July 1942 (1)

Kokoda Trail, Papua, New Guinea

Kokoda Trail, Papua, New Guinea

 

2 July – MacArthur decided to secure the Papuan Peninsula and land 3,000 additional Australian troops, but the enemy had moved faster.  Operation Providence for New Guinea could not now be rushed.  Only a few hundred native militia and one company (500) of the 29th Australian Infantry stood in defense from a powerful enemy.

Kokoda, only airstrip for a hundred miles

Kokoda, only airstrip for a hundred miles

4 July – American submarines torpedoes 4 enemy destroyers around the Aleutian Island in Alaska; 3 at Kiska and one at Agatter.  Three of the Japanese vessels sank.

7-12 July – Australian troops made a five-day march across the Owen Stanley Mountains in southern Papua, New Guinea.  They set up defensive positions along the Kokoda Trail which snaked from coast to coast.

21-29 July – the Japanese 18th Army landed at Buna, New Guinea on the northern coast of Papua in a renewed attempt to move across the Owen Stanley Mts. and take Port Moresby.  Under MGen. Tomitaro Horii, 13,000 troops and 1,000 bearers, in his South Seas Force, marched in for a surprise attack.  Should this operation be successful, Port Moresby would become the launching  site for the bombing and invasion of Queensland.  The impossible conditions of this territory would be the site of some of the bloodiest and most desperate fighting of the entire war.

William Owen

William Owen

Australian commander, Lt.Colonel William Taylor Owen, 39th Battalion, of Leongatha, Victoria, lost his life during this battle in the mountainous, rain-soaked jungles along with many of his men.  Owen was taking part in close fighting with the enemy in the most forward position in Seekamp’s sector, on the very lip of the plateau.  He was throwing grenades when a bullet struck him and he died on 29 July 1942, aged 37 years.  Owen was the first Australian to receive the American Distinguished Service Cross.

Horii’s specially jungle-trained troops by-passed a few Australian positions to take the town.  One of the Japanese diaries found, read: “The sun is fierce here.  We make our way through the jungle where there are no roads.  The jungle is beyond description.  Thirst for water, stomach empty.”  The north African combat experienced 7th Australian Division were in the process of being shipped to Papua as MacArthur spoke at a press conference, “We’ll defend Australia in New Guinea.  We must attack, attack, attack!”

Australian 7th Division, New Guinea

Australian 7th Division, New Guinea

MGen. George C. Kenney arrived to take over the Southwest Pacific Forces Air Command of 245 planes of which only 50 were serviceable.  He too would share in the discomfort of the territory where the poor diet of MVs (canned meat and Vegetables) would cause his flyers to lose about 30 lbs. in a single tour of duty.  Malaria began to break out.  But the men still had a sense of humor and joked about the “New Guinea salute,” the constant act of swatting away the swarms of black flies.

The 80 Australians, now without their commander, and up against 400 of the enemy, were forced to retreat.  A local planter recalled the scene: “The thick white mist dimming the moonlight, the mysterious veiling of trees, houses and men, the drip of moisture from the foliage, and at the last, the almost complete silence, as if the rubber groves of Kokoda were sleeping as usual in the depths of the night and the men had not brought the disturbance.”

Click on images to enlarge.

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31 March – RAAF – 94th Birthday

AFlogo

No. 4 Squadron in front of their Boomerang, Nadzab, New Guinea

No. 4 Squadron in front of their Boomerang, Nadzab, New Guinea

Animated-Happy-Birthday-banner-spinning

Cropped Lancaster

Cropped Lancaster

h-4

Air Marshall Sir Richard Williams, “Father of the RAAF”

 

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 Humor – 

Somebody catch that guy and give him a piece of cake!!

Somebody catch that guy and give him a piece of cake!!

air-force-funny

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Farewell Salutes – 

Ronald Allan – Toowoomba, AUS; RA Air Force # 43610, WWII

Geoffrey Byrne – Victoria, AUS; RAAF, WWII

courtesy of Stockresearch521

courtesy of Stockresearch52 [link below]

John Credlin – Bundoora, AUS; RAAF & 2nd AIF, WWII

Bernard Dwyer – Torquay, AUS; RSSF # A15841

Glen Farrow – Cameron Park, AUS; RAAF, 77th Squadron

Harold Johnson – England; British Army, WWII, CBI, The Royal Artillery, bombardier, POW

William “Bud” Merrill III – Delray, FL; US Army, Korea, 2nd Armored Division

Denis Phillips – Toowong, AUS; RAAF, GP Captain (Ret. 25 years)

Rowley Richards – No. Sydney, AUS; RA Army, Medical Officer 2/15 Field Regiment, WWII, CBI, POW

Thomas Richie (100) – Auckland, NZ; RNZ Army # 29441, WWII

Duane Vasicek – Kenai, AK; US Navy, shipfitter, USS Sarsfield (DD 837)

George Wood Jr. – Lake Worth, FL; US Army, 508th Airborne RTC

Link for Stockresearch52

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I'm just checking! Click to read...

