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Page 1

“The track”

A historical desktop study of the Kokoda Track

Commissioned by the

Department of Environment, Water, Heritage, and the Arts

Dr Karl James

Military History Section

Australian War Memorial



Page 2

Table of Contents



Introduction 1


1 The Kokoda campaign, 1942 6

2 The track’s wartime route 23

3 “Track” or “Trail”? 55

Conclusion and recommendations 62

Principal units involved and their commanders 67

Casualties 71

War graves and cemeteries 76

Memorials and other structures 84

Bibliography 86

Page 48

the 2/1st Army Topographical Survey Company in March 1944 which was largely
based on the earlier Wairopi map.

A section of the 1943 Uberi 1 inch to 1 mile map. This map covers the beginning of the Kokoda Track
from Owers’ Corner through to Nauro. It took several months for Australian army surveyors to produce

this detailed map.

During 1944 and 1945, Allied operations were carried out in New Guinea and
beyond. No new survey work was carried out along the length of the Kokoda Track,
although some of the earlier maps, such as Uberi and a map of the Kokoda area, were
reproduced during 1944. Australian signallers would have used these maps as they
maintained the lines of communications across the Owen Stanleys.


Page 49

A section of the 1944 Kokoda, one inch to one mile map. This particular map seems to have been based
on the earlier Wairopi map. Note how the location of the villages of Habuari, Missima, Kaile and Siga

have been amended.

During the campaign, army signallers had followed closely behind the Australian
infantry, building a tree-slung signal line along the track from Ilolo to Kokoda. This
signal line was operating the day after the capture of Kokoda. The line was later
extended to Dobodura. During 1943, communications across the Owen Stanleys were
improved when the Americans began developing airstrips along Papua’s north coast.
Australian signallers from the line sections of the 18th Line of Communications


Page 95


Sydney Morning Herald

The Australian

Weekend Australian

Unpublished papers

Geoffrey Dabb, “A short explanation of the name ‘Kokoda Trail’”, research paper,
Canberra, 2008

David Horner, “The Kokoda campaign: did it save Australia?”, Australian National
University, Canberra, [n. d.]

Sascha Jenkins, “Kokoda and nationalism”, Australian War Memorial Summer
Scholar research paper, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1996

Hank Nelson, “Kokoda: the track from history to politics”, State Society and
Governance in Melanesia Project seminar, Australian National University, 19
September 2002

Peter Provis, “Kokoda: track or trail?”, Australian War Memorial Summer Scholar
research paper, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 2003


Shaun Gibbons [Director], Beyond Kokoda (Sydney: The History Channel, 2008)

Alister Grierson [Director], Kokoda (Sydney: Palace Films: Madmand Entertainment,

Patrick Lindsey [Director and producer], Kokoda – the bloody track (CEL Home
Video, 1992)

“PNG – Mining Kokoda”, Foreign Correspondent, broadcast on the ABC on 4 March

“The men who saved Australia”, Four Corners, broadcast on the ABC on 27 April


ABC News,

Australian bronze commemorative plaques,

Commonwealth War Graves Commission,


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