Campanha Kokoda Track

Kokoda Track campaign

A campanha Kokoda Track ou campanha Kokoda Trail fez parte da Guerra do Pacífico da Segunda Guerra Mundial . A campanha consistiu em uma série de batalhas travadas entre julho e novembro de 1942 no que era então o território australiano de Papua . Foi principalmente uma batalha terrestre, entre o Destacamento Japonês dos Mares do Sul sob o comando do major-general Tomitarō Horii e as forças terrestres australianas e papuas sob o comando da Força da Nova Guiné . O objetivo japonês era tomar Port Moresby por um avanço terrestre da costa norte, seguindo a trilha Kokoda sobre as montanhas doOwen Stanley Range , como parte de uma estratégia para isolar a Austrália dos Estados Unidos.

Campanha Kokoda Track
Parte da Campanha da Nova Guiné do Teatro do Pacífico ( Segunda Guerra Mundial )
Soldiers on parade in front of a hut in a tropical setting. An officer in a steel helmet with a walking stick stands in front facing away from them, while the men behind him are wearing a various assortment of uniforms including steel helmets, slouch hats, shorts and are carrying rifles
Soldados do 39º Batalhão Australiano em setembro de 1942
Encontro 21 de julho - 16 de novembro de 1942
Localização
Resultado Vitória aliada
Beligerantes
 Austrália Estados Unidos
 
 Japão
Comandantes e líderes
United States Douglas MacArthur Thomas Blamey Sydney Rowell Edmund Herring Arthur Allen George Vasey
Australia
Australia
Australia
Australia
Australia
Empire of Japan Harukichi Hyakutake Tomitarō Horii
Empire of Japan
Força
30.000 [1] 13.500 [2]
Vítimas e perdas
625 mortos
1.055 feridos
4.000+ doentes [3]
~ 2.050 [4] [notas 1]
~ 4.500 incluindo doentes. [5] [notas 2]

As forças japonesas desembarcaram e estabeleceram cabeças de praia perto de Gona e Buna em 21 de julho de 1942. Opostos pela Força Maroubra , então composta por quatro pelotões do 39º Batalhão e elementos do Batalhão de Infantaria de Papua , eles rapidamente avançaram e capturaram Kokoda e seu aeródromo estrategicamente vital em 29 Julho. Apesar do reforço, as forças australianas foram continuamente empurradas para trás. A veterana 21ª Brigada da Segunda Força Imperial Australiana (AIF) evitou por pouco a captura na Batalha de Mission Ridge - Brigade Hill de 6 a 8 de setembro. NoBatalha de Ioribaiwa de 13 a 16 de setembro, a 25ª Brigada sob o comando do Brigadeiro Kenneth Eather lutou contra os japoneses, mas cedeu o campo aos japoneses, retirando-se para Imita Ridge.

Os japoneses avançaram para perto de Port Moresby, mas se retiraram em 26 de setembro. Eles ultrapassaram sua linha de abastecimento e receberam ordens de retirar em consequência dos reveses sofridos em Guadalcanal . A perseguição australiana encontrou forte oposição de posições bem preparadas em torno de Templeton's Crossing e Eora Village de 11 a 28 de outubro. Após a recaptura sem oposição de Kokoda, uma grande batalha foi travada em torno de Oivi e Gorari de 4 a 11 de novembro, resultando em uma vitória para os australianos. Em 16 de novembro, duas brigadas da 7ª Divisão australiana cruzaram o rio Kumusi em Wairopi, e avançou nas cabeças de praia japonesas em uma operação conjunta da Austrália e dos Estados Unidos. As forças japonesas em Buna-Gona resistiram até 22 de janeiro de 1943.

O reforço australiano foi dificultado pelos problemas logísticos de apoiar uma força em terreno isolado e montanhoso na selva. Havia poucos aviões disponíveis para reabastecimento aéreo, e as técnicas para isso ainda eram primitivas. Comando australiano considerou que a metralhadora Vickers e morteiros médioseram muito pesados ​​para carregar e seriam ineficazes no terreno da selva. Sem artilharia, morteiros ou metralhadoras médias, os australianos enfrentaram um adversário equipado com canhões de montanha e obuses leves que foram carregados para as montanhas e provaram ser uma vantagem decisiva. As forças australianas não estavam preparadas para conduzir uma campanha no ambiente de selva da Nova Guiné. As lições aprendidas ao longo desta campanha e da subsequente batalha de Buna-Gona levaram a mudanças generalizadas na doutrina, treinamento, equipamentos e estrutura, com um legado que permanece até os dias atuais.

Em consequência do rápido avanço japonês e da falha percebida em contra-atacar rapidamente, uma "crise de comando" resultou, na qual manobras do General Douglas MacArthur , Comandante Supremo das Forças Aliadas na Área do Sudoeste do Pacífico , e do General Sir Thomas Blamey , comandante das Forças Terrestres Aliadas, resultou na demissão de três oficiais australianos de alto escalão. O generalato de MacArthur e Blamey foi criticado por percepções irracionais e irreais do terreno e das condições sob as quais a campanha foi travada - em detrimento das tropas comprometidas com a luta. A campanha Kokoda Track foi mitificada como Thermopylae da Austrália e incorporada aoA lenda de Anzac, embora a premissa de um inimigo numericamente superior tenha se mostrado incorreta.

Fundo

Contexto estratégico

Ataques japoneses ao longo da barreira malaia de 23 de dezembro de 1941 a 21 de fevereiro de 1942.

Após a queda de Cingapura , o governo australiano e muitos australianos temiam que o Japão invadisse o continente australiano. A Austrália estava mal preparada para combater tal ataque. Toda a 8ª Divisão , implantada na Malásia, Ambon , Timor e Rabaul , foi perdida ou tornou-se ineficaz à medida que os japoneses avançavam rapidamente. [9] A Força Aérea Real Australiana (RAAF) carecia de aeronaves modernas e a Marinha Real Australiana (RAN) era muito pequena para combater a Marinha Imperial Japonesa . A RAAF e a RAN foram bastante expandidas, embora tenham levado anos para que esses serviços alcançassem seus pontos fortes. [10]A Milícia foi mobilizada mas, apesar de grande, era inexperiente e carecia de equipamentos modernos. [11] Em resposta à ameaça, o governo apelou aos Estados Unidos por assistência, e as e 7ª Divisões da Segunda Força Imperial Australiana (2ª AIF) foram trazidas de volta do Oriente Médio. O primeiro-ministro britânico Winston Churchill tentou desviá-los para a Birmânia, mas o primeiro-ministro australiano, John Curtin , recusou-se a autorizar esse movimento. Como compromisso, duas brigadas da 6ª Divisão desembarcaram no Ceilão , onde formaram parte da guarnição até retornarem à Austrália em agosto de 1942.[12]

O Quartel-General Imperial Japonês considerou invadir a Austrália no início de 1942, mas decidiu não fazê-lo em fevereiro daquele ano, [13] pois foi considerado além das capacidades japonesas, e nenhum planejamento ou preparação foi realizado. [14] Em vez disso, em março de 1942, os militares japoneses adotaram uma estratégia de isolar a Austrália dos Estados Unidos e impedir as operações ofensivas aliadas capturando Port Moresby , [15] as Ilhas Salomão , Fiji , Samoa e Nova Caledônia . [16] [17] Uma tentativa de capturar Port Moresby por umO assalto anfíbio , Operação Mo , foi frustrado pela Batalha do Mar de Coral em maio de 1942. Um mês depois, a maior parte da frota de porta- aviões japoneses foi destruída na Batalha de Midway , reduzindo ainda mais a possibilidade de grandes operações anfíbias no Pacífico Sul. Depois disso, os japoneses começaram a considerar um avanço por terra em Port Moresby. [18] [19]

General Douglas MacArthur (centro) com o general Sir Thomas Blamey (esquerda) e o primeiro-ministro John Curtin (direita) em março de 1942

Enquanto isso, o Comandante Supremo Aliado na Área do Sudoeste do Pacífico , General Douglas MacArthur começou a desenvolver aeródromos para a defesa de Port Moresby e para atacar os japoneses. A primeira delas, a Operação Boston, foi autorizada em 20 de maio e inicialmente planejada para a área do porto de Abau-Mullins. A Baía de Milne foi posteriormente determinada como preferível e uma força de guarnição foi enviada por navio de Port Moresby em 22 de junho. Outra faixa em Merauke , na costa sul da Nova Guiné Holandesa, foi autorizada em 22 de junho para proteger o flanco ocidental. [20] Em 9 de junho, MacArthur questionou o General SirThomas Blamey , comandante das Forças Terrestres Aliadas, quanto às medidas tomadas para a defesa da aproximação terrestre de Buna . Isso pôs em marcha o envio de forças para Kokoda. [21] [22] MacArthur começou a considerar o desenvolvimento de um aeródromo na área de Buna. Um reconhecimento inicial, desembarcado por hidroavião, foi realizado em 10 e 11 de julho. As ordens para a construção do aeródromo, Operação Providence, foram recebidas pela Força da Nova Guiné (NGF) em 17 de julho, mas foram adiadas por sete dias em 18 de julho e canceladas após os desembarques japoneses que se seguiram. [23] [24] [25] [26]

Geografia

A map of the Kokoda Track
Um mapa representando locais ao longo da trilha Kokoda

Em 1942, Papua era um território da Austrália. [27] Houve pouco desenvolvimento e foi amplamente desprovido de infraestrutura além daquela em torno de Port Moresby. [28] A economia do pré-guerra baseava-se principalmente na copra e na borracha – com plantações estabelecidas intermitentemente nas regiões costeiras – e na mineração. [27] O centro administrativo de Port Moresby tinha aeródromos básicos e instalações portuárias. Não havia estradas além da vizinhança de Port Moresby e, pelos padrões modernos, eram pouco mais que trilhas. Como resultado, as viagens ao norte de Port Moresby eram em grande parte realizadas por via aérea ou marítima. [29]Havia alguns campos de pouso em torno de Port Moresby, com outros no lado norte da cordilheira Owen Stanley nas estações governamentais de Buna e Kokoda. [30] [notas 3]

A vila de Kokoda está posicionada em um planalto no sopé norte da Cordilheira Owen Stanley. Tem vista para o Vale Yodda (formado pelo rio Mambare) ao norte. O Mambare corre aproximadamente de sudeste a noroeste. Kokoda fica a aproximadamente 100 quilômetros (62 milhas) de linha direta da vila costeira de Buna, que fazia parte das posições de cabeça de praia japonesas ocupadas em seu desembarque. No entanto, a rota terrestre era de aproximadamente 160 quilômetros (100 milhas). [32] A trilha para a costa cruza o rio Kumusi em Wairopi, aproximadamente 25 quilômetros (16 milhas) a leste de Kokoda. O rio era atravessado ali por uma ponte de cabo de aço (Wairopi sendo Pidgin para cabo de aço). [33]Havia uma larga trilha que conduzia dali até a costa que os japoneses posteriormente começaram a desenvolver como uma estrada para o tráfego de veículos. [34] [notas 4]

Em 1942, a vila era o local de uma estação do governo, seringal e pista de pouso estrategicamente importante. A Kokoda Track é uma trilha a pé que corre aproximadamente a sudoeste de Kokoda 96 quilômetros (60 milhas) por terra (60 quilômetros (37 milhas) em linha reta) através da Owen Stanley Range em direção a Port Moresby. Era conhecido antes da guerra e tinha sido usado como rota de correio terrestre. Embora haja uma "trilha principal" associada aos combates durante a campanha, existem muitas trilhas paralelas e interligadas que seguem o mesmo curso geral. O extremo sul da pista agora é considerado como começando em Owers' Corner, a 61 quilômetros (38 milhas) de Port Moresby. [36]A pista de veículos de Port Moresby originalmente terminava no McDonald's [Corner], onde servia a propriedade do McDonald's. Entre junho e final de setembro de 1942, cerca de 11 quilômetros (7 milhas) de estrada foram concluídos, estendendo-se até Owers' Corner. [37]

The Kokoda Track passed through what was referred to during the early war years as "the (Kokoda) Gap".[38] To the Japanese, who had learned of the Gap through vague explorer's accounts,[39] it potentially offered a corridor from Buna through the Owen Stanleys along which they could launch a quick advance on Port Moresby. Conversely, the Allies believed it was a narrow and largely impassable path that could be blocked and held with only limited resources.[40] In reality, the Gap is a dip in the Owen Stanley Range about 11 kilometres (7 mi) wide, convenient for aircraft crossing the range to pass through.[41]

A pista atinge uma altura de 2.190 metros (7.185 pés) ao passar pelo pico do Monte Bellamy . [42] O terreno sobe e desce com regularidade, até 5.000 metros (16.000 pés) para cima e para baixo em todo o comprimento da pista. [notas 5] Isso aumenta acentuadamente a distância a ser percorrida, embora existam várias áreas planas, principalmente em torno de Myola . A vegetação é em grande parte selva densa. O clima é predominantemente quente e úmido com alta pluviosidade, embora as partes mais altas sejam frias, principalmente à noite. As elevações mais altas estão frequentemente acima do nível das nuvens, resultando em neblina. [43]

Myola fica perto da bacia hidrográfica. Um córrego que flui de Myola faz parte das cabeceiras do Eora Creek na bacia hidrográfica do norte. [45] Na parte norte da pista, seu curso, para Deniki, é determinado por Eora Creek. Segue ao longo do lado do vale íngreme formado pelo riacho. Atravessa o riacho de um lado para o outro em vários pontos ao longo de seu curso. De Deniki, a trilha desce até o planalto de Kokoda. [46]

Doença

Barracas da Ambulância de Campo 2/4 próximo a Efogi (AWM P02423.011)

As operações na Nova Guiné foram afetadas por doenças tropicais como malária , dengue , tifo , úlceras tropicais , disenteria de várias causas e infecções fúngicas . Walker observa que a Kokoda Track "começa e termina com malária". Vetores da maláriaestavam substancialmente ausentes das elevações mais frias e mais altas ao longo da pista. A maioria dos casos observados nessas áreas foram recaídas e não infecções primárias. A vizinhança imediata de Port Moresby é relativamente seca. Enquanto isso tende a mitigar o risco de malária, taxas significativas da doença foram observadas em tropas, principalmente milícias, enviadas à Nova Guiné para defesa do porto, antecedendo a campanha. O risco de malária era particularmente alto para as tropas que operavam na área costeira ao redor da extremidade sul da pista e quando as forças australianas foram forçadas a voltar para Imita Ridge. As unidades da AIF que voltavam do Oriente Médio estavam mais conscientes da ameaça que essa doença representava e chegaram com suprimentos de quinino. Por essas razões, a doença não teve o mesmo grau de significância ou impacto nas operações que teve em Milne Bay ou nas operações subsequentes em Buna-Gona. [47]

Anderson relata a prevalência de disenteria entre as tropas australianas, [48] enquanto James relata que "cada vez mais [japoneses] sucumbiram" a doenças, incluindo disenteria, à medida que se retiravam ao longo da pista. [49] Walker atribui infecções entéricas à falta de higiene do campo, água contaminada e não purificada e uma falha em fazer provisões sanitárias adequadas ao longo da pista durante a primeira parte da campanha. Ele também identifica que uma proporção de distúrbios diarréicos foi atribuível à dieta pobre (particularmente o alto teor de gordura da carne enlatada) em vez de infecção. [50]

forças japonesas

O 17º Exército japonês sob o comando do tenente-general Harukichi Hyakutake era um comando do tamanho de um corpo de exército, baseado em Rabaul, envolvido nas campanhas da Nova Guiné, Guadalcanal e Ilhas Salomão. [51]Após o Mar de Coral, o 17º Exército considerou um avanço por terra em Port Moresby. Isso foi baseado na inteligência pré-guerra de que existia uma estrada ligando-a a Kokoda. O reconhecimento aéreo inicial foi inconclusivo, mas foram feitos planos para um reconhecimento em vigor e para explorar a possibilidade de um avanço ao longo dessa rota. O 15º Regimento de Engenheiros Independentes (menos uma companhia) e o Destacamento dos Mares do Sul sob o comando do major-general Tomitarō Horii foram designados para essas tarefas. Na época, Horii não estava entusiasmado com a possibilidade de sucesso, considerando as dificuldades logísticas que seriam enfrentadas, mas não pressionou sua objeção. [18]

An advance party, under command of Colonel Yokoyama Yosuke of the 15th Independent Engineer Regiment was to consist of the main force of the regiment, the 1st Battalion of the 144th Infantry Regiment, and the 1st Company, 1st Battalion of the 55th Mountain Artillery Regiment. It also included 500 Korean and Formosan labourers and 2,000 native labourers from Rabaul.[52] A naval force based on the 5th Yokosuka Naval Landing Party was to land at the same time as the advance party and commence construction of an airfield at Buna.[53] Japanese planning proceeded on the premise that an overland assault would occur.[54]

O naufrágio do Ayotosan Maru , um transporte que foi afundado durante o pouso inicial logo após o desembarque (AWM014868)

