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Monday, 11 April 2011

Possible discovery of Kokoda Digger in Lost Battlefield survey

 The Lost Battlefield Trust, in conjunction with the Papua New Guinea National Museum, today released a "phase one" heritage mapping and archaeological survey of the recently discovered Lost Battlefield of Kokoda. 

The survey, commissioned by the Lost Battlefield Trust and completed by leading archaeologists Archaeological & Heritage Management Solutions, confirms the presence of unrecovered soldiers, including possibly one Australian.

The Lost Battlefield was discovered in May 2010 by former Australian Army Captain Brian Freeman, based on information provided by local villagers. The site sits high above Eora Creek on the northern steeps of the Owen Stanley Ranges of PNG.

"This survey greatly adds to our knowledge of the intensity and scale of the largest, final and bloody battle of the Kokoda campaign," David Moffatt, Chairman of the Lost Battlefield Trust, said. 

"Uncovering the story of the Lost Battlefield also contributes significantly to a deeper appreciation of Papua New Guinea's modern history," Dr Andrew Moutu, Acting Director of the PNG National Museum, said.

The Australian Department of Defence – Unrecovered War Casualties - Army, in conjunction with the PNG National Museum, has been provided with all the requested information and will now seek to confirm the nationality of the soldier found at the site and, if Australian, begin the process of recovery and reburial at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Port Moresby (Bomana) War Cemetery in PNG.

Mr Moffatt said: "It has been a privilege and huge responsibility to be involved in this nationally significant project. That we may have the chance to identify and recover a soldier, 68 years after this battle, is incredibly humbling.

"The Kokoda Track is a great symbol of Australian courage, endurance, mateship and sacrifice. It is therefore very pleasing that this project has received fantastic co-operation and engagement from the local Alola villagers, the Australian Government, the PNG National Museum and the Kokoda Track Authority.

"While advancing the cultural and wartime heritage status of this site and the Kokoda track, we have carefully balanced the considerations of the local Alola people with our responsibility to future generations who may wish to pay homage at this significant site," Mr Moffatt said.

A public report of the preliminary survey and future work program carried out for the Lost Battlefield Trust is available at www.thelostbattlefield.com

Phase two of the archaeological heritage survey work is targeted to commence in May 2011. This phase will involve completing the non-invasive site scoping and mapping. Phase three will involve the development of crucial heritage management and site management plans administered by the local landowners, the PNG National Museum and the Kokoda Track Authority.

Donations to continue this very important work can be made at www.thelostbattlefield.com or if you would like to discuss a direct involvement in this project please contact "mailto:david@davidmoffatt.com.au"

Important Notice:

·  At this stage there is no confirmation of the nationality of the remains. While Australian artefacts have been found near the remains, artefacts alone are not proof of nationality. Regardless of the nationality of the remains all involved in this project believe it is important that the soldier is identified and receives a ceremonial burial in accordance with the protocols of his country of origin.

·  Any work towards the recovery of remains will be undertaken by appropriate government authorities. Donations are not used for the recovery of human remains.

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