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Ayanne Mehta is the Winner of the 2019 Harold Bould Award

Year 10 student Ayanne Mehta is the 2019 winner of the Harold Bould Award for her entry into the Essay Competition of the same name.

In recognition of this win, Ayanne has been awarded a trek to Kokoda in 2020, adding to her learning experience of this significant historical time.

About the Award

This literary competition was first held within the Cardinia Shire in 2008 and was named after Harold Bould. The competition is open to all year 10 students from all the secondary schools within the Cardinia Shire.

Students are invited to submit an essay of approximately six hundred words addressing these issues :

“Why would you like to trek the Kokoda Trail” and “What was the importance of the Kokoda Campaign in the Battle for Australia”.

The purpose of the competition is to encourage young people to research and understand the sacrifice made by so many ordinary people. Harold Bould was one of ten children, his family were potato and onion farmers from Cardinia, near Pakenham. Five brothers from this family enlisted for service during WW2. Harold and his brother Keith did not come home. Private Harold Bould who served in B company, 39th Battalion, was killed in action at Kokoda Village.

Ayanne’s Essay:

39th Battalion ‘Harry Bould’ Essay Competition 2019

 Ayanna Mehta 10.1 Pakenham Secondary College (teacher Mr Telford)

1)      Why would you like to trek the Kokoda trail?

2)      What was the importance of the Kokoda campaign in the Battle for Australia?

During the Kokoda Campaign of 1942, most of the local population in Papua New Guinea sympathised and supported Australian soldiers. They were called, in the language of the time, “Fuzzy-Wuzzy Angels”. They carried the injured, guided soldiers through “hell on earth” (McLaren, 1964, p64) and they were pivotal because “without them…fewer [Australian soldiers] would have survived” (Turnbull, 2019). However, “few people have heard [the story] from the Papuan side” (Turnbull, 2019) and the Harry Bould Competition is an opportunity for me to hear their story; a story with many tragedies but a peaceful ending. The Soldiers and “the Fuzzy-Wuzzies” were resilient, selfless, mentally and physically strong; this is everything I aspire to be. I hope I get the privilege of trekking the Kokoda trail so that I can empathise with those who fought and died so that we could be safe.

Paranoia and anxiety had corrupted the mind of every Australian since the fall of Singapore. Japan’s victorious attack on Singapore had left Australia vulnerable, as a result of around “15,000 Australian [soldiers becoming] Japanese prisoners of war” (Easton, Howitt, Wilson, Carrodus, Delany, Wilson, 2016, p298). Furthermore, from the 31st of May to the 8th of June 1942, Japanese submarines had launched numerous attacks on Sydney Harbour and surrounding areas. Between then and November 1943, there were also ninety-seven airborne attacks on Northern Australia resulting in more than 900 casualties. Consequently, many Australians were convinced that the Japanese were planning a full-scale attack on Australia and that Port Moresby in New Guinea would be pivotal for the survival of our country. This psychological impact is reflected through the Australian propaganda posters of that time (Hunter, 2019). Henceforth, the Kokoda campaign was a desperate attempt to stop the Japanese before they reached the Australian mainland.

The Kokoda campaign was significant because it was the first time that Australians were fighting for our own country. However, “most Australian troops were fighting… in Africa and in the Middle East or had been captured as [Japanese prisoners] of war” (Easton, Howitt, Wilson, Carrodus, Delany, Wilson, 2016, p300). This meant that Australia was to be defended by young, inexperienced and untrained “chocolate soldiers”. The 39th Battalion was formed in Melbourne whereas the 53rd Battalion was formed in Sydney, however, both of these Battalions were army conserves consisting of emergency troops and volunteers. They were commonly referred to as “chocolate soldiers” because these troops were anticipated to be terminated as fast as melting chocolate. Despite the lack of training, experience and faith from back home, these soldiers fought and prevented the Japanese from conquering Port Moresby for four weeks. This was significant because their success restored spirit and hope within the Australian people and assisted Australia to win this battle both militarily and psychologically.   

Finally, it may be concluded that Australia was victorious in the Kokoda campaign because of the courage and sacrifices displayed by the “chocolate soldiers”. Kokoda will always be recorded in history as one of the most significant battles for Australia since it was the first time that Australians fought for our own country. Although most of the “chocolate soldiers” died in battle, their stories live on through communication and educating programs such as the Harry Bould Competition. This competition is an opportunity for patriotic people, people who feel lost and are seeking direction. Additionally, this competition is an opportunity for me to open my eyes to the struggles of people living in Papua New Guinea today and during the time of the Kokoda Campaign. The trek will help me improve my knowledge, discipline, resilience, empathy and learn life-lessons that will benefit me in the future. 

References

  1. Australian Government Department of Veterans’ affairs, 2017, Australia and the Second World War, (viewed on 1/9/19), <https://anzacportal.dva.gov.au/history/conflicts/australia-and-second-world-war/events/coral-sea-kokoda-and-milne-bay-1
  2. C. Clark, 2002, Remembering 1942: The end of the Kokoda Campaign, Australian War Memorial, (viewed on 1/9/19), <https://www.awm.gov.au/articles/blog/1942-end-of-kokoda>
  3. C. Hunter, 2017, An inspiration to all, Australian War Memorial, (viewed on 1/9/19), <https://www.awm.gov.au/articles/blog/kenneth-eather-diary-goes-on-display>
  4. H. McLaren, 1964, Crossing the Owen Stanley Ranges, All Poetry, (viewed on 1/9/19), <https://allpoetry.com/The-Crossing-of-the-Owen-Stanley-Range>
  5. Kokoda Initiative, Australian Government, Papua New Guinea Government, 2015, Voices from the War, (viewed on 1/9/19), <https://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/resources/9a07a9ae-a50b-4e29-b8a4-0ae678d5b62b/files/voices-war.pdf>
  6. M. Easton, B. Howitt, J. Wilson, G. Carrodus, T. Delany, A. Wilson, 2016, Oxford Big Ideas Humanities Victorian Curriculum, Oxford University Press, Australia, pp 296-301