What Remains Hidden

Whoever said that ‘food brings people together’ is correct in the experiences of 91-year-old war veteran, Reginald Turner, who went fishing with Japanese soldiers after the announcement of Hiroshima bombing.

In December 1944, at the young age of 18, Reginald was sent to south Bougainville as a medic aid, where he served for Australia until receiving news that Hiroshima had been hit by Atomic bomb and the second World War was over.

Commencement of war meant that both Australian and Japanese troops would be shortly traveling separate ways. However, according to Reginald, both cultures sourced food collaboratively, fishing with remaining dynamite explosives. Described as “a fish himself” Reginald discusses the swimming skill of the Japanese soldier who signalled the fish location in the river before climbing back into the tin boat in time to watch the water erupt from dynamite. As another Japanese soldier waited on the cue to throw the explosives into the river, “they were so placid all of a sudden” Reginald said. After consuming dehydrated mutton for years in war, it was said there was plenty of fish dispersed providing “good tucker” in comparison to previous experiences. Two months after the war had ended: “The Japanese were all shifted to another island where from there they were returned home”. Reginald arrived home in Sydney, ten months after the announcement of the atom bomb, “picking up my life from where it left off”. 

Defending against the Japanese, with more than 500 fatalities and 1500 wounded, the campaign within Bougainville was the most detrimental land campaign in the pacific for Australia. Mid 1944, Australia relieved the American campaign over Bougainville. Although, the Australian approach towards the Bougainville campaign became controversial due to seemly irrelevant aggressive approach.

World War Two placed the entire globe at the state of calamity. Described by Summerville as one of the deadliest conflicts in human history, for Reginald, war experiences upon Bougainville Island are shared minimally. This being due to happier achievements in life that can be encouraged and spoken about. Occurrences in the jungle are said to remain unspoken aside from the lonesome statement that asserts: “The jungle is a different kind of battlefield”.


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