O desembarque inicial ocorreu na noite de 21 de julho de 1942. [53] Uma companhia de infantaria foi imediatamente despachada para Kokoda. [35] Um segundo componente do grupo de desembarque de Yokoyama chegou em 29 de julho. O desembarque foi reforçado por comboios sucessivos ao longo das semanas seguintes. [55] A força principal do 144º Regimento de Infantaria desembarcou em 18 de agosto. O 41º Regimento de Infantaria (menos 1º Batalhão) desembarcou em 21 de agosto, com o 1º Batalhão desembarcando em 27 de agosto. [56]

Horii juntou-se ao grupo avançado em Kokoda e começou a reunir sua força para o avanço por terra. Em 26 de agosto, consistia no 144º Regimento de Infantaria (três batalhões), o 41º Regimento de Infantaria (2º e 3º Batalhões, com o 1º Batalhão ainda a chegar - juntando-se à força principal em 14 de setembro) [57] e 1º Batalhão, 55º Regimento de Artilharia de Montanha. [58] O 3º Batalhão foi encarregado de proteger a linha de comunicação da força. [59] O 41º Regimento de Infantaria colocou em campo apenas 1.900 soldados, já que tanto o 1º quanto o 3º Batalhões tinham aproximadamente 400 destacados de cada um para construção de estradas e tarefas de abastecimento. [60] A força foi estimada em 6.000. [61]Horii começou seu avanço com cada homem carregando rações de dezesseis dias. [62] As tropas de ambos os regimentos eram veteranos experientes. [63] O 41º Regimento de Infantaria lutou contra australianos na Malásia. [64]

forças australianas

Os territórios australianos de Papua e Nova Guiné formaram o 8º Distrito Militar da Austrália (posteriormente designado Força da Nova Guiné) sob o comando do Brigadeiro Basil Morris . À medida que a guerra no Pacífico se aproximava, havia duas unidades de milícias locais: o Batalhão de Infantaria Papua (PIB) e os Rifles Voluntários da Nova Guiné . Com tensões crescentes, o 49º Batalhão foi enviado para Port Moresby em março de 1941. Em 3 de janeiro de 1942, o 49º Batalhão juntou-se aos 39º e 53º Batalhões sob o comando da 30ª Brigada . [65] [66]

No final de maio, a força de proteção de Port Moresby foi aumentada pela 14ª Brigada , composta pelos , 36º e 55º Batalhões. [67] As unidades da milícia foram consideradas mal treinadas, embora algum esforço tenha sido feito para infundi-las com oficiais subalternos experientes, [68] [notas 6]a maior parte de seu tempo na Nova Guiné foi gasto trabalhando em vez de treinando. O moral no 53º Batalhão estava particularmente baixo. Um recrutamento, com cerca de cem, foi retirado de outras unidades da milícia em curto prazo. Com o embarque no final de dezembro, eles foram negados a licença de Natal. Destinados ao norte de Queensland, eles foram desviados para a Nova Guiné no caminho. O descontentamento abalou o moral e foi citado como um fator significativo em relação ao desempenho posterior do batalhão. [65] [69]

Soldados do 2/16º Batalhão , 7ª Divisão , fuzing Mills bombs , Damour , durante a Campanha Síria-Líbano . A divisão também havia servido no norte da África antes de ser chamada de volta para a Austrália. (AWM008641)

Além de defender Port Moresby, a Força da Nova Guiné comandou operações contra os desembarques japoneses em Wau , que ocorreram em 8 de março de 1942, e estava iniciando o desenvolvimento de uma base aérea em Milne Bay. [70] [71] A 7ª Divisão da 2ª AIF estava pronta para ser enviada para a Nova Guiné - suas 21ª e 25ª Brigadas seriam designadas para a defesa de Port Moresby, enquanto sua 18ª Brigada seria enviada para Milne Bay. [72] [73]

On 12 June 1942, Morris ordered the PIB to patrol a wide area of the north coast around: Ioma, located approximately 60 kilometres (35 mi) north-northeast of Kokoda; Awala, between Kokoda and Gona; and, Tufi, on Cape Nelson – with headquarters at Kokoda. The battalion, commanded by Major William Watson, consisted of three companies with a total strength of 310, including 30 Europeans – mainly officers and senior non-commissioned officers. Its role was reconnaissance.[74][75][notes 7] There were indications of Japanese plans to land in the vicinity of Buna. On 22 June Morris received orders from LHQ to deploy "Australian infantry" to Kokoda for the forward defence of Port Moresby.[77][notes 8]

About the middle of July, GHQ was planning Operation Providence for development of an airstrip in the vicinity of Buna.[79] When orders were issued to Morris for the Providence operation on 17 July, he intended to use the 39th Battalion as the force required under the plan to garrison the Buna area.[25] The initial deployment of the 39th Battalion had an entirely different aim though. Author, Eustace Keogh, clarifies this:

Em 15 de julho, o general MacArthur emitiu ordens para o primeiro avançado nesta área [significando Buna-Gona]. Essas ordens determinavam que uma pequena força de infantaria australiana e engenheiros americanos marchassem pela Kokoda Trail até Buna, onde se juntariam a outro grupo que se deslocava por mar. O objetivo era construir um aeródromo em Dobodura. Na verdade, a parte terrestre desse movimento já havia começado, embora tivesse um objetivo totalmente diferente. Em 20 de junho, o general Blamey... ordenou que Morris tomasse medidas para proteger a área de Kokoda e sua pista de pouso... Precedida pelo PIB, a empresa líder do 39º deveria deixar Illolo em 26 de junho. Na verdade, a empresa não deixou esse ponto até 7 de julho. [21]

Em 23 de junho, foi dada uma ordem inicial para que uma companhia do 39º Batalhão fosse enviada para Kokoda com a possibilidade de se juntar ao restante do batalhão. Isso foi alterado em 24 de junho para a implantação do batalhão (menos uma empresa). [80] O instrumento para isso foi a Instrução Operacional NGF 18. Ela colocou o PIB sob o comando do 39º Batalhão. Também atribuiu destacamentos de unidades de serviço em apoio. Anexos foram colocados sob o comando do tenente-coronel William Owen , comandante do 39º Batalhão. "Maroubra" foi atribuído como a palavra de código. [81] Um grupo avançado, a Companhia B do batalhão, reuniu-se em Illolo. Partindo em 8 de julho de Uberi, [notas 9] chegou a Kokoda em 14 de julho. [83][84] [notas 10]


Como uma palavra de código, "Maroubra" continuou a ser usado durante toda a campanha para se referir a operações ao longo da pista e as forças australianas desdobradas - embora as referências a "Maroubra Force" nas fontes sejam um tanto enigmáticas. [notas 11]

Os desembarques japoneses em torno de Buna e Gona viram a Companhia B do 39º Batalhão em posição em Kokoda e a Companhia C avançando ao longo da pista, partindo de Illolo em 23 de julho. O restante do batalhão estava pronto para se mover e a maior parte do batalhão chegou a Deniki em 4 de agosto. [88] [89]

Campanha

Visão geral

Capitão Thomas Grahamslaw do ANGAU e sargento-mor Katue do PIB, outubro de 1942. Grahamslaw estava em Buna quando os japoneses desembarcaram. (AWM127566)

No início da noite de 21 de julho de 1942, as tropas japonesas desembarcaram perto de Gona . [35] O grupo avançado japonês avançou rapidamente em direção a Kokoda, chegando ao Kumusi, em Wairopi, na tarde de 23 de julho. [90]A PIB e os australianos engajaram os japoneses em emboscadas. A Companhia B, 39º Batalhão reuniu uma força (incluindo o que restava do PIB) para se posicionar perto de Oivi no dia 26 de julho. Um pelotão permaneceu em Kokoda. Ameaçada de cerco, a força em Oivi retirou-se para o sul para Deniki. Tendo perdido contato, o pelotão de Kokoda também se retirou para Deniki em 27 de julho. Com a força reunida, reocupou a aldeia sem oposição em 28 de julho. A primeira batalha em Kokoda foi travada entre 28 e 29 de julho. Ataques repetidos e determinados fizeram com que os australianos se retirassem para Deniki. Owen, comandante do 39º Batalhão, foi mortalmente ferido nos combates. [91]

There was a pause in the Japanese advance. Remaining companies of the 39th Battalion arrived overland and Major Allan Cameron, Brigade Major of the 30th Brigade was appointed to assume command of the force. He planned an attack for 8 August towards Kokoda, with three companies advancing on different lines. Two of the companies were held up and forced to retire. A Company was able to occupy Kokoda but, isolated and under attack, it withdrew during the night of 9 August. Companies of the 39th Battalion had withdrawn to Deniki by 12 August and were attacked the following morning. With the threat of envelopment, the battalion commenced to withdraw towards Isurava on the morning of 14 August.[92]

Enquanto isso, o 53º Batalhão e o quartel-general da 30ª Brigada sob o comando do Brigadeiro Selwyn Porter foram enviados como reforços. Dois batalhões da 21ª Brigada da 2ª AIF sob o comando do Brigadeiro Arnold Pottsestavam seguindo. Uma posição defensiva foi estabelecida por Porter em Isurava com a 30ª Brigada a ser aliviada pela força da 21ª Brigada. À medida que o batalhão principal de Potts se aproximava, ele assumiu o comando da força combinada para efetuar o socorro. No entanto, o avanço japonês ultrapassou os eventos e, de 26 a 31 de agosto, seguiu-se uma batalha na qual quatro batalhões japoneses foram comprometidos. O 53º Batalhão não conseguiu proteger o flanco leste e, com os japoneses assumindo uma posição de comando na frente australiana, acabou forçando uma retirada australiana. A 21ª Brigada então travou uma série de combates entre 31 de agosto e 5 de setembro, quando se retirou de Eora Village para Templeton's Crossing. [93]

Oficiais da 30ª Brigada , julho de 1942. Da esquerda para a direita, Tenente Coronel Owen Kessels 49º Batalhão , Brigadeiro Selwyn Porter , Major Norman Fleay comandante da Força Kanga , Tenente Coronel William Owen , 39º Batalhão e seu segundo em comando, Major J. Findlay. (AWM 025958)

Os japoneses desembarcaram em Milne Bay em 25 de agosto, mas, como a posição australiana ali se firmou, o terceiro batalhão da 21ª Brigada de Potts foi liberado para se juntar à luta ao longo da pista. Com este reforço, ele decidiu tomar uma posição em Mission Ridge, correndo de Brigade Hill. Nos combates de 6 a 9 de setembro, dois batalhões da brigada se retiraram, evitando por pouco o cerco, enquanto o 2/27º Batalhão se temia perdido até que seus remanescentes emergiram da selva três semanas depois. [94]

Após a batalha, Potts foi chamado de volta a Port Moresby, com Porter sendo colocado no comando. A 21ª Brigada esgotada foi retirada para o cume de Ioribaiwa. Foi reforçado pelo 3º Batalhão e aguardava socorro pela 25ª Brigada, sob o comando de Eather. Eather assumiu o comando da força combinada, mas os japoneses atacaram no momento em que seus batalhões estavam tomando posição - com combates no período de 14 a 16 de setembro. Ele obteve permissão para se retirar e se consolidar em Imita Ridge – a posição defensiva final ao longo da Trilha. Enquanto isso, as forças americanas desembarcaram em Guadalcanal em 7 de agosto. Incapaz de apoiar ambas as operações, Horii foi ordenado a se retirar. Quando Eather atacou as posições japonesas em 28 de setembro, ele as encontrou abandonadas. As forças australianas perseguiram cautelosamente a retirada japonesa. oA 16ª Brigada foi comprometida com o avanço e o comando direto passou para a 7ª Divisão, sob o comando do major-general Arthur "Tubby" Allen . [95]

A 25ª Brigada assumiu a vanguarda . Em 10 de outubro, Myola foi ocupada sem oposição e foi feito contato com a defesa japonesa. A 25ª Brigada foi retida em Templeton's Crossing de 16 de outubro até a 16ª Brigada em 20 de outubro e avançou em direção à vila de Eora. Aqui, o avanço foi realizado até que as forças japonesas se retirassem em 28 de outubro. Pressionado para acelerar o avanço por MacArthur, Allan foi substituído pelo major-general George Vasey em 28 de outubro. A 7ª Divisão avançou em direção a Kokoda e, quando uma patrulha informou que estava desocupada, foi retomada em 2 de novembro. [96]

Uma outra batalha foi travada em torno de Oivi e Gorari de 4 a 11 de novembro. Vasey foi capaz de virar o flanco e derrotar os japoneses. Em 15 de novembro, a 7ª Divisão cruzou o rio Kumusi e iniciou seu avanço em direção às cabeças de praia em Buna-Gona. [97]

Razões para a retirada japonesa

Fuzileiros navais dos EUA em Guadalcanal

Enquanto a campanha Kokoda Track estava ocorrendo, uma força de invasão japonesa composta por unidades da Força de Desembarque Naval Especial Japonesa tentou capturar a estrategicamente valiosa área de Milne Bay na ponta leste da Nova Guiné em agosto de 1942. A Batalha de Milne Bay, travada de 25 de agosto a 7 de setembro de 1942, [98] resultou em uma derrota japonesa. Esta foi a primeira derrota notável em terra japonesa e elevou o moral dos Aliados em todo o Teatro do Pacífico. [99]

As forças aliadas identificaram um aeródromo japonês em construção em Guadalcanal, e 19.000 fuzileiros navais dos EUA foram embarcados para capturar o aeródromo. [100] Um pouso anfíbio foi feito em 7 de agosto. [101] A batalha durou até 9 de fevereiro de 1943 [102] e foi fortemente contestada, em terra, no mar e no ar. [103] O impulso inicial de Hyakutake em 14 de setembro para retomar o campo de Henderson da ilha foi derrotado. Em uma batalha desigual, as forças do major-general Kiyotake Kawaguchi perderam cerca de 850 mortos, enquanto os fuzileiros navais americanos perderam 104. [104]Quando a notícia chegou ao quartel-general imperial no Japão, eles decidiram em uma sessão de emergência que não poderiam apoiar as frentes tanto na Nova Guiné quanto em Guadalcanal. Hyakutake decidiu que só tinha tropas e material suficientes para derrotar as forças aliadas em Guadalcanal. Ele se preparou para enviar mais tropas a Guadalcanal em outra tentativa de recapturar o aeródromo. Com a concordância da equipe de comando japonesa, ele ordenou que Horii retirasse suas tropas na Trilha Kokoda até que a questão em Guadalcanal fosse decidida. As tropas japonesas estavam, após várias semanas de combates exaustivos e pesadas perdas, em Ioribaiwa, a 32 quilômetros (20 milhas) de Port Moresby. [105] Havia também preocupações de que as forças aliadas pudessem desembarcar em Buna a qualquer momento. [106]

Captura de prisioneiro japonês emaciado perto de Menari enquanto os australianos avançavam (AWM027085)

Bullard, na introdução de sua tradução observa:

... numerosas ordens e instruções foram emitidas ao comandante Horii do 17º Exército e Estado-Maior do Exército em Tóquio desde o final de agosto para deter o avanço para o sul da Força dos Mares do Sul. Essas ordens, no entanto, foram ignoradas até o final de setembro, quando a retirada realmente começou. Além disso, vários fatores foram levantados para a decisão de retirada - a ameaça de desembarques aliados em Buna, a situação do abastecimento e o fracasso do Destacamento de Kawaguchi em retomar Guadalcanal. [107]

Essas instruções para interromper o avanço parecem datar de 16 de agosto: "Oficiais superiores japoneses entrevistados após a guerra pensaram que o fator que mais influenciava o adiamento não era Guadalcanal, mas sim 'uma resistência australiana mais forte do que o previsto em Kokoda'" [108]. ]

Bullard relata ordens a Horii de 28 de agosto, "[para] avançar para as encostas sul da Cordilheira Owen Stanley ... mas acumular sua força principal no lado norte da cordilheira em preparação para futuras operações". [60] Bullard observa um grau de ambiguidade em relação à definição das "encostas do sul". [64] Em 8 de setembro, o 17º Exército ordenou que Horii montasse o 41º Regimento na área de Kokoda. [57] Horii recuou o corpo principal de sua força, mas continuou a avançar. [109] Quando, em 19 de setembro, Hyakutake tomou conhecimento de que Ioribaiwa havia sido ocupada em 16 de setembro, ele "emitiu ordens estritas para que as tropas da linha de frente ocupassem imediatamente uma posição ao norte de Mawai". [110] [notas 12]Uma ordem de 23 de setembro era garantir a área de Isurava-Kokoda como "uma base para operações futuras". [111] [notas 13] Horii ultrapassou sua linha de suprimentos e, portanto, sua força enfrentou um racionamento extremo e foi incapaz de avançar mais. [113] Em 24 de setembro, o 2º/144º Batalhão retirou-se de Ioribaiwa. [114] O 3º/144º Batalhão formou a retaguarda e retirou-se durante a noite de 26 de Setembro. [115]

