07 February 2008

Kokoda Trail

 My father was an Australian soldier (VX19184) who fought in the Kokoda Trail campaign in the Owen Stanley Ranges in Papua New Gineau in WWII. He told me about it as I grew up. Some time after he died I read official histories of the campaign which differed from his account. Since then many people have written about the campaign on the web. There is a selection of web pages below and mostly confirm my father's accounts over the official record.

A closer look at the web pages shows that most of them were written by children of privates and NCOs, people who would have received the same stories as me growing up. Therefore it is possible that the consensus in the links below reflects the time where children of the soldiers are reaching their 50s and 60s and their opinions dominate discusssions

Re-examining the original sources should shed some light on this. I will do this in a later post.

9th Platoon A Company 2/14th Battalion
Group photo 16th August 1942

Battle of Isurava (26th-30th August 1942) in the Kokoda Campaign 
Teddy Bear gets surprisingly little credit in the following links.
http://www.jahitchcock.com/kokoda.html Matches my father's account
http://www.kokodaspirit.com/writing-history/kokoda-campaign-trail-world-war-2.htm from the 39th Battalion's perspective
Brigade Hill to Mission Ridge


Johnny Metson
After the battle for Isurava a group of wounded returned to Port Morseby. John Metson whose ankle had been smashed by a bullet dragged himself along on his hands and knees so that the party would not be slowed by carried wounded in stretches. Eventually this crawling proved too slow and the stretcher cases including Metson were left at Sangai while the main party were led by Ben Buckler to Port Moresby. The stretcher cases were all killed by the Japanese when they took Sangai

Australia in the War of 1939–1945. Series 1 – Army - Volume V

Isurava: The Last Parade has this piece

The next four days at Isurava are best described by Bill Russell in his history of the 2/14th Battalion. He wrote: “mortar bombs and mountain gun shells burst in the tree tops showering the troops with shrapnel which crashed through to burst on the ground where the noise was de-doubled by the confined space of the jungle. Heavy machine guns cut their own lanes of fire as they chopped through small trees and ricocheted off large trees. Easily concealed snipers fired on our men as they desperately tried to scratch out shallow body holes with tin hats and bayonets.
Second World War Diaries - AWM52, 2/14 Infantry Battalion
    http://www.awm.gov.au/cms_images/AWM52/8/AWM52-8-3-14-035.pdf page 15 has 9 platoon

2/14th Battalion

Second World War Diaries - AWM52 - 2/14 Infantry Battalion Second World War Diaries - AWM52, Item 8/3/14 - 2/14 Infantry Battalion

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