'Damien Parer - Academy Award'
In 1943, Australian cinematographer and photographer Damien Parer was awarded one of four Hollywood Academy awards* presented for wartime documentaries. Parer filmed his award-winning documentary in New Guinea when he was employed as a cinematographer in the AIF Film Unit, part of the Department of Information.
When first employed by the AIF Film Unit during World War II, Parer was one of three official cameramen selected to serve with the 2nd AIF in the Middle East. While he was there he filmed in the Western Desert in Libya and later in Greece during the ill-fated campaign in April-May 1941. He returned to Australia in March 1942 and was sent up to Papua in New Guinea to cover the Australian defence of Port Moresby. In August 1942, Parer accompanied the 39th Battalion during heavy fighting on the Kokoda Track. Parerís footage brought the war home to Australia. Although the men were fighting the Japanese just a few hundred miles from home it was the first time that Australians had seen the awful conditions in which their soldiers were fighting in New Guinea.
Parerís newsreel footage of the fighting on the Kokoda Track was used to produce the award winning film Kokoda Front Line! edited by Terry Banks and produced by Ken Hall, the head of Cinesound productions.
After the Kokoda campaign Parerís footage of the Australian commandos on Timor in December 1942, and the fighting at Salamua, New Guinea, in 1942-1943, brought him further notoriety. His loyalty to Australian commanders in the field caused Parer to lose his job with the Department of Information and he was snapped up by the American Paramount Company filming American actions in the Pacific.
On 17 September 1944, while filming for Paramount Studios, Damien Parer was killed by Japanese fire during the US Marinesí landing at Peleliu, an island in the Palau Group.
*Other war documentaries to receive awards in 1943 were Battle of Midway (by John Ford), Moscow Strikes Back and Prelude to War.