Logística

As tropas carregam munições embrulhadas em cobertores para serem lançadas no ar. Blamey mostra um grande interesse AWM013836

Logística aliada

Esta campanha e a batalha que se seguiu nas cabeças de praia japonesas em torno de Buna e Gona foram definidas, para ambos os lados, pelas limitações impostas pelo terreno e pela capacidade de abastecer e manter as suas forças nas condições que enfrentavam. Morris disse ao tenente-general Sydney Rowell ao entregar o comando da NGF: "As montanhas vencerão os Nips e devemos ter cuidado para que não nos derrotem". [116]

Substantially devoid of infrastructure, Morris had set about an ongoing programme to expand, improve and develop harbour and airfield facilities at Port Moresby. Opened in early October, a T-shaped wharf was constructed on Tatana Island. It more than doubled the capacity of the port.[117] Under orders from GHQ, an airfield and subsequent port facilities were developed at Milne Bay. This saw Allied forces fortuitously placed to counter the Japanese landing that occurred there. Roads were virtually non-existent. In concert with orders to deploy Maroubra Force to Kokoda, Lieutenant Bert Kienzle was ordered to construct an overland road for its resupply. Historian Peter Brune describes it as "one of the most ludicrous" orders ever given.[118] Just over 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) of road was completed by the end of September 1942, from McDonald's to Owers' Corner.[37][119]

Kienzle guiou a Companhia B do 39º Batalhão de Templeton pela trilha até Kokoda. À medida que avançavam, Kienzle identificou pontos de paragem ao longo da pista e tomou providências para aprovisioná-los. Quando chegaram a Kokoda, a comida estava acabando. Kienzle fez uma breve visita à sua propriedade no Yodda Valley e voltou com suprimentos. [84] A caminhada foi considerada muito árdua para os soldados carregarem qualquer equipamento pesado. Foram feitos arranjos para um navio costeiro para transportar suprimentos e outros equipamentos para Buna. Foi descarregado no dia anterior ao início dos desembarques japoneses em Basabua, ao norte ao redor da costa, perto de Gona. [120] [notas 14]Enquanto Kokoda estava detido, era possível reabastecer por pouso aéreo. Owen voou para Kokoda para assumir o comando em 24 de julho. Em 26 de julho, um pelotão da Companhia D foi desembarcado. Na falta de aeronaves úteis, isso foi feito em dois elevadores por um único avião. [notas 15]

Tendo retornado por terra, Kienzle fez um relatório sobre a situação do abastecimento. Um carregador podia carregar uma carga equivalente a 13 dias de rações. Se ele carregasse rações para um soldado, entre eles, eles consumiriam a carga em 6 dias e meio. Isso não levou em conta munição, outros equipamentos necessários ou o retorno do carregador. A caminhada até Kokoda foi de 8 dias. Ele concluiu que as operações não poderiam ser sustentadas sem que ocorressem quedas aéreas em grande escala. [122]O reabastecimento aéreo começou com locais de lançamento em Kagi e Efogi, mas nenhum dos locais era particularmente adequado. Quantidades significativas caíram fora da zona de lançamento e não puderam ser recuperadas. Mapas não confiáveis ​​ou pouca visibilidade na zona de lançamento significavam que os suprimentos eram muitas vezes perdidos. Reconhecendo que era necessária uma zona de queda melhor, Kienzle partiu em 1º de agosto, para encontrar uma grande área aberta que ele se lembrava de ter visto do ar. Em 3 de agosto, ele identificou o menor dos dois leitos de lagos secos perto da crista da cordilheira, que ele chamou de Myola. [123]Kienzle imediatamente solicitou que o lançamento começasse em Myola. O acesso a essa grande área aliviou a proporção de suprimentos perdidos para a selva. Também tornou possível a tarefa dos transportadores. Ele começou a estabelecê-lo como um acampamento de suprimentos e abriu uma nova trilha em direção a Eora Creek. Ele se juntou à pista existente em Templeton's Crossing, que ele também nomeou. [124] [45]

Portadores papuas com carga de dois homens, movendo-se ao longo da via (AWM013002)

Embora a descoberta da Myola tenha aliviado um dos problemas associados ao reabastecimento, não resolveu todos eles. Os lançamentos aéreos solicitados durante a segunda batalha em Kokoda foram atrasados ​​pelo clima - que frequentemente interferia nas operações aéreas ao longo do alcance. [125] [126] No início da campanha, técnicas eficazes de lançamento aéreo não haviam sido desenvolvidas. Descidas tardias para Kokoda foram feitas por combatentes por causa da falta de transportes. Os tanques de barriga estavam cheios de suprimentos, mas isso não podia ser amplamente utilizado. [127] Os pára-quedas não estavam disponíveis inicialmente e, após a entrega de uma quantidade em meados de setembro, permaneceram em falta e foram reservados para equipamentos essenciais. [notas 16] [128]A maioria dos suprimentos foram "liberados". A embalagem era primitiva para os padrões modernos. Os suprimentos eram embrulhados em cobertores [129] ou amarrados em sacos. Houve, no entanto, uma escolha consciente de utilizar embalagens, como cobertores, que eram exigidos pelas tropas e poderiam ter sido fornecidos separadamente. [130] [notas 17] A taxa de quebra e perda foi alta – em média, 50% e até 90%. [131] [notas 18] O tenente Fayle, ajudante-de-campo de Allen, comentou que: "Todo o fato da questão, e NGF parecia incapaz de entender durante toda a campanha, era que as recuperações nunca eram 100 por cento dos suprimentos caiu e o desperdício foi às vezes terrível." [133]

A falta de aeronaves de transporte foi outro constrangimento. Em 5 de agosto, as duas únicas aeronaves disponíveis para trabalho de abastecimento retornaram à Austrália. [134] Em 17 de agosto, um ataque aéreo japonês em Port Moresby destruiu cinco aeronaves e danificou gravemente outras onze quando as aeronaves estavam estacionadas próximas umas das outras. Destes, sete transportes (mais tarde apelidados de "bombardeiros de biscoito") [135] [notas 19] foram destruídos ou colocados fora de serviço, deixando apenas um em serviço. [137] Este relatório de Gillison é indicativo, pois há uma variação considerável nas fontes quanto ao número e tipo de aviões danificados e destruídos. [138] [139] [notas 20]O que está claro é que este foi um evento desastroso que reduziu significativamente a capacidade dos Aliados de reabastecer as tropas que lutavam ao longo da pista. Moremon diz que nenhuma aeronave estava disponível para desembarque até 23 de agosto, enquanto McCathy afirma isso como 22 de agosto. Dada a situação de oferta tênue, esta foi uma quebra significativa. [140] [141] Aviões e pilotos civis foram colocados em serviço em um esforço para atender a demanda. Eles foram usados ​​principalmente em voos entre a Austrália e a Nova Guiné ou em áreas de retaguarda para liberar aviões militares e pessoal para serviço em áreas avançadas, mas isso não resolveu o problema imediato. [142]

Mulas e cavalos de carga sendo conduzidos por um caminhão de 25 libras sendo puxado para a frente na primeira perna da pista de Owers' Corner (AWM027023)

Os dois batalhões de Potts começaram seu avanço ao longo da pista com base em que 40.000 rações, mais munição e outros suprimentos haviam sido estocados em Myola e suprimentos adicionais existiam em pontos de parada ao longo da rota. Potts chegou a Myola em 21 de agosto para encontrar apenas 8.000 rações (reserva de cinco dias) e mais dois dias de reserva para a frente. Potts foi forçado a manter sua força em Myola até que uma reserva suficiente pudesse ser acumulada - o que impactou sua condução da batalha em Isurava (a partir de 26 de agosto). [143]

As rações "desaparecidas" foram objeto de investigação - tanto na época quanto posteriormente. Dudley McCarthy, o historiador oficial australiano, concluiu que a razão provavelmente estava no "trabalho defeituoso [da equipe] por funcionários inexperientes". [140] A investigação de Rowell, feita na época, determinou que as rações haviam sido despachadas. [144] O segundo e muito maior leito seco do lago, Myola 2, foi descoberto por uma patrulha em 21 de agosto. Neste momento, os mapas apareceram e a tripulação aérea esperava apenas um. John Moremon supõe que as gotas provavelmente foram feitas no lugar errado. [145] [notas 21] Rowell observou em suas memórias que "durante toda a Campanha da Nova Guiné, a queda de carga permaneceu notoriamente não confiável". [146]

Um lançamento aéreo sobre Myola (AWM P02424.071)

Em consequência desse déficit e da perda anterior de transportes em Port Moresby, pedidos urgentes foram encaminhados por Rowell através da cadeia de comando. As aeronaves de transporte no teatro neste momento eram amplamente operadas pela Quinta Força Aérea , com o major-general George Kenney comandando as Forças Aéreas Aliadas. MacArthur lançou seis bombardeiros de mergulho Douglas Dauntless , um B-17 Flying Fortress e dois transportes. Ele observou que, na época, havia apenas trinta aviões de transporte na Austrália e, destes, apenas 50% estavam disponíveis a qualquer momento. [147]Sua resposta afirmou que os recursos disponibilizados deveriam ser suficientes para os 9.000 kg (20.000 lb) de suprimentos necessários para abastecer as forças em Wau e ao longo da pista (conforme estimado por Rowell) a cada dia. O valor fornecido por Rowell explicitamente não permitia que qualquer reserva fosse estabelecida. [148] MacArthur concluiu dizendo:

O suprimento de ar deve necessariamente ser considerado uma emergência e não um meio normal de suprimento. Consequentemente, todos os esforços devem ser feitos pelo GOC, NGF, para desenvolver outros meios de abastecimento. [149]

Quando Potts pediu cerca de 800 trabalhadores adicionais para ajudar a aliviar a situação de abastecimento, Rowell respondeu que apenas 300 poderiam ser fornecidos. Simplesmente não havia força de trabalho disponível para estabelecer uma reserva. [150] [140] Como Allen estava avançando, ele estimou que precisava de 3.000 porta-aviões para apoiar suas operações à frente de Myola, mas no final de outubro, havia apenas 1.250 à frente de Myola e nenhum na retaguarda. [151] Durante o avanço australiano, o Myola 2 foi desenvolvido como o principal ponto de reabastecimento. [152] Uma faixa foi desenvolvida ali, sendo uma área maior, mas considerada muito arriscada para uso geral. [153]

A transport plane flying at low level away from the camera, dropping supplies over a clearing in the jungle
Um avião de transporte US Douglas C-47 Skytrain lançando suprimentos para a 25ª Brigada australiana perto de Nauro Village em outubro de 1942

Quando Potts se retirou de Isurava, Myola foi perdida – sua força destruindo qualquer coisa utilizável à medida que partia. Retiradas sucessivas no início da pista aliviaram a carga de fornecimento. À medida que Allen avançava, seguindo as forças japonesas em retirada, ele estava ciente dos problemas logísticos enfrentados por sua força. Ele enfrentou a pressão de Blamey e MacArthur para avançar suas forças sem poder garantir seu suprimento. Sua relutância em fazê-lo foi um fator significativo que levou à sua substituição. [154] McCarthy observa: "Havia pouco que o general Vasey pudesse acrescentar imediatamente ao planejamento do general Allen." [155]

logística japonesa

Tropas australianas limpando grama e obstáculos da pista de pouso em Kokoda. Os japoneses não conseguiram tirar vantagem da tira. (AWM151044)

O reconhecimento japonês inicial havia indicado uma estrada trafegável para Kokoda. Bullard relata o erro nisso. [62] Enquanto a estrada foi melhorada para o transporte de veículos para Sonobo, a cerca de meio caminho de Gona para Wairopi, as cargas de Rabaul e cavalos de carga teriam que transportar suprimentos a distância restante até Kokoda e mais adiante. Enquanto isso, o poder aéreo aliado interferiu na linha de comunicação japonesa, particularmente no rio Kumusi, tornando-o intransponível durante o dia. Soldados avançaram de Kokoda carregando rações para 16 dias. O avanço, do final de julho até Ioribaiwa, em meados de setembro, deveria durar mais de quarenta e cinco dias. Sua carga incluía munição para a artilharia e metralhadoras, bem como 18 kg (40 lb) de arroz por homem. [156]

Um comboio que transportava quatro empresas de abastecimento independentes destinado a chegar a Buna em 20 de setembro foi atrasado: "O mecanismo para manter o abastecimento da Força dos Mares do Sul foi quebrado". [157] No momento em que os japoneses avançaram para Ioribaiwa, havia racionamento extremo e a ração diária de arroz havia sido reduzida para 180 mililitros (6,3 imp fl oz; 6,1 US fl oz) por dia sem a perspectiva de estoques capturados aliviar a dificuldade . A força de Horii foi incapaz de avançar mais. [113] À medida que os japoneses se retiravam, os soldados aliados descobriram que muitos japoneses haviam morrido de desnutrição, com evidências de que alguns japoneses haviam sido reduzidos a comer madeira, grama, raízes e outros materiais não comestíveis. [158]Soldados australianos também foram confrontados com evidências de canibalismo. Soldados australianos e japoneses mortos e feridos que foram deixados para trás no retiro australiano de Templeton's Crossing foram despojados de carne. [159] Em 1987, um documentário japonês Yuki Yuki te Shingun continha entrevistas com soldados japoneses que confessaram o canibalismo na Nova Guiné. [160] A evidência de canibalismo inflamou e irritou os sentimentos dos australianos em relação aos seus adversários. [161]

Os japoneses fizeram pouco uso de reabastecimento aéreo; uma exceção registrada é a queda de suprimentos em Kokoda em 23 de setembro. [111] Quando as forças australianas reocuparam Kokoda, encontraram a faixa lá coberta de vegetação e sem uso. [162]

trabalho papua

Black and white photo of Melonesian men crossing a log bridge across a river while carrying loads. A Caucasian man wearing military uniform is standing on the bridge, and two other Caucasian men are swimming in the river.
Portadores de Papua em serviço australiano cruzando um rio entre Nauro e Menari em outubro de 1942

A economia de plantação pré-guerra dos territórios australianos de Papua e Nova Guiné baseava-se em um sistema de trabalho contratado. Em 15 de junho de 1942, Morris emitiu a Ordem de Emprego de Nativos sob os Regulamentos de Segurança Nacional (Controle de Emergência). Isso previa o recrutamento de mão de obra papua para apoiar o esforço de guerra australiano. [163]Enquanto o reabastecimento das forças australianas na pista teria entrado em colapso sem lançamentos aéreos, a força de porta-aviões nativa permaneceu um componente essencial, movendo suprimentos das zonas de lançamento sob condições árduas. O capitão Geoffrey 'Doc' Vernon escreveu sobre as condições sofridas: "A condição de nossos transportadores em Eora Creek me causou mais preocupação do que a dos feridos ... Excesso de trabalho, sobrecarga ... exposição, frio e subalimentação eram comuns. À noite, dezenas de carregadores chegaram, jogaram suas cargas no chão e ficaram exaustos no chão." [164]

Em seu retorno, eles levariam de volta os feridos com cuidado: para os quais eles foram mitificados como os " Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels ". [165] São muitos os testemunhos de louvor ao cuidado prestado. [166] Em relação aos transportadores, o capitão (mais tarde major) Henry Steward escreveu depois da guerra que "os homens nas macas ... [eram] ... cuidados com a devoção de uma mãe e os cuidados de uma enfermeira" , enquanto Frank Kingsley Norriscontou que, "se a noite encontrar a maca ainda na pista, eles encontrarão um local plano e construirão um abrigo sobre o paciente. Eles o deixarão o mais confortável possível, buscarão água e o alimentarão se houver comida disponível - independentemente de suas próprias necessidades. Eles dormem quatro de cada lado da maca e se o paciente se mexer ou precisar de alguma atenção durante a noite, isso é dado instantaneamente". [167]

The carrier force under command of Kienzle supporting the Australian advance is reported at over 1,600. The total number that worked on the track was significantly larger, with attrition through desertion and sickness. Author Paul Ham estimates a total of up to 3,000 and claims a desertion rate of 30 per cent.[168] The ever-increasing need for labour impacted on the communities from which they were conscripted by reducing the capacity for food production.[169]

The Japanese also relied on native labour to transport supplies for their forces on the Kokoda Track. Around 2,000 indentured workers were transported to the mainland from Rabaul, and a further 300 residents of the north coast of Papua were recruited. These labourers were poorly treated, and suffered from overwork. Many carriers who became sick or injured were murdered by Japanese forces. This mistreatment caused high desertion rates among the Papuan carriers. As the Japanese had difficulty obtaining replacement carriers, the casualties and desertions contributed to shortfalls in the quantities of supplies which reached the combat troops.[170]

Medical

A Stinson L-1 Vigilant air ambulance operating at Kokoda, November 1942 (AWM P02424.085)

