'Thank God for the Salvos'
I know the nicest thing I ever had on the Kokoda Trail was a cup of tea given to me by the Salvation Army. And I hated tea that never had milk or sugar in it; this didn’t have any in it and I loved it, I wanted more. I had half a cup, that’s all they had. I never forgot that one.
[Syd Heylen, 39th Battalion, interview, June 1989, Keith Murdoch Sound Archive, AWM]
Syd Heylen, 39th Battalion, probably drank his half-cup of tea at Albert Moore’s Salvation Army tent at Uberi on the Kokoda Track.
Major Albert Moore, the Salvation Army’s Representative attached to the Australian 21st Brigade, returned with the troops from the Middle East early in 1942. In July 1942, he travelled to Port Moresby with the 21st Brigade (2/14th, 2/16th and 2/27th Battalions). Once there, the troops were sent to halt the advancing Japanese on the Kokoda Track. Keen to do something for the men, Moore and his assistant, ‘Jock’ Inglis, set off up the Track to see what they could to help and where they could set up their tent.
[From text of a radio talk by Major Albert Moore on Radio 6KY,
Perth, on 26 February 1945, ‘On Active Service with the Red
Shield’, AWM MSS0742]
A couple of weeks after their arrival, Moore once again set up his Salvation Army Red Shield sign at Uberi, at the base of one of the most gruelling sections of the Kokoda Track. Having convinced the Army to allow him to use Papuan carriers to get his equipment and stores up the Track, he and ‘Jock’ Inglis had been able to set up their new hut by nightfall on 6 September 1942. They set up near a creek so they could draw water for their tea and coffee and had stretched a tent fly across a pole to make their new Salvation Army jungle hut. There they handed out hot tea and coffee, cake, scones and biscuits to the men – some on their way to meet the enemy, others making their way back down the track, many of them wounded or sick.
After he returned to Australia, Moore, who was given the title ‘The Simpson of the Owen Stanleys’ by his Salvation Army colleagues, served in Perth. While he was there, he made a series of programs for Radio Station 6KY. During January, February and March 1945, his broadcasts relived his 1942 experiences in the Owen Stanleys. West Australian listeners heard about the tropical heat, the persistent rain and mud, the exhaustion, the battles and the wounds that their countrymen had faced on the Kokoda Track. His original transcripts are now held in the Australian War Memorial, Canberra.