ALKIMOS students have made about 200 crosses for graves of Australian and Papua New Guinean solders who died in World War II.
The St James Anglican School Year 8 students made the crosses in their design and technology classes, while students in years 4, 6 and 8 engraved words and varnished them in art classes.
Teacher Samantha Alcock’s parents David and Lee-Ann will attend the Anzac Day service at Bomana War Cemetery in Port Moresby to lay the crosses on the soldiers’ graves.
Mrs Alcock said last year she and her husband attended the 100-year Anzac commemoration in Lae with friends who were looking for closure for a grandfather who died on Bobdubi Ridge in Salamaua during WW2.
“His mates saw him get hit and fall, but the gunfire was too heavy to get to him,” she said. “They came back the next day, but could not find his body anywhere. They think he fell into a ravine.”
Mr Alcock’s company owned a house on Salamaua, and the group took a long boat up the river and walked through knee-deep mud and thick jungle to get to a former Japanese air strip.
“The airstrip was quite grown over but planes that had crashed were still there entangled in trees and vines,” Mrs Alcock said.
“It’s incredible that when I stay in Salamaua each time I visit, the local children come along with WWII memorabilia to sell – David has acquired bullets, mortars and bomb shells.
“There are war tunnels and in the water Japanese frigates are still there from being bombed.”
Mrs Alcock said last year, those attending the ceremony were offered crosses made by children in NSW with words of appreciation written on them.
“They asked the people who attended the service to find a grave and to place the cross on the grave and just stand there and think about what that young man has given up and the things he probably never had experienced before he lost his life,” she said.
“My biggest heart-wrenching thought was his mum or dad who would have never been able to get to Lae to visit his grave, to know that he was laying restful in a beautiful, green, manicured garden.”
Mrs Alcock said more than 2800 soldiers were buried at the Lae War Cemetery, including 444 unidentified bodies.
“The Australian Army is now starting to set up a team to start retrieving remains of the many soldiers who have not been found,” she said.
The Alcocks plan to arrive in Lae on April 24.