National Geographic : 1945 Jan
The National Geographic Magazine Friendly Islanders Brought Coconuts, Papayas, Squash, and Taro to the Ibu Garrison The Japs had stripped local gardens of Bougainville; so it was a tribute to the Fijians that the natives should part with their valued produce, which they exchanged for stick tobacco and parachute silk (page 93). Men carrying bows and arrows led the silent processions; women and children brought up the rear. Bamboo sections in background are water carriers. "Now, let's check the setup." Pushing back his packing-crate chair, he stepped to the chart table. After a glance at the large-scale map, he called to his batman in the darkness. "Go down to the camp and tell Bero, the Papuan scout, that we must see him immediately." While the major waited, other officers crowded around. Flashlights traced lines across the battle chart, as though each was silently choosing an ambush along the net work of trails (opposite page). Soon bare feet whispering over the floor an nounced the arrival of Bero. Squat, barrel chested, tattooing around his eyes, he was of the jungle. A pair of khaki shorts, with a kris at his waist, was all that he wore. But what held me was a feeling of something un tamed prowling that veranda. Only a thread of civilization seemed to hold him in check. While I oiled and cleaned my carbine, a junior officer beside me on the bunk told me about this sinister-looking soldier. "He's tough, that bloke. Massive shoulders, powerful legs, unlimited endurance, and chopped from mahogany. Not much like a Solomon islander, is he?" "But what place does he fill in your Fiji battalion?" I asked. "Before the Japanese came, the Australian Government conducted a police school at Rabaul, New Britain," he explained. "The most intelligent and toughest men from New Guinea, boys like Bero, were trained as a constabulary force to maintain law and order throughout the Australian Mandated Islands.* "Like you Marines, we Fijians had never seen Bougainville until a short time ago. To campaign behind enemy lines, we needed scouts who knew the country. The police boys were the answer. Bero and his Papuan friends, who were stationed on Bougainville, know the island like the floor of their homes and are invaluable to us." Later, I asked Bero how many Japs he had killed and he gave two answers: first, those he had shot with his carbine; then, with a laugh, those he had finished in the way of the *See, in THE GEOGRAPHIC. "Into Primeval Papua by Seaplane," by E. W . Brandes, September, 1929; "Unknown New Guinea," by Richard Archbold, March, 1941; and "Treasure Islands of Australasia," by Douglas L. Oliver, June, 1942.