PAPUAN INFANTRY IN THE AUSTRALIAN ARMY

Posted on October 8th, 2016 by:

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PAPUAN INFANTRY IN THE AUSTRALIAN ARMY

Photographs by Sgt. Dick Hanley

Many able and colorful combat outfits have fought in the New Guinea campaign. Not the least of these, on both counts, is the PIB—Papuan Infantry Battalion, photographed for these pages by YANKS’s Sgt. Dick Hanley. Its members, part of the Australian Army, are particularly expert at night fighting and operating behind Japanese Lines. They are recruited from villages all over the islands and start with a wage of 10 shillings or $1.60 a month. They can get as high as sergeant, where the top pay is $16 a month. One good job in the PIB is in the supply room. Hats, shoes and socks needn’t be stocked. And only sergeants wear shirts.



papuan infantry WWII

This is Pvt. Misirai, presenting arms with a British Lee-Enfield Rifle. Pvt. Misirai fled from a Japanese labor force at Buna into which he had been “recruited” from his village.

papuan infantry WWII

It’s help yourself on this chow line. Natives eat lots of vegetables, rice and bully beef.

papuan infantry WWII

Barracks inspection: Cloth the men wear is called a “Rami” or “Lap-Lap.” One thing they’re not concerned about is a shoeshine.



papuan infantry WWII

These are the large, scarred feet of a Papuan warrior, who can walk all day and more.

papuan infantry WWII

Cpl. Gamari, with Austen submachine gun and close-cropped hair, the PIB style.

papuan infantry WWII

Anything that is a test of skill interests the Papuan, so he likes to play football. In case you’re worried, their bare feet are not hurt kicking the ball. Their feet are harder than the ball.



papuan infantry WWII

Only sergeants wear stripes because only sergeants wear shirts. Gabriel’s a 3-year vet.

papuan infantry WWII

This is the same as sitting on the barracks steps at Fort Bragg and griping about chow.

papuan infantry WWII

If you think that the Papuan rookies march as well as this, you’re wrong. These men are veterans of two years of jungle combat, now back at a New Guinea base for rest and reorganization.



For More Reading on the War in New Guinea Check Out:

War at the End of the World: Douglas MacArthur and the Forgotten Fight For New Guinea, 1942-1945


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