Last Digger of Kokoda reveals all

HE can still hear their screams at night and now the deeply moving story of the battle that saved Australia and the track that saved 98-year-old digger and Villawood resident Reg Chard’s life, is about to be published on the 80th year anniversary of the Kokoda campaign.

‘The Digger of Kokoda: The Official Biography of Reg Chard’ by Daniel Lane, reveals how he endured hell as an 18-year-old soldier who fought in 1942 on the infamous Kokoda Trail.
Ironically, Kokoda rescued Reg decades later when he decided to take his own life.
After losing Betty, his wife of 66 years, the grief-stricken great-grandfather lost the will to live.
But he found new purpose giving guided tours of Sydney’s Kokoda Track Memorial Walkway.
On these tours, Reg relives Kokoda every day. He sees an image on the wall of a soldier – a comrade – who died of a jungle disease weeks after the photograph was taken.
He feels his heart beating as his patrol chases down Japanese troops who had mutilated women in a jungle clearing.
He hears the war cry of a samurai sword-wielding officer charging towards him.
As the last surviving digger of Kokoda, Reg has become a custodian of its legacy.
Turning 99 in October and still driving, Reg says his book is a history lesson for all ages.
“It starts with me as a 12-year-old leaving school in the Great Depression,” he said.
“When war came it wiped out the Depression but we paid a terrible price.
“Some of my stories will shock you but everything in the book, I either did or saw, there is nothing in there I heard from other people.
“I’m proud of the book; it’s the least I can do to preserve the memories for so many who never made it home.”
The book is available from online book stores.