Timber :  Flame She Oak

Height: 750mm 

This piece was carved in honour of the memory of a Kokoda Trail war legend, Clen Searle.  Awala was Clen and Pat's home which they developed into a rubber plantation near Kokoda.   Clen fought behind Japanese lines in extremely dangerous circumstance.  Both Clen and Pat were highly respected by the local people both before and after the war. A brief description of the Clen's wartime involvement in the Kokoda area is included below.


The twisted shape of the timber enabled Guy to carve a niche for a small candle to be placed in the curve of the timber.  This is significant as a Clen was involved with signaling to the allied troops about the Japanese movements.

Awala before carving commenced.

Guy and Jan  presented this piece to Clen and Pat's son Peter a short time after they visited the Stiks in April 2012.


The following description of his father's wartime activties around Kokoda was provided by Peter Searle.

Clendyn Edwy Searle, who, with wife Pat, was in PNG for most of the time between 1934 and 1977. Awala was their rubber, coffee and cocoa plantation between Kokoda and Popondetta in the Northern Province. Before the war, while Clen was a radio engineer at the Amalgamated Wireless Australasia (AWA) radio station in Port Moresby, Pat, with children Rhonwen and Peter, began growing rubber at Saga, on land she took up alongside the airstrip at Kokoda. In 1941, when Clen left AWA (where he was then in charge) he took up land at Awala to start growing rubber.

Soon after Pearl Harbour was bombed Clen joined the army as a lieutenant and was appointed to monitor, from Awala, a network of coast watchers who reported enemy movements to him for relay to Head Quarters in Port Moresby. On 21 July 1942 he was at Awala with Australian troops when the Japanese landed near Buna and commenced their advance towards Kokoda. The first engagement with the enemy, reported by Clen in a message to HQ on 23 July, took place within a kilometre of the family home, which was then burnt. Retreat was necessary but Clen continued reporting the advance of the Japanese towards Kokoda and then over the Kokoda Trail towards Port Moresby. He was to cross the Kokoda trail six times during the war period.

During the retreat over the Kokoda Trail towards Port Moresby, Clen was recalled to Australia, trained in the destructive arts of a commando, given advanced telecommunications equipment, and returned to Port Moresby. To avoid contact with the enemy, who would highly value the secret codes he carried, he took his team on a circuitous and rugged overland route to the Mambare River delta to join a small group behind enemy lines. When travelling down the Mambare River his canoes were fired on by an Allied plane. In the delta they maintained surveillance and reporting of Japanese troops brought in by submarine at night and then moved to Gona by barges hidden by day in the swamps. From there the Japanese troops began their trek towards Kokoda. After the Japanese left the Northern Province, Clen returned to his plantation at Awala.

When Mt Lamington volcano erupted in January 1951 killing many thousands in the Northern Province, Clen’s radio expertise was again drawn on to assist aircraft with food drops to refugees displaced from villages near the volcano. For this he was awarded an MBE. Both Clen and Pat were well known and respected in the Northern Province. Born on 13 February 1906, Clen died in Nambour on 5 May 1988.



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