Mial Bingarape was born and raised on Thursday Island to an Indonesian father and Torres Strait Islander mother. As a 9 year old boy during World War 2 he was fascinated by the soldiers and air force planes he saw daily and even then he thought ‘That’s it, I’m going to join the army!’ Further into World War 2, when Northern Australia was under direct threat, Mial and his family were evacuated to Cherbourg. At age 28 Mial joined the army for a better future for him and his young family away from Thursday Island as there was very little employment or prosperity there at the time. Posted with 3RAR in Brisbane, in 1963 Mial’s regiment was deployed to Malaya during Konfrontasi. Patrolling on Borneo, Mial experienced the danger and horror of jungle warfare first hand, seeing mates killed by booby traps and in ambushes, and he also had to deal with the knowledge that two of his brothers were fighting for the Indonesian army against the Australians. It was agonising for Mial to think that he may well have been shooting at this own brother during some of the skirmishes in that conflict, and PTSD is one of the legacies of the Konfrontasi experience that Mial still lives with.
This interview took place on 8 April 2014 in Cairns and was conducted by Dr Allison Cadzow with Craig Greene as part of the Australian Research Council-funded project Serving our Country: a history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the defence of Australia.
The interview recording above is made available to be listened to here by permission of the interviewee(s), Mial Bingarape. The recording may not be copied, reproduced or communicated in whole or in part without the prior permission of the interviewee(s). Requests for permission for use of this material should be made to the Serving our Country research project: our contact details.
- Return to Mial Bingarape’s participant page