When the 21st Brigade joined the fighting early in the campaign, the medical plan was for evacuation forward to Kokoda, and there, by air, on the premise that it would soon be recaptured. This was discarded as it quickly became apparent that this would not happen and any serious casualties were moved back toward Myola. Potts had requested air evacuation but this was refused for a lack of suitable aircraft.[171]

Como Myola foi ameaçada pelo avanço japonês, as vítimas ali reunidas tiveram que ser evacuadas para o início da pista. O relatório do então coronel Norris, oficial médico sênior da 7ª Divisão, apontou a dificuldade de fornecer meios suficientes para mover macas. Cada um exigia oito carregadores, o que significava que os feridos que conseguiam cambalear eram tratados com "absoluta crueldade" e não recebiam macas. Em um caso, uma vítima com uma patela gravemente fraturada (rótula) caminhou por seis dias e alguns com ferimentos piores se ofereceram para caminhar para liberar uma maca para os feridos mais graves. [172]

À medida que os australianos avançavam de volta ao longo da pista para Kokoda, Myola tornou-se novamente o principal ponto de evacuação. As aeronaves foram enviadas da Austrália e aproximadamente 40 pacientes foram evacuados por via aérea antes que um Ford Trimotor e um Stinson monomotor de modelo não especificado caíssem e a evacuação aérea de Myola fosse suspensa. [173]

Com a recaptura de Kokoda, desembarques aéreos e evacuação poderiam ocorrer a partir de sua pista de pouso e tornou-se o principal ponto de evacuação. Além do pouso dos C-47 com suprimentos, a aeronave de observação leve Stinson L-1 Vigilant , convertida para uso como ambulância aérea, voou para Kokoda. [notas 22] No início de novembro, o destacamento de Myola cuidava de 438 doentes e feridos. Muitos caminharam de volta ao longo da trilha à medida que se recuperavam o suficiente para fazer a caminhada. Alguns tiveram que esperar até dois meses e meio antes que os carregadores estivessem disponíveis para transportar as macas para Kokoda para evacuação por via aérea. O último chegou a Port Moresby apenas alguns dias antes do Natal. [notas 23] Norris later wrote and questioned: "why after three years of war no adequate ambulance planes were available"?[174]

Heavy weapons

Members of 14th Field Regiment firing a captured 75 mm Type 41 regimental gun – 1944 (AWM072161)

Bullard reports that, while the munitions of the 144th Regiment were limited by what they could carry, this included eighteen [medium] machine guns (Type 92 Juki),[notes 24] three battalion (infantry) guns, two rapid-fire guns and two regimental artillery guns. The mountain artillery battalion deployed with three companies servicing a gun each, while leaving one gun in reserve at Buna. The 44th Regiment deployed with thirteen medium machine guns, three battalion guns, one regimental gun and one rapid-fire gun.[60] Anderson indicates that the regimental and mountain artillery battalion guns were of the 75 mm Type 41, while the infantry guns were of the 70 mm Type 92. By virtue that the 37 mm guns were described as "rapid fire", these were most likely the dual-purpose Type 94 anti-tank gun which was a rapid-fire gun, as distinct from the earlier Type 11 37 mm infantry gun.[175][notes 25] It employed an automatic cartridge ejection and was capable of firing up to 30 rounds per minute. Primarily a direct-fire weapon, using telescopic sights, it had an effective range of 2,870 metres (3,140 yd) and could be broken down into four loads of 100 kilograms (220 lb). The Type 92 battalion gun was a 70 mm light howitzer capable of direct and indirect fire. It had an effective range of 2,800 metres (3,060 yd), firing a high-explosive projectile of 3.795 kilograms (8.37 lb).[notes 26]O Type 41 era uma arma de montanha capaz de disparar um projétil de alto explosivo de 5,8 kg (13 lb) a um alcance máximo de 7.000 metros (7.700 yd). Poderia ser dividido em onze unidades de não mais de 95 kg (210 lb). [176]

A estrutura da brigada australiana incluía um regimento de artilharia, composto por duas baterias, cada uma equipada com doze canhões Ordnance QF de 25 libras . Estes tinham um alcance de 12.300 metros (13.400 yd), mas pesavam 1.800 kg (4.000 lb) e não se destinavam a ser divididos em cargas de pacote. Como o avanço japonês ameaçou Imita Ridge o 14º Regimento de Campo(menos uma bateria) implantado perto da cabeça da pista para se defender contra uma fuga dos japoneses em um país mais aberto. Duas armas foram transportadas para Owers' Corner por um trator de lagarta. Em 20 de setembro, eles bombardearam as posições japonesas em Ioribaiwa a uma distância de 10.000 metros (11.000 jardas). Uma terceira arma foi desmontada e manuseada para a frente, levando 50 homens cinco dias para movê-la apenas três quilômetros (2 milhas) através do terreno montanhoso da selva. No entanto, quando eles estavam em posição e prontos para disparar, os japoneses estavam fora de alcance. [177]

A 1ª Bateria de Montanha foi levantada e uma arma voou para Kokoda. Uma arma da bateria é mostrada aqui em ação perto de Buna. (AWM013973)

Em resposta à situação, a 1ª Bateria de Montanha foi levantada e equipada com obuseiros de 3,7 polegadas obtidos às pressas da Marinha Real da Nova Zelândia . Inicialmente, pretendia-se que as armas fossem movidas por cavalos de carga; no entanto, após a chegada da unidade em Port Moresby no início de outubro, logo ficou claro que os cavalos não seriam adequados às condições úmidas da Nova Guiné, com as armas sendo movidas por jipes e transportadores nativos. [178] Foram necessários cerca de 90 carregadores para mover uma arma sem munição. [179]A bateria não participou dos combates ao longo da pista, mas em 15 de novembro, um destacamento com uma arma foi levado para Kokoda para apoiar a 7ª Divisão australiana. [180]

Um batalhão de infantaria australiano tinha um pelotão de morteiros com quatro morteiros Ordnance ML de 3 polegadas , capazes de lançar 4,5 kg (9,9 lb) em volta de 1.500 metros (1.600 yd). [181] [notas 27] Os batalhões também tinham acesso à metralhadora média Vickers . [notas 28] O Vickers, embora resfriado a água, tinha peso e capacidade semelhantes ao Juki empregado pelos japoneses. Quando as forças australianas avançaram, nenhuma dessas armas foi transportada. Considerou-se que eles eram muito pesados ​​para serem carregados e que não poderiam ser efetivamente empregados em terrenos de selva. [183]

A post action report by the 2/14th Battalion identified that it was a mistake not to take these weapons forward.[184] By the time of the Battle of Brigade Hill–Mission Ridge (from about 6 September), the 21st Brigade was operating a section of three 3-inch mortars that had been parachuted into Myola.[185][notes 29] When the Australians commenced the advance from Imita Ridge, most battalions moving forward carried a 3-inch mortar with twenty-four bombs and one Vickers machine gun with 3,000 rounds.[186]

Despite this increased fire-power, the Japanese still held a significant advantage by quantity and range. McCarthy recounts instances where Australian mortars and Vickers machine guns brought into service were quickly targeted and taken out by Japanese artillery.[187] There was also a high rate of misfires with mortar ammunition that had been airdropped and, after such a round exploded in the barrel and killed the crew, the use of airdropped mortar ammunition was suspended by the 16th Brigade.[188][189]

The Japanese carried into the mountains thirteen artillery pieces and employed fifteen in the Battle of Oivi–Gorari at the end of the campaign.[190][191] While Anderson reports that approximately 940 men were responsible for carrying the guns, ammunition and other paraphernalia across the Owen Stanleys, he concludes that, despite this burden: "Throughout the Kokoda campaign the Japanese held one distinct advantage over the Australians: artillery. The Japanese use of artillery pieces in each Kokoda battle was a force multiplier, and the Australians were never able to match the Japanese ranged weapons." He attributes around 35 per cent of the Australian casualties to the Japanese artillery but observes that the effect upon morale was perhaps of equal significance: "The helplessness felt by the men who were subjected to relentless bombardment without the means to retaliate sapped both their number and their spirit."[190] Williams asserts that: "Japanese artillery provided an important, perhaps decisive, role on the battlefields of the Kokoda Track."[192]

Other equipment

Radio set operated by Signalman James Pashley (AWM P02038.146)

Australian soldiers initially entered battle wearing a khaki uniform which contrasted with the darker greens of the jungle. Moreover, webbing of the 21st Brigade had been bleached white from their service in Syria. In contrast, the Japanese wore a green uniform more suited to the jungle environment and were adept at camouflage. By the time the 25th Brigade was committed to the fighting, it was wearing jungle green—albeit that these were khaki uniforms that had been quickly dyed. This dye ran and caused skin complaints among the wearers.[193]

Grande parte do equipamento australiano foi padronizado em todo o exército britânico e na Commonwealth. Este legado imperial significou uma estrutura de forças destinada a combater em campo aberto e que era altamente dependente do transporte motorizado. [194] Conseqüentemente, o peso não era tanto uma consideração quando o equipamento não se destinava a ser embalado pelo homem. O aparelho de rádio 109 e os equipamentos associados exigiam dezenove transportadores para serem transportados, eram temperamentais como resultado do "manuseio excessivo" e eram suscetíveis à umidade e umidade. Em contraste, os japoneses usavam conjuntos sem fio compactos e fios de sinal de alumínio leve. [195] [196]

Captured stocks of Mills bombs (model 36M) were valued by the Japanese. The lever and striker mechanism of the Mills bomb was considered superior to their own service grenade, the Type 99, which had to be struck on a hard object to ignite the fuze immediately before throwing.[197]

Air operations

A USAAF Bell P-39 Airacobra and ground crew, Port Moresby, August 1942 (AWM025894)

Apart from the significant logistical contribution in support of the Australian forces, air operations included bombing missions against Rabaul, the Japanese base supporting the landings in Papua, and the attempts to resupply and reinforce the beachheads around Buna and Gona. Bombers were based in Australia, staging through Port Moresby—resulting in considerable crew fatigue.[198][199]

Bombing sorties also targeted the beachheads, particularly the airfield being constructed at Buna, and the Japanese line of communication. Regular missions against Buna effectively neutralised the airfield—damaging it almost as fast as it could be repaired, thereby rendering it ineffective. The crossing of the Kumusi at Wairopi was regularly targeted and bridging works repeatedly destroyed.[200][201] The Australian forces on the track called for bombing and strafing missions in support of operations on several occasions but such requests were not always fulfilled. Weather conditions across the range constantly interfered with operations.[202]

Allied command

New Guinea. October 1942. A tea break at a canteen in the forward areas during a tour of inspection by US General, Douglas MacArthur. In the background, left to right, are: Major General G. S. Allen, Commander, Australian 7th Division AIF; Mr F. M. Forde, Australian Minister for the Army; General MacArthur, Supreme Commander, South West Pacific Area; and General Sir Thomas Blamey, Commander, Allied Land Forces AWM150836

MacArthur, after being ordered to leave the Philippines, arrived in Australia on 17 March 1942 and was appointed Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in the South West Pacific Area (SWPA).[203] MacArthur had to compete with Admiral Chester Nimitz's plan to drive towards Japan through the central Pacific. Ambitious, he was concerned that his command should not be sidelined.[204][205] Blamey had been recalled from the Middle East, arriving in Australia on 23 March 1942. Shortly after, he was appointed as commander-in-chief of the Australian Army and subsequently, to the separate position, which he simultaneously held, of commander, allied land forces SWPA.[206]

Papua and New Guinea had been the Australian 8th Military District under command of Morris. On 9 April 1942, it was formed into New Guinea Force, with Morris promoted major general.[207] As events escalated and the forces involved increased, Rowell arrived from Australia with HQ I Corps, taking command of the force on 12 August 1942. Morris was moved to command the Australian New Guinea Administrative Unit (ANGAU). At about this time, 7th Division was deploying to New Guinea and responsibility for the immediate defence of Port Moresby, including Maroubra Force and the Kokoda Track operation was devolved to divisional headquarters under Allan.[208][notes 30]

Both Blamey's Allied Land Headquarters (LHQ) and MacArthur's General Headquarters (GHQ) were increasingly alarmed by the situation on the track, with Australian forces suffering a series of reversals, and by the Japanese landings at Milne Bay (this battle was fought from 25 August to 7 September 1942). Vasey, then Blamey's deputy chief of the general staff, wrote privately to Rowell on 1 September, that "GHQ is like a bloody barometer in a cyclone—up and down every two minutes".[210] MacArthur also had a poor opinion of the Australian troops and no real appreciation of the conditions under which the fighting in New Guinea was being conducted. On 6 September, MacArthur wrote to General George Marshall that, "the Australians have proven themselves unable to match the enemy in jungle fighting. Aggressive leadership is lacking."[211] Jones observes, "The attitude that the Australians were poor fighters pervaded thinking at MacArthur's headquarters".[212]

General Sir Thomas Blamey chatting with troops during MacArthur's visit (AWM150815)

The Australian government was also concerned. On 9 September, Army Minister Frank Forde directed Blamey to visit Port Moresby, which he did, from 12 to 14 September. On his return, he was able to assure the government of his confidence in Rowell and that the situation was in hand.[213] Nonetheless, MacArthur persuaded the Australian Prime Minister, John Curtin, to send Blamey to New Guinea to take command there and "energise the situation".[214] By this manoeuvre, MacArthur ensured that Blamey would be the scapegoat if Port Moresby fell.[215]

MacArthur visited Port Moresby briefly from 2 October. On 3 October, he went as far forward as Owers' Corner, where he spent about an hour. He was present as the 16th Brigade, under Brigadier John Lloyd, was commencing its advance along the track.[216] He subsequently established his advance headquarters in Port Moresby on 6 November 1942 (just after Kokoda was reoccupied) until January 1943.[217]

Command crisis

The "command crisis" is referred to by McCarthy (among others) in the Australian official history as part of a chapter title: "Ioriabiawa: and a command in crisis".[218][219] Academic and historian David Horner's first book is titled Crisis of Command: Australian Generalship and the Japanese Threat, 1941–1943, in which he studies the generalship in these early stages of the war with Japan.[220] Anderson notes that, while the "command crisis" specifically relates to Blamey's sacking of Rowell, the phrase can also be applied to the sackings of Allen and Potts.[221]

Rowell
Lieutenant General Sydney Rowell (AWM26583)

Complying with Curtin's directive, albeit reluctantly, Blamey arrived in Port Moresby on 23 September 1942 with only a small personal staff. It was a situation which Blamey felt was quite reasonable but with which Rowell saw significant difficulties. Rowell's objections were that the circumstances of Blamey's presence in his headquarters would ultimately undermine the good conduct of its operation by forcing it to serve two masters.[222] McCarthy's reporting of the initial situation suggests that Blamey, while maintaining his position, was conciliatory and empathetic toward Rowell's concerns.[223] Allen recounts that Rowell's objection was not to Blamey using his headquarters as much as the expectation that he (Rowell) was expected to be Blamey's chief-of-staff.[224] Horner observes that this was much how the headquarters subsequently operated under Herring.[225] Underpinning the events that followed was bad blood between them stemming from Blamey's conduct in the Middle East and Greece.[226][227] Perhaps, more importantly, there was a sense of disappointment in Blamey's lack of support by way of resolve to oppose the decision to send Blamey to New Guinea. In a letter to Major General Cyril Clowes at Milne Bay, Rowell said on this, "Either I am fit to command the show or I am not."[228]

The situation continued to simmer until it came to a head after Blamey had visited Milne Bay on 25 September at MacArthur's suggestion and ordered Clowes to send a force by air to Wanigela.[229] Major General George Kenney noted that Rowell was "not even consulted anymore".[230] Rowell confronted Blamey on the issue and was relieved of command on 28 September. In a communication to Curtin, Blamey referred to Rowell as insubordinate and obstructive.[231][232] Rowell was replaced by Lieutenant General Edmund Herring.[233]

Allen

On 9 September 1942, Allen's command responsibilities were narrowed to the direct prosecution of the Kokoda Track campaign and flank protection.[notes 31] Important to subsequent events, NGF retained control of aerial resupply.[235] The Australian advance commenced with the attack of 28 September against the (abandoned) Japanese positions on Ioribaiwa Ridge. The 16th Brigade commenced to advance forward on 3 October.[236]

Major General Arthur Allen (left) and Brigadier Ken Eather (centre), September 1942 (AWM026750)

Allen had advanced his headquarters to Menari by 11 October. The 25th Brigade was advancing on two tracks from Efogi, toward Templeton's Crossing. He was mindful of the need to keep his troops fresh enough to fight and of the supply problems imposed by operations over the track. There were already difficulties in air drops meeting the division's needs. These concerns were expressed to Herring on 7 October, including the need to create a reserve over and above the daily needs. As a consequence, the supply programme intensified.[237][238]

