The Kokoda Campaign


There is a lot of myth and embellishment surrounding most historical accounts of the Kokoda campaign, which is also referred to as the Kokoda Trail Campaign. This campaign was part of the Pacific War that was fought during World War II and was triggered when Japanese forces landed in Papua. Papua was an Australian territory at the time, and the Japanese aimed at making their way through the Kokoda track and capturing Port Moresby, located on the south coast. While it is true that Kokoda shaped the course of history, it was not the sole factor in guaranteeing victory for the Australians.

The Kokoda Campaign refers to the battles fought between the Japanese forces and Australian troops. The campaign began when the Japanese landed in Papua in 1942, July, stretching along the Kokoda Trail, and culminating in their frustration at Oivi-Gorari in November.

At the beginning of the campaign, the Japanese forces appeared to be gaining victory, with the Australian forces retreating to Port Moresby. However, it soon became apparent that the Japanese were ignorant of the conditions of the war, and had greatly underestimated the amount of resources and supplies they would need. This was further compunded by the long Kokoda track which runs through 60 miles of dense jungle and uneven terrain.

During the battle, the Japanese lost more men to diseases than the Australians, who were better prepared with medical supplies. These losses played a part in reducing the Japanese manpower and further striking a blow to their morale.

However, it has been noted that many historical accounts of the Kokoda campaign may have been exaggerated and are, therefore, inaccurate. Most accounts record the Kokoda Trail as having been tantamount in determining the direction of the war in the Pacific south and southwest. Moreover, many historical records credit Kokoda with saving Australia from invasion while, in fact, the Australian victory was due to the limited firepower among the Japanese. Furthermore, the Japanese were not fit enough to trek through the jungle while carrying all the necessary supplies.

It is recorded that during the four-month long campaign, more than 600 Australians died along the Kokoda Trail while over 1600 were wounded. The casualties were even higher among the Japanese, with about 12000 being reported dead. Even though the Kokoda Campaign did not exclusively save Australia, it was useful in teaching the Australians how to fight in the jungle and ultimately, gain victory over Japan.

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