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ASHA NEWS

Dr Matthew Kelly, Curio Projects

In October 1942, during the Kokoda Campaign in Papua New Guinea (PNG), two Japanese soldiers died in a small pit in the Eora Creek valley opposing the Australian Army’s advance north.Archaeological work between 2011 and 2019 has recovered their remains, identified their role in the battle and more recently uncovered what probably killed these two young men.

An archaeological survey of the Etoa site, near Eora Creek, was undertaken in July 2011 with a team of six Australian archaeologists and members of the local community of Alola.[1] During that survey a small single man fighting pit (EB-11-1053) was excavated, by several villagers, and a number of artefacts were recovered from the fill. At the very base of the pit a large rectangular artefact was retrieved (Figure 1). In addition, several small artefacts were also recovered which included, some lengths of cloth covered wire, Japanese 6.5 mm shell casings, live Japanese 6.5 mm rounds and the fragments of earpieces and microphones of a radio (Figure 2). It was difficult to identify the large artefact as it was encased by the adhering soil matrix and corrosion. The obvious fragility of the artefact required the careful removal of successive layers of corrosion back at the camp to reveal what it was.With the soil etc. removed the remains of a Japanese Model 94 Type 5 Radio transmitter were exposed (Figure 3).

Japanese radio remains as excavated from pit. (Photo source: M Kelly 2011)
Figure 1. Japanese radio remains as excavated from pit. (Photo source: J Sterenberg 2011)


Figure 2. Japanese radio remains as excavated from pit. (Photo source: J Sterenberg 2011)

Japanese Type 94-5 Radio transmitter.  (Photo source: TM-E 30-480, p. 307)
Figure 3. Japanese Type 94-5 Radio transmitter. (Photo source: TM-E 30-480, p. 307)

Previous historical research had revealed that the Australian Army had captured a Japanese radio during the October 1942 battle.[2] It appears therefore that the Australians dumped the captured transmitter into an empty weapons pit after recording its capture.However, the pit that had once contained the operators, receiver, power generator, as well as their associated equipment, had yet to be identified.

Eight years later, in August 2019, excavations were taking place in several weapons pits across the site of Etoa (see Figure 4).[3] One large pit was severely disturbed by massive root growth that entirely enveloped the contents.The partial remains of two bodies were exposed in this pit (EB-19-51). The paucity of skeletal remains precluded any attempt to identify the cause of these men’s death.

Pit EB-19-051 in the course of excavation in 2019 by NMAG staff and locals.  (Photo source: M Kelly 2019)
Figure 4. Pit EB-19-051 in the course of excavation in 2019 by NMAG staff and locals. (Photo source: M Kelly 2019)

The artefacts recovered from within this pit included: an unexploded Australian No. 36 grenade; a Japanese bayonet, still in its scabbard; two morphine vials; buttons from a Japanese shirt; a clip of Japanese 6.5 mm rounds; a coiled length of fabric covered copper wire; and earpieces from a radio which matched some of those found in 2011.Here was the radio pit, with apparently the two radio operators lying where they had been killed, with remnants of their radio equipment.This pit was approximately 50 m south of pit EB-11-1053 which had the radio transmitter buried in it. [4]

Several additional artefacts were recovered of which some were easily identifiable while others took some more research to classify (Figure 5).The identifications included personal items such as a Seiko watch, equipment for servicing the radio, nails and screws from carrying boxes but one small metal fragment’s final identification provided the information on the probable way these radio men lost their lives.The fragment turned out to be the guide for a striker spring of an Australian No 36 Grenade. The force of the grenade’s explosion forces the thin tube to crush against the spring creating a characteristic spiral groove on the inside of the tube. This fragment indicated that an Australian grenade had exploded within the pit, no doubt killing or mortally wounding the occupants of the pit where they lay until 2019.

Selection of artefacts from pit EB-19-051.  They include portion of Japanese helmet liner (1), small multi-head screwdriver (2), Seiko wristwatch (3), press stud (4), small buckle (5), belt/strap keeper (6), and small spanner (7).  The striker spring guide of an Australian No 36 Grenade is indicated by arrow. (Photo source: M Kelly 2019)
Figure 5. Selection of artefacts from pit EB-19-051. They include portion of Japanese helmet liner (1), small multi-head screwdriver (2), Seiko wristwatch (3), press stud (4), small buckle (5), belt/strap keeper (6), and small spanner (7). The striker spring guide of an Australian No 36 Grenade is indicated by arrow. (Photo source: M Kelly 2019)



References

AHMS, 2011, Eora Creek, Stage 2, Final Report, report for the Lost Battlefield Trust.

