not titled [Refugees Finisterre Mountain Range]

Place Oceania: New Guinea, Huon Peninsula, Ramu River Finisterre Ranges Area, Finisterre Ranges
Accession Number AWM2019.154.1
Collection type Art
Measurement image: 19 x 25 cm; sheet: 22.4 x 28.8 cm
Object type Work on paper
Physical description pen, ink and wash on paper
Maker Dargie, William
Place made New Guinea: Huon Peninsula, Ramu River Finisterre Ranges Area, Finisterre Ranges
Date made 1944
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945

Item copyright: AWM Licensed copyright


This is one of a number of sketches made by Dargie in April 1944 in Finisterre Mountain Range in the upper Ramu Valley, New Guinea. The drawing depicts Papuan refugees who had walked into the positions held by the 2/10th Australian Infantry Battalion. It is a moving image that provides a rare insight into the wartime experiences of the local people and is supported by a harrowing oral history of the event as recalled by the artist then attached to Platoon HQ (2/10th Bn). The group included women, boys and babies who had been liberated from a Japanese compound and Dargie described them as ‘walking skeletons’. The emaciated child being carried in the centre foreground of the work had died being brought up the hill to the Battalion HQ and the Australians helped to bury them.