The promise by Vicki Bennett and Tull Suwannakit

cover image

Maiogaru loved to fish in the waters near her home in Papua New Guinea. She and her sisters caught sailfish, tuna, trout and shark, then took them home for mother to cook. She had been trained as nurse at the mission. Huge noises alerted her to the fact that the Japanese forces were close by. One night a Royal Air Force crash boat was leaving Milne Bay when it was sunk by a Japanese warship. Five survivors clutched pieces of the boat as they drifted away. The next day,  Kidilon pulled an injured airman from the sea where he was fishing. He gave him a coconut to drink and them turned the man over to Maioragu who hid him in a deep cave. Here she dressed his wounds, waiting until he was better able to be moved.

Unusually understated illustrations reveal the story on each page, reflecting the text and its equally unusual story. We rarely hear stories about Papua New Guinea and this one links Australia and our closest neighbour with fortitude and courage associated with links made during World War Two.

Maioragu knows she must get the airman to hospitals and to cross Milne Bay; she covers John with banana leaves and fruit and vegetables. Her perilous trip across Milne Bay between Japanese warships ended when she was able to deliver John to help. She had epitomised her nurse’s promise.

At the end of the war she was awarded the Loyal Service Medal.

This neatly told story of one woman’s courage, will encourage students to ponder how they might cope in similar circumstances. They will be encouraged to look at other stories of selfless courage, and particularly the stories of the Kokoda Track. And of course the story gives teachers the opportunity to look at a map and pinpoint the scene of this action.

Themes: Courage, World War Two, Papua New Guinea.

Fran Knight