On 5 October, Blamey wrote to MacArthur in "hard terms" of the logistical difficulties faced by NGF and specifically, Allen.[239] Despite this, Blamey and MacArthur pressured Allen to increase his rate of advance and Blamey forced the issue by only arranging for supplies to be dropped at Myola—effectively forcing Allen to advance to meet his point of supply.[240][241] Anderson discusses this and identifies it as an "extremely risky" strategy. Blamey (and Herring) wanted Allen to maintain pressure on the retreating Japanese and push home the advantage. Dropping supplies forward maintains the momentum of advance but this quickly breaks down if the advance is stalled and there are limited reserves. The position of Blamey was premised on the proposition that the Japanese were an enemy in retreat. In fact, they had made a clean break from Ioriabiawa and had established defences that were blocking Allen's advance on both routes to Templeton's Crossing. With supplies dropped at Myola, Allen could not easily support the advance being made along the Mount Bellamy track and, until the position forward of Templeton' Crossing was secured, there was the risk of Myola being compromised.[242]

On 17 October, Allen, now at Myola, received the following message from Blamey:

General MacArthur considers quote extremely light casualties indicate no serious effort yet made to displace enemy unquote. You will attack enemy with energy and all possible speed at each point of resistance. Essential that Kokoda airfield be taken at earliest. Apparent enemy gaining time by delaying you with inferior strength.[243]

Allen's response was measured. He requested that any decision on his progress be deferred until a report could be made by a liaison officer or more senior officer.[notes 32][244] MacArthur and Blamey continued to press Allen through the delays experienced at Templeton's Crossing and Eora Village. To his credit, Allen stood by his subordinates. Just as the 16th Brigade was advancing on Eora Village, a signal from MacArthur through Blamey on 21 October further pressured Allen: "Operations reports show that progress on the trail is NOT repeat NOT satisfactory. The tactical handling of our troops in my opinion is faulty." Allen replied, in part: "I have complete confidence in my brigade commanders and troops and feel that they could not have done better."[245] Allen's trust may have been misplaced though, as Anderson describes Lloyd as having "botched" the tactical handling of the first two days of the engagement at Eora Village that were just then unfolding. He also notes that the downward pressure being applied for haste likely weighed heavily in Lloyd's decision to proceed initially with a frontal attack. The pressure for more haste thereby contributed to increasing the delays.[246] On 28 October, Blamey ordered Allen's recall and replacement by Vasey.[247] Allen had vouched for the judgement and professionalism of his brigade commanders (in this case, specifically Lloyd) and in this, he was ultimately responsible; however, Anderson opines that Allen's replacement may have been inevitable, regardless of the justification.[248]

Potts
Brigadier Arnold Potts (left), forward area, September 1942 (AWM026716)

Potts had been sent forward to Isurava with orders to attack and recapture Kokoda. Instead, his force was unable to withstand the Japanese attacks and he was forced to conduct a fighting withdrawal, suffering a disastrous defeat at Brigade Hill. Increasingly concerned, MacArthur applied pressure to the chain-of-command.[249] Potts was recalled to Port Moresby by Rowell on 10 September, with Porter as his replacement.[210] Horner reports Rowell's motive as dissatisfaction with Potts' "mishandling" of his brigade and a need to obtain a first-hand account of conditions.[250] Anderson reports Allen agreed with the decision, judging that Potts was "either tired or losing a grip of the situation".[251] On arriving at Port Moresby, Potts was interviewed by Rowell and Allen, whereupon, satisfied with his performance, he was returned to command his brigade.

However, in a private interview (overheard by Potts' staff captain, Ken Murdoch) on 22 October, the day of the "running rabbit" address, Blamey told Potts he was no longer required in New Guinea: "Failures like the Kokoda Trail ... could not be tolerated—the men had shown that something was lacking ..[and he] blamed the leaders."[252][notes 33] Potts was transferred to command the 23rd Brigade reforming in Darwin, exchanging postings with Brigadier Ivan Dougherty. Herring has claimed that the decision was his—feeling that Potts needed to be rested and wanting Dougherty to take the position.[253] Murdoch was inundated with resignation papers from officers affronted by Potts' treatment. Potts instructed Murdoch to reject all resignations.[254]

The "running rabbits" incident

On 22 October, after the relief of the 21st Brigade by the 25th Brigade, Blamey visited Koitaki, near Port Moresby, where the 21st Brigade was encamped. Shortly after relieving Potts, Blamey addressed the men of the 21st Brigade on a parade ground. The men of the Maroubra Force expected congratulations for their efforts in holding back the Japanese. Instead of praising them, Blamey told the brigade that they had been "beaten" by inferior forces, and that "no soldier should be afraid to die". "Remember," Blamey was reported as saying, "it's the rabbit who runs who gets shot, not the man holding the gun."[255] There was a wave of murmurs and restlessness among the soldiers. Officers and senior non-commissioned officers (NCOs) managed to quiet the soldiers and many later said that Blamey was lucky to escape with his life. During the march-past, many disobeyed the "eyes right" order.[255] In a later letter to his wife, an enraged Brigadier Potts swore to "fry his [Blamey's] soul in the afterlife" over this incident. According to witnesses, when Blamey subsequently visited Australian wounded in the camp hospital, inmates nibbled lettuce, while wrinkling their noses and whispering "run, rabbit, run" (the chorus of a popular song during the war).[255]

Analysis
Lieutenant General Edmund Herring (AWM151139)

Historian Peter Dean acknowledges the general interpretation that the actions of MacArthur and Blamey were "to salvage their own positions at the expense of the troops"[256] but reports that MacArthur, himself, was under pressure, citing a cable from the US Joint Chiefs to MacArthur of 16 October, "reminding him that they viewed the situation in Papua as 'critical'".[257] Dean also notes that this coincided with the relief of Vice Admiral Robert Ghormley, Commander-in-Chief of US forces in the south Pacific who had operational control of the forces engaged at Guadalcanal.[257] The pressure brought to bear by MacArthur was in the face of "complicated operational and strategic contexts", stating that, "an understanding of these contexts has been poorly done in most accounts of the fighting [in Papua]."[256] This is encapsulated in correspondence from Brigadier General Stephen J. Chamberlin (MacArthur's operations chief) to MacArthur's Chief-of-Staff, Richard K. Sutherland, of 30 October 1942: "the key to our plan of action lies in the success or failure of the South Pacific in holding Guadalcanal ..." (that is, that the position at Guadalcanal was tenuous).[258]

However, with specific reference to Allen, Horner finds, "MacArthur showed an abysmal lack of trust in his subordinate [Blamey and his view that Allen was doing all he could], and an unwarranted interference in the tactical handling of troops some 1,500 miles from his headquarters."[259] While the Curtin government was largely steadfast in recalling the 2nd AIF from the Middle East to Australia against considerable opposition from Churchill,[260][notes 34] Horner observes the government's complete dependence on MacArthur, which compromised Blamey's relationship with it.[261] His analysis also observes that these events were underpinned by the logistical problems faced by the NGF on the track and elsewhere.[262]

Horner's criticism of Blamey in sacking Allen is that he was in no position to accurately assess Allen's performance, observing that if Vasey could be flown into Myola to relieve Allen, then an assessment could have been arranged using the same means. Blamey acted to placate MacArthur because he (Blamey) was unwilling to risk his own job. Blamey had demonstrated "a remarkable lack of loyalty" toward his subordinate. To some degree, Herring shares in this criticism.[263] Williams, however, observes that Allen's advance was nonetheless slower than might reasonably have been expected and that the criticisms leveled at him and leading to his sacking were reasonably justified.[264]

Horner observes of Rowell, that his only failure was an inability to work with Blamey and that Blamey was more culpable in that, he was unwilling to risk his own position. He should have shown more trust and loyalty toward his subordinate; negated MacArthur's manoeuvring and avoided the situation.[265]

Regardless of the justifications made, the sackings created a climate of suspicion, animosity, personal rivalries and a "toxic atmosphere" which pervaded the senior ranks and was detrimental to the war effort.[221] Horner observes that Blamey trod a precarious line between "maintaining his own position and protecting the Australian commanders, between risking his own replacement and risking the distrust of his subordinates".[266] Horner notes, "the arguments between generals and politicians might seem of little consequence. But the opposite is the case. It was errors by men like MacArthur and Blamey which lead to the near disaster in New Guinea. As usual, it was the men in the front line who paid the heaviest price."[267]

First phase – Japanese advance

Japanese landings and initial advance

The Japanese brought rubber boats to cross the Kumusi River as they advanced. This one was left as they retreated. (AWM013707)

The Japanese landings at Gona commenced at about 5:30 pm on 21 July 1942. They were opposed by Allied air attacks until darkness fell and again in the morning, for the loss of one transport ship.[268] The Japanese landings were observed by patrols of the PIB and officers of the ANGAU. Templeton brought forward two of his platoons. His remaining platoon was to protect Kokoda. First contact was made at about 4.00 pm on 23 July. A PIB patrol led by Lieutenant Chalk ambushed advancing Japanese near Awala.[269][270] The bridge across the Kumusi River at Wairopi was destroyed by the withdrawing Australians and the Japanese were harassed as they made a crossing.[271][120]

Owen had flown to Kokoda on 24 July and went forward with Templeton to assess the situation. Owen then returned to Kokoda and called for reinforcements to be landed. An ambush position was sited about 700 metres (800 yd) east of Gorari and sprung at about midday on 25 July. The force of two platoons and the remaining PIB then withdrew to Oivi, taking up a position that evening. D Company's 16 Platoon arrived by air at Kokoda in two flights on 26 July. The first flight arrived at 10:00 am. They were immediately sent forward and had joined the force at Oivi before the Japanese attack at 3:00 pm. The force was able to hold the Japanese for a time, before being forced to retire on a secondary position. With the Japanese trying to encircle this position, Templeton was concerned for the second flight yet to arrive and set out to warn it. There was a burst of fire shortly after he left. Templeton was never seen again.[272][notes 35]

Watson took command. As the force was increasingly threatened by encirclement, it broke toward Deniki. At Kokoda, Owen had lost contact with his forward platoons and also withdrew to Deniki, departing at 11:00 am on 27 July. On the following morning, a small party of stragglers arrived. Having spent the previous night at Kokoda, they reported the village unoccupied. Leaving two sections at Deniki, Owen quickly advanced back to the village.[274][275]

Battle of Kokoda

By 11:30 am, Owen had reoccupied Kokoda with a force consisting of B Company, the remaining PIB and members of the ANGAU that had joined Maroubra Force, variously numbered at between 80 and 148.[276][277][notes 36] Owen called for reinforcements and shortly after, two planes appeared overhead but did not land as the defenders were slow in removing the barricades that had been placed across the airstrip and the pilots believed the situation too risky to land.[144] There are inconsistencies in the various accounts of this event—most significantly, whether this occurred on 28 July or the day earlier, when Owen was about to abandon Kokoda.[notes 37]

Kokoda village and airfield, August 1942. (AWM128400)

The Kokoda plateau is tongue shaped, with steep-sloped sides. The government station is located at its northern tip. The track from Oivi approaches the tip from the east. The track to Deniki runs down its centre to the south. Owen positioned his force around the station at its tip. At 1:30 pm, advance elements of the Japanese force that was to total approximately 200[289] were sighted. As the Japanese commander, Captain Ogawa, assembled his force, the Australian defenders were harassed through the night, including fire from light mortars and a Type 92 battalion gun, which was particularly telling as the Australians had no means to respond to it. The main attack commenced at 2:30 in the early morning of 29 July. Owen was in the forward positions to inspire his troops and received a mortal gunshot wound above his right eye. Watson assumed command and, as the force was being overrun, withdrew to Deniki.[290][277]

Following the first battle at Kokoda, there was a brief pause in fighting during which both the Japanese and the Australians concentrated their forces for the next phase. For the Japanese, this was the 1st Battalion of the 144th Infantry Regiment, of which the 1st Company had faced B Company at Kokoda. The battalion was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Tsukamoto Hatsuo. C Company and A Company of the 39th Battalion arrived at Deniki on 30 and 31 July respectively.[291] Major Allan Cameron, Brigade Major of the 30th Brigade, had been sent forward to take command of Maroubra Force, arriving on 4 August.[292] Cameron formed a low opinion of B Company after encountering troops moving southward along the track as he moved forward.[293] Cameron's arrival coincided with a telephone line being established from the head of the track to Deniki. This greatly improved communications with Port Moresby.[89] D Company arrived on 6 August.[164] With this force, Cameron resolved to counterattack and recapture Kokoda. His plan was to advance along three routes assigned to each of his fresh companies with B Company securing Deniki. C Company was to advance along the main track to Kokoda. A Company, under Captain Noel Symington, was to advance along a parallel track to the east that was unknown to the Japanese. D Company was to advance on a track from Deniki to Pirivi. Pirivi was just south of the Oivi–Kokoda track and about 5 kilometres (3 mi) east of Kokoda. There, it was to take up a blocking position.[294][295]

Final orders were issued by Cameron on the afternoon of 7 August, for an advance the following morning to the form-up points and an attack at noon. Cameron's force totaled 550 with the three attacking companies numbering 430. This was opposed by 522 men of 1/144 Battalion and a total force of 660, including an artillery platoon and combat engineers.[108] Tsukamoto also chose to attack toward Deniki the same day along the main track and C Company encountered resistance, having advanced only 200 metres (200 yd).[296]

Corporal (later Sergeant) Sanopa, of the Royal Papua Constabulary, attached to the PIB, featured prominently in the fighting around Kokoda.(By William Dargie AWM ART23175)

The attack on Kokoda was preceded with bombing and strafing by sixteen P–39s. Symington was able to advance into Kokoda and, meeting minimal resistance, was able to occupy it. A message was sent with Corporal Sanopa to Cameron requiring resupply by air and reinforcements to hold the village. C Company advancing on the main track, met increasing resistance as it came upon Tsukamoto's main force. Unable to advance further, it withdrew to Deniki, with the Japanese closely following. It arrived there at 5:50 pm. As D Company, under Captain Max Bidstrup took up a position at the junction on the Oivi–Kokoda track, it came under strong attack by engineers from both directions. Judging the attack on Kokoda had been unsuccessful he withdrew at 4:30 pm back to Deniki with his main force, arriving at about 1:30 pm on 9 August (with 17 Platoon, that had become isolated in the fighting, arriving the next day).[297][298]

Sanopa arrived with Symington's message in the morning of 9 August. Cameron requested both an air drop of supplies and aerial reconnaissance to ascertain the situation at Kokoda. He was informed that resupply could not occur until the following day. Tsukamoto had sent a company back to Kokoda, arriving at 11:30 am on 9 August. Without resupply and facing determined attacks Symington's force held until 7:00 pm on 10 August. It then withdrew westwards by a circuitous route back to Isurava, arriving on 13 August.[299][300] The reconnaissance flight occurred in the morning of 10 August but the promised resupply was delayed by weather until 12 August when it was dropped into the hands of the Japanese.[301][302][303]

The Machine Gun Company of the 39th Battalion[notes 38] had deployed along the track (less its medium machine guns) and had been holding a position at Isurava for about a week. Cameron called it forward, arriving in Deniki at 5:00 pm on 12 August, it exchanged roles with B Company. Patrols from Deniki had reported the Japanese advancing en masse from Kokoda. Their attack commenced 5:30 am on 13 August and continued throughout the day. Sporadic gunfire continued through most of the night and the attack was renewed the next morning. As the Japanese threatened his flanks and rear, Cameron ordered the withdrawal to Isurava at 9:50 am.[305][306]

Battle of Isurava

Tsukamoto did not continue to press the advance but waited for Horii to concentrate his main force, estimating that the Australian force holding Kokoda had numbered around 1,000,[307] to 1,200.[277][308] The force available to Horii was based on five infantry battalions with supporting arms and services variously reported at 3,000 and 5,000 strong.[309][310] Horii planned to attack with four infantry battalions, holding one of these in immediate reserve to exploit the result. The force that engaged the Australians at Isurava totaled 2,130, including artillery.[311]

On 16 August, Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Honner arrived at Isurava to take command of the 39th Battalion. He also assumed command of Maroubra Force which, by then, included the first company of the 53rd Battalion to arrive at Alola, approximately 2 kilometres (2,200 yd) south of Isurava. Command passed to Porter when he arrived with headquarters of the 30th Brigade on 19 August.[312] Potts, with two battalions of the 21st Brigade was also moving forward but their advance was delayed at a "critical time" due to insufficient supplies at Myola.[313] Potts assumed command of the combined force on 23 August, with orders to attack toward Kokoda and the intention of relieving the 39th Battalion in order to alleviate his supply difficulties.[314][315] The Australian force he commanded amounted to 2,290.[310][316]

Papuan men in native dress carry a wounded soldier on a stretcher up a steep track surrounded by dense jungle
Papuan carriers evacuate Australian casualties on 30 August 1942

The position at Isurava occupied by the 39th Battalion was bounded front and rear by small creeks that ran into the gorge-like Eora Creek to the west; with a steep spur-line rising to the west. Main ridges, bounding Eora Creek ran north–south. The Isurava position and main track were on the "Isurava ridge" or western side of Eora Creek. A parallel track ran along the side of the "Abuari ridge" or western side of Eora Creek. Honner later recounted that it was: "as good a delaying position as could be found on the main track."[317] The position was, however, overlooked by a spur-line to the north (referred to in the sources as a ridge), which afforded the Japanese a position from which they could fire down on the Australian position.[318] The main force of the 53rd Battalion was located at Alola but tasked with security of the Abuari track on the western flank.[319][320]

