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PLAQUE NO. 106 ... INTRODUCTION PLAQUE (TOP HILL)

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This "Kokoda Trail Walk" has been created to help us appreciate the courage and sense the fortitude displayed by the men who fought on the Kokoda Trail in Papua New Guinea in 1942.

The Kokoda Trail was of a similar width to this path in the Dandenongs but was surrounded to left and right by a dank; impenetrable and hostile jungle. Concealed from view lurked an enemy invisible even at 10 metres. Imagine the courage displayed by those soldiers who had to take the lead in the advance along the trail.

Along this walk are information plaques which are similar to plaques erected along the actual trail by the author in 1992, fifty years after the battle. These plaques explain the significance of different points along the Kokoda Trail and the map provides some understanding of the very rugged topography over which the almost 100 kilometre trail passes.

The Dandenong plaque is a compilation of the text on the five large Kokoda plaques in PNG. The plaque was unveiled by Mr. Hugh Morgan A.O., CEO of WMC Ltd. and an officer of the 39th Battalion in 1997. WMC has been a most generous supporter of the plaques on many occasions. Parks Victoria provided great logistic support and the installation of all the small plaques was performed by the Australian Army Reserve. The project was jointly initiated by The Hon. Kim Wells MLA and the sculptor in 1997.


Kokoda Trail Plaques - Master Text.


The Japanese attack on Port Moresby in May 1942 was repulsed at the battle of the Coral Sea, a month later their navy was severely damaged at the Battle of Midway. These events prompted another approach to Moresby and on 22 July, 2,000 Japanese were landed near Gona with the aim of crossing the Owen Stanley Range via the tortuous Kokoda Trail (track).

During the next week 80 Australians and Papuans fought delaying actions, culminating in a battle at Kokoda Village. The Japanese force rose to 10,000 whilst advancing along the Kokoda Trail. They were constantly delayed by defensive action particularly at Isurava and Brigade Hill. However, by mid- September the Australians (reduced from 3,000 to 300 men) were forced back to Imita Ridge, 42 km from Moresby,

The Japanese were then ordered to withdraw as their 5,000 remaining men and supplies were totally exhausted, and their army at Guadacanal (Solomon Islands) was on the defensive against the Americans.

On 23 September the Australians, now 2,600 strong, moved northwards to recover the trail, encountering major opposition only at Templeton's and Era creek. Kokoda was entered unopposed on 2 November. The Japanese rearguard was destroyed near Gorari.

5,000 Japanese survived and joined 4,000 fresh troops around Gona and Buna, Australian and American forces captured these strongholds by January 1943 incurring heavy casualties on both sides.

The Papuan carriers played an important role in the defence of the Kokoda Trail, they transported Australian casualties and supplies. Their loyalty will be remembered forever.

 



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