AN HISTORICAL ACCOUNT
ONE: 3 January 1942, Port Moresby is garrisoned by raw Militia troops of the 30th Infantry Brigade. Conveyed from Australia by the AQUITANIA.
TWO: Troops from Major General Tomitaro Horii's Nankai Shitai (South Seas Detached Force) embarked on OPERATION NORTH AUSTRALIA and landed on Rabaul on 23 January. On 8 March the Nankai Shitai land at Lae and Salamaua.
THREE: 7 July 1942, B Company 39th Battalion (Bn) leaves Ilolo to cross the Owen Stanley Range to provide a protective force for American Engineers building an airstrip at Dobodura.
FOUR: The Japanese Advance Force 15th Independent Engineer Regiment leaves Rabaul on 20 July and lands at Basabua, approximately 1km east of Gona Mission on 21 July.
FIVE: 22 July 1942, the Japanese encounter their first resistance, about 1km east of Awala. 11 Platoon 39th Bn faces a Japanese force far superior in numbers. Out-numbered and out-gunned, the 39th begins a tenacious fighting withdrawal to Kokoda.
SIX: The Japanese attack Kokoda on 28 July. The 39th Bn Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Owen, is mortally wounded and the 39th is driven out of Kokoda and falls back to Deniki.
SEVEN: A Company, 39th Bn retakes Kokoda from a handful of Japanese troops on 8 August, and holds Kokoda Plateau for 2 ½ days.
EIGHT: The 21st Infantry Brigade (Australian Imperial Forces & AIF) arrives in Port Moresby from Australia on 12 August. The 2/14th and 2/16th Bn's are sent up the Track.
NINE: The 39th digs in at Isurava on 14 August.
TEN: Major General Horii lands at the Buna-Gona beachhead on 18 August with the Main Force of the Shitai numbering approximately 7,000 troops. Including the 144th Regiment from Kochi, SHIKOKU.
ELEVEN: The Japanese attack Isurava at first light on 26 August with three battalions. The leading elements of the 2/14th Bn arrive that afternoon. The 39th Bn refuses to be relieved, as the Australians are hugely outnumbered. On 29 August Private Bruce Kingsbury of the 2/14th, armed with a Bren gun clears a path of more than 100m through the enemy. Kingsbury is posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross. 30 August Major General Horii, frustrated at the delay, throws his huge reserve into the attack, and the Australians begin their fiercely fought withdrawal from Isurava.
TWELVE: Night 25-26 August Japanese land at Milne Bay.
THIRTEEN: Between 31 August and 15 September the Australians against vastly superior numbers, fight an adroitly executed series of tactical withdrawals. Company by company, platoon by platoon, they defend until their comrades pass through their lines, break off contact sometimes only 20m to 30m from the enemy and repeat the process again and again down the Track. The Commander of the 21st Brigade, Brigadier Arnold Potts digs in with 1000 troops at Mission Ridge on 5 September. The ridge, rising south of Efogi, is later called Brigade or Butchersí Hill. At 4.30am on 8 September Major General Horii, outnumbering the Australians by more than six to one launches a three-pronged attack on the Australian's front, rear and flank. The forward position repels eight attacks that morning, but Potts' Headquarters is cut off. Potts is unable to dislodge the Japanese, and in fading light the Australians withdraw. Although Potts suffers heavy casualties, he succeeds in delaying the Japanese by a crucial three days.
FOURTEEN: The Japanese are defeated at Milne Bay on 6 September.
FIFTEEN: By 11 September, the Australians have withdrawn to Ioribaiwa. The Commander of the 25th Brigade, Brigadier General Ken Eather, plans to launch a twin flanking movement against the Japanese. But the 2/31st Battalion is disoriented and briefly lost in its left flank thrust, and the 3rd Battalion on the right flank is routed by a strong Japanese patrol, which is able to occupy the high ground between the 3rd and the 2/31st
SIXTEEN: Imita Ridge is a natural defensive position. It enables Brigadier Eather to strike out with strong patrols and to deploy artillery for the first time in the campaign. By 21 September Brigadier Eather's patrols are dominating no-man's land between Imita Ridge and Ioribaiwa. In October, the Japanese receive the orders "advance to the rear" and begin a fighting withdrawal along the Owen Stanleys.
SEVENTEEN: 2 November 1942 the village of Kokoda is reoccupied.
EIGHTEEN: By the time the Japanese are driven into the sea at Sananada on 22 January 1943 more than 13,000 Japanese and 2,000 Australians have been killed.
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