Tag: Kokoda Track
The last surviving World War II veteran depicted in an iconic photo of the bloody Kokoda Track campaign has died in North Queensland.
- Arnold Forrester was one of six soldiers captured in a photograph by award-winning war cinematographer Damien Parer, on the Kokoda Track in 1942
- He celebrated his 100th birthday in August 2019 and outlived the other men in the photo
- As a younger man he did not discuss the war or participate in Anzac Day, but when the photo resurfaced he felt pride in reliving the legend of the historic campaign
Arnold Forrester was in his early 20s when he joined the fabled 39th Infantry Battalion and was one of the last surviving members of the group.
Untrained and under-equipped, Mr Forrester was a company runner during battles against the Japanese on the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea in 1942.
More than 600 Australian troops died.
Margi Pavlovic, one of his four children, said she was glad she visited him at his Townsville nursing home on Sunday morning before he suffered a suspected cardiac arrest.
“He did a lot for his country and his family and he will be deeply missed,” Mrs Pavlovic said.
“Arnie was a fix-it man of sorts — he was always trying to fix things in a not-so-fashionable way.
“His drawers of his side table were sticking, so he oiled them with hand cream or Vaseline.
“‘And look how well they’re going now,’ he was telling me and we were having a laugh.
“Then he just sort of clutched his chest.”
Mr Forrester celebrated his 100th birthday in August 2019.
Mr Forrester outlived the other veterans in a photo captured by award-winning war cinematographer Damien Parer.
The group of six are depicted smiling and carrying rifles as they trudge through the muddy track after a battle at Isurava.
It has been printed in history textbooks and displayed at war memorials.
“It’s an end of an era. Every year that photo surfaced,” Mrs Pavlovic said.
Mrs Pavlovic said the ‘lost’ photo resurfaced when her husband was looking through Mr Forrester’s ‘special tins’ of war relics.
“We didn’t talk about his time in the war or the army at all as children,” Mrs Pavlovic said.
“He didn’t do Anzac Day … it was just sort of like buried and forgotten.
“That photo has created so much bringing out of history.
“Dad then started to talk about the people in the photo, his mates, and he sort of relived everything once that photo was brought back to life.”
Mrs Pavlovic said her father carried the photo with him on Anzac Day marches in recent years.
“He was just very proud of [the photo] — that was mateship,” Mrs Pavlovic said.
“Even though it was a terrible battle, that was the biggest thing in his life.”
She said her father had faith the younger generations would carry the Kokoda Track legend on.
The funeral will be held in Townsville next week.