The Kokoda Campaign

History of the Kokoda track

From its entry into World War II with the surprise destruction of the US Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbour in December 1941, the Japanese Army quickly established a reputation of invincibility. Pearl Harbour signalled a massive onslaught which saw Japan invade Malaya and Thailand and attack Hong Kong, the Philippines, Guam and Wake Island. read more »

Japanese Landing

On July 21 1942, the first of 14,430 troops of the Japanese South Seas Detachment from Rabaul began pouring ashore at the tiny seaside village of Buna on the north-east coast of the PNG mainland. They planned to march across the Owen Stanley Range, which formed the mountainous ... read more »

Conditions along the track

The Kokoda Track began with gentle slopes from Buna on the coast through to the Kokoda valley. Then it crumpled and folded into excruciatingly steep ridges, plunging to even deeper valleys, as it progressed through Deniki, Isurava, Eora Creek, Templeton’s Crossing, Kagi, Efogi, Menari, Naoro ... read more »

39th Battalion: Withdrawal From Kokoda

The young men of the first Militia battalion ordered up the Track, the 39th Battalion, had never fired a shot in anger before being thrown in against the Japanese invaders. Most volunteered around October or November of 1941 and by Christmas that year they were on the steamship Aquitania heading for Port Moresby. read more »

Isurava Battle

Using bayonets, bully-beef tins and their steel helmets, the 39th Battalion dug in at Isurava. Their new CO, Lt Colonel Ralph Honner, arrived from Australia on July 16, the day before his 38th birthday. To the teenage Diggers of the 39th, Ralph Honner, seemed like their grandfather. read more »

Gallant Soldiers

One of the most remarkable feats of sustained bravery came from Corporal Charlie McCallum of 12 Platoon of the 2/14th. read more »

Bear and Kingsbury

At the height of the battle for Isurava, the weight of enemy numbers placed the entire position in jeopardy after they broke through on the north-eastern perimeter and directly threatened battalion headquarters. A group volunteered to lead a counter-attack to try to block the hole ... read more »

Australian Withdrawal

After four days of almost constant fighting, the Australians were forced to withdraw under the relentless weight of the Japanese numbers. On the night of August 29, the Diggers withdrew from Isurava back down the Track to Templeton’s Crossing. read more »

Supply Shortage and Papuan Carriers

The Australian supply line was critical. Here the local Papuan carriers played a vital role. The Diggers called them ‘Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels’ and revered them for their loyalty and compassion. The Fuzzy Wuzzies drew on their enormous strength and endurance to carry supplies ... read more »

Brigade Hill

By the time the withdrawal reached Brigade Hill, the three AIF battalions were able to fight together for the first time. The 2/14th, 2/16th and the 2/27th battalions took up defensive positions on the high ground at Brigade Hill and Mission Ridge. read more »

Iorabaiwa

By September 17 the Australians had fallen back on Ioribaiwa, high on the slopes of a ridge in the last area of high country before the approaches to Port Moresby. This proved the turning point of the Japanese advance. Here, as a result of their maulings down the Track … read more »

After Kokoda

Now the Australians became the pursuers as the shattered invaders retraced their steps back along the Track to the beachheads where they had landed two months earlier. read more »

 

At the Kokoda Track Foundation we are striving to keep the spirit of Kokoda alive by improving the livelihoods of the descendants of the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels. read more >>