Meeting up with Fr Kevin Kerley SM at Villa Maria, Hunters Hill, 4th January 2012

January 5, 2012 at 1:52 am (Commentary, John Bowers, Pacific war, Panguna Mine on Bougainville, PNG)

Fr Kerley & Mr Bowers

What an engaging and informative experience it was for me to meet up with Fr Kevin in the company of my old friend, John Bowers, and to be introduced to Fr Bob Barber, Fr Gerard Arbuckle, and other members of the community at a luncheon beautifully prepared by the kitchen staff.

Before and after lunch it was fascinating to hear something of Fr Kevin’s experiences in Bougainville during its crisis years. He has recently been accepted as a member of the Australian Peacekeeper & Peacemaker Veterans’ Association. At age 83, he continues to work on his memoirs and he’s made available accounts of his life in Bougainville to academic institutions.

Fr Kevin has a deep interest in Australian military history. His brother was a WW II veteran, and Kevin has made a study of the Pacific War.

John Bowers, a Sandhurst man, ex-British Army, and former PNG Patrol Officer, Special Branch Officer, and Judge’s Associate, with Kevin, shares an abiding interest in military history.

The topics discussed ranged from aspects of the Hegelian dialectic, terror and intimidation to survival of non-combatants in war areas. Fr Kevin’s Bougainville situation during the crisis years, in the middle as it were, between the Bougainville Revolutionary Army, and the PNG Police and Defence Forces, all in the mix, with his dedication to his parishioners and other local villagers, makes one realize the complexity of the circumstances he was in.

Both John’s and Kevin’s insights into the Malayan Emergency, Communist Insurgency War, guerrilla warfare and other aspects of military history, with the comments Kevin made about many famous and infamous wartime personalities, made for intelligent and informative conversation.

To talk with a man like Fr Kevin Kerley, and share his unique experiences, made a enjoyable and worthwhile day for me.

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1 Comment

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