AWM52 8/3/3/16, 2/3 Infantry Battalion War Diary July-December 1942, Canberra.

Curio Projects, 2019, Interim Report on Archaeological Work, August 2019, Etoa Battlefield, report for PNG National Museum and Art Gallery.

US War Department, 1944, Technical Manual TM-E 30-480, Handbook on Japanese Forces 1944, Washington.



[1] AHMS, 2011, Eora Creek, Stage 2, Final Report, report for the Lost Battlefield Trust.

[2] 2/3 Infantry Battalion War Diary July-December 1942.

[3] The current work is being undertaken in association with the PNG National Museum and Art Gallery (NMAG) and the Japanese Association for Recovery and Repatriation of War Casualties (JARRWC), Curio Projects, 2019, Interim Report on Archaeological Work, August 2019, Etoa Battlefield, report for PNG National Museum and Art Gallery.

[4] The larger radio receiver unit and hand crank power generator are yet to be found.


Written by Prof. Martin Gibbs

As part of the ARC Discovery Project  Landscape of Production and Punishment: the Tasman Peninsula 1830-77, we are pleased to offer our second PhD Scholarship Opportunity to work with Prof. Martin Gibbs (UNE), A.Prof David Roberts (UNE) and Prof. Hamish Maxwell-Stewart (UTas), alongside staff of the Port Arthur Historic Site Management Authority (Dr David Roe, Dr Jody Steele, Ms Susan Hood) and project Postdoctoral Fellow Dr Richard Tuffin on the historical archaeology of the Tasman Peninsula and the Port Arthur convict site. Further information about the project is available at: (https://www.une.edu.au/about-une/academic-schools/school-of-humanities/research/current-funded-research/landscapes-of-production-and-punishment) or in our recent paper: Tuffin, R., M. Gibbs, D. Roberts, H. Maxwell-Stewart, D. Roe, J. Steele, S. Hood and B. Godfrey 2018 ‘Landscapes of Production and Punishment: Convict labour in the Australian context’, Journal of Social Archaeology 18(1): 50–76.

We are advertising the scholarship with two project possibilities (applicants should address which one they are interested in):

1. A historical archaeological study of Point Puer: Point Puer was the first purpose-built reforming institution for criminal boys in the British Empire (operating 1834-48). The project will focus on industrial training and outputs, drawing on extensive documentary sources as well as existing archaeological and museum records and material culture resources. Further survey of landscapes and structures may be required, although no further excavation is proposed. This project will closely align and work in conjunction with the main project and the other studies of industrial production at Port Arthur including material analyses.

2. A historical archaeological study of maritime infrastructure and operations at Port Arthur and the Tasman Peninsula: Port Arthur and associated convict sites across the Tasman Peninsula relied heavily upon maritime transport and engaged in a variety of maritime industries and activities during the convict period. This project will explore the nature and role of the various maritime related activities associated with the convict era on the Tasman Peninsula, with a focus on maritime infrastructure and industrial sites including the dockyard and the extensive wharfs, jetties and facilities. The project will require re-evaluation and synthesis of previous studies, extensive additional archival research and analysis, further survey, and potentially analysis of structures and material culture, depending on the final form of the project. No excavation is proposed. This project will work in conjunction with the main project.

Applicants should have Honours or Masters level qualifications in archaeology and be concerned with the anthropological dimensions of the archaeological record. It is essential that applicants have well-developed skills in using historical documents in support of archaeological research as well as skills in artefact or structural analysis as relevant to the project they are applying for. The successful candidate will be expected to work under the direction of and in collaboration with the main project team. There will be a requirement for co-publication of results. The final form of the project will be determined through consideration of the skills of the candidate.

The successful candidate will be resident at UNE Armidale, with fieldwork in Tasmania as required. Funding will be made available for basic travel and accommodation. The Scholarship includes a 3-year full-time UNE funded PhD studentship providing tuition fees and living allowance stipend.Stipend is $26,682 per annum tax free for full-time internal students, paid in fortnightly installments.

To discuss this role please contact Professor Martin Gibbs, phone: (02) 6773 2656 or email: [email protected]

Please check out the full details on the UNE Scholarships website: https://www.une.edu.au/research/hdr/hdr-scholarships/landscape-of-production-and-punishment



Alison Frappell

On Friday 1 December 2017 we were pleased to welcome Prof Daniel Schávelzon and Dr Patricia Frazzi to The Big Dig Archaeology Education Centre, following their afternoon tour of The Rocks with Dr Wayne Johnson. We were delighted that the Argentinian Consul-General in Sydney, Mr Hector Raul Pelaez, was also able to join us.