Forward positions and patrols on both tracks had been contacted on 26 August. The 39th Battalion positions came under artillery fire as the 2/14th Battalion was moving to occupy them. The 39th Battalion then took-up a position to their immediate rear.[321][322] The 53rd Battalion was responsible for protecting the eastern flank and approach along the Abuari ridge. Through 26 and 27 August, the position there became increasingly uncertain. Forward companies of the 53rd Battalion failed to act decisively, the command party of the battalion, moving forward to take direct command was ambushed, leaving Lieutenant Colonel Kenneth Ward dead.[319] The 2/16th Battalion was called up from near Myola[323] to shore up the position on the eastern flank.[324]

From 27 August, the Japanese attacks increased in intensity along both approaches.[325] On the Abuari track, reinforcement by two companies of the 2/16th Battalion was able to stay the advance of the 2/144th Battalion on this axis. Japanese sources later noted that the defence by the 53rd and 2/16th on the right offered them "little opportunity to make a speedy exploitation",[326] although, the Japanese commander has been criticised for not pressing his advantage there,[325] apparently under the belief that it was more strongly held.[327]

On the approach to Isurava, the 2/14th and 39th Battalions came under increasing pressure from Japanese attacks, culminating in hand-to-hand fighting in which Private Bruce Kingsbury was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross. Eyewitnesses said that Kingsbury's actions had a profound effect on the Japanese, temporarily halting their momentum.[328] His citation read, in part:

Private Kingsbury, who was one of the few survivors of a platoon which had been overrun ... immediately volunteered to join a different platoon which had been ordered to counterattack. He rushed forward, firing the Bren gun from his hip through terrific machine-gun fire, and succeeded in clearing a path through the enemy. Continuing to sweep enemy positions with his fire, and inflicting an extremely high number of casualties upon them, Private Kingsbury was then seen to fall to the ground, shot dead by the bullet from a sniper hiding in the wood.[329]

Private Bruce Steel Kingsbury VC. (AWM P01637.001)

Through this time, the Japanese were able to bring telling fire upon the Isurava position. Most accounts report this came from machine guns, [medium or heavy] mortars and artillery pieces.[330][325] The account in Williams suggests that the mortars have been misidentified—attributing this instead to artillery alone. Williams reports eight artillery guns: with six artillery guns and machine gun fire falling on the rest house (later). The other two were dispersed in support of the 2/144th east of the gorge and the 1/144th in close support.[331] The Australians were only able to reply with a single 3-inch medium mortar of the 39th Battalion that arrived on 27 August, having been brought up by the 2/14th after being airdropped at Myola.[332][333]

With the western flank threatened, the Australian force at Isurava withdrew to a position at the Isurava resthouse (between Isurava and Alola) during the late hours of 29 August.[334] On 30 August, the 3/144th attacked from the western flank and cut the route rearward to Alola. The attack was preceded by intense fire from the Japanese mountain artillery.[335] At 3:00 pm, Potts order a withdrawal to Eora Village.[336] Many members of Maroubra Force became separated including Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Key, who was subsequently captured and killed.[337] In his post-operation report, Potts noted: "At no time were 2/14th and 2/16th Australian infantry battalions ever intact and available for a concerted operation, wholly and solely due to the delays occasioned by supply."[338]

Eora Creek – Templeton's Crossing

Soldiers in short sleeve shirts and shorts, slouch hats and helmets march up a muddy track carrying rifles slung over their shoulders
Members of the 39th Battalion withdrawing after the battle of Isurava

Disengaging from the battle at Isurava, Potts was compelled by the pursuing Japanese to conduct a fighting withdrawal. As the situation at Milne Bay stabilised, Allen released the 2/27th Battalion to join the rest of the 21st Brigade. Departing along the track on 30 August, it would take several days to reach the front and have no impact on this stage of the campaign.[339] During the battle Horii decided to commit the 2/41st, under Major Mitsuo Koiwai,[340] with the aim of conducting a wide arc to the west and emerging on the track to the south of Alola. They became lost, and in fact did not regain contact with the main Japanese force until after the battle, without firing a single shot.[310] Horii now assigned the battalion to the vanguard to pursue the withdrawing Maroubra Force.[341]

In the initial withdrawal, the 2/16th Battalion had a screening role, withdrawing by stages from the rear of Alola toward Eora Village, while the village itself was held by what remained of the 39th Battalion. As most of Maroubra Force had withdrawn through their positions, the 2/16th Battalion then retired on Eora Village, arriving about midday 1 September. It then took up a defensive position on a bald spur on the southern side of the creek that overlooked the crossing and village. The 2/14th Battalion was about 1 kilometre (1,100 yd) south along the track.[342] The 39th Battalion, by then numbering less than 150, was ordered to proceed to Kagi and hold there. It remained forward until it was withdrawn on 5 September.[343][344] On the morning of 31 August, the 53rd Battalion was sent out of battle and ordered to return to Myola, where part of the battalion remained, providing work parties.[345]

Commencing with Eora Village, the 2/16th Battalion occupied delaying positions along the track: withdrawing from Eora Village at 6:00 am on 2 September; to a position forward of Templeton's Crossing until dusk of 2 September; and, a position overlooking Dump 1 (on Eora Creek about 2.5 kilometres (1.6 mi) south of Templeton's crossing), until the night of 4 September. At each stage, the 2/14th Battalion screened the withdrawal of the 2/16th Battalion.[346]

Potts was, with this final engagement, able to make a clean break from the Japanese advance but only with the loss of Myola—the terrain afforded the Japanese too great an advantage and it could be bypassed, using the original track to the west. Potts abandoned Myola, destroying what supplies could not be carried out.[347] It has been credited as a successful rearguard action for the Australians.[348][notes 39]

Battle of Brigade Hill

Men of the 2/27th Battalion returned to the Australian lines at Itiki after being isolated during the Battle of Brigade Hill–Mission Ridge. (AWM027017)

Under mounting pressure from Allen and Rowell to make a stand, Potts determined to do so at Mission Ridge, which ran northward from Brigade Hill toward the village of Efogi. Lieutenant Colonel Geoffrey Cooper, commanding the 2/27th Battalion had reached as far as Kagi with the leading companies on 4 September. Cooper then concentrated his battalion in position just south of Efogi, where he could screen the brigade before he was recalled back to the position of the main force during the afternoon of 6 September. The 2/27th occupied a forward position astride the track. The 2/14th Battalion was to its immediate rear and slightly to the east. Brigade headquarters was approximately 1,800 metres (2,000 yd) to the rear.[notes 40] The main force of the 2/16 Battalion was between brigade headquarters and the forward battalions, while its D Company was located with brigade headquarters as rear protection.[349][350]

Horii had become dissatisfied with the rate of advance made with the 41st Regiment in the vanguard and replaced it with 144th Regiment from 5 September.[351] Colonel Kusonose Masao employed his 2nd and 3rd Battalions in the attack. As the Japanese moved into position through the night of 6 September, Australians observed lights which Anderson describes as a "lantern parade". An airstrike was called for the following morning with eight B–26 Marauders and four P–40s as escorts, bombing and strafing. Anderson reports that it had a greater effect on the morale; positive and negative of the Australians and Japanese respectively, than it did in causing casualties.[352][353]

During 7 September, the 3/144th Battalion probed toward the position of the 2/27th Battalion, with Japanese artillery and machine guns firing upon the forward Australian battalions. The 21st Brigade was only able to direct fire from a section of three mortars under command of the brigade. At 5:00 pm, the brigade war diary reports the 2/27th Battalion being "hammered by mortars, QF gun and HMG".[354][355]

During the night, the 2/144th Battalion conducted an undetected enveloping move to the west and attacked up the ridge just before dawn to join the track between brigade headquarters and the forward battalions. At much the same time, the 3/144th Battalion launched an intense attack against the 2/27th Battalion. In the fighting that developed, the 2/27th Battalion drew back on the 2/14th Battalion's position while the 2/16th and 2/14th Battalions counterattacked south. Brigade headquarters (and D Company of the 2/16th Battalion) also attacked north to try to dislodge the incursion of the Japanese 2/144th Battalion without success.[356][357]

Immediately before communication forward broke down, Potts passed command of the brigade group to Caro. As the situation deteriorated, the headquarters group withdrew to Nauro. The 2/14th and 2/16th Battalions broke track to the east and were able to rejoin the brigade. The 2/27th Battalion, however, were unable to follow and were considered effectively lost until they emerged from the jungle three weeks later. The battle at Brigade Hill – Mission Ridge has been described as a "stunning victory" for the Japanese and a "catastrophe" for the Australians.[358][350][359]

Ioribaiwa and Imita Ridge

A soldier kneels beside a pile of artillery shells in a clearing in the jungle, closely inspecting one that he is holding
An Australian soldier inspects Japanese artillery rounds abandoned at Ioribaiwa. These rounds had been carried the length of the track by Japanese soldiers.

Even before the battle at Mission Ridge had concluded, Rowell had issued orders recalling Potts to Port Moresby. What remained of the 2/14th and 2/16th Battalions rejoined the 21st Brigade and withdrew southwards towards Ioribaiwa and harassed the Japanese advance. Porter, having orders to stabilise the position, took command of Maroubra Force on 10 September. By this time, the 2/14th and 2/16th Battalion were so reduced in strength that they were formed into a combined force fielding a company strength from each. It was reinforced by the 3rd Battalion and by the 2/1st Pioneer Battalion, although the latter did not move forward. The 25th Brigade under Eather was being sent forward to relieve the situation. As he prepared to attack, Eather assumed command of Maroubra Force.[360][361][notes 41]

Porter had positioned the composite battalion astride the track on the Ioribaiwa ridgeline, running from the main range to the northwest. The track followed a spur-line falling north toward Ofi Creek. The 3rd Battalion was positioned on the ridge to its immediate right on the eastern side of the track. It was the major ridgeline before Imita Ridge and the head of the track. Eather planned to attack, advancing past Porters' flanks with two of his battalions—the 2/31st Battalion on the western flank and the 2/33rd Battalion on the eastern flank. The 2/25th Battalion was his reserve. It took up a position on the track behind Porter's force. On the night 13–14 September, the 25th Brigade bivouacked to the rear of Porter's force ready to advance. As Eather's battalions were deploying, the Japanese attacked. Eather immediately called off the attack and adopted a defensive posture. This had the effect of placing his advancing battalions on either flank and significantly increasing his frontage.[362][361]

From Brigade Hill, Kusonose had continued to pursue the Australians with the 2nd/144th and 3rd/144th Battalions. Horii had halted his main force awaiting permission to continue the advance. Kusonose's initial attack was made with half of the 3rd/144th Battalion advancing along the axis of the track, while the 2nd/144th Battalion was to make a flanking attack from the west. Kusonose was able to bring fire on the Australian positions from eight guns. Fighting continued through the day but both attacks had been held. An attack on 15 September was made by his reserve, the second half of the 3rd/144th Battalion against what he thought was the eastern flank of the Australian force. Unaware that Maroubra Force had been reinforced, this lodged in a gap between the Australian 3rd Battalion and the 2/33rd Battalion. Counter attacks by two companies of the 2/25th and two companies of the 2/33rd Battalion that day were unable to dislodge the Japanese from this foothold.[notes 42][363][361]

Fighting on 16 September continued much as it had on the previous day, although the Japanese lodged between the 3rd Battalion and the 2/33rd Battalion took to the high-ground—Sankaku Yama (Triangle Mountain). From there, they compromised Eather's communication with the 2/33rd Battalion. Feeling his position was vulnerable, he requested and received permission from Allen to withdraw back to Imita Ridge, with Allen stressing that there could be no further withdrawal. Eather commenced the withdrawal from 11:00 am, which Anderson describes as, "well-organised and orderly".[361][364]

Eather has been criticised, particularly by the author, Williams, for disengaging from battle too soon and ceding victory to Kusonose when the latter was at an impasse and frustrated. Having committed his reserve, Kusonose was still unable to break the Australian defence.[365][361]

Interlude – Imita Ridge

A 25-pounder gun of the 14th Field Regiment being pulled into position near Uberi. (AWM026855)

On 17 September, Eather was able to consolidate his position on Imita Ridge. The 2/33rd Battalion had been tasked to delay any further Japanese advance. A number of ambushes were set with mixed results.[366] The Australian position, near the head of the track substantially resolved the difficulty of supply and the force was soon to be bolstered by the arrival of the 16th Brigade.[367] Two 25-pounder guns of the 14th Field Regiment would at last be able to provide artillery support to Maroubra Force.[368][369]

As the Japanese had advanced from Brigade Hill, a programme of patrolling was instigated to secure the flank approaches to Port Moresby. This utilised the 2/6th Independent Company extensively to patrol from Laloki along the Goldie River toward Ioribaiwa and for other tasks.[370] Jawforce was raised from rear details of the 21st Brigade to patrol the eastern flank and approach from Nauro to Jawarere. Honner Force was raised with orders to attack Japanese supply lines between Nauro and Menari. Though the conceived plan came to nought through supply difficulties, it patrolled the western flank to the limit of its supply without encounter. [371][notes 43]

Upon reaching Ioribaiwa, the lead Japanese elements began to celebrate—from their vantage point on the hills around Ioribaiwa, the Japanese soldiers could see the lights of Port Moresby and the Coral Sea beyond.[373] They made no concerted attempt to advance on Eather's position at Imita Ridge.[366][374]

In this interlude, Eather patrolled toward Ioribaiwa, both to harass the Japanese and to gather intelligence on their disposition. By 27 September, he issued orders to his battalion commanders for an "all-out" assault the following day.[375] The attack found that Ioribaiwa had been abandoned and the artillery fired by the Australians had been without effect. Patrols followed up immediately, with one of the 2/25th Battalion finding that by 30 September, Nauro was unoccupied.[376] Ordered to withdraw, the position at Ioribaiwa had been abandoned by the last Japanese troops during the night of 26 September.[115]

Second phase – Australian counter-offensive

A map with Japanese and English characters on it, depicting the withdrawal of Japanese forces north over the Owen Stanley Range along the Kokoda Track. The route of the Japanese withdrawal is shown in black dotted arrows, while the advance of the Australian forces that followed them up is shown in red
The Japanese withdrawal along the Kokoda Track

The 25th Brigade, to which the 3rd Battalion was attached, commenced its advance against the Japanese and the 16th Brigade followed to occupy the positions on Imita Ridge. Allen was conscious of the supply difficulties he would encounter and moderated his advance accordingly but was pressured by Blamey and MacArthur to pursue what they perceived to be a fleeing enemy. In fact though, Horii's force had made a clean break and withdrawn back to a series of four defensive positions prepared in advance. These were the responsibility of the Stanley Detachment, which was based on the 2/144th Battalion. The first two positions were forward near the northern ends of the two tracks north from Kagi—the main Myola track and the original track, also known as the Mount Bellamy Track. The third position overlooked Templeton's Crossing, where the two tracks rejoined. The fourth position was at Eora Village.[377][378]

Second Battle of Eora Creek – Templeton's Crossing

On 10 October, Myola was reoccupied by the Australians. By 12 October, the 2/33rd Battalion was advancing toward Templeton's Crossing on the Myola Track and the 2/25th Battalion on the Mount Bellamy Track. The 16th Brigade was advancing on Menari to take up a position at Myola with the intention of taking the vanguard as the brigade moved through Templeton's Crossing.[379][380]

Australian advance to contact

Members of the 16th Brigade moving forward along the track. (AWM027054)

On the Myola track, the Stanley Detachment had deployed its main force in-line along the track in considerable depth and in well developed positions. A forward patrol of the 2/33rd Battalion contacted the most lightly held forward position on 10 October. The positions resisted a series of frontal and flanking manoeuvres. Through 14 October, the 3rd Battalion moved around the western flank to co-ordinate with the 2/33rd Battalion in an attack on 15 October. However, the attack found that the Japanese had already withdrawn.[381][382]

On the Mount Bellamy Track, the 2/25th Battalion met with the lesser Japanese force on 13 October and, after reporting the Japanese positions clear on 15 October, patrolled to Templeton's Crossing the following day.[383] These two engagements have subsequently been identified as the opening phase of the Second Battle of Templeton's Crossing – Eora Creek.[384]

Templeton's Crossing

The battalions of the 25th Brigade (less the 2/31st Battalion further back) reached the northern confluence of the tracks at Templeton's Crossing on 16 October. As the 3rd Battalion advanced, the Japanese position was identified in the late afternoon. It straddled the track on the high ground to the east of Eora Creek and 450 metres (500 yd) north of the crossing. The Stanley detachment had occupied two parallel spurs running toward the creek from the main ridgeline. Cameron, now commanding the 3rd Battalion, concentrated his force for an attack on the morrow. Attacks on 17 and 18 October were directed from the high ground on the Japanese eastern flank by the 3rd Battalion and A and D Companies of the 2/25th Battalion but failed to achieve a decisive outcome.[385][386]

