sub Branch Museum.