Jenna's Story

In September 2017 my brother and I visited PNG with the help of Kokoda Trail Expeditions. Our uncle John Campbell was killed in December 1942, near the village of Sanananda. For many years we had talked about visiting his grave in Bomana War Cemetery. After several months of research I was able to put together a picture of where our uncle had been during his time in PNG in 1942. I contacted John at Kokoda Trail Expeditions to ask if he could put together an itinerary for us, so that we could follow in our uncle’s footsteps. Thanks to John and his team, we were able to visit our uncle’s grave, and deliver a letter that our mother had written to him 75 years earlier. John and the team were supportive and respectful during this very emotional visit. We also drove to Ower’s Corner, through areas that our uncle had patrolled. The following day we flew over the Range to Poppondetta, seeing what had been Dobodura airfield where our uncle probably landed when his battalion was sent to fight, and the area where they would have marched. We visited 3 villages, and by talking to the locals and providing landmark descriptions found in the War Diaries, we were able to walk into the jungle to the approximate area where the fighting took place and where our uncle was killed. A highlight for us was visiting the village of Sanananda, and finding a plaque there which honoured the sacrifice made by the men of the 55/53rd.  It was important to us to visit the places that had significance to us, and John understood this and planned our trip accordingly. His knowledge of the area and it’s history helped to make it a very special visit, and we felt well looked after with regard to transfers and meals. Our trip to Bomana and Sanananda is something my brother and I will always remember.

SEP 2017