ID number ART25033
Title White-Boonging
Collection Art
Object type Drawing
Maker Dargie, William (Artist)
Place made New Guinea: Huon Peninsula, Ramu River Finisterre Ranges Area, Finisterre Ranges
Date made March - May 1944
Medium pen, ink and wash on paper
Measurement Overall: 31 cm x 24.2 cm

Description

Australian soldiers of the 57/60th Australian Infantry Battalion are carrying supplies. Now perceived as derogatory, the term 'white boonging' was given to New Guineans who assisted the Australians in carting vital supplies to forward areas in the Finisterre Ranges. Dargie noted:
The troops opinion of this practice is quite unprintable. On the record L of C [Lines of Communication] from Guy's Post to the approaches of Bogadjim, with very few native carriers available and no air-dropping of supplies until the very end of the advance, the troops had to do a very great proportion of the carrying of their own supplies of food, medical supplies and ammunition. The situation is not intolerable if there are plenty of troops to spare, and there is not much fighting to be done. But on one occasion, C Coy, who had just been relieved as forward Coy by B Coy passing through them, had to be turned out at 9 o'clock at night to carry ammunition for the mountain gun to fire on Yaula. This meant a 4-hour walk from Daumoina back to Saipa 1 in the darkness along a most precipitous track, picking up the ammunition, and walking back. Everyone was turned out for this, even the Coy clerks, leaving the whole of the Coy's defences empty. It just had to be hoped that nothing would happen during the night. Next day, of course, the troops were pretty tired, and the necessary minimum of work which had to be done was lightened by the thought of a good night's sleep to follow. Then came the news that B Coy had been cut off, and an armed party had to be raised from C Coy to go forward and locate and bring back the wounded. Even so, they did not go forward empty-handed, but carried mortar ammunition, extra bandoliers and food.
At this stage of the advance, everyone who moved forward had to carry something. When Mr Passlow, Rafty and myself went forward to Yaula we had to carry the Pioneer's rations as far as Scott's Creek. Mr Passlow, who had just returned from a very long patrol, took a lean view of this, but there were no exceptions. When we got to Yaula and a little beyond, some supplies were dropped by two Boomerangs (Bluey and Curly to the troops, because they always flew together; and re-appeared for several days after they had dropped the supplies, but on these later days on Tac R planes), - and the native police boys began to bring in from the hills the Kanakas who had gone bush whilst the Japs were occupying the country; so the supply situation was eased considerably. Incidentally, this is the only occasion on which I have seen boongesses carrying supplies for the troops. But that was only for a couple of days.
In this sketch, one of the men is carrying mortar ammo; the man immediately behind him had a bag of tinned food; and another squatting in the foreground is about to pick up a 4-gallon tin containing perishable stuffs, such as sugar, tea, atabrine etc. This last object is a most damnably uncomfortable thing to carry on one's shoulder.
ANGAU [Australian New Guinea Administrative Unit] will not permit the boongs to carry for more than 4 hours.
There is no time limit for the troops".

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