For us to know more about what we celebrate on Kokoda Day, I've asked one of our Brand Ambassadors who have been helping us keep the spirit alive, Jason Bellert, what Kokoda Day means to him. He shared a very insightful piece that could help us understand what we commemorate every 3 November.
You always hear people talking about the Kokoda track, and how they want to trek along it to see what the soldiers went through. I always think to myself, you wouldn't have the slightest idea, none of us would have any idea what those brave soldiers did on that track unless you were there.
The story of Kokoda to me is one of courage, endurance, mateship, and sacrifice. These qualities are declared on the Australian memorial erected at Isurava, the site of a major attack by the Japanese in the last days of August 1942, in which both sides suffered heavy casualties. It also means a sense of pride of what the Australian soldier, under any circumstances, being the underdog, outsourced, outgunned, backs against the wall; all he has is his mates and a will to fight.
The Kokoda Track marks the course of one of the most important battles for Australians in the Second World War. Between July and November 1942, the Australian Army halted the furthermost southward advance by Japanese forces in Papua New Guinea, and then they pushed the enemy back across the mountains.
Treacherous terrain. The length of the Kokoda Track was not measured in distance, but in how many hours it took to traverse. Soldiers were challenged by steep, treacherous inclines, deep valleys, dense jungle, a debilitating climate, and drenching rain that frequently turned the ground into a quagmire.
More than 600 Australian troops died in fighting throughout the Kokoda operation, and more than 1600 were wounded. Over 4,000 soldiers suffered from tropical diseases.
Supplies ran short and tropical diseases such as malaria reduced the fighting ability of the men. There were few stretchers to carry the wounded, and even badly wounded men were forced to walk.
Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels was the name given by Australian soldiers to Papua New Guinean war carriers who, during World War II, were recruited to bring supplies up to the front and carry injured Australian troops down the Kokoda trail during the Kokoda Campaign.
The battle of Kokoda had definitely saved Australia from the threat of invasion and most likely from isolation and possibly forced into surrender. Today, most have concluded that Japan would not have invaded Australia, but back then at that time, everyone had believed that they were going to.
Please help us remember them, and keep the spirit alive.
How about you, what are your thoughts? Drop a comment below and let us know what you want us to feature next on our blog!
My Dad was a soldier on the Kokoda track. Unfortunately he died aged 61, I think that track and what he (and so many others) suffered shortened his life.
I love him and miss him every day.