CAAD Unit – Rabual
Chinese Auxiliary Ambulance Detachment (CAAD),
New Guinea Volunteer Rifles, Rabaul 1940-1942
Upon the formation of New Guinea Volunteer Rifles (NGVR) in September 1939, the Rabaul Chinese community were keen to play a role. However, not being Australian citizens there was no provision for them to join the Unit.
The Regimental Medical Officer of NGVR, Major Norman B. Watch, suggested they form an auxiliary ambulance detachment and be unofficially a part of NGVR. The Chinese Auxiliary Ambulance Detachment, comprising about 40 young Chinese Rabaul residents, under the guidance of NGVR Medical Warrant Officer WO2, Bob Kennedy, was formed early 1940 and served until disbandment shortly after the Japanese invasion of Rabaul, January 1942.
Rabaul’s Chinese were obliged to stay on that strategically important island during the Japanese occupation through to the end of hostilities in 1945. During this period many served the Australian war effort, often at great risk and personal cost, by providing intelligence to the Australian Army about enemy activities in the area. In at least two instances, these included coast watching duties. As might be expected, much of their assistance was in reaction to the extreme harshness of the occupiers towards them, actions that were given added impetus once word got back to the community from relatives in China about the atrocities meted out by the Japanese.
These photos were William (Bill) Lodwick MacGowan’s, a member of NGVR who assisted in the establishment of CAAD. We are indebted to Ken MacGowan, son of Bill, for his consent to use these.
The New Guinea Volunteer Rifles and Papua New Guinea Volunteer Rifles Ex-members Association Inc. proudly presented these photographs of the NGVR Chinese Auxiliary Ambulance Detachment (CAAD) to the Queensland Chinese Forum, on the occasion of the unveiling of the Chinatown Bell and plaque, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane, 10 March 2007. Further details are under “The Association”.