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Kokoda is the name of a region made famous because of a battle fought by Australian
and American soldiers against the Japanese for control over Port Moresby, Papua New
Guinea. The end of 1942 saw one of Australia’s greatest wins in the history of Australian
wars, and World War 2 in particular. Kokoda is famous for its terrain, a thick jungle that
neither Australian or Japanese soldiers were familiar with. Kokoda was a very difficult
place to fight in and stay alive in.

The notorious Kokoda battle took place on the 23rd July 1942, but many disputes and
important events leading up to this battle happened between February and July 1942
(including the bombing of Pearl Harbor and Darwin in northern Australian). The
Japanese were seen as great threat to Australia’s territorial land rights when they tried to
seize Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. Because of Japan’s recent attacks on Singapore,
Australia thought this as a threat to themselves and so took the war to the Japanese.
However, the Japanese actually only wanted Port Moresby as a base of operations but
ended up by gaining a new enemy: Australia.

The Japanese continued their advance on Port Moresby and landed in Kokoda on July 21st
1942 only to find Australian soldiers waiting for them. The Japanese decided to use naval
sea and air attacks on the Australians at Kokoda, which soon lead both nations to fall
back on to the Kokoda track where the real battles began.

There were many battles inside the thick jungles and the conditions were extremely tough
due to heat, wild animals, diseases and insects. These diseases made it hard for both
nations to cope, loosing men because of it. The Japanese used camouflage techniques
which led to many Australian casualties due to their inability to see the enemy. It seemed
all Australia had to fight the Japanese were under-trained and poorly equipped men.
Against the better equipped and trained Japanese the Australians had to back, so they had
time to regroup and start many other battles at various locations on the Kokoda trail.

During 1942 along the Kokoda track there was many battles from July 23 to the victory
of November 2. These battles included the first battle at Awala on 23rd July, a second
battle on the 9th August, the famous battle of Isurava on the 26th August. Isurava was the
first battle Australia had won on Kokoda and so it became a turning point where
Australia thought they might possibly be able to defeat the Japanese. Other battles
included the battle at Milne Bay and the battle of Brigade Hill from the 6th to 6th of
September (Butchers Hill as it was later known). Even though Australia lost the Battle of
Brigade Hill, they soon won win with the withdrawal of the Japanese due to the
increasing number of Australian troops.

By the end of the Battle of Brigade Hill the Japanese had lost many soldiers and other
supplies, but they still seemed equally matched to the Australians and the Americans. But
Australia was closer to Port Moresby and had other bases not far away and was able to
call on the American Air Force and other reinforcements to aid Australia in a last fight to
stop the Japanese.

The Army units involved in the many Kokoda battles included the: 39th, 49th,53rd, 2/14th,
2/16th, 2/27th, 3rd, 2/1st, 2/6th, 2/25th, 2/31st, 2/33rd Battalions. The Japanese saw the sudden
increase in the Australian and American troops, so the only option was to surrender
because by now the Australia had recaptured Port Moresby.

Australia was victorious on November 2nd 1942 and Australia reoccupied the village of
Kokoda. By January 22nd 1943 Japan had been driven back to the same waters they came
from a few months earlier. Around 15,000 soldiers were killed, among them 13,000 were
Japanese and 2,000 were Australian. This war may have given Australia and Japan a
reason to hate each other. However, this terrible war eventually brought both countries
closer together trade. Australia has become one of Japan’s closest trading nations. The
Kokoda trail is now commemorated with the sprit of Australian soldiers for all time.