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Remembering the sacrifices at Kokoda

Remembering the sacrifices at Kokoda

Remembering the sacrifices at Kokoda

10 August 2022

Major Lauriee Arthur, Officer-in-Charge and RSDS Senior Representative Enoggera (Qld), told the story of Australian Salvation Army officer Captain Albert Moore at the service commemorating the 80th anniversary of the Kokoda Track campaign.

By Cliff Worthing

The centrepiece of panel four on the Rotary Kokoda Memorial Wall features The Salvation Army’s Major Albert Moore providing comfort and refreshments to wounded soldiers on the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea during World War Two.

Joy Irwin (left) and Pat Sandry share their Kokoda Trail connection with Governor General David Hurley.

The memorial formed the backdrop to the Kokoda Day 2022 commemoration service held at Cascade Gardens, Broadbeach (Qld), on 8 August as part of the 80th anniversary of the defence of Kokoda.

The battle for the village of Kokoda against Japanese invaders took place on 8-10 August 1942. Further fighting occurred over the next four months along the Kokoda Track, resulting in more than 600 Australian soldier deaths. This was the largest Australian death toll of any World War Two battle.

Major Moore, a Red Shield Representative during World War Two, had developed a reputation for the efforts he would go to, often at great personal risk, to take news, encouragement and comfort to the troops. He was the founder of the famous ‘coffee and comfort bar’ beside the Kokoda Track.

“It’s an honour to lay a wreath at the mural to honour the work of Albert Moore and to remember why we do what we do,” said Major Brett Gallagher, Chief Commissioner-RSDS (Red Shield Defence Services). “He is held in high esteem in our team and across The Salvation Army broadly.” 

Major Lauriee Arthur, Officer in Charge, RSDS Senior Representative, Enoggera (Qld), laid a wreath with Brett during the service. “It’s a very privileged place that The Salvation Army has among our Defence Forces, and a lot of that goes back to the work of such people as Albert Moore.”

Also honoured at the commemoration was 101-year-old George Turner, one of three surviving members of the 39th Battalion. This battalion was the first Australian force to engage with the advancing Japanese troops.

Australian Governor-General David Hurley delivered the keynote address. He noted that more than 54,600 Australians have journeyed to the Kokoda Track to honour the sacrifices of the Australian soldiers. He believes there is a real spiritual connection with Kokoda that matches Gallipoli. “The story of Kokoda really does still captivate us,” he said.

Two Salvo volunteers helping provide refreshments for the guests experienced a special connection to this year’s commemoration.

Pat Sandry’s father fought on the Kokoda Track; in fact, she was born during the actual battle for the village of Kokoda. “I feel very close to my dad here. I haven’t experienced anything like it,” she said. 

Joy Irwin’s uncle fought during the Kokoda campaign. She distinctively remembers watching soldiers leave on the train.

“I think it is the most wonderful memorial,” she said.

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