I’m just checking!
Click to read…

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on March 30, 2015, in Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 71 Comments.

  1. I can but say “I can but feel” what jungle fighting is like – not! Even those who live in there know how deadly it can be. Poisonous buggers, leeches, the dreaded mosquitoes, the constant wetness. I “understand” being silent is critical to survival – or attacking. And on top of this, in those days, you had to kind of “guess” where you were. Only crude maps at best. Resupply and evacuation (chances) were extremely chancy. Those were incredible men.

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  2. Thank you gpcox, for highlighting one of the most important contributions that the Australians made to the Pacific war effort. A hastily trained ,poorly outfitted , conscripted militia , the 39th , had to face a battle hardened crack Japanese force ,which outnumbered the Australians by ten to one . Not only battled a fierce enemy , the rain incessant , the heat , cold at night , the mud , malaria . Yet in spite of all this were able to halt the advance of the rampant Japanese in retreat to prevent them from taking Port Moresby , till relieved by the 7th Division . Heroes one and all , I thank you for reminding us again.

    Thanks for your well wishes too, I’m progressing ok although I battle with tiredness -Ron

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    • Thank you, Ron, but you’re not getting off with just one post. Those Aussies and [as you said] more to come – hung in there!! Glad to hear you’re progressing [good stock], keep up the good work!

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  3. Thanks for honoring the RAAF and featuring so many Australians in the Salute. Perhaps some readers will be interested in the film about the Rats of Tobruk and Kokoda https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lwXDCFJpKg4 It is a very old film which I remember being mentioned in my childhood. I don’t remember seeing it however. There is a Rats of Tobruk Memorial in Canberra, and there are Tobruk Memorial Baths (swimming pools) in Townsville and Cairns. The Baths are ‘ significant as Australia’s most substantial public memorial to the Australians who fought and died during the Siege of Tobruk’ (Wiki source).

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great story, was trying to find out just how many Australians were awarded the American DSO, can’t seem to get an exact figure, Owens was awarded posthumously and well deserved.
    Great post gp.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glad to see I spurred someone into doing research – usually I’m just asked – hats off to you, Ian!! Thank you for reading and staying interested.

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  5. It is embarrassing to admit that I have never consciously come across Kokoda and the amazing history associated with it before. I suppose it is similar to the situation of whereas ‘Delville Wood’ means a lot to South Africans (older ones, anyway), it could well be fairly meaningless to people in many other parts of the world.

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    • Quite right. Please don’t be embarrassed – you are far from alone. Every post, if you check the comments, there is someone who was ‘never taught this in school’ or ‘never heard it before.’ Thing is – you are taking the time to learn about it now. Thanks for coming by.

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  6. My father was always bemused by the variable calibre of Australian soldiers he met during the course of the war. They varied from men he worked with and became friends with in Malaya in 1941 to the men who were trying escape Singapore by climbing onto the evacuation ships in the last days before capture (he was on duty to let on women, children and men with special passes). He also mentioned the brave Australians fighting in North Africa.

    Liked by 1 person

    • From Vets, I hear nothing but praise for the Aussie soldiers – every military has its bad apples.

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    • He was probably talking about a band of Diggers (Australian soldiers) who became forever known as “The Rats of Tobruk”. the following is an extract from a link I’ll attach but will give you some idea of the Rats ( The Germans Hhated them 😀 ):-

      For eight long months, surrounded by German and Italian forces, the men of the Tobruk garrison, mostly Australians, withstood tank attacks, artillery barrages, and daily bombings. They endured the desert’s searing heat, the bitterly cold nights, and hellish dust storms. They lived in dug-outs, caves, and crevasses.

