Following Jim Toner's paragraph about New Guineans who helped the allies during WW11. (News from the Northern Territory. Una Voce, December 2004,) 1 would like to draw your readers' attention to ROMBIN.
Rombin rescued Gordon Manuel, USAF, and hid him for 7 months on my parents' plantation, Matala, New Britain - with a large Japanese camp just across the harbour at Put Put. Rombin then led Manuel down New Britain to an AIB camp. On the way another USAF airman joined them. Before this Rombin and Manuel had reconnoitred the area between Matala and Rabaul, Manuel passing on information to the Allies after his escape. Rombin remained with the AIB parties until the end of the war giving valuable assistance to men such as Charlie Bates, Alan Roberts and John Gilmore. My father Stan McCosker who had been Rombin's mentor for almost 20 years had of course taught Rombin much about the ways of the white man. Their strong friendship playing its part in Rombin's fine war record.
A book Seventy Thousand to One based on Manuel's story was written by the famous American war correspondent Quentin Reynolds, published 1947. Rombin is named in The Final Campaigns by Gavin Long and Manuel is mentioned in The Coast Watchers by Eric Feldt. Peter Stone writes of Rombin in his book. However for some reason Stone has cut out the end of the sentence about Rombin's background, '----- and later [Rombin] had been cook boy and then boss boy for the Australian Stanley McCosker -----'. Nowhere in his book does Stone link Rombin and McCosker. The full story of Rombin and Manuel can be read in my book Masked Eden pp. 223-232; see particularly the unabridged text from State archives, in facsimile at the top of page 231. There is much valuable material regarding Rombin in Masked Eden, a fact commented on by Hank Nelson.
The Americans after WWII, in spite of all their protestations during the war, never rewarded Rombin. My father after a vigorous fight managed to get him some recognition from the Australian government
Manuel was killed in a car crash in 1945; otherwise Rombin may have received much more recognition, recognition he surely deserves. Rombin's picture is on the front and back cover of Masked Eden. [This can also be seen here on the Masked Eden page].
Printed Una Voce
(Journal of the Papua New Guinea Association of Australia)