The Kokoda Track | Australians in World War II | The Pacific War

Exploring the site of the battle fought by Australians in World War II

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  • New Guineans on the Kokoda Track

    Sergeant Sanopa thumbnail

    The great majority of the 20,000 New Guineans who participated in the campaign did so as carriers of supplies for the Allies, though 800 men from the Papuan Infantry Battalion and the Royal Papuan Constabulary fought against the Japanese in 1942. more ...

  • Animated Battle Maps

    Animated Battle Maps thumbnail

    There were a number of key battles in the Papuan campaign. In the initial stages the Australians were forced to withdraw on numerous occasions, but as the tide turned they they were able to push the Japanese back to Gona and the coast. more ...

  • A Kokoda Timeline

    Kokoda Timeline thumbnail

    On July 7 1942 Australian troops (Maroubra Force) began operations along the Kokoda track. On July 21 Japanese forces landed near Buna and Gona on the north-east shore of Papua New Guinea. View an interactive timeline of the Kokoda campaign within the larger Pacific War. more ...

  • Track or Trail?

    Native bearers carrying wounded thumbnail

    Kokoda track or the Kokoda trail? The official name is the Kokoda trail, but this term is rarely used in Australia. Pre-war documents referred to it as the 'overland mail route' and the 'Buna road' . Locally it is now called the Kokoda dala or Kokoda road and 'Kokoda road' was sometimes used during the war. more ...

  • Why Port Moresby?

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    Port Moresby was important because any Allied attack north through New Guinea towards Rabaul required Port Moresby as a base. Similarly for any attack south towards Australia, the Japanese required Port Moresby. more ...

  • A Fighting Retreat

    Lieutenant Colonel William Taylor Owen thumb

    At the first of two engagements at Kokoda the Japanese defeated Lieutenant Colonel Owen's force and captured the airstrip from which they expected to receive supplies from Rabaul. The combined Papuan/Australian force fell back to Deniki. more ...

  • The Stand at Isurava

    Soldiers of 2/14th Infantry Battalion thumbnail

    In late August both the Australians and the Japanese were greatly reinforced and prepared for a decisive battle at Isurava. While the Japanese were victorious they failed to achieve their main objective - the total destruction of Maroubra Force. more ...

  • Retaking Kokoda

    Kokoda Plateau

    In the morning fog on 25 October 1942, while the two armies fought at Eora-Templeton's 25 km to the south, Winkle, having come from an Australian patrol base in the Yodda valley, crossed the Kokoda airstrip and entered Kokoda Government Station. more ...

  • The Decisive Moment

    Australian burial party thumbnail

    As a result of the decisive defeat suffered by the Japanese at Oivi-Gorari they abandoned their plan to take Port Moresby and turned their attention to holding their base at Buna-Gona. The Japanese cut through the surrounding Australian infantry and retreated to the coast. more ...

  • Casualties

    Casualties of war thumbnail

    Casualty statistics are not reliable in every category. Numbers for those killed in action are accurate but Australians evacuated sick during the campaign can only be estimated. The situation is much worse when assessing the losses of the Imperial Japanese Army and Navy. more ...

Four Peoples at War

Overview

In Papua from July 1942 to January 1943 over 120,000 people from four regions fought, or supported the fighting troops...

28 November 1942, Papua. During the Australian-American advance on Buna two American soldiers dress the wounds of an Australian. [Photo: George Silk] [AWM 013953]
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The largest group were Australians, 56,000 of whom were at one time or another either in Papua or involved in air and sea operations there. The Americans, allied to the Australians, contributed 24,000 men. Their enemy the Japanese had 27,000 men, some not from Japan but from its empire, involved in Papuan operations. About 18,000 people from what is now Papua New Guinea, but was then the Australian Territories of Papua and New Guinea, fought, scouted and carried supplies for both sides.

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Teaching and Learning Activities for the Classroom

Four Peoples at War

Each of the four peoples at war in Papua had different opinions about the war. The aim of this exercise is for you to consider all four perspectives.

First look at a world map so you know where these people came from. Then read the text about them. Now imagine you are being interviewed by a war correspondent. Consider how you would answer the war correspondent's questions, first from the New Guinean viewpoint. Then put on your ‘American hat’ and answer the same questions. Then try it as a Japanese and finally as an Australian. Write a one sentence answer to each question.

Download and print text and questions (PDF, 3 pages 64 KB)