During the morning of 19 October, the 2/2nd Battalion under Lieutenant Colonel Cedric Edgar pushed forward to assist the 3rd Battalion, while the remaining two battalions of the 16th Brigade, under the command of Brigadier John Lloyd relieved the 2/25th and 2/33rd Battalions. On 20 October, the 2/2nd Battalion mounted an attack employing four companies from the high-ground to the east. This attack was to be renewed the following day, 21 October, but the Stanley Detachment had withdrawn in the night. Horii's main force had been withdrawn to Kokoda–Oivi. When the Stanley Detachment was forced to withdraw from Templeton's Crossing, he sent all available reinforcement to man the final position at Eora Village.[387][388]

Eora Village

A log bridge on the track – first crossing of Eora Creek north of Myola. (AWM P02424.100)

The Australian advance then began toward Eora Village. As a patrol entered Eora Village at about 10:30 am, it was fired upon.[389] From the village, the track crossed log bridges over Eora Creek and a tributary before following along the western side of Eora Creek as it headed northward. Overlooking the village from the north was a spur-line rising to the west. It was here that the Japanese had prepared two defensive positions – one on the lower slopes of the spur and another much higher up. Anderson reports that the Japanese had spent nearly two months in fortifying the position. From these, they could bring fire from medium machine guns and five artillery pieces.[390][notes 44]

On the afternoon of 22 October, against representations from his battalion commanders,[notes 45] Lloyd ordered a frontal attack on the Japanese [lower] position. This commenced shortly after. Anderson describes what followed as being highly confused but, dawn of 24 October found the attacking force of battalion strength largely pinned down in front of the Japanese position, having suffered 34 killed and many more injured, with no prospect of success. Lloyd then ordered the 2/3rd Battalion under Lieutenant Colonel John Stevenson to attack down on the Japanese positions from the top of Eora Ridge (to the west) but this took two days to deploy to the forming-up point.[392][393]

The attack of the 2/3rd Battalion commenced in the morning of 27 October. Horii had ordered a withdrawal from the position on the night of 28 October. The 2/3rd Battalion resumed its attack on 28 October, co-ordinated with the remainder of the brigade. The position was now only lightly held by the 3rd/144th about to withdraw, and the situation turned into a rout.[394][395]

Occupation of Kokoda

Flag-raising ceremony after the capture of Kokoda. (AWM013572)

On 28 October, Vasey arrived at Myola to relieve Allen.[396] The Australian advance recommenced on 29 October. With a loss of positions that commanded the Gap and the approach to Port Moresby, Horii turned his attention to defending the beachheads at Buna–Gona. He concentrated his force around Oivi and Gorari. While a rearguard force screened his preparations, this was successively withdrawn without contact being made.[397][398]

Aola was entered on 30 October and airdrops the following day alleviated supply problems as the Australian line-of-communication extended from Myola. On 2 November, a patrol of the 2/31st Battalion entered Kokoda and found that it had been abandoned.[notes 46] At 3:30 pm the following day, Vasey led a flag-raising ceremony with hundreds present. The 7th Division could now land supplies at Kokoda. On 6 November, Vasey held a further ceremony in which he awarded medals and made gifts of trade-goods to the Papuans that had supported the Australians.[400]

Battle of Oivi–Gorari

From Kokoda, the route to Wairopi, and then, to Buna–Gona, was mainly easterly, whereas the advance from Eora Village was mainly to the north. On the main track from Kokoda to Waropi (at the crossing of the Kumusi River) Horii had constructed strong defensive positions, prepared several weeks before. These were centred on the heights overlooking Oivi, with a position in depth at Gorari, which also covered an approach from the southern parallel track. The 41st Regiment, with a battalion of the 144th Regiment and seven artillery pieces faced an advance from the west. Two battalions of the 144th Regiment held the position at Gorari and a track approaching from the south. The force headquarters was to the immediate rear.[398]

A 70 mm infantry gun captured during the fight at Oivi–Gorari. (AWM013644)

The 16th Brigade (including the 3rd Battalion) patrolled toward Oivi, making contact on 4 November. In fighting that continued until 6 November, it tried unsuccessfully to break the position. Vasey then committed the 25th Brigade, with the 2/1st Battalion attached, to an attack from the south toward Gorari. The brigade was to advance along the southern parallel track as far as Waju. The 2/1st Battalion leading, initially overshot this and had to retrace its steps but was ready to advance north on 7 November. Horii had become aware of the Australian movement and dispatched his two battalions at Gorari south along the connecting track. They established an all-round defence on a position near Baribe, about halfway between the two parallel tracks. Horii also called the 1st/144th back from Oivi to occupy the position left vacant at Goari.[398]

On 8 November, Eather contacted the position at Baribe, enveloping it with the 2/25th and 2/31st Battalions. On 9 November, the 2/33rd and 2/1st Battalions pushed around the Japanese position on the connecting track and advanced on Gorari, where they attacked the 1/144th Battalion and Horii's headquarters. Bombing and strafing attacks were also conducted against the Japanese positions near Oivi. By 10 November, Horii ordered a withdrawal but the situation for the Japanese had degenerated into a rout. Fighting had largely ceased by midday 11 November. The Japanese lost around 430 killed, around 400 wounded and abandoned fifteen artillery pieces among other material.[398][401]

Advance on Buna–Gona

Closing in on the Japanese beachhead, 16–21 November 1942

Most of the Japanese force withdrew to the Kumusi River and 1,200 are estimated to have made the crossing of the flooded river.[402] Horii was swept downstream and later drowned. Others followed the river downstream to the coast. Milner reports the strength gathered there as 900, under command of Colonel Yazawa.[8] The 25th Brigade contacted the Japanese rearguard near Wairopi on 12 November but these withdrew in the night. While most of Vasey's force was rested, patrols continued to search out Japanese survivors and engineers were dealing with the problem of establishing a bridgehead. The crossing of the two brigades was completed on the morning of 16 November and they began their advance on the Japanese beachheads. The 25th Brigade took the track toward Gona while the 16th Brigade advanced along the track toward Sanananda. Elements of the US 32nd Division were advancing on Buna by a coastal route from the southeast.[403][404]

Flanking move by US 32nd Division

The US 32nd Division had arrived in Australia in May.[405] With few US forces to choose from, General Douglas MacArthur ordered the divisional headquarters and two regimental combat teams from the 126th and 128th infantry regiments to deploy to Port Moresby. They arrived between 15 and 28 September 1942. On 11 September, MacArthur added a plan for the 126th Infantry Regiment to conduct a wide flanking move to the east with the goal to engage the Japanese rear near Wairopi. The 2nd Battalion 126th Regiment, with supporting elements attached, was tasked with traversing the track from Kapa Kapa to Jaure. From Jaure, at the headwaters of the Kumusi River, the force was to advance toward Wairopi. The little-used track from Kapa Kapa to Jaure was 137 kilometres (85 mi) long.[406]

Soldiers of the 128th Inf Regt on the move at Wanigela as they head towards Buna.

The 32nd established a position at Kalikodobu, nicknamed "Kalamazoo" by the GIs, a short distance along the track. From here, the main body of the 2nd Battalion departed on 14 October 1942. The battalion had assembled at Jaure by 28 October. The Americans were utterly unprepared for the extremely harsh conditions they faced which significantly delayed their advance.[407]

The planned envelopment of the Japanese forces never took place due to both the slow rate of the American advance and the unexpected, rapid withdrawal of the Japanese forces. While the 2/126th crawled over the Kapa Kapa Track, the balance of the 32nd Division was flown to newly developed advance airfields on the north side of the island. The 128th Regiment was flown to the most forward of these, located at Wanigella. From there, troops moved overland toward Buna or were ferried part of the way in coastal vessels, to meetup with Australian forces advancing on the Japanese beachheads.[408] The first units of the 2/126th arrived in Soputa on 20 November 1942.[409]

A similar proposal for attacking the Japanese rear near Wairopi was made by Brigadier Potts, following withdrawal of the 21st Brigade after Ioribaiwa. Chaforce, raised from battalions of the 21st Brigade (each contributing a company) was to be assigned the task of penetrating from Myola into the Kumusi River valley. With initial approval to advance to Myola, the operation was subsequently cancelled sometime shortly after 18 October 1942.[410]

Aftermath

Subsequent events

The Japanese at Buna–Gona were reinforced by fresh units from Rabaul. The joint Australian–United States Army operation faced a formidable defence that had been prepared well in advance of their arrival and the battle lasted until 22 January 1943. The 39th Battalion participated in the fighting at the beachheads and, following its withdrawal, was only able to parade about 30 members – its ranks having been greatly depleted by injury and illness. In March 1943 it was withdrawn back to Australia where it was disbanded in July 1943.[411]

While this campaign, Milne Bay and the sea battles of Coral Sea and Midway ended the threat to Australia, the Australian government continued to warn the citizenry until mid-1943, that an invasion was possible.[14] Allied operations against Japanese forces in New Guinea, including Operation Cartwheel and the Salamaua–Lae campaign, continued into 1945.[412]

Strengths and casualties

A total of 13,500 Japanese were ultimately landed in Papua for the fighting during the campaign.[2] Of these, about 6,000 or two regiments, were directly involved in the "forward areas" along the Track.[413][414] Against this, the Allies assembled approximately 30,000 troops in New Guinea,[notes 47] although at any one time no more than one infantry brigade, or approximately 3,500 troops, were involved in the fighting for most of the campaign.[61] In terms of total troops committed over the course of the campaign, author Peter Williams estimates that "more than twice as many Australians than Japanese fought on the Kokoda Track".[415]

Private Vasil (Basil) Albert 'Babe' Lucas initially enlisted on 20 June 1940, aged 15 and was killed in action on 25 November 1942. [notes 48] (AWM P00322.009)

Casualties amongst the Australians between 22 July and 16 November 1942 were 39 officers and 586 men killed and a further 64 officers and 991 men wounded, for a total of 625 killed and 1,055 wounded. Notably, three battalion commanders were killed or captured in the first month of fighting.[notes 49] Non-battle, or sickness, casualties are not accurately recorded but are stated to have been about two to three times the battle casualty figure.[416][5] The exact number of Japanese casualties is not known, although Williams estimates battle casualties at 2,050 between the initial fighting around Awala and the final battle at Oivi–Gorari.[4] Non-battle casualties, however, increase this figure and it is estimated that of the 6,000 troops, or five infantry battalions, that were committed to the fighting, up to 75% became casualties, being either killed, wounded or becoming ill.[5]

War crimes

During the Tokyo War Crimes trial after the war, there was not enough evidence to charge Japanese soldiers with acts of cannibalism. Some Japanese soldiers were tried and convicted in Australian-run military courts held in New Guinea.[417][418] The Japanese were also responsible for the torture and execution of both combatant and non-combatant personnel including two female missionaries, May Hayman and Mavis Parkinson, during the campaign. Though not limited to the early stages of the campaign, McCarthy recounts events in the initial phase of the Kokoda campaign. All of the Australian servicemen captured during the course of the campaign were executed.[419]

Australian soldiers also treated their opponents harshly. Most took a "no quarter" attitude, and killed Japanese personnel rather than attempt to take them prisoner in the infrequent occasions where Japanese troops attempted to surrender. Despite official instructions against doing so, Australian soldiers often took the personal possessions of dead Japanese and there were several instances where gold teeth were taken from corpses. These attitudes were influenced by a view that the Japanese were deceitful, a desire to exact revenge for atrocities committed against Allied personnel (including the killing of prisoners of war) and latent racism.[420]

Nomenclature

There is some debate as to whether the correct name for the route over the range is the "Kokoda Track" or "Kokoda Trail". The battle honour awarded for the campaign, as determined by the Battlefields Nomenclature Committee, is "Kokoda Trail". The Australian War Memorial has adopted "Trail", largely for this reason.[36]

Despite the historical use of "Trail", "Track" gained dominance in the 1990s, with the Australian Macquarie Dictionary stating that while both versions were in use, Kokoda Track "appears to be the more popular of the two".[421][notes 50]

Battle honours

For eligible Australian units, the battle honour "Kokoda Trail" was bestowed. Seven subsidiary honours were also bestowed. The honour, "Kokoda–Deniki" was awarded to the 39th Battalion and the Pacific Islands Regiment, which succeeded the PIB. The honour, "Efogi–Menari" was awarded for engagements between 6–9 September and included the battle at Brigade Hill–Mission Ridge. Other honours were: "Isurava", "Eora Creek–Templeton's Crossing I", "Ioribaiwa", "Eora Creek–Templeton's Crossing II" and "Oivi–Gorari". The 53rd Battalion did not receive any battle honour for the fighting during the Kokoda Track campaign.[384][423]

Significance of the campaign

Bomana War Cemetery, near Port Moresby, where Australians killed in the campaign have been buried

While the Gallipoli Campaign of World War I was Australia's first military test as a new nation, the fighting during the Kokoda campaign represents the first time in the nation's history that its security was directly threatened. The 1942 newsreel documentary, Kokoda Front Line! documented the Australian fighting during the campaign and brought the war home for many Australians. Filmed by Damien Parer, it won an Oscar for the documentary category – the first time an Australian film/documentary was awarded an Oscar.[notes 51] Curator, Poppy De Souza, observes: "This iconic newsreel contains some of the most recognised images of Australian troops in the Second World War, images that have contributed to the collective visual memory of the events at Kokoda. ...[quoting Parer] a war that seemed until this point 'a million miles away'".[424][425] Although it has since become accepted that an invasion of Australia was not possible, or even planned by the Japanese, at the time there was a very real belief within Australia that this was possible and as such the Kokoda campaign has come to be viewed by some as the battle that "saved Australia".[426] As a result, within the collective Australian psyche, the campaign and particularly the role of the 39th Battalion has become a key part of modern notions of the Anzac legend.[427] Indeed, the Battle of Isurava has been described as "Australia's Thermopylae",[428] although the key premise of this comparison—the idea that the Australians were outnumbered—has since been shown to be inaccurate.[429]

Nevertheless, the Allied campaign was hampered by the poor intelligence available, which included antiquated maps, unfamiliarity with the terrain, and limited aerial photography. Senior military commanders including MacArthur and Blamey were unaware of the extraordinarily difficult terrain and the extreme conditions in which the battles would be fought, and orders given to the commanders were sometimes unrealistic given the conditions on the ground.[430] In the end though, the strategy used against the Japanese in Papua—widely criticised at the time—led to an eventual, though costly, victory.[416] The American official historian Samuel Milner judged that "the only result, strategically speaking" of the Kokoda track campaign and subsequent fighting in Papua "was that after six months of bitter fighting and some 8,500 casualties, including 3,000 dead, the South West Pacific Area was exactly where it would have been the previous July had it been able to secure the beachhead before the Japanese got there".[431] More recently, Australian historian Nicholas Anderson has concluded that while the Kokoda Track was a significant Allied victory, it was less important to the outcome of the Pacific War than the defeat of the main Japanese effort at this time during the Guadalcanal Campaign.[432]

The campaign also served to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the individual soldiers and the lower level commanders.[416] Following this and the fighting that followed at Buna–Gona, the American and Australian armies would take steps to improve individual and unit training and medical and logistic infrastructure would also be greatly improved, with an increased focus upon air transport to solve the supply problem.[416][433] Within the Australian Army, there was a major restructure with the formation of Jungle divisions which addressed manpower issues and were more suited to operations in jungle environments. There was a significant reduction in the scale of motor transport, and Jeeps, with greater cross-country mobility, were employed rather than trucks. At battalion level, changes included increasing the number of mortars to eight, the addition of a machine gun platoon with four Vickers guns to enhance organic fire support, and a removal of the carrier platoon.[434] The Land Warfare Centre, as it is now known, was established at Canungra, Queensland, with an emphasis on training for jungle warfare.[432] Adrian Threlfall, in his thesis and subsequent book explores the challenges faced and how these shaped the Australian Army as a jungle warfare force.[435][436]

