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Neither Black Nor White ….. But ‘khaki’ – Private Frank Richard Archib


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#1 Boss Meri

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Posted 12 January 2012 - 10:09 AM

Private Frank Richard ARCHIBALD was born at Walcha, New South Wales on February 17th, 1915 to Frank and Sarah Archibald.  One of 12 children; he would find himself fighting alongside his fellow Australians in many faraway places.

However, the law of the time said  that he was not a citizen of Australia.  To the broader population back home, he was a black man in a white man’s army.  But to his mates on the front, he was neither black – nor white ….. he was ‘khaki’ like the rest of them.  And Frank, like many other indigenous Australians would prove his worth on the battlefield and shed his life’s blood in service of his country.

The Archibald family today are well known in the Armidale area. They are direct descendants of Robert King, or King Bobby, a renowned Aboriginal leader at the time of colonisation.

Frank Richard Archibald lived in the Armidale-Walcha area until 1935 when the family moved to Burnt Bridge Mission, near Kempsey. The family moved to the Mission after welfare authorities threatened to remove their children. The government authorities promised that, if the family moved to the Mission, their children would not be taken.

Private Frank’s military service began during May of 1940 when he enlisted into the AIF at Kempsey at the age of 25.   He was assigned to the 2/2nd Infantry Battalion which was part of the 16th Brigade.  Frank’s younger brother, Ronald Archibald, and his uncle, Richard Archibald (Senior) signed up in Kempsey around the same time.

After training at Greta, Frank sailed from Sydney in August 1940.

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#2 Boss Meri

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Posted 12 January 2012 - 10:10 AM

He arrived in Palestine in September, and after more training, he served in the Battle of Bardia then followed action in the battles of Tobruk, Benghazi and on to Greece and Crete.

In the evacuation of Greece, Frank was in a group of twelve cut off by the German army, but they made their way to the coast where they got a fishing boat which took them to Crete. On the day that they were evacuated from Crete, the enemy sent over 60 bombers and heavily bombed the village in which they had taken refuge.

In March 1942, the 2/2nd Battalion was to leave Palestine and arrive in Ceylon (current day Sri Lanka) on the 27th of March, 1942.  It was the desire of Winston Churchill that the Australians of the 16th & 17th Brigades, bolster the British defences in the zone which included Burma and India.  However, Prime Minister Curtain and the Australian Government finally ordered these troops back home to defend Australia. This was a disappointment of the British Government, however the Japanese had landed at Gona on the northern coast of New Guinea and had already pushed south to the village of Kokoda. They sailed from Ceylon aboard the SS City of Canterbury in July, arriving home on the 4th of August, 1942.

A few weeks later Private Frank was welcomed home by his community at a public function.

IMAGE BELOW: Colour Patch of the 2/2nd Infantry Battalion, AIF (Australian Imperial Force).  Bearing the colours of ‘purple over green’, note the grey border which denotes the second AIF.  The original 2nd Infantry Battalion of the First World War had the same colour patch but minus the grey border.

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#3 Boss Meri

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Posted 12 January 2012 - 10:11 AM

After short leave, Frank left Brisbane for Port Moresby.  Arriving on the 21st of September, 1942 they were to remain at Moresby on local defence duty for the next ten days.  The major battles of Isurava and Brigade Hill had already been fought and the Australian troops had pulled back to Imita Ridge where they dug in.  The fresh troops of the 25th Brigade (2/25th Battalion, 2/31st & 2/33rd) supported by the 3rd Infantry Battalion AMF (commonly referred to as ‘militia’) had been told that there would be no retreat from this position.  They were to stand and fight ….. or die trying.

At this time, the Kokoda Track started from McDonald’s Corner just outside Port Moresby.  It ran approximately 96 km across New Guinea, through the Owen Stanley Ranges to Kokoda.  From there, the trail continued beyond to the coastal lowlands on the north coast.

The track crosses some of the most rugged and isolated country in the world. The altitude reaching 2,250 metres at Mount Bellamy.  The climate combines hot humid days with intensely cold nights, torrential rainfall and endemic tropical diseases such as malaria.  It is passable only on foot.

IMAGE BELOW: The remains of an Australian weapons pit dug in on the forward slope of Imita Ridge.  From this position, there would be no retreat for the Australian forces.  This image gives a good indication of the jungle conditions ….. a far cry from the country around Walcha.

