Bitapaka War Cemetery (Rabaul War Cemetery) is located at Batapaka (Bita Paka) in East New Britain Province in Papua New Guinea (PNG). Also spelled "Bita Paka War Cemetery". Today, it is maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC). In total, the cemetery includes 648 identified graves plus unknown burials.
World War I History
During the Battle at Bita Paka on September 11, 1914, one German and about 30 Melanesians were killed, and one German and 10 Melanesians wounded; 19 Germans and 56 Melanesians were captured. Six Australians were killed and five wounded. The dead were buried at Bita Paka, their graves forming what would later become the Bita Paka War Cemetery.
World War I Graves
The six Australians killed September 11, 1914 during the Battle of Bitapaka were the first buried at this cemetery:
Able Seaman William G. V. "Billy' Williams, AN&MEF - AA. B. 3.
Able Seaman John Courtney (alias, John E. Walker), RAN, AA. A. 5
Captain Brian C. A. Pockley, Australian Army - AA. A. 1
Able Seaman John E. Walker, AN&MEF - AA. A. 5
Able Seaman H. W. Street,
AN&MEF - AA. A. 15
Lt. Commander Charles B. Elwell, Royal Navy - AA, A, 11
Memorial to AE-1
This memorial is dedicated to the crew of Royal Australian Navy (RAN) E-Class Submarine HMAS AE-1 (AE1) missing in action off Rabaul on September 14, 1914 without a out a trace.
All hands went missing. The circumstances of its loss has never been determined and the submarine has never been found.
World War II History
During 1945 after the Australian Army occupation of
the Rabaul area, the Bitapaka War Cemetery was established by the Australian Grave Services.
Tablets to the Unknown (Rabaul Memorial)
Several large tablets and a memorial list the names of the
unknowns memorialized at the cemetery, without headstones. Also known as the "Rabaul Memorial".
The graves and tall plaques that list the missing in
action and buried dead are silent reminders to the brutal
Japanese occupation, that used its prisoners as slave labor,
or shamelessly killed them in atrocious crimes or even
used them for bayoneted practice. Many of the plaques on
the ground read simply the quote: "Known Unto God" as
many remains were buried in mass graves by the Japanese
and impossible to identify.
There are graves of
British, Pakistani, Nurses, Papuans, Indians, Fijians, Muslims
and Allied airmen who were either captured in Rabaul, or transported to Rabaul as prisoner labor. Also, the age of the deceased 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21. There
are also Victoria Cross recipients buried here.
Rabaul (Bita Paka) War Cemetery
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February 13, 2019