See also


References

Notes
  1. ^ Between the initial fighting around Awala and the final battle at Oivi–Gorari.
  2. ^ The figure is based on an estimated strength of 6,000 and a 75% rate. There is some difficulty in disentangling and distinguishing between the fighting that occurred "along the track" and the force that garrisoned Buna–Gona and was engaged in the battle that followed from 16 November 1942 to 22 January 1943.[6] The effective strength at Buna–Gona at the conclusion of the Kokoda Track campaign is generally quoted at about 5,500[7][8] but an estimate of 9,000 represents the total strength, including labour units, non-combat forces, sick and injured. This is based on the interrogation of Lieutenant General Hatazō Adachi at the end of the war. Adachi commanded the 18th Army, of which the Buna–Gona garrison was part.[8]
  3. ^ Milner refers to the strip at Buna as being "small and neglected".[31]
  4. ^ After the initial landing, it was quickly made trafficable for 60 kilometres (35 mi) from the coast to Sonbo.[35]
  5. ^ The Kokoda Track Commemorative web site[43] and James[44] give a cross-section of the track.
  6. ^ The 53rd Battalion received a significantly smaller proportion of these.
  7. ^ The strength here is from McCarthy.[76] The operational instruction gives a strength of 20 "white officers" and 280 "native" other ranks.
  8. ^ Some authors have stated that the order was to deploy "white troops" and indeed, this is what is recorded in the NGF War Diary,[78] however; the signal from LHQ required the deployment of "Australian infantry".
  9. ^ James refers to a "Uberi–Kokoda track report" of about July 1942, indicating that at the time, the start of the Kokoda track was considered to be Uberi.[82]
  10. ^ Anderson 2014, p. 25 reports that B Company of the 39th Battalion arrived at Kokoda on 14 July 1942. Some other sources (particularly McCarthy 1959, p. 117 and Brune 2003, p. 98) may report the arrival as 15 July. The company's arrival on 14 July can be confirmed against the war diaries of the 39th Battalion[85] and the 30th Brigade.[86]
  11. ^ Anderson 2014 uses "Maroubra Force" throughout for the forces fighting along the track. Situation reports issued by NGF Headquarters continued to identify the 7th Division as "Maroubra" until 17 November, effectively, the end of the Kokoda campaign and commencement of operations for the advance toward the beachheads at Buna and Gona.[87] For further details, see main article – Maroubra Force.
  12. ^ Haruki Yoshida 2017, p. 209 identifies Mawai as near Nauro.
  13. ^ Bullard reports that radio communication with Rabaul was based at Kokoda and that there was a lag in the order of three days each way in communications between the 17th Army headquarters and Horii's forward headquarters.[112] Bullard cites the message of 19 September but does not quote the contents. He does quote the subsequent order of 23 September.[111]
  14. ^ The vessel having arrived on 19 July.[121]
  15. ^ Anderson 2014, p. 31 reports that the reinforcement was made by a single plane in two flights; however, Kelly 2003, p. 354 identifies it was flown by two different planes of different types and is able to identify them by type. Moremon 2000, pp. 130–131 reports that there were only two transports at Port Moresby at the time, having just arrived from Australia, and one of these was declared unserviceable on arrival with engine problems. Anderson reports the flight time to Kododa as 20 minutes with there being 90 minutes between each fight landing at Kokoda.
  16. ^ A requisition to the US was made on 21 July for 5,000 parachutes and containers. An initial delivery of 1,000 parachutes (less containers) was sent by plane on 22 September, with the remainder, sent by ship.
  17. ^ Moremon 2000, pp. 180–181 reports that this was not initially adopted (until perhaps the latter part of August) and, had it been, it would have saved a great deal of manpower, with many thousands of blankets having been carried overland.
  18. ^ McCarthy gives an account of the progress that had been made and the methods employed as the Australians advanced in early to mid–October.[132]
  19. ^ The war diary of the 21st Brigade reports that on 4 September, one killed and two injured by an airdrop.[136]
  20. ^ Gillison appears to refer to the transports generically as "Dakotas". It is apparent from the other sources that the transport planes involved were a mix of civilian and military types rather than the Douglas C-47 Skytrain, to which this designation specifically applies.
  21. ^ Myola 2 was used as the main drop zone during the Australian advance. There are no reports identified, of finding remnants of such a large quantity of rations.
  22. ^ See caption for AWM photograph "P02424.085". for details. "150934". identifies the plane in that photograph as an Aeronca L-3 but the distinctive difference in the engine cowling identifies this as an L–1.
  23. ^ Pilger 1993, p. 60 is quite specific as to the evacuation being forward to Kokoda for cases that had to be carried even though McCarthy 1959, p. 317 and Walker 1956, pp. 76–77 are somewhat ambiguous in respect to what actually occurred. Moremon 2000, pp. 328–329 supports Pilger in this matter.
  24. ^ It fired the 7.7×58mm Arisaka round which was "heavier" than the 6.5×50mmSR Arisaka fired from the Type 38 Arisaka rifle. Though designated as a heavy machine gun at the time, it fired a rifle sized cartridge and is thereby generally considered to be a medium machine gun.
  25. ^ Sometimes referred to as a "quick fire" gun because of its rapid rate of fire. This should not be confused with the British nomenclature, where "quick fire" (abbreviated "QF" - as in, the Ordnance QF 25-pounder) referred to artillery that fire cartridges as opposed to a shell and separate charge bags.
  26. ^ Earlier sources refer to the Japanese using [medium] mortars and heavy mortars and it would appear that this gun has been identified as such.
  27. ^ At about this time, improvements increased the range to about 2,500 metres (2,700 yd).
  28. ^ The establishment of Vickers within battalions at the time is unclear and likely varied between Militia and AIF units. War diary entries for the 39th Battalion refer to its machine gun company at Deniki, while other sources refer to this as E Company. Hocking explains that following a reorganisation of the 6th Division's infantry battalions in late 1939, the machine gun platoons that had previously existed within each battalion were removed and centralised in a single unit at divisional level.[182]
  29. ^ Moremon 2000, p. 179 reports a message from NGF to Potts of 24 August that it intended to drop five 3–in mortars and 300 bombs each at Myola as soon as the ration situation permitted.
  30. ^ New Guinea Force Operation Instruction No. 24 of 18 August 1942.[209]
  31. ^ New Guinea Force Operation Instruction No. 26 of 9 September 1942.[234]
  32. ^ Lieutenant Colonel Minogue, a liaison officer from HQ NGF was forward with Allen, attending a conference at Myola on 23 October, but Blamey acted to relieve Allen before his report was received
  33. ^ This dressing-down indicates the intent of Blamey's subsequent address that day to the soldiers of the 21st Brigade.
  34. ^ Churchill wished to divert at least part of the force to Burma.
  35. ^ The second flight, was nearing Oivi at 5:30 pm. Misinformed that Oivi was lost it returned to Kokoda.[273]
  36. ^ McCarthy reports the force at Kokoda as 80, inclusive of the PIB, and notes two sections (nominally 20) left at Deniki under command of Lieutenant McClean. Williams gives a detailed tally of the force available to Owen, totalling 148, however; it is unclear whether this inclusive of McClean's detachment.[278][279]
  37. ^ There is a discrepancy among the sources about the reasons behind why the American pilots did not land. Keogh states that they were ordered to return to base by Morris, who was unable to determine whether the Australians still held Kokoda.[280] Brune, however, states that the pilots were not ordered to return to Port Moresby, but in fact refused to land due to fears that the Japanese would attack before they could take off again. According to eyewitnesses on one of the planes, the pilot repeatedly refused Lieutenant Lovell's demand that they land and that they could clearly see Australians clearing barricades from the airfield, indicating that the 39th Battalion still held the airfield.[281] There is also some confusion as to who was on the aircraft and when this occurred. McCarthy and McAulay also recount that the event occurred on 28 July.[282][283] However, the NGF war diary reports the incident as being on 27 July. It refers to the pilot observing "our troops and natives" removing barriers and a radio signal recalling the plane. The preceding entry in the diary was at 4:00 pm the previous day from Maroubra, advising that Kokoda "could not now be held" as the position at Oivi had been "surrounded and abandoned". The entry of 27 July records that the two planes had been sent before the message from Maroubra had been received.[284] The war diary of the 39th Battalion is consistent with that of NGF, in stating that two planes containing troops of the 39th Battalion arrived over Kokoda on 27 July and returned without landing. It reports that these troops were from D Company and that Lieutenant Lovell, the battalion's adjutant, was also on board.[285] Milner reports the flight of planes on 27 July, but none subsequently during the first battle.[286] Williams goes further, saying that the planes of 28 July contained reinforcements from D Company of the 49th Battalion. When Owen reoccupied Kokoda he requested reinforcements and Morris issued orders for a company of the 49th Battalion and 3 Platoon (mortars) of the 39th Battalion to be air lifted to Kokoda early on 29 July.[287] The succeeding entries in the diary record the loss of Kokoda in the early morning of 29 July and that arrangements for air transport of reinforcements to Maroubra were "again suspended".[284] Orders that the reinforcement planned for 29 July was to be drawn from 49th Battalion are confirmed by the battalion's war diary, with flights due for departure at 6:00 am on 29 July.[288]
  38. ^ It is also referred to in some sources as E Company.[304][303] See also McAulay 1992a, p. 58
  39. ^ Moremon 2000, pp. 191–192 observes that the withdrawal was constrained by the rate at which casualties could be evacuated, particularly given that the Japanese were known to kill any that might fall into their hands. This dictated that the withdrawal was fought by relatively short bounds where longer bounds might otherwise have been preferable and allowed for a clean break to have been made earlier.
  40. ^ Determined from map (Anderson 2014, p. 90).
  41. ^ Williams 2012, p. 143, clarifies Eather's status as commander of Maroubra force: "Although Eather was not officially placed in command of Maroubra Force until 17 September, he exercised command at Ioribaiwa under the instructions of his divisional commander, Major General Arthur Allen, and with the compliance of Porter. Having consulted Porter, already on the ridge, Eather decided to leave Porter blocking the track while using his own brigade to swing around both flanks..."
  42. ^ A Company of the 2/33rd Battalion was initially tasked to attack but found the terrain too difficult. D Company was then committed.
  43. ^ Part of this responsibility fell to the 6th Division which, at about this time consisted of the 21st and 30th Brigades, the 2/6th Independent Company and the newly arrived US 128th Regiment.[372]
  44. ^ Of note, battle maps provided by McCarthy indicate heavy mortars and a mountain gun.[391]
  45. ^ They favoured an attack from the west, down onto the position, as had been used to break the position at Templeton's Crossing.
  46. ^ On 25 October, a patrol of the 2/6th Independent Company under Lieutenant Frederick Winkle entered Kokoda and withdrew when eventually fired upon.[399]
  47. ^ A figure quoted by Blamey to the Australian Advisory War Council on 17 September 1942 and cited by McCarthy 1959, p. 234. This figure was for the defence of the Australian territories and not just concentrated to defend against the advance from Kokoda.
  48. ^ Private Vasil (Basil) Albert 'Babe' Lucas enlisted on 20 June 1940, aged 15, with the service number NX33033. Pte Lucas had put his age up to enlist. He was discharged on 17 November 1940 and re-enlisted on 4 April 1941 in 2/3 Battalion. He served in Syria, Bardia and Tobruk and later in New Guinea on the Kokoda Track. He was killed in action on 25 November 1942 after an advanced dressing station to which he had been admitted with scrub typhus was strafed by Japanese aircraft. He was one of nine brothers from the Lucas family who enlisted from the Bega district. Many of the brothers had multiple enlistments and some enlisted together and served together for periods of time.
  49. ^ These were: Owen, of the 39th Battalion; Ward, of the 53rd Battalion; and, Key, of the 2/14th Battalion who was captured and subsequently executed.
  50. ^ In his 2009 study, James reviews the issue in detail and concludes no definitive historical basis for preferring one over the other.[422]
  51. ^ It was shared with three other winners.
Citations
  1. ^ McCarthy 1959, p. 234.
  2. ^ a b McCarthy 1959, p. 146.
  3. ^ McCarthy 1959, pp. 334–335.
  4. ^ a b Williams 2012, p. 235.
  5. ^ a b c Coulthard-Clark 1998, p. 223.
  6. ^ James 2009, p. 72.
  7. ^ McAulay 1992b, p. 12.
  8. ^ a b c Milner 1957, p. 144 and note 48.
  9. ^ Wigmore 1957, p. 490.
  10. ^ Dennis et al. 2008, pp. 458, 468.
  11. ^ Grey 1999, p. 171.
  12. ^ Day 1999, pp. 452–457.
  13. ^ Stanley 2008, p. 156.
  14. ^ a b Stanley 2007, p. 29.
  15. ^ Williams 2012, p. 10.
  16. ^ Horner 1993, pp. 4–5.
  17. ^ James 2013, p. 200.
  18. ^ a b Bullard 2007, pp. 96–99.
  19. ^ James 2013, p. 202.
  20. ^ Milner 1957, pp. 40–42.
  21. ^ a b Keogh 1965, p. 166.
  22. ^ Milner 1957, pp. 43–44.
  23. ^ Milner 1957, pp. 51–55.
  24. ^ War Diary: New Guinea Force Headquarters and General (Air). "AWM52 1/5/51/15: July 1942, part 2, appendices" (PDF). Australian War Memorial. pp. 5–6 (of pdf). Retrieved 13 May 2017.
  25. ^ a b War Diary: New Guinea Force Headquarters and General (Air). "AWM52 1/5/51/14: July 1942, part 1" (PDF). Australian War Memorial. pp. 34–36 (of pdf). Retrieved 13 May 2017.
  26. ^ War Diary: AWM52 1/1/1 – General Staff (Operations) General Staff (Staff Duties) Land Headquarters (LHQ G(Ops) and (SD)). "AWM52 1/1/1/11: July – August 1942" (PDF). Australian War Memorial. pp. 23–26 & 36 (of pdf). Retrieved 13 May 2017.
  27. ^ a b Keogh 1965, p. 155.
  28. ^ McAulay 1992a, p. 16.
  29. ^ Brune 2003, pp. 84–85.
  30. ^ Ham 2004, pp. xvi–xvii, 47.
  31. ^ Milner 1957, p. 50.
  32. ^ Bullard 2007, p. 98.
  33. ^ McCarthy 1959, p. 110.
  34. ^ Milner 1957, p. 61.
  35. ^ a b c Bullard 2007, p. 107.
  36. ^ a b James 2009, p. 60.
  37. ^ a b Kienzle 2011, p. 123.
  38. ^ Keogh 1965, p. 171.
  39. ^ Collie & Marutani 2009, p. 55.
  40. ^ Keogh 1965, p. 17.
  41. ^ Kienzle 2011, p. 110.
  42. ^ Pérusse 1993, p. 98.
  43. ^ a b "Topography of Kokoda". The Kokoda Track. Australian Government Department of Veterans Affairs. Archived from the original on 14 March 2015. Retrieved 29 November 2014.
  44. ^ James 2009, trek map.
  45. ^ a b James 2009, p. 32.
  46. ^ McCarthy 1959, pp. 109–110.
  47. ^ Walker 1956, pp. 12, 70–71, 108–124.
  48. ^ Anderson 2014, pp. 125–126.
  49. ^ James 2009, p. 20.
  50. ^ Walker 1956, p. 72.
  51. ^ Smith 2000, p. 25.
  52. ^ Bullard 2007, pp. 99–100.
  53. ^ a b Bullard 2007, p. 106.
  54. ^ Bullard 2007, pp. 101–105.
  55. ^ Bullard 2007, pp. 109–113.
  56. ^ Bullard 2007, p. 131.
  57. ^ a b Bullard 2007, p. 142.
  58. ^ Bullard 2007, pp. 134–136.
  59. ^ Bullard 2007, p. 132.
  60. ^ a b c Bullard 2007, p. 134.
  61. ^ a b McCarthy 1959, p. 334.
  62. ^ a b Bullard 2007, p. 135.
  63. ^ Anderson 2014, p. 26.
  64. ^ a b Bullard 2007, p. 140.
  65. ^ a b Anderson 2014, p. 22.
  66. ^ McCarthy 1959, p. 44.
  67. ^ Brune 2003, p. 561.
  68. ^ Anderson 2014, p. 23.
  69. ^ McCarthy 1959, pp. 44–45.
  70. ^ Bullard 2007, p. 40.
  71. ^ Milner 1957, pp. 39–42.
  72. ^ Anderson 2014, p. 47.
  73. ^ Milner 1957, pp. 74, 76.
  74. ^ Anderson 2014, p. 22; McCarthy 1959, pp. 45, 114.
  75. ^ War Diary: New Guinea Force Headquarters and General (Air). "AWM52 1/5/51/13: June 1942" (PDF). Australian War Memorial. pp. 49–50 (of pdf). Archived (PDF) from the original on 4 November 2016. Retrieved 3 May 2017.
  76. ^ McCarthy 1959, p. 114.
  77. ^ War Diary: AWM52 1/1/1 – General Staff (Operations) General Staff (Staff Duties) Land Headquarters (LHQ G(Ops) and (SD)). "AWM52 1/1/1/10: June 1942, part 2, appendices" (PDF). Australian War Memorial. p. 84 (of pdf). Retrieved 3 May 2017.
  78. ^ War Diary: New Guinea Force Headquarters and General (Air). "AWM52 1/5/51/13: June 1942: New Guinea Force Headquarters" (PDF). Australian War Memorial. p. 8 (of pdf). Archived (PDF) from the original on 4 November 2016. Retrieved 3 May 2017.
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Bibliography

Further reading

External links

Coordinates: 8°52′39.95″S 147°44′14.99″E / 8.8777639°S 147.7374972°E / -8.8777639; 147.7374972