      The defenders of Tobruk did not surrender, they did not retreat. Their determination, bravery, and humour, combined with the aggressive tactics of their commanders, became a source of inspiration during some of the war’s darkest days. In so doing, they achieved lasting fame as the “Rats of Tobruk”.

      https://www.awm.gov.au/exhibitions/tobruk/

      and this may interest you too; it gives the names of those men who served in Tobruk who have died just recently, men who were in their 90’s at the time of their death plus one who was 101 years old.

      http://ratsoftobrukvictoria.org.au/

      You will note by the dates that all this happened before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

      Liked by 1 person

      • oh yes, the Rats of Tobruk, wow I grew up hearing about them, and my first boss a Mr Thomas, (who alas would have been gone a very long time now) was one of those infamous men. At that time as a 17 year old just starting work, I didn’t understand enough to appreciate his claim to fame…if you can call it that. Wow what an Aussie emblem they are!!

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        • I like to think of them as famous, hitler ( small h deliberate) I think of as infamous. I do believe that what the Rats did far outweighed what the men on the Kokoda Track, and we all know how much they suffered but the Kokoda Track being much closer to home and now readily available for ‘pilgrims’ to go over has given it a glamour that Tobruk can never achieve.

          My wifes father who died long after the war ended (in the early 60’s) and long before I met her from injuries sustained whilst serving in Papua New Guinea, brings the message closer to my family.

          Liked by 1 person

      • Great to hear about the Rats of Tobruk, I’m sure you are right.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Believe me when I say for once I am, I’ve barely touched on the ‘Rats’. if you have several hours or days to spend theres so much that you can read about these men on the Internet, just Google Rats of Tobruk and sit back in amazement 😀

          Liked by 2 people

  7. For all us Australians, Kokoda is the most iconic battle of World War II. If you get the chance, please watch the short newsreel by Damien Parer called ‘Kokoda Front Line’. Definitely worth it. You can view it via you tube or my article on Damien Parer.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Most everyone who truly understands what went on during the Kokoda combat – it WAS the worst fighting of WWII. I believe I have Damien Parer mentioned in a planned article for the 1942-43 Intermission stories, so I’ll happily read your article!!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Another fascinating post GP. Papua New Guinea was a tough one and as Vicki mentioned, the Kokoda Track is poignant for Australians as is ANZAC Cove.
    http://kokoda.commemoration.gov.au/
    Have you heard of the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels? That was a name given by the Australians to the Papua New Guineans who helped and escorted Australian troops and injured soldiers down the Kokoda Track. Another interesting topic 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you very much for supplying this link, Norma! Yes, it took quite awhile to take Papua, so we haven’t finished with it yet. I’m very happy to see that these troops are remembered for their service!! This is a great contribution to the site.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, to Norma and other Aussies, I should of course have remembered the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels. Although too young and not around when WW2 was happening, I have read and heard so much about the Fuzzy Wuzzy’s, and also seen one of them on TV in a program. Amazing people, what would we have done without them. The whole Kakoda Track would have been a hell hole to have traversed, how lucky those poor brave souls were to have such amazing people to help and guide them. Thank you for reminding me of them.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Thanks so much for the post on the Kokoda Trail. It is wonderful and a great way to present the information. I have many friends who have walked the Kokoda Trail. And quite a few are women. It is quite the thing that many here in Australia put on their “to do list”. It is apparently extremely strenuous and defeats quite a few. A lot of training is usually done by people doing the trek. Thanks again, the trail is particularly poignant for many Aussies. I have never been very interested in war. With the WW1 commemorations happening, I have certainly read a lot more, and with blogs like yours I have started to become more interested, and I guess as I get older, I feel so much more for the people who took part. As a nurse, I am often caring for WW2 and Vietnam Vets and now Middle East, Afghanistan Vets in particular. With the large immigrants populations from many nations we now have in Australia, and many working in the healthcare industry, some of the older people can become quite distressed and not want certain people caring for them. I used to get very upset over this, but of course, reading so much and with all the stories and TV doco’s around, I can understand their reasons. Many people have a photograph of a loved one, usually their husband, in their uniforms when they are in hospitals or aged care facilities. Hopefully, of course as the planet shrinks in many ways, and with such a wide cultural melting pot of people, we will change our thinking, as we make friends with these people, and realise they too have suffered, and lost their loved ones in wars. We have many people from Vietnam living in Australia, and many of those people were escaping from the war in their own country. War is a terrible thing for everyone, but at the same time, I think it is important to understand what has happened. Blogs like yours help to make sense (can one make sense of war?) of what happened and where! Especially for younger generations who learn from using the internet. Thanks again.
    Vicki – Adelaide, South Australia

    Liked by 1 person

    • Vicki, it is wonderful to hear your story and what is transpiring in Australia these days, especially with your veterans. We will be continuing to follow the Kokoda as we progress through the year, New Guinea wasn’t conquered in a day [no pun intended, despite my usual dry humour]. The distrust and unease around other nationalities happens here as well, some forgive and some don’t. I myself have to force myself to calm my stomach when I even hear the word Vietnam. In Germany, the grandchildren and Great-Grandchildren are persecuted for what their descendants did and it really should stop, they had nothing to do with the war. To answer your question – I find no logical reason for war. All it proves is who has the better military. Welcome to my humble web site.

