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Mute Witnesses of World War II in Papua

by Senaman
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World War II had a huge impact on the history of mankind. Leaving wounds, stories, history, and not infrequently objects witnessing this dark history. As found in Esmambo Village, Bikar District, Tambrauw Regency, Southwest Papua. About five to seven war vehicles were abandoned in this village. The war vehicle is a type of LVT which in its time functioned to transport the company of soldiers from one place to another. From its characteristics, it is explained that this vehicle is a war vehicle belonging to the United States, which led the Allies in the Asia-Pacific arena. 

This type of LVT vehicle is equipped with a machine gun that can fire while driving, however, only a collection of vehicles is seen. Some of them did not have the rifle, other important parts were also missing because they were taken by irresponsible people.

About one to three kilometers north of the Pacific Ocean, it is suspected that these vehicles were unloaded from the ship right on the coast. It was then towed into God’s hinterland, indicated by the large open area, which extends to the coast, and the other end to the entrance post to this tourist spot. 

In its time, this area was urban, according to Hans Mambrasar, the traditional leader of Biak Karon. However, the area is still preserved in its beauty, as the trees are tall and large and show sturdy roots, indicating that it may be almost a century old. The town in question is a simple town, with tents, campfires, and weapons only, or as it is often called, an Allied military camp.

As mentioned earlier, this place has been abandoned. The guard post of the site looks quite run-down. The site is held by a resident named Tinus who works as a village secretary, because the war vehicles are located in his family’s land area. This place has few visitors, and there is no information about this place on Google Maps, making it rarely visited by the public. Nevertheless, Tinus says that every year there are always visitors who come, and recently the number has increased.

In 2021, this area was repaired, at the initiative of the Deputy Regent of Tambrauw. MEsak Merusala Yekwam, this area was cleaned and a wooden bridge was added for access to the tank relic from the front door. The Tambrauw Regency Government realizes that this place has great potential for tourism in the region.

It is known that there is a resident named Alex Membrasar in Werur Village, Tambrauw Regency. He collected World War II findings from a young age on his family’s plantation. There are still many sharp objects, iron, (Allied remains), and other used bullets. It is known that there are still many relics buried under the ground that have yet to be recovered.

Even Alex admitted that there are still bullets and other relics that are still active, not infrequently these relics can explode if accidentally stepped on. He once found one that was still active on his plantation. Alex himself did not dare to pick it up and decided to bury it deeply. In front of his house, Alex shows off his collection. What he kept were artillery shells, some small bullets, eating and drinking utensils, knives, and glass Coca-Cola bottles. These relics belonged to the Allies. He often cleaned these relics with a rag. He also sharpens his knives to keep them sharp. 

Other villagers also collect World War II remnants, just like Alex does. The problem is, they admit that the care provided is less than optimal to maintain their integrity. 

He stated, “I hope the Education Office comes here not just to look around. Help us take care of it.” He wishes Werur had a World War II heritage museum like Biak. To this day, remnants of World War II still exist in Tambrauw. Residents use leftover tanks and combat equipment as property for their homes, along with Alex Mambrasar’s collection. For example, tank chains are used as fences, and artillery pieces are used to store flowers.

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