Warning: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are warned that this website contains an image of a deceased person.

VX 18629 Saunders H (Pte) 2/14 Battalion AIF.

Joined 2/14 Battalion 30/5/1940

Served Middle East, Papua

Wounded in action Jezzine, Lebanon 24/06/1941

Killed in action Gona, Papua, 29/11/1942

FOR the Saunders family it was the welcoming home of a loved one and the final chapter in a 70-year story.

After travelling nearly 4000 kilometres, soil from the Port Moresby grave of WWII soldier Harry Saunders, was returned to Gunditjmara country in a unique ceremony.

Private Saunders’ youngest brother, Glenelg Shire Councillor Ken Saunders, said the soil was placed where the ashes of brother and fellow WWII soldier, Reg Saunders were spread in 1990.

“If somebody is buried away from their country, we believe the spirit won’t come home, so it’s about getting the spirit back home,” Cr Saunders said. “For me it’s all finished now, it’s been laid to rest and that’s that.” As well as family members, representatives from the Department of Defence, Portland RSL, Glenelg Shire Council and Gunitj Mirring Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation attended the ceremony.

From the History of the Second Fourteenth Battalion by Major W B (Bill) Russell (1911 – 2002)

‘The capture of Gona village was a great and highly significant victory. It was the first to fall of the Japanese strongholds on the north coast of New Guinea.

But the victory was won at great cost. In the three-day battle, twenty-five had been killed or died of wounds, and thirty had been wounded. It was a staggering blow to the Battalion, still low in numbers and stricken from the Owen Stanley’s. It is not possible to speak individually of the heroes of the battle. Although each shared the same essential qualities of the fighting man, each had his own personality, which will be recalled by his own kin and comrades. The burning eagerness and fierce determination of Capt. Alan McGavin, the dash and vigour of Maurie Valli, the exuberant youth of Lieut. Jonnie Clements, the solid resourcefulness and reliability of Sgt-Major Jock Clements, the rugged manliness of Pte. Alan Fyfe, the unflinching steadfastness of the Aborigine Pte. Harry Saunders — the individual greatness of every man in the Battalion built on a foundation of courage and training – these were the stuff of which the battalion was made.

In the saddest and most solemn ceremony in the annals of the 2/14 Battalion, nineteen of its best soldiers were laid to rest in the small cemetery prepared on that northern shore.’

Group portrait of 9 Platoon, A Company, 2/14th Infantry Battalion, on the Kokoda track. 16 August 1942

Identified, left to right, back row: L A Bear; VX15468; Warrant Acting Officer Class 2 John Alexander Lochhead of Mildura, Vic, (killed in action on 29 November 1942 in New Guinea); K T McWilliam; W C Dixon; VX23389 Private (Pte) D H Smith (presumed dead on 20 August 1942 in Papua); VX23597 Corporal L D Deeley MM (was awarded the Military Medal on 12 February 1942, presumed dead on 30 August 1942; VX38131 Pte D W Smith, (presumed dead on 30 August 1942 in Papua); C G Moffatt; M M Turnbull; W C Ferguson. Centre: W R D Smith; G E Urquhart; E P Silver; W C Parfrey; J S Thomas; A A Villinger; VX62637 Pte John Anthony Whellans of St Kilda, Vic, (killed in action on 30 August 1942 in Papua); D A Thompson; D J O’Connor. Front: C E Clifford; L A Delaporte; E L Hughes; VX32903 Lieutenant William Prescott Cox, (killed in action on 29 August 1942 in Papua); F J Parsons; B G Wilson; VX18629 Pte Harry Saunders, of Allansford, Vic, (killed in action on 29 November 1942 in Papua); VX19139 Pte Bruce Steel Kingsbury, of Armadale, Vic, (killed in action on 29 August 1942 in Papua for which he was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross (VC) on 9 Feb 1943); E J Jobe; A R Avery.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Shopping Cart