Skip to main content

Sound: Harry Bioletti describes the war in the Pacific

Audio file

Hear Harry Bioletti talk about his experiences


Can you describe what the jungle's like when you're in it, and moving through it. Are you again in single file?

Always, always, and usually have someone with a machete otherwise you can't cut your way through it. But

What, you mean someone's in front hacking, hacking away?

Otherwise you couldn't get through it. But in all these islands where natives had been, there are well-worn tracks and normally you would stick to that. But the trouble with sticking to a, a well-worn track is you wonder if the Japs are on the side waiting for you to move through. Now, they possibly will allow the scouts to move through-the two men in front-you had a couple of scouts-they let them go through and then wait for the body of the troops to come through, and attack them from the side with a burst of machine gun and then just disappear into the jungle again, not to be seen. They were good soldiers, the Japanese.

Are they?

Their reward, apparently, is in heaven. I don't know, I don't know what their religious...

But was your experience of them that they were quite fearless? Is that what you're saying?

Oh yeah, yeah. They were fighting for the fatherland, or the motherland ? no, no, the emperor, wasn't it, who was revered and had some sort of religious standing of some sort, in their eyes. And it, it was a shame to be caught as a prisoner of war and it was no use going home if you'd been a prisoner of war. No one would respect you. And it was the time of kamikaze where the pilots gave their lives, ramming themselves into the side of Allied warships.

So they'd be a very scary enemy?

Compared to the Germans, for instance. You were fighting, fighting a civilised foe. The Japs, you were fighting someone who you didn't, whom you didn't understand because you didn't understand their philosophy of life.

Harry Bioletti

Harry Bioletti.


Harry Bioletti interviewed by Alison Parr, 29 March 2004. From the Pacific War Oral History Project, Ministry for Culture and Heritage (MCH). Original interview held in Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. Copyright MCH. Not to be reproduced.

How to cite this page

Sound: Harry Bioletti describes the war in the Pacific, URL:, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated