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Ziarah: the Gull Force Association pilgrimages to Ambon

Rosenzweig, Paul Anthony (2000). Ziarah: the Gull Force Association pilgrimages to Ambon. Master Thesis, Northern Territory University.

Document type: Thesis
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Author Rosenzweig, Paul Anthony
Title Ziarah: the Gull Force Association pilgrimages to Ambon
Institution Northern Territory University
Publication Date 2000
Thesis Type Master
Subjects 2103 - Historical Studies
Abstract The Australian 2/21st Battalion Group AIF ('Gull Force') deployed to Ambon in 1941 and, after capitulating, the men were held captive until 1945. Just 347 of 1,161 men survived, and the remains of 694 Gull Force members were interred within Ambon War Cemetery. Bill Jinkins' escape from Ambon and its facilitation by the Gaspersz family are central to an understanding of the Gull Force Association Pilgrimage, initiated by Jinkins in 1967.

This thesis reveals that the Pilgrimage did not commence for two decades after the war due to attitudes in Australia and security issues in Indonesia. Primarily, permission to conduct any form of commemoration on Ambon was denied through a coincidence of dates- April 25th, Anzac Day to Australians, being the anniversary of the proclamation of the South Moluccan Republic in 1950.

The Pilgrimage format is detailed, the 'Doolan Memorial' controversy is analysed, and the Pilgrimage's success is identified in a Medical Aid Programme and scholarship scheme. It is proposed that the particular success of this Pilgrimage has its basis in pela, a uniquely Moluccan tradition of co-operative alliance similar to the Australian 'mateship' concept. 

The Pilgrimage is seen to have served key psychological processes by giving survivors an opportunity to grieve which was denied during wartime, by allowing both initiation and finalisation of the grieving process, by developing unity within Gull Force Association, and by directing veterans' energies into a form defined as 'Sustainable Remembrance'.

Finally, concern is expressed that increased official involvement may alter the nature of the Pilgrimage. It is also considered that a combined Pilgrimage might effect some form of reconciliation between Australian and Japanese veterans or their families. It is recommended that a broader membership base for Gull Force Association will be vital to the perpetuation of this Ambonese-Australian pela relationship and the Pilgrimage itself.

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