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      • So sad to hear that grandchildren and great grand children are persecuted in Germany for the past. How can any of us change what happened many years ago now. And none of it is the ordinary person’s making. All war’s seem to be (as you have said) who has the better military might. And let’s face it, war is usually started over borders, or religion or leaders wanting to take more land, or even worse, megalomaniacs who just want power over all they see. As I mentioned in my earlier post, hopefully as time goes on the blame games will stop and people will just accept each other. However with the wars now happening in the middle east I fear it wont. The turmoil in the middle eastern countries have been going on for as long as history has been written (and probably longer). I don’t know if their conflicts will ever be solved, as deeply rooted as they are in religious fervour. (at least the way I see it). I feel this war that we are involved in if something best left to them. As much as so many innocents are being killed, and how sad it is, it isn’t stopping that from happening. War seems to have changed it’s perimeters with the warfare happening in these countries.

        On a brighter note, I just wanted to write, thank you so much for reading and replying to EVERY response you get. That is amazing, considering the amount of responses you do get. I am sure we each and every one appreciate it, and I know I get so much out of reading your readers responses to your posts. It makes the learning experience so much more broader, and enhances what you have written. It also helps to understand the multi-cultural range of your readers and their own memories and also the cultural differences, even amongst us of the so called Western World. It certainly makes for such interesting exchange, and to think, you are the catalyst for that. Thank you again. Whilst to me, war is not something to glorify, you have helped me become much more interested, and to understand some of the human stories behind it. Cheers

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        • I could not ask for a better compliment than you have bestowed on me. To say I am the catalyst – well let’s just say I am overwhelmed and thank you. I agree with every statement you’ve made so far concerning war and the rulers who want them and greatly appreciate you reading the comments. We have young and older readers, and so many have become friends – I can’t say enough about them, and they are always finding things to contribute – they astound me!

          Liked by 1 person

  10. Another fascinating read! I noticed how thin those men were, and then to read that it was not uncommon to lose 30 lbs. during a tour! Amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I’m not sure if many Australians know how close it was.

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  12. Yep, you caught me reading another one of your amazing posts!

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  13. We usually refer to it as the Kokoda Track gp, altough the word ‘Trail’ gets a bit of an airing these days, officially though it is ‘Track’.

    As for the emu’s you need to be careful driving in the outback, the males get a bit thingy about their females and are inclined to attack and charge your vehicle, silly animals that they are, still not as bad as the ‘roo’s who will just sit there in the middle of the track and let you hit them! True story.

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    • I’ll try to remember to call the Kokoda the ‘Track’ from now on. So many of my references alternate on the title, a few just call it the Kokoda and leave it at that. I thought a kangaroo was smarter than to just sit there and get hit, oh well – live and learn. Thanks for coming by, Beari.

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  14. Amazing the conditions that they fought under. I agree with Dan’s comment. Thanks for making this time come alive, Everett. Excellent post!

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  15. “The thick white mist dimming the moonlight, the mysterious veiling of trees, houses and men, the drip of moisture from the foliage, and at the last, the almost complete silence, as if the rubber groves of Kokoda were sleeping as usual in the depths of the night and the men had not brought the disturbance.” Very evocative. Where did you find it?

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  16. Gosh, the diary entry is so universal. Misery knows no side.

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  17. That planter was a poet. What a pity his subject was not more pleasant

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  18. Another very interesting post. The picture of the Boomerang reminds me of an idea I had that this was a fighter that never claimed an enemy kill, although it was also used for ground attack. It would be interesting to know if this was true. I read it many years ago when I made the Airfix construction kit of this unusual aircraft.

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  19. Posts like this remind me that every day during those years of war, people were living in harm’s way, doing a job that probably seemed endless at the time. Small victories, depressing setbacks and endless delay that made sense to someone and cost someone else his life. Those are the extremes, but men and women filled the spectrum between those ends. Thanks again for making this all more clear.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Pierre Lagacé

    Just for the record…

    The Lancaster is an Avro Lincoln

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Loved the bird, emu or ostrich? I give it up for the Aussies. They were great allies in the war.

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