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The true meaning
When the soldiers were on the front line they were confronted with situations that they could never have imagined. They found that they had to draw on inner reserves of strength and values that perhaps they did not know they possessed.
As you read the book, find examples of soldiers who demonstrated the true meaning of:
Write a paragraph about each that shows you understand the meaning of these words.
Doing Your Best/Care and Compassion
One of the values most important to Australians is that of 'mateship'. What is mateship? Use the Y-chart to help determine what it is, and then select illustrations from the book to demonstrate mateship in action.
Part of being a good mate is doing your best to keep those mates safe and healthy. Select an episode from the book which illustrates the soldiers doing their best in difficult circumstances.
General MacArthur, who did not even go to Papua New Guinea until the last days of the campaign, had no understanding of jungle warfare and he believed that the 'extremely light' casualties meant that the Australian forces were not making a 'serious effort to displace the enemy'.
Write an article as though you were a war correspondent wanting to convince your audience that these comments are wrong. Speculate on what might have happened to the soldiers if they had not been so resilient.
Much of the fate of the soldiers was determined by the leadership of Generals Blamey and MacArthur. On p 166, the author writes: 'In spite of Blamey and MacArthur, these brave soldiers defeated the Japanese.' Use the Y-chart to help determine the qualities of a good leader.
Identify examples from the book that show a justified lack of respect or a change in feeling between different groups. What were the impact and implications of these feelings?
Develop some strategies and an action plan that will help to develop a more respectful and harmonious atmosphere at your school.
Honesty and Trustworthiness
Honesty and censorship
In the letter on pp 30-31, the war correspondent writes, 'I was a war correspondent in the thick of it, but that doesn't mean I reported everything I saw.'
Use the PMI Chart to help organise your ideas and form an opinion.
General MacArthur commented that because the Australians suffered relatively few casualties, they did not take the task seriously enough. Sometimes subordinates 'self-censor' and only tell their superiors what they believe they want to hear.
Compare the types of communications technologies available in World War II and those available now.
Responding to the text
Set the scene
On a map of South-east Asia, locate and mark the countries which fell to Japanese rule during World War II. There is evidence that the Japanese were within 11 kilometres of Port Moresby at one stage. Use the map's scale to estimate the distance between Port Moresby and northern Australia.
Examine a topographical map of Papua New Guinea and note the differences between its terrain and that of Australia.
Use the X-chart to clarify your thoughts, and add to it as you read.
Put yourself in the shoes of a member of the militia and write a letter home describing a day in your life on the Kokoda Track. Compare these to the conditions currently being experienced by the Australian troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. If you were required to fight overseas what would you miss the most?
Use this conversion chart http://www.convert-me.com/en/convert/weight to convert the rations described on p 35 into today's measurements. Then work out how much each soldier had to eat each day. Could you survive on this? Is it nutritionally sound? Compare it to what you normally eat in a day.
At the end of the book the author has included timelines marking the stages of Australia's involvement in the conflict, the lead-up to World War II, and the events in the Pacific region. Although Kokoda is a complex story, the author has made it simpler by numbering the days. Use this template to develop a graphic timeline of the Kokoda Campaign. Have these been the most significant 101 days in Australia's history so far?
Write an editorial to support your opinion. How is it similar to and/or different from the opinions of your classmates?
Haves and Have-nots
The author argues that, 'In one sense, World War II was fought between the "haves" and the "have-nots"'. Discuss:
Allies and enemies
The author writes:
'Only in the militia'
550 young militia soldiers of the 39th Battalion managed to hold the much larger and more experienced Japanese forces at bay, even though John Curtin was still in the midst of negotiating with Winston Churchill for more Australian soldiers to be allowed to join them from the North African and European campaigns.
Yet, in the letter to Beryl on page 11, Beryl's friend writes:
Read p 26 to get a better understanding of the militia. Discuss
An unheard voice
Read the Author profile above, particularly his views about war.
Compare the Peter Macinnis's account of this campaign with others that are available and explain the differences in the authors' approaches.
Find some examples of texts where bias might obscure the truth – political advertisements are often excellent examples - and identify the writer's perspective. Then find texts on the same topic that offer a different perspective.
What is meant by the statement, 'There is no truth, only perception'?