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Edward Willis

Ramu Valley Aerial Photographs Taken By Theo Adams

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The previous post gave an overview of the 2/2’s campaign in the Ramu Valley during 1943 as part of Bena Force. [1] Theodore (Theo) Francis Adams (VX121180) was a Signaller reinforcement to the unit who joined the Signals Section in mid-June 1943. [2] “He joined the Unit at a place called Faita, eight days walk from Goroka.  He was involved with patrols into territory which was occupied by the invading forces in the Ramu and later towards Shaggy Ridge, the scene of heavy action and losses of men and equipment.  Theo volunteered to take part in these patrols.  He was always cheerful and did his job as a signalman with great skill under awful conditions”. [3]

Theo’s wartime experience in New Guinea must have made a lasting impression on him because “After the war Theo became a traffic officer with Ansett Airways at Madang and Goroka for a number of years. Latterly he was the Manager of Minogere Hostel at Goroka, operated by the Goroka Council as a middle range hostel and conference centre.  He was an expert at organising functions, whether for Anzac Day or the Melbourne Cup.  Theo had over 30 years in Papua New Guinea”. [4]

In February 1986 Theo organised a helicopter survey of the 2/2’s area of operations in the Ramu Valley and took a number of aerial photographs of significant sites including Bena, Dumpu, Faita and Goroka that give an interesting insight into the terrain over which the campaign was fought.  This album of photos is in the Association’s archival collection and has been scanned and made available to view and is linked to this post.

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One interesting sequence of photos in the collection is of the wreckage of an American Liberator bomber on the site of the Faita airstrip.  During an armed reconnaissance over Wewak on 23 December 1943, it was attacked by two Japanese fighters; with the hydraulics shot-out and two of the crew injured, it was unable to return to base and instead force-landed at Faita Airfield. [5]

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There are contemporary photos in the Australian War Memorial collection showing men from the 2/2 inspecting the wreck.  It was still substantially intact 43 years later when Theo took his photographs.

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FAITA, NEW GUINEA. 1944-01-07. MEMBERS OF THE 2/2ND COMMANDO SQUADRON LOOKING OVER A LIBERATOR (B-24) WHICH CRASHED ON THE AIRSTRIP RETURNING FROM A RAID ON WEWAK. IDENTIFIED PERSONNEL ARE: TROOPER G. P. ROWLEY OF PALGARUP, WA(1); CORPORAL L. E. COKER OF CHATSWOOD, NSW (2); SX25427 LIEUTENANT J. FOX OF EAST BRIGHTON, VIC (3); SERGEANT A. DIXON OF SUMMER HILL, NSW (5).  AWM Photo 063276

Theo maintained his interest and connection with the 2/2 Commando Association and the January 1966 ‘Courier’ published photos that he had taken of Doctor John McInerney’s [the successor to Doctor Roger Dunkley as the unit Senior Medical Officer] grave at Wewak War Cemetery and local people at Geroka [sic] with their well-fed pigs labelled ‘They have wealth’. [4]

Theo and his daughters, Lisa and Thea, received a “tremendous welcome” at the Busselton Safari in April 1994.  In what was headlined “A SAFARI HIGHLIGHT”:

When Theo Adams was asked to say a few words at the men's meeting he delighted everyone and drew sustained applause for his response in 'pidgin' as follows:

Mi hamamas long kam daun long hia long lukim yupela, wantaim tupela pikinini bilong me.

Mipela kam daun long tripela balus long long wei hap.

Taim mi go bek long pies mi ken tok tok bulsit long ol lain bilong me.

Freely translated: I am happy to come down here to see you with my two daughters.

We came in a very big aircraft from a long distance.

When we go back to Goroka we can talk a little story to my friends. [7]

Theo Adams passed away in Brisbane on 17 September 1998, aged 74. [8]

REFERENCES

[1] ‘Bena Force – The 2/2 Independent Company In The Ramu River Valley, New Guinea, 1943’ https://doublereds.org.au/forums/topic/169-bena-force-–-the-22-independent-company-in-the-ramu-river-valley-new-guinea-1943/?tab=comments#comment-281

[2] ‘Theodore Francis Adams, Regimental Number: VX121180’ https://doublereds.org.au/history/men-of-the-22/vx/theodore-francis-adams-r321/

[3] ‘Vale Theodore Francis ADAMS (17 September 1998, aged 74)’ https://pngaa.org/site/blog/1998/12/20/vale-december-1998/

[4] Ibid.

[5] ‘B-24D-130-CO "Bunny Hop/Flying Wolf" Serial Number 42-41091’ https://www.pacificwrecks.com/aircraft/b-24/42-41091.html

[6] ‘Personalities’ 2/2 Commando CourierJanuary 1966: 3-4 https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/1966-01%20-%20Courier%20January%201966.pdf

[7] ‘A Safari highlight’ 2/2 Commando CourierJune 1994: 8 https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/1994/Courier%20June%201994.pdf

[8] ‘Vale Theo Adams’ 2/2 Commando CourierDecember 1998: 3 https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/1998/Courier%20December%201998.pdf

 

 

 

Ramu_Valley,_Goroka,_etc._from_Theo_Adams.pdf

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