Successful and dramatic rescue of Indian Prisoners of the Japanese by the Allied Intelligence Bureau (AIB), Sepik Party, in February, 1945.
The Sepik Party under the command of Lieut. R.H. McColl, R.A.N.V.R. and assisted by Lieut. R.K. Walls, A.I.F. became aware that there was a group of Indians, prisoners of the Japanese, who were in dire need in Kurringe Village, in the vicinity of the Sepik River.
The intelligence regarding the state of these Indian POWs was gained by Lieut. Walls, and he was – “impressed with the necessity for succouring these Indian Imperial Troops as soon as possible in order to save lives, with all possible haste…”
A party consisting of: Lieut. R.K. Walls, Havildar Khazan Singh of 10/2 Punjab Regt. , 11 Native Police armed with Owen guns and 7 others with a variety of weapons including a Carbine, Bren gun and rifles, supported by 4 other natives with shot guns. All members carried grenades. The party also included 28 carriers.
On the 24th of January, 1945, this party arrived at Nunguaiia, a friendly village, as a staging post for the attack and rescue operation.
Early attempts to penetrate Kurringe failed owing to the flooding of the Screw River. Walls radioed for supplies to be dropped at Ndaina, a nearby village, and over the next couple of days, reconnaissance was secretly carried out on Kurringe.
Three so called Jap Captains were apprehended and interrogated at Nunguaiia, and some information was obtained which proved fairly reliable.
On February 2 & 3 rescue and attack operations were successfully carried out in the various parts of Kurringe Village.
This account is based on a covering note from Lieut. McColl to D.S.I.O. New Guinea with Lieut. Walls’ report of the Kurringe Operations, but I don’t have Appendices C & D which list the names of rescued Indians, and captured Japanese, but from what I can gather, 3 Japanese were killed and 4 or 5 were captured – one Cpl. Khawasakhi was killed while attempting to escape by Numbia, a Native Policeman. Nine Indians were rescued, some in dire physical condition.
In his covering note Lieut. K.H. McColl stated: “Attached herewith is Lieut. R. K. Walls’ report to me of his activities in connection with the rescue of Indians from Japanese hands at Kurringe. His plans for the project were very sound, and were carried out with commendable despatch, and were highly successful. I concur with his remarks regarding Havildar Khazan Singh of 10/2 Punjab Regt., who, in my opinion, is a fine soldier.”