Kokoda Appeal

Reporter: Karryn Cooper

When we needed them, they were there keeping our soldiers alive on the Kokoda Track - the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels. A cyclone has hit the area of Papua New Guinea where their descendants live, killing around 250 people and destroying thousands of homes.

Now, they need our help. Former diggers Arnold Forrester and George Palmer vividly remember the horrors of the track, and owe their lives to the locals. Sixty-five years on, the Diggers of the 39th Battalion are on the front line again to rally support to repay an overdue debt."Australians should support this because in the World War Two, on the Kokoda Track we were totally dependent on the Fuzzy Wuzzies," Arnold said. "I was carried for three days through the jungle and had it not been for those boys looking after me with the greatest care, I would have been dead meat."

Colin Richardson also owes his life to the men. "I think all Australians understand how important it was they helped us in our darkest hour in 1942 when Australia was under threat," Colin said. "We couldn't have done it without them. Now it's our turn to help them."

In Papua New Guinea, Cyclone Guba has wiped out areas to the north and east of the track. At least 10,000 homes have been flattened, and bridges and roads swept away. Australian defence forces have begun emergency relief work, but it's a disaster that has been ignored back home.Patrick Lindsay is the chairman of the Kokoda Track Foundation, which has already sent $20,000 worth of medical supplies to the cyclone-ravaged area. But he said much more was needed.

George, Arnold and Colin all said if they could, they would physically help but the next best thing is to appeal to Australians to help lost mates."Please give generously because we owe them so much and if it hadn't been for them, well, goodness only knows the Japs could have got through to Australia," George said.

Donations can be made through the Kokoda Track Foundation website: http://www.kokodatrackfoundation.org/