Australia-Japan Research Project

AustraliaJapan Research Project at the Australian War Memorial
Australian and Japanese attitudes to the war
Diary of TAMURA Yoshikazu: Trip to Maprik, visiting the mountain highland

Visiting the Inland Area
According to the unit history of the 41st Regiment, some troops were engaged in road construction work between Dagua and Maprik. The road, which was built for carriers moving on foot, stretched from Dagua on the coast to Maprik through the mountains. TAMURA’s unit was assigned to carry food and other supplies through the ranges, probably to Maprik, in early May. Although the height of the ranges was only around 600 to 800 metres, the steepness of the ascent and descent made the Japanese troops think that the inland was at a relatively high altitude. Tamura seems to have written the following entry on 3 May, during this operation.

This was the first time he had left the coastal jungle and gone into the mountains. As he was a keen climber, he enjoyed the scenery and the views across the mountains. The following two prose pieces depict his heightened spirits.

“Beauty of the mountains”
The mountain peaks soar above the pointed white clouds, and they seem to belong to the mythical world. We have marched and climbed across those mountains, and the realisation astonishes me. Our feet have carried our goods and us so far. The altitude is not great, but the ascents and descents were very steep. We walk through scenery that reminds us of early autumn, with tassels of grass waving in the wind.

It is May. In this foreign country, May is probably in autumn. We eat bananas and papayas.

After the hardship of marching through these mountains, I miss the mountains at home. (p.46b)

“Transporting food and supplies”
4 May
The rain cleared in the high country. Tall grass is moving in the wind.
It is autumn. When I deeply inhale the cool air, the hardship of marching through the mountains seems worthwhile. [1]

I had longed to come to the high country, and finally my wish has become reality. I feel satisfied.

White clouds floating here and there are moving slowly across the mountains. The scenery resembles a painting. The road has gone through mountain after mountain, and valley after valley. When I think about the road ahead, I feel awed as if I have finally experienced the real mountains.

Soldiers who march one after another have an important responsibility. It has been three days and nights so far since the start of our journey, and we still have five days to go. I wish I could show these mountains to my friend who loves climbing.

After a 20-minute rest, our high sprits are restored and we start marching again. (p.47a)

1. According to Prof. Allen, the area that TAMURA’s unit went through is not really “high country”. The track has just passed up one side of a low but rugged mountain range and down the other side. TAMURA is probably referring to the large areas of grassland in the inland that were created by clearing the forest for agriculture.

Printed on 04/20/2024 03:42:46 AM