2017 marks 75 years anniversary since the battle of Kokoda in Papua New Guinea. This four month conflict is arguably Australia’s most significant campaign of the Second World War. Many of the local people in Papua New Guinea had little or no knowledge of weapons of war, from guns and explosives to aeroplanes. Despite this, they contributed as untrained soldiers and provided important services, including supporting of the wounded soldiers. The crucial battles to defend Australia were fought along a jungle path over Papua New Guinea’s precipitous Owen Stanley Range and the infamous Kokoda Track. The spirit exhibited by the Diggers and their Papua New Guinea comrades (the beloved Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels) has since inspired generations of Papua New Guineans and Australians. As Gallipoli symbolized the Anzac spirit of WWI, Kokoda is its WWII equivalent. Today, walking the Kokoda Track has become a rite of passage to many young Australians. Others, drawn by the chance to literally walk in the footsteps of the Diggers, explore the terrain, meet Papua New Guineans along the track but, most of all, to explore themselves.
Almost three quarters of a century after the battles that preserved our freedom, the Diggers of Kokoda are well into their 90s and beyond for some. Soon, there will be no living link with this iconic chapter of our history. How will we remember them? How will we ensure their sacrifices are understood and appreciated by their descendants and by those who live in the freedom they bequeathed us? We must commemorate the remarkable achievements of the Diggers and Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels, acknowledge their legacy and pass on their story to future generations. Today, it’s important we still acknowledge the sacrifice of all those who fought, those who paid the ultimate price with their lives and those who provided invaluable aid during the war at Kokoda.
Acknowledging this significant piece of history and the bravery of the locals involved, Post PNG Philatelic Bureau released this commemorative stamp issue in its honor.