A moving ceremony has been held in Papua New Guinea to rededicate the final resting place of two Australian soldiers and a local interpreter killed in the Second World War.
Minister for Defence Science and Personnel Warren Snowdon said, the rededication will properly recognise Lieutenant Scobell McFerran-Rogers and Private John Whitworth and their patrol’s Timorese interpreter, Roestan who were killed in 1945.
The men were members of the Z Special Unit, which operated in South East Asia during the war, carrying out daring raids and operations behind enemy lines.
Their patrol was deployed at very short notice to rescue downed US airmen in the Celebes (Sulawesi) in what was then the Netherlands East Indies and is now Indonesia.
“The patrol encountered a strong Japanese force and had to abort its mission. In a fierce firefight, LT McFerran-Rogers and Roestan were killed.
“After being separated from the patrol, PTE Whitworth was captured and executed by the Japanese,” Mr Snowdon said.
“For some 67 years the graves of these men were marked as ‘Known to God,’ however the Unrecovered War Casualties – Army (UWC-A) team was able to confirm the location of their burial in the Bomana Cemetery in Port Moresby.”
The UWC-A investigation took several months and involved a thorough search of Australian and US archives.
The families of the two Australians were located and notified of the outcome of the investigation. The families of Scobell McFerran-Rogers and John Whitworth provided epitaph’s for the new headstones, to relace the ‘Known to God’ headstones which covered their graves for so many years. Scobell McFerran-Rogers’ headstone is now engraved ‘Lost – now found, never forgotten, R.I.P.
“I am pleased that this has provided the two families and Army with a chance to finally recognise the sacrifice of these brave Australians,” he said.
The Office of Australian War Graves has installed new headstones bearing their names.
“I hope the knowledge of exactly where they now lie will provide their families and their mates, including those veterans of Z Special, with some sense of closure.
“Australians will never forget these men or their sacrifice,” Mr Snowdon said.
Lidija Ivanovski (Minister Snowdon) 02 6277 7820 or 0407 108 935
Defence Media Operations: 02 6127 1999