Frederick Boski

Service number PN408
Birth Date 1912
Birth Place New Guinea: Bismarck Archipelago, New Ireland
Also known as Boski Tom
Unit 1st Papuan Infantry Battalion
Conflict/Operation Second World War, 1939-1945

Fred Boski (Boski Tom) was a teacher from Lavongai Island in New Ireland Province. Prior to the war, he worked at Malaguna and Nordup schools in New Britain. During the Japanese occupation of Rabaul, Boski was taken by ship to Salamaua where he was forced into labour as a carrier on the Kokoda Trail. During a Japanese retreat after a failed attempt to take Port Moresby, Boski escaped to the Australian lines.

Boski wrote a detailed account of his capture by the Japanese and defection to the Australian forces. His account tells that the boat journey was a dark time for the captives. Storms caused violent swells and there was a constant threat of attack from the air and submarines. Boski’s journal also reveals that earlier escape plans among those bound for Salamaua had been abandoned for fear of repercussions for the local villages.

Conditions for the carriers on the Kokoda Trail were appalling. Boksi and the other had to carry packs weighing 80lbs (36kg) through the night. Food was only given to those who could carry. If one of the carriers was sick, they would be left by the roadside to die. After more than 50 days on the Kokoda Trail, Boski escaped and in December 1942 he was captured by the Australians near Gona. At the Australian camp, Boski’s strong command of English led him to be engaged as a Tok Pisin translator and a valued member of the Papuan Infantry Battalion’s Signal Section.

Following the war, Boksi became a senior educator. He joined the teaching staff at Sogeri Education Centre before transferring to Kerevat and later returning to his home island of Lavongai. In 1956, he was a member of the Papua New Guinean delegation to the South Pacific Commission conference in Suva.

He is remembered as the first registered teacher in PNG, who was given the teacher registration 001.


Date of birth 1912