Prof Daniel Schávelzon, Dr Patricia Frazzi and Dr Wayne Johnson

Prof Schávelzon and Dr Frazzi gave our members a fascinating talk about their work on the excavations of a Nazi hideout or refuge complex (image below), deep in the jungle of what is now Teyú Cuaré Park, Misiones, in Argentina. Prof Schávelzon explored the complex of three main buildings and several ancillary buildings, noting how the buildings were constructed by local labour interpreting Germanic designs and construction methods.

Four garbage pits were excavated with thousands of artefacts found, dating the site to the 1940s - 1950s, as well as a collection of coins (image below) from various German-occupied European nations.

An intriguing pit, which initially the team thought may be a grave, showed evidence of burial of an object, a cubic metre in size, which at some later point was retrieved. A belt with a Spanish military buckle (image below) belonging to General Franco’s army, in use till 1975, was deliberately buried when the pit was refilled.

Prof Schávelzon explored how the lack of historical records was ameliorated by a wealth of local stories, including building materials being reused in local housing. However, he noted that some of those local memories turned out to be recollections from newspaper and magazine articles from 1976 when the site was rediscovered, and commented on how recent international media has picked out the storyline it finds most newsworthy. The practice of historical archaeology plays a very important role in better understanding such curious sites.


Dr Frazzi recounted how her team worked in very difficult conditions to conserve significant but extremely fragile artefacts (image above), showing the remarkable transformation of matted lumps of paper into a page of newspaper and a postcard of Hitler and Mussolini. Their careful research on unusual finds, such as a fragment of expensive lamp glass from Germany, was most impressive.

For those who weren’t able to make the talk a copy of the IJHA paper about the excavations is available here: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10761-017-0442-1


Compiled by Richard Morrison

The 3rd field work season is to be undertaken by Dr Ash Lenton, ANU, for undergraduates from there but also from other Australian universities, 5-28 January 2018. It is to focus, as in previous seasons, on the investigation of a military barracks which serviced the adjacent Maria Island convict settlement in the 1840’s. Run by: School of Archaeology and Anthropology, Research School of Humanities & the Arts, ANU College of Arts and the Social Sciences, ANU.

For more information please see:
https://facebook.com/TriabunnaBarracks.Dig/     
http://archanth.cass.anu.edu.au/triabunna-barracks

Twitter #TriabunnaBarracks




Sean Winter

In the first half of 2017 Winterborne Heritage conducted archaeological investigations at the State Heritage registered Artillery Drill Hall (Figure 1) in Fremantle on behalf of the National Trust of Western Australia. The Drill Hall was in need of reflooring which also involved significant restumping, and this precipitated the need for excavations inside the building and under the existing floors, prior to ground disturbing floor repairs taking place.


Fig 1: Drill Hall Exterior (supplied by Sean Winter)

The Drill Hall was constructed in 1895, but before that, from 1850, the site was part of the Fremantle Convict Cantonment and is thus within the curtilage of the World Heritage site Fremantle Prison. Documentary evidence indicates that the Drill Hall was built partly over a yard allocated to Sappers of the Royal Engineers and their families, and partly over an area shown as “gardens”. At the end of the convict period in 1886 the land was handed over to the colonial government, and in 1895 was allocated to the military for the construction of one of a number of Drill Halls throughout the Perth metropolitan area. It was retained by the military until the early 1980s, when it was slated for demolition, but was ultimately saved by a community campaign. From 1986 until 2015 the building was used as the Fly-By-Night Musicians Club, a live music venue for local and international acts.


Fig 2: Drill Hall Interior excavations (supplied by Sean Winter)

The internal Drill Hall space measures 21m x 27m and floor repairs were needed throughout this entire area (figure 2). A thick layer of dust had built up under the floor boards on top of existing sediments, and this meant that the underfloor area was extremely dry, with excellent organic preservation. The nature of the construction of the building meant that the joists and bearers sat either on top of, or very close to, the underlying sediment, which limited horizontal movement of artefacts, and this meant that we had high confidence that artefacts were in-situ when recovered.


