Monday, August 30, 2010

Role of the 39th on Kokoda



Have you thought of the role of the 39th in the Kokoda campaign? They faced the Japanese at Isurava until the 2/14th arrived. They were relieved. That does not mean they go all the way back to Ower’s Corner but retire until called forward again.

The 39th stayed at Isurava. They had the back seat position. In the withdrawal, the next we see them is at the rest house above Isurava. They are not dug in but

on the track where we find Con’s Rock.

We find that they were intended to move to Eora Creek camp to be rearguard. That probably did not mean they engaged the enemy but waited to see if Japanese

arrived first by outflanking.

Then they would engage. They may have had a role in advising the Field Hospital to move out if the radio link had been cut. But the first soldiers to arrive were AIF. That means that the 39th could move out.

It is a puzzle as the where the 53rd were. Surely in the advance of the Japanese, all troops would move together. Either they had already gone or were held up. Did they move out by an alternative route?

The next duty of the 39th was to do the same at Kagi. This would have been more difficult as there were two ridge lines down which the Japanese could move.

Reports are that the 39th watched the American fighter aircraft strafing to Japanese. That is a puzzle. If the Japanese were down so close to Efogi, where were the 2/14th and 2/16th? Perhaps the strafing was higher up the range.

But once the AIF arrived, the 39th could move out again. This time they moved over Brigade Hill and down to Menari. Is it possible they were to do the same at Menari? It is always possible that the Japanese could outflank. There had been an airdrop of supplies at Menari.

That may explain why they did not dig in on Brigade Hill with any stragglers from the 53rd.

We know the time frame of their arrival at Menari as the 2/27th had arrived and 39th had handed over weapons and ammunition. Why did this happen?

Several friends state they were not disarmed. Were the 39th unable to carry heavy loads because of illness? What of the 53rd? It would take the 2/27th half a day to get to Mission Ridge. Were they short of ammunition? Don’t forget the air drop at Menari.

The 53rd really are a puzzle. Where were they during all this? We know they combined with the 55th. Where was the 55th at the fall of Brigade Hill? Did the 53rd go straight through?

I am just looking at small scenarios on Kokoda and trying to understand.

In this analysis, I base my description on the fact that the 39th had to be ahead of the 2/14th and 2/16th down the track. So they took off as soon as the AIF arrived at Eora Creek and Kagi. Perhaps they found a better site at Mission Hill. That is where I believe they saw theAmerican aircraft strafing the Japanese.



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