Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Time warp

News this morning that Australian Brian Freeman has discovered the site - untouched for 68 years - of a significant World War II battle in the jungle of Papua New Guinea. Freeman is a former army captain and an expert on the Kokoda Trail, which he and his team were hiking in April. They hoped to find the remnants of a make-shift Japanese hospital, and they did find that in the form of kidney-shaped medical dishes. But they also found large rectangular rifle pits, indicating that the site was a defensive position, and a line of ammunition running out from a rifle that had been dropped as the Japanese advanced to the rear. "However, it was the discovery of a Japanese soldier sitting up against a tree, only centimeters from the surface still in his helmet, with his boots nearby that began to tell the human story," says Freeman. He was just one of the casualties of Eora Creek, a pivotal battle in which nearly 100 Australians were killed. Locals knew of the 600 sq. m. battlefield, but avoided it because they believed the spirits of the dead were still present. If the haunting is caused by their unburied remains, these will soon be repatriated to their respective governments. But Freeman, who describes the site "as if time has stood still," hopes it will be preserved in its current pristine condition.

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