This week, with ANZAC Day just around the corner, Roy wanted to visit somewhere which would allow him to reflect on the people who have fought and died to protect our nation and our way of life. He knew it was the 70th anniversary of the Kokoda Campaign, and thought it would be nice to visit a memorial to these brave soldiers who worked and fought along the Kokoda Trail. The Kokoda Trail, a notorious track in Papua New Guinea, is the site of one of the most famous and bloodiest campaigns Australians were involved in during World War 2. Roy remembered seeing signs to a memorial in Concord, so went to investigate and was touched by what he found.
If you would like to visit The Kokoda Track Memorial Walkway, it winds its way along the shores of Brays Bay in Concord, linking Concord Hospital and Rhodes Railway Station. As well as a beautiful memorial to the Kokoda Campaign, the surrounding area provdes plenty of room to enjoy the foreshore of the Parramatta River, have a picnic, buy a coffee at the coffee shop or even kick a ball. Just remember, this is a war memorial, treat it with respect.
On July 21, 1942 the Japanese landed in the North of what was then called New Guinea, and started marching across the Owen Stanley Ranges to attempt to take Port Moresby. If successful, this would have put Australia at great risk. There was a seldom used track, running from Buna in the North to Port Moresby and this track, the Kokoda Trail, was to become the site of some of the most famous, most difficult and bloodiest battles in Australia's military history. The track was famous for its hot, humid days, cold nights, torrential rain, stinking mud and the tropical diseases, like malaria which infected so many soldiers, making it difficult and unpleasant to walk, let alone wage war! About 1000 Australian's had already been ordered to hold Kokoda and its airfield, but with only 1000 men, this was an impossible task and they were soon retreating, though they continued to fight all the way. In August reinforcements arrived and the Australian's began to advance again.
By September, the Australian's had 'dug in' at Imita Ridge. They were ordered to hold that position at any cost, and expected to fight to the death, but then the Japanese started to withdraw from the Kokoda Track. The Japanese had insufficient supplies, and were frightened that the Americans might mount an on their base in Buna. They wanted to keep a foothold in New Guinea, so started to withdraw to Buna. Although they were now retreating, and many were sick or starving, the Japanese continued to fight fiercely against the Australians who were pursuing them, and some of the most vicious battles were fought near the Japanese bases in Buna and Gona. The Americans had established bases south of Buna, and together with the Australian's fighting on the Kokoda Trail and across country from Wanigela captured Gona, Buna and Sanananda in December 1942 and January 1943. 6000 Australians and 13000 Japanese had died. The Kokoda Track Memorial Walkway is an 800 metre long walkway, recounting the battle and planted with tropical plants evocative of what might be seen along the Kokoda Trail. If you would like to learn more about the Memorial Walkway, visit the website by clicking here.