A Lecture by Dr Jan McLeod of the University of Newcastle.
During the Papuan Campaign of 1942-43, around six thousand Australian soldiers were killed or wounded while fighting Japanese forces at places like Ioribaiwa, Efogi, Kokoda, Milne Bay, Soputa, and Buna. A further thirty thousand suffered from a range of tropical diseases including malaria, dysentery and scrub typhus.
As the Australian Army fought its way across the Owen Stanleys, pushing the enemy north towards the Solomon Sea, medical supply lines stretched to breaking point. Distance between the frontline and the 2/9th Australian General Hospital at Port Moresby grew ever greater. With no effective means of large-scale casualty evacuation, it was left to personnel of the Australian Field Ambulance to treat and care for thousands of sick and wounded at rudimentary medical posts in the unforgiving Papuan environment.
This discussion will focus on the challenges faced by these units. To add a personal perspective, Dr McLeod will reference the diary and photographs of her great-uncle Private L. N. Kennedy, who served as a nursing orderly in the 2/4th Australian Field Ambulance, 7th Division AIF.
The event will be held at Anzac Memorial Hyde Park, a public institution with strict protocols for Covid safety including compulsory electronic check-in and hand sanitising prior to entry, a cap on attendance numbers, social distancing in seating arrangements, and masks available for attendees.