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#4 Boss Meri

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Posted 12 January 2012 - 10:14 AM

As the Kokoda campaign developed – this had sever repercussions for army logistics, the size of the forces that could be deployed and the type of warfare that could be fought.

There were many days where our Australian infantry were moving forward and fighting the enemy but they did not really have enough food, water and ammunition as it was so difficult for the army to deliver these things along the narrow, muddy foot track.

We know from the many letters that Private Frank Archibald sent home to his mother Sarah; that just surviving on the track was a struggle, let alone doing battle with the well- equipped Japanese troops.  There are accounts in Frank’s letters about how he used his bush skills- for example – to help his fellow soldiers collect water for drinking.

IMAGE BELOW: - The Kokoda Trail, between Alola and Isurava when heading north.  This is the type of rugged and mountainous country which faced Frank and his comrades during the advance to Kokoda village.

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#5 Boss Meri

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Posted 12 January 2012 - 10:15 AM

On the 24th of November 1942 with the beaches of  the northern coastline of New Guinea  only 4 or 5 kilometres away, Frank was killed in action.  He was 27 years old.  Fighting in the fetid swampland around Sanananda,  he was shot by the enemy while trying to save his non-Aboriginal friend, who survived the action.

Frank’s younger brother, Ronald, also fought on the Kokoda trail. Ronald became ill with malaria and was medically evacuated, we think this happened a few days after Frank was killed.

IMAGE BELOW: A photograph of Australian troops pushing through the mosquito infested swamps of Sanananda.  It was in this living hell that Private Frank Archibald fought and was killed, whilst attempting to save the life of another.  Whilst this photo is actually of men of the 7th Division Cavalry Regiment, it is the same conditions faced by the 2/2nd Battalion.

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#6 Boss Meri

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Posted 12 January 2012 - 10:16 AM

Both Frank and his brother Ronald were regular correspondents, sending many letters home to their mother, Sarah.  Sarah kept all the letters from her sons, and this collection is now held with pride by Aunty Grace Archibald. The letters give sobering insights into the experiences of the two young men as they fought in foreign lands.

A letter written to Frank’s mother Sarah shortly after his death by a senior sergeant Ron Diamond states that “I can honestly say Frank was one of the most popular boys in the battalion and his cheery disposition and ready smile, even in the darkest hours, made him an inspiration to us all”. This showed the high regards held for her son by his fellow-soldiers.

Today Private Frank Richard Archibald lies beside his 600 fellow fallen Anzac’s at the Bomana War Cemetery near Port Moresby, New Guinea.

He is buried with full military honours.

However his spirit will not be truly brought to rest until he has received a proper, Aboriginal, culturally appropriate ceremony.

IMAGE BELOW: Bomana War Cemetery, Papua New Guinea where Frank Archibald lies buried.

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#7 Boss Meri

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Posted 12 January 2012 - 10:17 AM

IMAGE BELOW: An image of the war service medals awarded to Private Frank Richard ARCHIBALD, 2/2nd Infantry Battalion, AIF.  From left to right:- 1939-1945 Star, Africa Star, Pacific Star, Defence Medal, 1939-1945 Australia Service Medal and the 1939-1945 War Medal.

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#8 Boss Meri

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Posted 12 January 2012 - 10:18 AM

IMAGE BELOW: Aunty Grace Gordon (Archibald) and Uncle Richard Archibald with Frank’s war service medals and Company photograph.

STORY AND SOME PHOTOGRAPHIC IMAGES WRITTEN AND GENEROUSLY SUPPLIED BY THE KOKODA ABORIGINAL SERVICEMAN’s CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE.

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#9 Boss Meri

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Posted 12 January 2012 - 10:19 AM

Mercury, showing the first media article that detailed Franks army service.


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#10 Boss Meri

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Posted 12 January 2012 - 10:19 AM

PLEASE NOTE:  The Kokoda Aboriginal Serviceman’s Campaign Committee is seeking to raise funds, in order for members of his family to attend his graveside and carry out the appropriate Aboriginal cultural ceremonies that are needed to enable Frank’s spirit to be brought respectfully to rest.  

It also hopes to raise community awareness of all Australians as to sacrifice by indiginous servicemen and women during defence of Australia.  

