Letter to  Una Voce,  18.7.09

(Magazine of Papua New Guinea Association of Australia)

Andrea Williams           Editor    Una Voce 



Anne McCosker writes: 

I was interested to read the comments by Jim Eames in the March Una Voce regarding Squadron Leader Keith Rundle.  In my book Masked Eden a history of the Australians in New Guinea page 279 there is a facsimile of a REPORT headed WAR CRIMES- RABAUL. This is dated 3rd July 1950.  This REPORT begins ‘During the past several weeks Flight Lieut. Rundle  of the RAAF and Colonel Horton of the Imperial War  Graves Commission have been re-opening graves ……about one mile south of  Matupi Volcano Rabaul.’       Paragraph three ends with ‘The statement of the Japanese Commander is now proved untrue and steps have been taken by Flight Lieut. Rundle to have the Commander detained as a war criminal in Japan’. 

I wrote on page 278 (Masked Eden) - opposite the above facsimile – This document of 3rd July perhaps illustrated the whole Montevideo Maru story. 1. Amongst the bodies found in July 1950 were the complete crew of a Catalina, said by the Japanese Commander at Rabaul to have been drowned when the destroyer they were transferred to Japan on, was sunk. 2. Political pressure was placed on relevant people to be silent.  (In Masked Eden, page 343, NOTE 41, is given further information on the above facsimile.)  

I  agree whole heartedly with Jim Eames when he says  ‘I’ve often wondered since how many more we think may have been tragically lost on the Montevideo Maru  might still be not far from Rabaul’.  Two pages before Rundle’s comments in Una Voce a letter of mine is printed.  In that I have given two more examples of primary source material that casts doubts on the official version of WWII Rabaul. 

The basic FACTS of the Fall of Rabaul, that all-consuming disaster of 23rd January 1942 are known to some people.  See for example my chapter Who Cares? in Masked Eden.  So many men and some women, New Guinean, Europeans, Chinese, died violent deaths after that event.  So while I can understand the idea of interesting the general public in the ‘Montevideo Maru’ as a way of opening up the whole subject, the controversy around this ship - over 60 years old now - cannot be fully understood unless one studies the known facts behind the Fall of Rabaul and its Aftermath, the tragedy which led to the ‘Montevideo Maru’.  

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