Contact One of the bloodiest campaigns of World War II, which has forever sealed the relationship between Australia and Papua New Guinea, began 61 years ago It was on July 21,that Japanese troops landed on the northern coast of then New Guinea and unexpectedly began to march over the Owen Stanley Ranges with the intent of capturing Port Moresby. Had they succeeded, the mainland of Australia would have come under dire threat. July 23 — Remembrance Day — marks the 61st anniversary of the first engagement between the opposing troops on July 23,and from that engagement, as the Australian force was progressively outnumbered, began the long fighting withdrawal over the Owen Stanley Ranges.
Background[ edit ] On 21 JulyJapanese forces landed on the northern Papuan coast at Basbua, between Buna and Gonaas part of a plan to capture the strategically important town of Port Moresby via an overland advance across the Owen Stanley Range along the Kokoda Trackfollowing the failure of a seaborne assault during the Battle of the Coral Sea in May and further losses during the Battle of Midway.
Brushing these aside, the Japanese began advancing steadily towards their objective on the southern coast. Meanwhile, the Australians, who had deployed only limited forces north of Port Moresby Account of the battle of kokoda track to delay the Japanese along the track long enough to bring reinforcements forward.
Encircled, and having suffered heavy losses — including Templeton who was captured and executed — the surviving Australians and Papuans withdrew to Deniki under the command of Watson, and guided south around the Japanese on the track by Lance Corporal Sanopa of the PIB.
At Deniki, they linked up with reinforcements from the 39th Infantry Battalion that were preparing to move forward to Kokoda, with the intent of holding the village and its logistically important airfield. Further to the south, the track rose steeply towards Deniki, where it entered the Owen Stanleys.
Owenmarched north from Deniki and re-occupied Kokoda village, after receiving information from an advanced party that the Japanese pursuing the survivors from Oivi had not yet reached the village.
Nevertheless, Owen positioned his force north of the village on the eastern tip of a "tongue-shaped plateau"  that ran to the north-east of the airstrip. Nevertheless, they fought back with machine fire and rolled grenades down to slope towards the attacking Japanese.
After about an hour of close quarters fighting, including hand-to-hand combat, the engagement ended in the Australians withdrawing from the village after Owen died from wounds received while moving amongst his troops to buoy their morale as the threat of encirclement grew.
With indirect fire now along their withdrawal route, the Australians fell back under the cover of a thick fog and were subsequently led back to Deniki under the command of Major William Watson of the PIB, with the majority arriving around sunrise on 29 July.
Japanese casualties included Ogawa, who was killed in the final stages of the fighting by the small Australian rearguard. For his actions during the engagement, Owen was posthumously bestowed the US Distinguished Service Crossbecoming the first Australian to receive this decoration.
The Japanese troops, who were issued with inferior grenades that had to be struck on the ground to prime, relished the find. In the wake of the first engagement, both the Japanese and Australians had paused to bring up reinforcements.
The company that had attacked Pirivi subsequently withdrew back to via Komondo village carrying their wounded with them, arriving at Deniki in two groups on 9 and 10 August.
In an effort to make the main Australian force aware that they had taken the village, Symington fired off a red signal flare, and dispatched messengers to go back to Cameron to advise him to send reinforcements and supplies.
They subsequently re-crossed to the eastern side of Madi Creek before halting on the western side of Faiwani Creek,  before moving on to the village of Naro where they were met by a small patrol which led them to Isurava,  which they reached on 13 August.
These fell into Japanese hands, alleviating some of their supply problems. Several hours later, Allied aircraft returned to bomb the village after news of its capture reached the Allied high command.
Had it been held, the Australians potentially would have been able to fly in reinforcements and supplies, which may have proved decisive in preventing the Japanese from advancing into the mountains around Deniki.
Heavy fighting followed, but by mid-morning on 14 August, the Australians were nearly encircled and Cameron gave the order to break contact and withdraw by platoons. This was completed in good order, but a large amount of supplies and personal belongings were abandoned.
In late September and early October, after reverses around Milne Bay and Guadalcanal,  the Japanese went onto the defensive as the strategic situation in the Pacific began to turn against them, and the Australians were able to launch a cautious counter-attack which saw them retake Kokoda unopposed on 2 November Finding the airstrip in a state of disrepair, the Australians began efforts to reopen the airstrip.
As supplies began to arrive, the logistical burden of trekking supplies up the track was alleviated and the Allied counter offensive picked up pace.Part of World War II's Pacific War, the Kokoda Track was often called the 'Trail of Death'.
by A.B. Feuer In James Anderson and a few other adventurers retraced the Australian Army’s withdrawal from Kokoda in , and followed the track across the Owen Stanley Mountains.
Total casualties of Australian soldiers on the Kokoda Trail from July to November , excluding the Milne Bay engagement, numbered 1, Of these, were killed.
The recapture of Kokoda on 2 November was not the end of the capaign to expel the Japanese invaders from Papua. The Kokoda Track is one of many walking tracks that existed long before Europeans came into this part of the world.
During World War II, the Japanese decided to use this trail as a means of launching a ground attack against the Australians in Port Moresby. The Battle of Kokoda consisted of two engagements fought in late July – early August The battle of the Kokoda Trail of 23 July November saw the Japanese army reach further south than at any other time during the Second World War, in an attempt to capture Port Moresby, but also marked the point at which Japan’s resources became too stretched to support further offensive operations, and ended as a clear Australian victory.
Despite the historical use of "Trail", "Track" gained dominance in the s, with the Australian Macquarie Dictionary stating that while both versions were in use, Kokoda Track "appears to be the more popular of the two". Battle honours. For eligible Australian units, the battle honour "Kokoda Trail" was bestowed.
Seven subsidiary honours were also bestowed.