[Office of Australian War Graves,
On 14 August 2002, Prime Minister John Howard and the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, Sir Michael Somare, unveiled a memorial at Isurava to the Kokoda Track campaign of August-November 1942. The panels on the memorial commemorate Bruce Kingsbury VC and all the Australians who, together with their Papua New Guinean allies, endured enormous hardships and made tremendous sacrifices on the Kokoda Track.
[Image courtesy of 1st Joint Public Affairs Unit]
Colin Blume and Bill Guest were part of the Department of Veterans' Affairs mission to Isurava for the dedication of the new memorial. Both Colin and Bill had fought in the battles for Kokoda during 1942.
Sergeant William (Bill) Guest, 'A' Company, 39th Infantry Battalion, sailed on the Aquitania to Papua New Guinea and landed at Port Moresby on 3 January 1942. The men in 'A' Company trekked over the Owen Stanley Range and Bill took over the role of platoon commander when his senior officer contracted malaria. 'A' Company reoccupied Kokoda on 8 August 1942 but, outnumbered by the enemy and with no hope of resupply, they were forced to pull out on 10 August. Although the main group retreated quickly to Deniki, Bill Guest was responsible for getting the wounded to safety. He and his party of 21 men spent 6 days trekking through the jungle with no food and finally rejoined their battalion at Isurava. The men were sick and weak but fought on when the Japanese launched a full-scale attack on 27 August 1942. The 39th was saved from annihilation by the arrival of the 2/14th Infantry Battalion who fought alongside them, eventually relieving them so they could return to Port Moresby.
After Kokoda Bill Guest went with his platoon to Gona where he took part in the Beachheads battles. Bill contracted malaria and dengue fever and spent much of 1943 in hospital in Australia. In 1945 he served at Balikpapan in Borneo with the 2/10th Infantry Battalion.
Colin Blume was a pastry cook from Castlemaine, Victoria when he enlisted in the AIF in July 1940. He was posted to the 2/14th Infantry Battalion, part of the 7th Division AIF, and sailed to Palestine in October 1940. His battalion fought against the Vichy French forces in Syria in 1941 and remained on garrison duties there before they returned to Australia in March 1942. In August 1942 Private Blume went to Kokoda with the 2/14th. They trekked to Myola high in the Owen Stanley Range and then took part in the hard, desperate fighting around Isurava and the fighting withdrawal along the Kokoda Track.
Colin was promoted to Sergeant and went with the 2/14th to fight at Gona during the Beachheads battles as well as the campaigns in the Markham and Ramu Valleys in Papua New Guinea in 1943-1944.