For more information, please contact Brendan Fitzgerald on telephone +61 431 014 818 or email brendon@illawarraams.com.au

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#11 Boss Meri

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Posted 12 January 2012 - 10:21 AM

Gary Traynor is Administrator of the Militaria based website MEDALSGONEMISSING. The aim of this "NOT FOR PROFIT" website is to reunite families, with lost War Medals and other items of militaria which may have been awarded or issued to their ancestors. What Gary refers to as their "lost heritage". He has been actively involved in the preservation of Militaria and the researching of Military History for well over 29 years. During his travels, he has conducted numerous study trips to Gallipoli, The Western Front, Kokoda and many other major battle sites around the world. He was a member of the Australian Army Reserve (UNSWR & 4/3 RNSWR) and served for 23 years with the New South Wales Police Force. He was also priveleged to have served as a Volunteer Guide at the Australian War Memorial for a number of years. Gary now conducts tours of the Gallipoli Battlefields and the Kokoda Track in New Guinea. He leads the field in his knowledge of the beach head battlefields encompassing Buna, Gona & Sanananda. Medalsgonemissing is a website that will assist you in locating your family's lost war medals and other awards. If you have an ancestor who served in any of the British Commonwealth Armed Services at any time - and whose medals are lost/stolen or simply missing....then so long as the medals are out there - this site will help you to locate them. However the site also contains articles of interest in relation to Military History, War Memorials & Uniforms / kit. Please explore our website as there is sure to be something of interest to you.

Source:  http://medalsgonemissing.com/military-meda...-and-sanananda/

#12 Boss Meri

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Posted 12 January 2012 - 10:35 AM

Footnote: I was forwarded this article by Len Thompson of the Kokoda Memorial Foundation.  After reading it, I knew I had to help this family come to PNG.

If anyone like me reads it and has money to spare, please donate to this cause and lets get these relatives to PNG.  

Often trekkers mention they are going to locate and take photographs of certain graves at Bomana.  If you want to put this one on your list, I have just looked up where he is buried from the listing I put on my website years ago.

ARCHIBALD, Private, FRANK RICHARD, NX15456. A.LF. 2/2 Bn. Australian Infantry. 24th November 1942. Age 27. Son of Frank and Sarah Elizabeth Archibald, of Burnt Bridge, New South Wales. A7. D. 22.

http://www.kokodatrail.com.au/forums/index.php?showtopic=143

or

http://www.pngbd.com/forum/showthread.php?...inear#post24455

Any grave can be found on www.pngbd.com as they are all listed in alphabetical order and you can access by clicking on the PREVIOUS/NEXT button until you come across the name you are searching for.

Later today I plan on going out myself to Bomana and taking a photograph of his grave and will post here for any family member back home who would like to copy it.  May he like all buried at Bomana War Cemetery RIP

As promised, his gravesite was found today at Bomana War Cemetery.  Below are the photographs taken 12th January 2012:

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#13 Boss Meri

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Posted 13 January 2012 - 03:54 PM

Digger's last hours make family proud

PRIVATE Frank Archibald died fighting on the Kokoda Track in 1942 with his good mate Sergeant Jimmy Coombes by his side.

This week the families of both men met for the first time to shed light on Frank's final moments.


Frank's cousin Richard Archibald of Tarrawanna is fundraising to send his family to the Kokoda Track to perform Aboriginal burial rites on Frank's grave. Richard is the last remaining male relative able to put Frank's spirit to rest.

In the interim, Jimmy's nephew Bob Coombes of Mangerton has been able to recount Frank's death through the recollections of his late uncle Jimmy.

When the Archibald family's quest to travel to the Kokoda Track was previewed by the Mercury in April, Bob said he immediately recognised Frank's photo from his uncle Jimmy's album.

"He held Frank in extremely high regard. He said he was one of the greatest men he'd ever met," Bob said.

This was later reinforced in an interview conducted by the Australian War Memorial with Jimmy, prior to his death, aged 82.

The two men joined the 2/2 Australian Infantry Battalion in 1940, serving in Tobruk and Greece before arriving in Papua New Guinea for the campaign to hold back the Japanese advance.

In his recollections, Jimmy said the company was at Sanananda when "Archie" lost his helmet.

"He said to me, 'Jimmy, I've lost my tin hat. Can you get me a tin hat and get it up to me?'