Fig 3: Garden stakes with 1m scale (supplied by Sean Winter)

It soon became clear that the Drill Hall had been constructed directly over the top of an existing garden area, and that a large amount of convict period material culture had been protected by this construction. Hundreds of roughly cut garden stakes (figure 3) were recovered, many with twine and string still attached, evidence that the gardens were probably being used for the growing of vegetables. Soil samples are yet to be analysed, but we hope that pollen, seeds and other evidence will be able to indicate what type of plants exactly were being grown here. There were also a large number of leather shoes recovered, as well as delicate textiles. Shoe remains are ubiquitous when excavating in the yards at Fremantle Prison, but those tend to be one design – prisoners’ boots. In contrast the shoes recovered here, less than 100m outside the walls of the prison, span a wide range of styles, including ladies’ and childrens’ shoes, indicating perhaps the footwear favoured by the sappers and their families.


Fig 4: WWII military sign (supplied by Sean Winter)

From the Drill Hall period a wide range of military artefacts were recovered, including clothing parts (eg buttons), bullet cartridges, and a metal sign dated January 1943 (figure 4). Also recovered was a shuttlecock made of cork and rattan, evidence that badminton was played recreationally inside the building.

Quite a large number of artefacts were also recovered representative of the Fly-By-Night period, including parts of musical instruments (eg guitar strings, broken drum sticks, plectrums), graffiti, numerous artefacts related to the consumption of mind altering substances, both legal (eg alcohol containers) and illegal (eg syringes), and a large amount of cheap jewellery and other items of adornment.


Fig 5: Craven cigarette packet (supplied by Sean Winter)

One particular artefact class that can be seen from all three periods, is smoking material. From the convict period this is largely represented by clay pipes, but the excellent organic preservation meant that significant amounts of paper was also preserved and recovered in excellent condition. This meant that cigarette packets, match boxes and cigarette papers (figures 5 and 6) were recovered dating from throughout the 20th century. The Fly-By-Night Club was the first music venue in Australia to go smoke free, perhaps as early as 1990, so smoking material related to that period tends to be illicit, with the remains of numerous marijuana joints recovered.


Fig 6: Kali Match Box (supplied by Sean Winter)

The majority of the artefact assemblage is yet to be analysed, but the exceptional organic preservation in the underfloor area means that a large number of fragile artefacts havethat would normally not survive archaeologically, have done so from all three periods of site use. We hope that this will provide us with new understandings about lifeways in Fremantle in the 19th and 20th centuries. A number of journal papers will be published in future on archaeological work at this site, with the first related to the Fly-By-Night period soon to be submitted for publication.



Caiti D'Gluyas

One of the most significant finds from the 2002 Casselden Place, Melbourne, archaeological investigations (50 Lonsdale Street) was a medal struck to commemorate the Cessation of Convict Transportation (see images below, source: GML Heritage). The medal commemorates not only the victory of the anti-transportation movement but also the 50th anniversary of the founding of Tasmania on 10th August 1853.

The medal's design was approved by the Anti-Transportation League committee in 1853 before being fabricated in England. The medals finally arrived in Australia for distribution in 1855. The medal features James Wyon's portrait of Queen Victoria on one side, with the reverse showing the armorial bearings for Tasmania in a shield. James Wyon was a resident engraver at the Royal Mint and is best known for engraving the dies for sovereigns and half-sovereigns at the new Sydney branch of the Royal Mint. The shield is quartered by the Southern Cross and bears pastoral, commercial and agricultural emblems supported by the emu and kangaroo, surmounted by a rising sun motif.

The medal was cast in three different metals. One single medal was struck in gold for presentation to Queen Victoria, 100 were struck in bronze for committee members and 9000 were struck in white metal for general distribution. The medal recovered from Casselden Place appears to be a bronze issue. Many of the white metal medals went to Tasmanian school children. At the cessation celebrations, each child was given a piece of cake and a ticket enabling them to receive a medal, once they had arrived in the colony. On 3 August 1855, 9000 medals arrived in Launceston and 4000 were immediately dispatched to Hobart. Another 3000 were held in Launceston and 2000 were distributed to Green Ponds, Norfolk Plains, Ross, Evandale, Longford and other country districts.

The medal is now in the collection of Museum Victoria as part of a set of archaeological assemblages from the ‘Little Lon’ precinct. The most recent and concluding historical archaeological excavation at ‘Little Lon’ was undertaken between April and July 2017 for the 271 Spring Street development. An interpretation scheme for this excavation is currently being prepared by GML Heritage and will draw together the multiple phases of archaeological investigation that has occurred within the precinct. The medal provides an opportunity to interpret a fascinating story about ‘the hated stain’ of transportation.

