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Kokoda Track Memorial Plaque : 27-05-2014
Kokoda Track Memorial Plaque : 27-05-2014

Photographs supplied by Diane Watson
The plaque sculpted by Ross Bastian commemorates the 60th anniversary of the Kokoda battles and those who served with the 39th Battalion. 

The Kokoda Track campaign or Kokoda Trail campaign was part of the Pacific War of World War Two.  The campaign consisted of a series of battles fought between July and November 1942 between Japanese and Allied—primarily Australian—forces in what was then the Australian territory of Papua.

Forced to repel a Japanese invasion force, which landed at Gona on the north coast of Papua on 21 July 1942, the Australians fought in appalling conditions over the next four months. The Japanese objective was to capture Port Moresby, the main Australian base in New Guinea, by an overland strike across the Owen Stanley Range. The most direct way across these rugged mountains was by a jungle pathway known as the Kokoda Track. During the next four months, until 16 November 1942, Australian soldiers fought the Japanese, first to keep them from reaching Port Moresby and then to push them back over the Owen Stanleys to their north coast strongholds at Buna, Gona and Sanananda.

In late July 1942, as the Japanese advanced towards Kokoda village, they were engaged by forward elements of the Papuan Infantry Battalion and the Australian 39th Infantry Battalion. Despite the Australians’ stubborn resistance, Kokoda fell to the larger Japanese force and by 27 August the Australians and the few Papuan troops who had stayed with them had been forced back to Isurava. Reinforcements were sent from Port Moresby: first the 53rd Battalion, which protected a side-track behind Isurava, and then the veteran 2/14th and 2/16th Battalions, which had previously served in the Middle East.

At Isurava, in the last days of August, the 39th and the 2/14th Battalions, with support further back from the 2/16th and 53rd Battalions, were able to temporarily hold the Japanese during an intense five-day action

At the end of the 39th battalion's involvement in the fighting in New Guinea, 1,666 men had served in its ranks. The battalion suffered 403 combat casualties, which consisted of 118 killed in action, 13 died of wounds, five died other causes, and 266 wounded in action. Illness and disease also took a heavy toll and as a result, after six months of combat the 39th Battalion's muster roll was only seven officers and 25 other ranks. For their service during World War Two members of the 39th Battalion received the following decorations: two Members of the British Empire, one Distinguished Service Order, four Distinguished Conduct Medals, seven Military Crosses, 10 Military Medals, one Distinguished Service Cross and 11 Mentions in Dispatches.


Address:Clewley Street, David Croll Memorial Precinct, Corinda, 4075
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -27.537751
Long: 152.981042
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
View Google Map


Monument Type:Plaque
Monument Theme:Conflict
Designer:Ross J. Bastiaan (Melbourne, VIC)
Artist:Ross J. Bastiaan (Melbourne, VIC)


Approx. Monument Dedication Date:August-2002
Front Inscription

Kokoda Track

Papua New Guinea

39th Infantry Battalion Memorial

(Details of Battles and 39th Infantry Battalion)

Lest We Forget

1942 - 2002

Source: MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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