70th anniversary of the Battle Of Kokoda

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by parsifal, Aug 7, 2012.

  1. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    2012 marks the 70th anniversary of the illustrious Kokoda Campaign, where Australia fought a series of battles against Japanese forces, during the Second World War. Fighting in the most horrendous conditions and being young, outnumbered and undertrained, the odds were stacked against the Australian soldiers. With the help of United States forces and the Papua New Guinean locals, Australia persisted and eventually claimed victory in the Kokoda Campaign.

    On the 8th of March 2012 two veterans of the 39th battalion, John Akhurst and Alan Moore, discussed their personal account of the Kokoda Campaign with ABC radio presenter Richard Stubbs.
     
  2. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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    :salute: I have read a bit about that battle and my hat goes off to those brave diggers.
     
  3. Vassili Zaitzev

    Vassili Zaitzev Well-Known Member

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  4. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    Glad you mentioned this. I was looking at the same subject and was going to post some stuff tomorrow.
     
  5. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    Sys

    Ive got the english translation of 17th armies operationals orders and plans. i might post some information from the japanese perspective. Do you feel like doing the same from an Allied perspective perhaps?
     
  6. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    Sure. If you end me what you got, I will digest and edit it for us all.
     
  7. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    Sys, I cant because the source is in print

    Here is the 1st installment of the IJA perspective on the campaign

    Source
    Translation Steve Bullard; Japanese Army Operations in the South Pacific Area – New Britain Papua Campaigns 1942-3 Australian war Memorial 2007

    Formation of the 17th Army
    The OB for the 17A for the “FS” operation (occupation of Papua) was promulgated under Great Army Order 632. This occurred on the 18th May after the postponement (and eventual cancellation) of Operation “Mo”).

    17th Army was a corps sized formation (by western standards) and was the first higher level formation that had been formed by the Japanese since the outbreak of the Pacific War.

    The formation initially controlled the following:
    South Seas Force (55 Inf Gp HQ)Rabaul
    144 Inf III, 55 Cav III, 55 Mtn Artillery III, 55 Eng III (1st company +Bridging platoon), 55 signals II (Company strength), 2/55 Trns Bn, 55 Medical group (company or platoon strength), 1stFFld hospital unit (strength unknown), 55 div Veterinary unit, 55 Div Water Transport Unit, 47 AA Bn (less one company…about 8 guns)

    Aoba Det (java), under command of 16A (2nd infantry Gp under command)
    4 inf III, 4/2 Recon III (Company – light tanks – type 95s I think), 1/2 Fld Arty III (motorised), 1 / 2 Eng III, Supply, medical, hospital water supply units, each at roughly company strength).

    Detached units
    41 Inf III (25A), 9 Heavy Weapons Co (14A)m 20 Ind Mtn arty (23a – China), 45, 47 AA Bns (16A – Indies) , 15 Armoured Infantry III (25A – equipment unknown), 4 Heavy River Crossing Det (company strength)
    17a Signals Units (directly attached) 3, 4, 6, 7 Ind Wireless Platoons (mot – att 16A), 88 Ind wireless Co (motorised – Rabaul), 33, 37, 44, 45 Fxd wireless units, 212 Ind Car co, 67 LOC Hospital (16A) 24 Fld disease and water supply unit.

    South Seas Force was assembled at Rabaul and had a strength of around 8500 men . Many of the other units were scattered across SE Asia. These units after formation of the new HQ began staging to Rabaul via Davao.

    The Army Orders that authorised the formation of 17a acknowledged that with the exception of Horiis SSF, the other units were not located or suited at this point for offensive operations. The first order from Army HQ was designed to address that problem. “From zero hour units not yet under command will undertake training and administrative preparations to make ready for offensive operations”.

    The most serious shortages faced by 17A were shortages in logistical units and a shortage also of engineering and bridge laying formations. Medical and hospital support was also coming up short These shortages would severely affect the performance and outcomes in the upcoming camapaign.

