Old soldier keeps war memory in his head

Eric Sambell, of  Ucolta, has been carrying around a memento of his war service for 70 years.

The former Lance Corporal with 2/27th Infantry Battalion, Army, has a piece of shrapnel in his head from World War II. Now aged 92, he has returned to Papua New Guinea with other ex-servicemen to trace their wartime steps. He may even visit the spot in Gona where he was wounded by a grenade on November 29, 1942.

“I was unconscious for a while,” he recalled.

“Later I walked 10 miles to a dressing station. They kept me there for a week and set me back to the base hospital at Port Moresby.

“There was not very much of a mark from the wound. The shrapnel is on the right-hand side of my temple. They would not take it out at the time.”

Like many other young men, Mr Sambell joined up because he wanted to “protect Australia” from the advancing Japanese forces.

He was excited about returning to the former war-torn country. The trip is being paid for by the Federal Government.

“It is pretty wonderful. You must realise there are very few of us left,” he said.

PARADE...Eric Sambell at an Anzac Day parade.

PARADE...Eric Sambell at an Anzac Day parade.

YOUNG...Eric as a young soldier on July 7, 1941. The Ucolta resident has returned to Papua New Guinea to mark the 70th anniversaries of the Kokoda and Beachhead battles.

YOUNG...Eric as a young soldier on July 7, 1941. The Ucolta resident has returned to Papua New Guinea to mark the 70th anniversaries of the Kokoda and Beachhead battles.