A story about pride and acceptance of history
BY GEORGINA KEKEA
IT was an emotional moment for Allan Maine, 75 years to the day his father landed on Mono Island as part of the New Zealand forces.
Last month (October), Allan and his wife, Joy travelled from New Zealand, purposely to commemorate 75 years since the New Zealand Forces arrived on the shores of Mono. World War Two saw one of the fiercest battles in the Pacific, with Solomon Islands playing a crucial part in its history, especially to what is now known as the Battle of Guadalcanal or the Guadalcanal Campaign.
The trip for Allan and Joy was not an easy one. Now in their 70s, it was quite long especially for someone their age. However it was an emotional one also. Dad’s diary has really inspired the duo to make this trip to Solomon Islands as an ode to Allan’s dad, Kenneth Foster Maine.
Kenneth Maine is a member of the New Zealand Force that served his country in the Pacific during World War II.
A little more than 30 at that time, Kenneth left behind his wife and children to join the New Zealand army. As is known, during war, one can never know whether they will live to see the end of it, or die fighting for their country.
Kenneth survived the war, but kept records of this part of his life in a personal diary.
“Dad wrote this diary, some of which are personal accounts of his life and he also kept letters he wrote to mum when he was in the army”, Allan Maine told Island Sun.
Mono plays a significant part in the history of New Zealand in the Pacific war. It is a place where the first opposed amphibious landing by New Zealand forces took place, since Gallipoli (World War 1).
The New Zealand forces successfully took the island from Japanese defenders. Known as the battle of Treasury Islands, Ken Maine described in his diary the events as he saw through his own eyes. The battle of Treasury Islands took place between the 27th of October and 12 November 1943.
It was recorded that during that time, the Japanese were caught by surprise and were unable to scramble aircraft to attack the assault craft until after the troops had landed.
‘WEDNESDAY 27 OCTOBER’, this was what was written by Kenneth Foster Maine in his diary 75 years ago.
“We were all on deck early to see the scene of our first action against the enemy. A and B Companies who left after us where all ready waiting to go ashore as soon as the naval barrage lifted. We landed half an hour after zero and advanced to our position without sighting the enemy. B Company landed right in a machine gun nest and two or three suffered minor injuries. We landed too far away and as our boat neared the shore it opened up on B Company who were crossing our front.
Charlie Biddle was wounded in the ‘plums’ while another chap was killed. The two guns on the island were silenced by A Company. Before it was silenced it damaged a landing craft and blew up an ammunition dump. We had no air raids during the day, as we more than had air superiority, but last night will be a nightmare for years to come.
No bombs fell near us, but we were close enough for my liking. During the night, Shorty Wilkins who had shown signs of panic left his fox hole and on trying to reach another was shot and killed instantly. The casualties so far are 4 killed. The Japs infiltrated through A Company area into C’s and they knifed three men killing two. For the time the Japs have appeared to have gone. Certainly we have not accounted for the number that is supposed to be here”.
“It was an emotional time for me”, Allan says as he struggled to hold back his tears and regain his composure.
“The events dad wrote in his diary and his description of the events that occurred then was far from what is being felt now. So when I stood there at the exact place that dad was 75 years ago, it was very emotional”, Allan said.
As reported in history books, a force of 25 dive bombers attacked two US destroyers, USS Cony and Philip. In the ensuing melee, 12 Japanese aircrafts were shot down. Cony was hit twice, resulting in the death of eight of her crew, while 10 others were wounded.
The New Zealand Forces were subsequently supported by the Allied Forces in the battle of Treasury Islands.
“We came on our own just to mark the 75 years anniversary to remember ‘dad’ but were fortunate enough to be part of the New Zealand government’s dignitaries to mark the anniversary in Mono. We didn’t know they will be there but the New Zealand High Commissioner was there so we took part in their program and Alan laid a wreath on behalf of the New Zealand forces as well”, Joy Maine said.
Alan and Joy has since returned to New Zealand. In five years’ time, it will be 80 years since the Battle of the Treasury Islands.
“I reckon the 80 years anniversary will be a big one. By then we will be very old to travel to Mono”, Joy laughingly say.
Allan and Joy Maine, returned to Thames in New Zealand feeling satisfied that they have been able to full fill, what they’ve always wanted to see, ever since they read ‘dad’s diary’.
Allan said he was quite small to remember what had happened, or how life was for mum back then. However he said, he is quite pleased that his dad’s legacy and his account of the war, remain through this diary. He hoped ‘dad’s diary’ will help future generations in their research and understanding on the War and how it had affected everyone.
Kenneth Foster Maine’s dairy has been transcribed and stored in the Alexander Turnbull digital library in New Zealand. The Maine family has decided to share their ‘dad’s diary’ for people to read and learn about what has happened during the war. Most of the transcript is open for public to access while only a few articles that were deemed personal and private, has restrictions.
Kenneth Foster Maine was born in 1910. He died at the age of 76 in 1986. During the war, he was in his early 30s.