New Guinean kundu drum : Brigadier M J Moten, 17 Infantry Brigade

Place Oceania: New Guinea
Accession Number REL32397
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Heraldry
Physical description Animal hide, Brass, Cane, Feathers, Plant fibre, Wood
Maker Unknown
Place made New Guinea
Date made c 1945
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945

Traditional New Guinean kundu drum. It is made of a hollowed tree trunk in an hourglass shape with a lizard skin stretched over one of the open ends. It has a carved handle on the left hand side and ornate black carvings on both sides of the body. The skin has been soaked in water to soften it, then spread over one end of the instrument. It is glued down with sap and held in place with a loop of cane. The drum has several other lengths of cane wrapped around it which are tied together in a decorative formation. The predominant colour of the drum is dull red. There is a decorative carved feature on the right hand side opposite the handle and attached to this is three small trinkets made of yellow, white and black beads and small white feathers. On the lower front is a brass plaque which reads 'PRESENTED TO BRIG.M.J. MOTEN. CBE. DSO + BAR ED. BY 2 NEW GUINEA INFANTRY BATTALION AS A MOMENTO OF ASSOCIATION WITH 17 AUST INF BDE DURING WEWAK CAMPAIGN 1.11.45' There are two black markings inside the open end of the drum, as well as the continuation of the paint from the outside.

History / Summary

This drum was presented to Brigadier (Brig) SX2889 Murray John Moten CBE, DSO and Bar following his command of 17 Australian Infantry Brigade during the Wewak campaign in New Guinea. These traditional drums are used to provide accompaniment for clan songs at community events and can be up to one metre in height. This example was presented by 2 New Guinea Infantry Battalion which fought alongside Moten's unit during the actions at Wewak. Brigadier Moten was born in Hawker, South Australia on 3 July 1899 and was commissioned in the Commonwealth Military Cadet Corps in August 1916. He enlisted with the AIF on 23 August 1917; however he was discharged as medically unfit in January 1918, due to flat feet. Moten later resigned from the Cadet Corps and went on to serve with the Militia before he was seconded to the AIF and placed in command of 2/27 Battalion on 26 April 1940. The battalion saw service in Egypt and the Middle East and Moten was mentioned in dispatches and awarded the Distinguished Service Order for his ‘excellent leadership and gallantry’ at the capture of Saida. After being promoted to colonel and temporary brigadier on 27 December, Moten took command of 17 Infantry Brigade from Brigadier Stanley Savige. In October 1942 the brigade left Australia for Milne Bay, Papua and also served at Wau and Salamaua. In 1944 Moten and his men spent time resting and training in Australia before returning to New Guinea in November for the Aitape-Wewak campaign. The campaign ended in August 1945 and Moten returned to Australia where he took command of 6 Division in November. He returned to civilian life in January 1946 but led the Australian Army contingent in the Victory parade in London. From 1948 to 1952 he commanded 9 Brigade, Citizen Military Forces and was promoted to brigadier on 1 January 1949. He was appointed an honorary member of 27 Battalion in 1952. In 1953 he served as aide de camp to the Governor General. Moten died of a heart attack on 14 September 1953 aged 54 years. He was buried in Centennial Park Cemetery in Adelaide with full military honours.