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Kokoda Airstrip Recaptured

2 NOV 1942: Kokoda airstrip re-occupied by diggers. The capture of Kokoda, New Guinea, and its airstrip on this day in 1942, enabled the Australian advance across the Owen Stanley Range to continue. Kokoda, on the north side of the Owen Stanley Range, was recaptured. It was the most Important strategic gain by Australian troops since they began their northward advance at loribaiwa Ridge, on September 28. Kokoda is linked with Buna by an easy track, part of which is negotiable by motor transport and all by bicycles. The only natural obstacle on the 60-mile stretch is Kumusi River, which runs through a steep gorge about 20 miles east of Kokoda. Allied troops, some of whom had, been in battle in the Middle East, marched into Kokoda this morning, and after occupying the village, continued their advance towards Buna.

There was no enemy opposition. The last serious Japanese opposition to our advance was made five days ago, when our troops routed a stubborn Japanese resistance at the point of the bayonet. It can now be revealed that Allied patrols have been operating in the Kokoda area for the past week. On the night of October 25 one patrol of three men actually walked into a Japanese camp alongside the Kokoda airfield and brought back valuable information.

Kokoda presented a battered appearance as our troops marched in. Buildings had been blasted and shattered by the unrelenting Allied air attack. Huts were torn apart and the track and airfield was pitted with bomb craters. The Allied troops have crossed the Owen Stanley Range from the south to the north, and there is a general slope that runs to the coast. Allied army and air commanders sent congratulations to the troops on their magnificent advance through the mountains. The advance was not made without casualties. The Allied troops are now advancing down the Buna tiack toward Oivi, nine miles from Kokoda.

The Allied troops are advancing in an area where there are no strong geographical defensive positions, except the Kumusi River at Wairopi, which is 20 miles from Kokoda The route is flanked by thick jungle.

Kokoda is 63 miles from Buna by road. There is little doubt that the Japanese are worried by the progress of the Allied push through the mountains and this was evidenced by their attempt to land reinforcements in Northern Papua Kokoda is at an altitude of about I5OO feet, with a nearby airfield which was used in peace time by commercial air liners and transport planes servicing the Bulolo Valley goldfields.

It is obvious that the heavy Japanese resistance all the way from the Myola area to the village of Alola, against which the Australians had to fight for every inch of the mountain pass through the Owen Stanleys, was to prevent us from reaching Kokoda. This resistance continued from October 13 to 28, when Australians, in a spectacular bayonet assault up a precipitous spur, hacked the Japanese defenders to ribbons and broke up the final attempt at organised resistance in defence of the track to Kokoda.

With Alola taken It was not very long before the Australians had moved down the steep slope, occupying Isurava, Abuari and Deniki on Sunday. Yesterday morning they marched in strength into the village of Kokoda which, in the minds of all the troops in New Guinea, had been the goal of a long and bitter, five weeks struggle through terrible mountain jungles of the Owen Stanleys.

The goal has at last been achieved and the troops are in magnificent heart. They are continuing to advance. It is significant that Australians reached Kokoda 36 days after taking loribaiwa. The Japanese took 44 days to reach Iori-baiwa from the time they began their advance from Kokoda, so that although the Australians had much more climbing than the Japanese, they bettered their time by eight days. More;

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