    The CO of 17a was Lt gen hyakutake, a communications specialist (was head of the Army signals academy before transfer)
     
  8. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    Great Army Order 633

    On the same day as Army order 632 was issued 9authorizing the formation of 17A and assigning units to the command, IGHQ issued the following orders

    “Imperial HQ plans to invade the key areas in each of the islands of New Caledonia Fiji and Samoa, and also to occupy Port Moresby.
    17A must co-operate with the combined fleet to secure these key areas
    The Army CofS will issue detailed instructions for these operations
    18 May 1942”

    From an early stage in the planning, 17A recognized their greatest difficulty was logistics and support. They did not have enough of either. In an uncanny echo of what was to befall 17A, their initial orders in the planning of the operations were quite prophetic
    “instructions concerning transport along the LOC based on Great Army order 633.
    1. Munitions and materiel indicated in the attached charts shall be transported to the staging point for 17a, including weapons , ammunition sufficient for approximately one engagement, 3 months of fuel and 6 months of food, clothing, necessities, medical and veterinary supplies
    2. Units that have been ordered to be transferred to 17A shall carry the following additional supplies
    Aoba Detachment; approx. one engagement of munitions (including special munitions for landing operations), 15 inflatable boats, 4 months signals consumables, 3 months of POL, 4 months clothing, 6 months supply of medical supply
    Other units: one months supply. 35th Inf Bde as above plus 20 boats
    3. Future supply for the army will be despatched by IGHQ
    4. The army must plan to be completely self reliant on the local area. Efforts to reduce reliance on rear area supply are essential
    5-11 signalling and comms arrangements
    12 The army will develop and obtain natural resources for the national defence offort in the area of operations . separate detailed instruction will follow
    13 A Hosp[ital. ship shall be made available for the operations. More serious wounded shall be evacuated to Taiwan and Tokyo

    Even before the operations got underway, the Army were acknowledging their key weakness…..thir inability to provide adequate logistic support to the operation. They were completely unrealistic in believing they could rely on local supply. They also continued in the mistaken belief that a road network existed across the mountains.

    17A Cof S Sugiyama gave the following instructions with regard to the Port Moresby operation

    “Port Moresby has significance for being the capital of the territory and is also an essential base of operations for the enemy. Much of new Guinea is undeveloped, so capture of port Moresby and its surrounds will achieve the territorial objective in this sector.”

    “The commander of the SSF previously received orders from IGHQ issued 2 feb to occupy key areas of PNG. This contained instructions consistent with the army-navy central agreement for this region, and included ‘the army and navy will co-operate to invade Moresby.’ The army and navy authorities in the region began to carry out this operation in May, but were delayed by losses in the naval battle in coral sea in early May. Gradually 17A has taken over operations to achieving the strategic objective.
    In this way the IJN has separately determined to undertake operations in the region with a force based on the 2nd fleet deployed in the new Caledonia, Fiji and Samoa areas, and on the 4th fleet in the port Moresby area.’ Already the Japanese .
     
  9. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    Preamble - the allied POV

    (from the AWM website)


    39th Battalion (Hawthorn Kew Regiment)


    After the First World War the defence of the Australian mainland lay with the part time soldiers of the Citizens Military Force, also known as the Militia. The Militia was organized to maintain the structure of the First AIF and kept the same numerical designations. The Militia units were distributed in the same areas in which the original AIF units were raised.

    The 39th Infantry Battalion was raised in Melbourne in 1921 and called the “Hawthorn-Kew Regiment”. Raised during the Great Depression, when little was spent on defence, the battalion initially had few volunteers. In 1937 it merged with the 37th Infantry Battalion, forming the 37/39th Infantry Battalion and, a few years later, with the 24th Infantry Battalion, forming the 24/39th Infantry Battalion. From October to November 1941 the 39th was raised as a single unit, comprised mostly of young men of 18 or 19 years who had been called up for national service.

    Following Japan’s sudden entry into the Second World War, a new 39th was raised as part of the 30th Brigade to garrison Port Moresby. The 39th joined the 49th Infantry Battalion, already in Moresby, and the 53rd Infantry Battalion, which had been quickly formed in Sydney. The 39th arrived in Moresby at the start of January 1942, with little military training.

    The 39th was initially used for garrison duties and working parties. In June it was ordered to proceed up the Kokoda Trail to block any possible Japanese overland advance. The 39th B Company and troops from the Papuan Infantry Battalion (PIB) reached Kokoda on 15 July
     
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