"I said, 'Here Archie, you take mine'. He said, 'No, no, you just get me one.' And that's the last I spoke to Archie.

"A sniper got him through the head because he was carrying the Bren gun.

Richard said he greatly appreciated this information which was previously unknown to his family.

"Hearing about the respect people had for my uncle, it makes me very happy," he said.

Richard is busy selling raffle tickets for a fundraiser to be held at the Corrimal RSL Club on August 20.

The event, organised with the help of the Illawarra-based Kokoda Aboriginal Servicemen's Campaign committee, will feature indigenous singer/songwriter Emma Donovan.

For tickets, contact Brendon Fitzgerald on +61 431 014 818 or email brendon@illawarraams.com.au

Source:  Publication: Illawarra Mercury

Author: By MICHELLE HOCTOR
Date: 06/08/2011

#14 Boss Meri

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Posted 13 January 2012 - 04:15 PM

Family’s plea to put a brave man at rest

BY MICHELLE HOCTOR
25 Apr, 2011 10:30 AM

Richard Archibald has enormous family responsibility weighing on his shoulders.

He is the last remaining male relative able to put to rest the spirit of his cousin, who died on the Kokoda Track during World War II.

Private Frank Archibald, an Aboriginal serviceman from Walcha, was killed on November 24, 1942, while defending Australia from Japanese invasion.

He was later buried with full military honours at the Bomana War Cemetery in Papua New Guinea.

Since then his family, which included 12 siblings, has suffered the anguish of knowing he was buried away from his traditional country, without the traditional Aboriginal rites to bring his estranged spirit to rest.

This family includes his only surviving sister, 74-year-old Grace Gordon, of Armidale.

At age 62 and with health concerns, Mr Archibald said he was feeling the pressure to make the journey so his family gained reconciliation.

“It’s like he’s in the middle of things; his spirit’s in limbo,’’ Mr Archibald said.

‘‘He’s been left over there in Papua New Guinea and we’d just like to put his body to rest, and to have the ceremony done by his own people.’’

Mrs Gordon added that her mother, the late Sarah Archibald, had always believed her son should remain on the Kokoda.

‘‘We feel it’s what he would have wanted, to be buried alongside the people he fought with,’’ she said.

Mr Archibald said that, even after 69 years, the Aboriginal community felt the unease of spirits whose bodies had not been freed.

‘‘Our people feel it. You just have to talk to people who know things about that, they’ll tell you too, how it feels.

‘‘When you go to a family funeral today, they have all that so they’re at rest. They do the smoking in the church. At the grave side and everything.’’

Mr Archibald, of Tarrawanna near Wollongong, has been approaching government agencies and organisations for the past three years, seeking financial support to travel to the Kokoda, but without success.

‘‘I think they are worried that it would open the floodgates,’’ he said.

The Kokoda Aboriginal Servicemen’s Campaign (KASC) has since been established in Wollongong, to raise the estimated $20,000 needed to send six relatives to Papua New Guinea.

Steering committee chairman Rob Plant said it was felt there was a better chance of government departments and organisations responding if the campaign was formalised.

‘‘Through supporting the Archibald family in this way, there is also an opportunity to raise awareness about the situation facing other Aboriginal families whose loved ones have died while fighting overseas,’’ he said.

The family is hoping to travel to the Kokoda on ANZAC Day next year.

In the interim, a fundraising launch is being planned for August 21 at Corrimal RSL Club.

Committee member Agnes Donovan, who is Mr Archibald’s niece, is using her family links to fill the performance bill.

Already on the invitation list is her daughter, singer Emma Donovan, and her niece Casey Donovan, who won Australian Idol 2004.

‘‘It will be a showcase of Indigenous culture,’’ Ms Donovan said.

[b]Grace Gordon Archibald with Frank Richard Archibald's WWII medals

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#15 Boss Meri

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Posted 08 May 2012 - 08:28 AM

Newsflash: When I attended the Anzac Day service this year at Bomana War Cemetery, I was pleasantly surprised to hear that the family I have talked about in this article were given a chance to come to PNG.

This year for the first time we also had Roderick Simpson walk with us and within minutes of meeting the relatives of Private Frank Archibald, he was talking in language to them.  They asked Roderick to accompany them to the service they were holding at his gravesite.

Well done to everyone who donated money to bring this family to PNG.

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