Damien Parer (1912 – 1944) was one of Australia’s most famous war photographers. He was the first official Australian photographer of the Second World War. Working for the Department of Information (DOI), Parer sailed to the Middle East with the first contingent of the Second AIF in January 1940. He spent the next year photographing Australians training for service and then in action across North Africa and the Middle East. He photographed and filmed the early victories in Libya, and the fighting in Greece and Syria and at the siege of Tobruk.
Parer returned to Australia to cover the fighting in the Pacific. He arrived in New Guinea in June 1942, and later filmed the Australians fighting along the Kokoda Trail. Parer completed his most significant work in New Guinea, including his films “Assault on Salamaua” (1943) and the Academy Award-winning “Kokoda Front Line” (1942). Increasingly unhappy with DOI for its parsimony and interference, Parer resigned his position with the department on 24 August 1943, and began working for Paramount News. He went on to cover American operations, and was killed by a Japanese machine-gunner at Peleliu in the Palau archipelago on 17 September 1944.