References:
McNeice, R 1990, Tasmanian commemorative medals and medallions 1853–1900: A collector's handbook, Taroona.
Mint Issue September 2003, Royal Australia Mint.




Fiona Shanahan

The bombing of Darwin in February 1942 resulted in the establishment of 10 main airbases with two additional satellite bases for each main base in Australia’s Northern Territory. Coomalie was one of Batchelor’s satellite airbases and was home to Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) squadrons 31 and 87 (87 was born from No. 1 Photo Reconnaissance Unit at Coomalie). 87 Squadron was a photoreconnaissance unit that flew Mosquito aircraft.

The F–52 camera was a World War II British photoreconnaissance camera and the Coomalie Mosquitos were fitted with these advanced cameras for the duration of the war.

There was only one fatal aircraft crash at Coomalie for the entire war. It occurred in August 1945, resulting in the death of pilot Gillespie and serious burns to navigator Haynes. The aircraft crash occurred due to the aircraft suddenly veering off the airstrip during take-off (Mosquitos were prone to do this on occasion). The aircraft then flipped and caught fire.The crashed aircraft was cleared away with a bulldozer and dumped in the Coomalie Creek.


Image courtesy: Imperial War Memorial (CH 10845)

In the mid 2000s the current owner of the airbase, Richard, located a ‘frosted crystal like object, the size of a fist’ (pictured above, image courtesy: Shanahan 2013) at the site of the Gillespie Mosquito accident. Considering the location of the find and the size of the item, Richard asked a geologist to test its lead content. The results of the examination confirmed it was most likely the F–52 camera lens as it contained the expected 7% lead found in lens from the time. Upon further inspections of the crash site and the Coomalie Creek the severely burnt back casing of the F–52 camera was located.

This find not only adds to the ever evolving narrative and living history of the airbase, but it is a physical item that the Gillespie family have been able to connect with (Gillespie’s family are heavily involved with the living history at Coomalie).

If you would like to know more about the site or the F–52 lens please send an email to [email protected].




ICOFORT and Australia ICOMOS

ICOFORT – the International Scientific Committee on Fortifications and Military Heritage – was formed by ICOMOS in 2005 and was established to engage with the heritage conservation issues related to structures, landscapes and monuments associated with military heritage. There is now an Australia ICOMOS National Scientific Committee on Fortifications and Military Heritage. This talk by Dr Matthew Kelly is designed to introduce members to some aspects of military heritage around the world and in Australia and to also announce the development of the National Scientific Committee focusing on Australian military and conflict heritage. This introductory talk will also hopefully encourage ICOMOS members to consider joining this new National Scientific Committee and engage with the issues related to managing this form of heritage in a modern world. The talk will be preceded by a free tour of the Dawes Point Battery, with Denis Gojak.

Thursday 15 June 2017

Tour: Dawes Point under the Sydney Harbour Bridge south side starts at 5:15pm for 5.30pm sharp directed by Denis Gojak regarding the Dawes Point Battery.

Talk: The Big Dig, The Rocks, 110 Cumberland St, Sydney NSW 2000 at 6:15pm for 6:30pm sharp after the tour.

Students $5, Members $10, Non-members $15 all payable at the Big Dig in cash.

RSVP: via email to Louise Cox [email protected] Bookings are essential as places are limited.

For more information, please see the following link: docomomoaustralia.com.au



Richard Brassey, Auckland Council

A World War II aircraft crash site at Whenuapai west of Auckland was investigated in April-May by a team lead by Simon Bickler in conjunction with Auckland Council. A USAAF B17E flying fortress (‘Texas Tornado’) which had been on a secret mission to New Zealand crashed and exploded shortly after take-off for Laverton on 9 June 1942, with eleven fatalities. The property on which the crash occurred is likely to be developed in the near future. The aim of the project was to undertake a controlled excavation of a large infilled 500 lb bomb crater at the site in a way that would allow recovery of any human remains, personal items, unexploded ordnance and definitive crash relics. The finds recovered from the crash site have yet to be fully examined, but a number of items recovered will be repatriated to the US Defence Department’s Missing in Action unit.

Photo: Bomb crater prior to excavation - Richard Brassey



Compiled by Bronwyn Woff

A possible nineteeth century military trench has been discovered during road work excavations at Tauranga, NZ. The trench and the musket balls found within it may be related to other known battle sites in the area, which date between the 1830s and 1860s.

For more information, please see: www.radionz.co.nz