SCUBAPRO Sunday – Kokoda Track Campaign WW2

The 3rd of  November is Kokoda in Australia. The Kokoda campaign began with a full-scale attack on the Australian 39th Militia Battalion on 29 July 1942.  The battle lasted three months as the Australians were pushed back to their last line of defense on Imita Ridge. The Australians rallied at this point and forced the Japanese back across the track.  Kokoda was recaptured on 2nd November 1942, and the Australian flag was raised at a service the following day.

The Kokoda Track/Trail Campaign was fought between the Australians, the Americans, ,and the Japanese. It was primarily fought between the Aussies and the Japanese. The campaign consisted of a series of battles fought between July and November 1942 in what was then the Australian Papua New Guinea    

Kokoda was undoubtedly the most significant battle fought by Australians in the Second World War because it was fought so close to home. The Kokoda campaign saved Australia from possible invasion from the Japanese. Port Moresby held a robust tactical position and preventing the Japanese from reaching it was vital. The battle was fought over five months, and the odds were stacked heavily in favor of the Japanese, they outnumbered the Aussies 5-1, they had much better equipment, and a lot more of it, and at the time were considered the best jungle fighters in the world. The astounding feats performed by the Australian soldiers lead to the growth of Australia as a nation.
The Australian troops had to save Port Moresby from getting invaded from the Japanese because if so, the Japanese could have easily invaded Australia. The Australian forces fought exceptionally well in the harsh and unforgiving jungle of the Kokoda Track/ Trail. There were more than 600 Allies killed, and about 75% of the allied troops got sick, with diseases like malaria, dengue fever, and dysentery, to name a few. 

The Australians fought against all the odds and without the help of Great Britain. It was also fought mainly by Militia (reserve) troops or “chocolate soldiers” as the Australian Imperial Forces (AIF) called them because they were poorly trained, and it was said, “they would melt in the heat of battle.” At the start of the war, Australia sent its best troops the AIF to the middle east to help the brits. So, they stood up Militia Battalions to serve in Australia, to protect the homeland. Still, they used the loophole that Papua New Guinea was a territory, so they sent the 39th Militia there to help protect the island. This was one of the hardest fought battles in WW2 by anyone. I have attached a couple of links so you can read about this. As a lot of military units are getting back into the jungle, this is full of useful lessons learned and is an excellent piece of history. So raise a beer to the diggers and all the people that have gone before us.  





3 Responses to “SCUBAPRO Sunday – Kokoda Track Campaign WW2”

  1. nattydreadbushdoc says:

    Kokoda story can’t be told without mentioning the “Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels”. Look it up it’s an amazing story.

    Also may want to research the “Bougainville Civil War” if you are interested in a case study jungle warfare. The VC didn’t have anything on the bushmen of Papua New Guinea.

  2. Linz says:

    One of the cold blooded decision of the campaign was needing a few extra days to prep the defence of Port Moresby.
    So the worst Militia Bn was sent up the Track to buy time…and stripped of heavy weapons.
    It worked.

  3. russel Bendix says:

    Read Paul Ham’s “Kokoda”, an excellent book.