Fijian V.C. - Corporal Sefanaia Sukanaivalu
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L. G. Usher, the Public Relations Officer for Fiji, presents a programme about the posthumous Victoria Cross won in 1944 by a Fijian soldier, Corporal Sefanaia Sukanaivalu, for action while serving on Bougainville in the Solomon Islands.
He describes the significance of the award to Fiji and the process of getting the news to the people of the Corporal's home island of Yacata. He travelled there with Ratu Sakuna, the Secretary of Fijian Affairs, a year before this broadcast, to tell the corporal's parents about the award. [The award was announced in November 1944, which would date this broadcast to late 1945.]
It had been announced via the BBC and the Secretary of State for the Colonies had made a special radio broadcast to Fiji. However, his parents and his village knew little about it as the island of Yacata is very isolated with no radio.
Ratu Sakuna is a veteran of World War I in which he served with distinction with the French Foreign Legion. He had organised the young men of Fiji to volunteer for fighting in the Solomon Islands so felt it his duty to visit Yacata himself.
They sailed there and took a cinema projector to screen films to the village. Three "Weekly Review" programmes by the New Zealand National Film Unit featuring Fijian soldiers on the Solomon Islands were shown. Then Ratu Sakuna spoke to the village about Corporal Sukanaivalu and explained the significance of the Victoria Cross.
Ratu Sakuna told the villagers the story of Suka's (as he was known) wounding and self-sacrifice while fighting against the Japanese.
Suka was wounded and stranded in no man's land and rather than have his comrades lose lives rescuing him, he stood up and was shot down by Japanese machine guns, thus saving the lives of his comrades who were sure to be killed in the rescue attempt.
He describes Suka's funeral ceremony on Bougainville, attended by Australian, New Zealand and United States officers, as well as Fijian troops. The Victoria Cross was presented to his parents, Lote and Fanny at a ceremony in Suva, attended by thousands of people.
A scholarship has been established in his name at Queen Victoria School.
Reference number 32543
Media type AUDIO
Collection Sound Collection
USHER, L. G., Speaker/Kaikōrero