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Papua New Guinea

The Japanese had been convincingly defeated but the price of the Kokoda victory was high. The Australians had 7,500 men on the Kokoda Trail, of whom 625 died and 1,055 were wounded. Tropical diseases, such as dysentery, were a major problem and resulted in three times the number of hospitalisations when compared to battle casualties. The Japanese started the Kokoda campaign with 13,500 men and later brought 9,000 reinforcements to the northern coastal areas. In excess of 12,000 Japanese perished but no specific records were kept of their casualties in the mountain fighting.

The fighting continued in PNG long after Australia had won the battle on the Kokoda Trail.  Within months of pushing the Japanese back to the coast, a big battle occurred around Buna where over 1,500 Australians and 650 Americans were killed. Fighting in northern areas of PNG continued for another three years and, in all, over 300,000 Australians served in the region during the war.

Line up exactly the two photos on these two opposing pages. Can we run the figures 1942 vertically up the photo on the right and 1992 up the right of photo on page 27?

1942  - near Brigade Hill (Menari Village) on the Kokoda Trail, some of the few remaining soldiers of the 39th battalion (Vic) parade after weeks of fighting in dense jungle. Their uniforms are in tatters and their faces drawn but they have slowed the Japanese advance.


World War II - Pacific

After Kokoda, the Japanese suffered repeated defeats at the hands of the Allies throughout the Pacific. The Americans were in overall command in the Pacific region and received significant support from Britain, the Netherlands and Australia.  Slowly the Allies forced the Japanese to retreat toward their homeland. The war ended abruptly in August 1945 when atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. 

The Second World War was the most devastating in history with millions of men and women killed. Australians who died numbered thirty-seven thousand.


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