Patrick McGuinessPatrick John McGuinness VX 45618
6 Platoon
HQ Coy
2/22nd Battalion AIF –

Paddy McGuinness was better known to me as Dad, only because he was able to escape off the south coast of New Britain with a lucky few.

Boarding the Laurabada after slogging it out through rivers and the jungle, avoiding starvation, suffering malaria and beri beri, all the while being pursued by the Japanese.

But of course, Dad was not alone.  More than 1400 men and some locals faced the same plight, retreating from the overpowering advance of the Japanese.

Dad’s story, like so many others, is hard to trace because most of them didn’t talk about their experiences.  We are fortunate that, now, the events leading up to the and including January 23, 1942 are fairly well documented.  However, for many families it is what happened to their loved ones after this that remains unanswered.

Many also question why tragic events such as the Tol and Waitavolo occurred, why many suffered cruel deaths from the march of POW’s back to Rabaul and why so many were lost on the Montevideo Maru.

Dad was fortunate enough to return home through his own sheer persistence, alongside some courageous men including Bill Harry, who assisted in the voyages of both the Laurabada and the Lakatoi and probably a few of the independent escapes.

I could give a few details of Dad’s escape but they are a little sketchy and I feel as though I would be gloating because Dad did get home to his family and was able to raise his children.

Dad died in 1966 at the age of 44, leaving our Mum, Aimee and children Vic, Patsy, myself and Kathy.  Dad’s funeral was attended by such people as Norm Furness, Laurie Luxmore and a couple more of his close army mates, which I only found out about a couple of years ago, thanks to Norm Furness.

I would like to thank Norm and everyone involved in keeping this unknown passage in our history alive, and also like to assure Norm not to worry, that we will remember.

One last thing – eventually we will all have lost our loved ones, so this can only bring us together more.

Pete McGuinness