29 Aug 2005

Body of honoured Fiji soldier to be returned from PNG

10:15 am on 29 August 2005

The only Fijian soldier ever to be awarded a Victoria Cross is to have his remains brought back from Papua New Guinea and buried at a new National War Memorial in Suva.

Corporal Sefanaia Sukanaivalu was posthumously given the highest award for exceptional bravery for trying to save the lives of his fellow soldiers in a battle against the Japanese on Bougainville during the second world war.

He has been buried at the Pitapaka Commonwealth War Cemetery near Rabaul next to thousands of other Commonwealth soldiers since the war.

The prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, made the announcement, during a joint news conference with his PNG counterpart, Sir Michael Somare, who's currently on an official visit to Fiji.

The National War Memorial, to be funded by the Fiji National Provident Fund, will be built in front of the Parliament Building and is expected to be complete by November next year.