Battalion 2/22nd Infantry Battalion
Place of Birth Leongatha 26 October 1913
Next of Kin Muriel Kuhne, his wife. He was the son of Carl and Annie Kuhne of Dumbalk
Date and place of enlistment
2 July 1940 at Caulfield
Location on enlistment
Date and place of death 8 March 1942 at Gasmata Beach, New Britain, Papua New Guinea.
Location of grave or memorial
His name is on the Rabaul Memorial, the memorials at Leongatha and Dumbalk.
Relationship to Woorayl Shire
He was a member of the extensive Kuhne family from the Mardan/Dumbalk area. He lived in the area all his life and married Muriel Pearson before he headed to war.
Bert was placed in the 2/22nd Battalion and trained at Mt Martha before going to Trawool near Seymour. The battalion then marched on foot from Trawool to Bonegilla near Albury for further training. Bert was in A Company with many other men from Leongatha and district and his commanding officer was Major Bill Owen.
Soldiers of the 2/22nd Battalion were given a few days leave to see their families and friends before returning to Bonegilla and going away to the war. On 11 March a selection of men travelled to Sydney by train and then headed north by sea. They sailed in to Rabaul on Anzac Day 1941.
The men continued training and found themselves in a waiting game. Would the Japanese attack? Bombing started in late 1941 and the situation became very serious. The undermanned force was in serious trouble. The Japanese landed with a large force and quickly over ran Rabaul on 23 January 1942. Bert together with his cousins Bill and Tom Bellingham and others from A Company escaped into the jungle. The men were on the run until early March. We do not know how they became prisoners at Gasmata. Unfortunately the men in this group were all executed by the Japanese on 8 March 1942