On 21 July 1942, a large Japanese reconnaissance mission landed along the north-eastern coastline of Papua, it would soon turn into an all-out attempt to capture Port Morseby. This is the powerful story of the three weeks of battle by a small Australian militia force, the 39th Battalion, supported by the 1st Papua Infantry Battalion and the Royal Papuan Constabulary, to keep the Japanese at bay. Outnumbered by at least three to one, they fought courageously to hold the Kokoda Plateau - the gateway to the Owen Stanleys. Critically short of ammunition and food and stranded in the fetid swamps and lowland jungles, they did everything they could to keep the Kokoda airstrip out of Japanese hands.
Not far away, and desperately trying to reach the Australians, were two groups of Anglican missionaries trapped behind enemy lines. With each passing day the parties grew, joined by lost Australian soldiers and downed American airmen. Theirs is a story of tragedy and betrayal.
Using letters, diaries and other first-hand accounts, from friend and foe alike, leading military historian David W Cameron, has for the first time written a detailed, compelling and provocative account of what occurred at the northern foot of the Owen Stanleys in late July and early August 1942. These are stories that deserve to be firmly embedded into the Kokoda legend.
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