22 July 1942

Now at Awala, between the Buna-Gona beachheads and Kokoda, Capt Templeton orders 11 Platoon to come forward from Kokoda to join him to prepare to challenge the leading units of the Japanese.

During the day Allied aircraft attack the Japanese beachhead area but are unable to inflict any serious losses, save for sinking a landing barge and running a troop transport vessel aground. Immediately they have consolidated their beachhead, the Japanese begin patrolling inland.

21 July 1942

Around 4pm, a cruiser escorting the Japanese advance party starts shelling the Gona-Sanananda beach area. At Buna, ANGAU Sgt Barry Harper sends an emergency signal in clear transmission: “A Japanese warship is shelling off Buna, apparently to cover a landing at Gona or Sanananda. Acknowledge, Moresby. Over …” He received no reply.

About 3000 Japanese troops, the advance party, aided by 1000 Tolai carriers brought from Rabaul, starts disembarking at dusk and continues into the night.

That afternoon, Capt Sam Templeton arrives at nearby Buna planning to recce the area. On hearing of enemy landing, he hurries back to Awala, about 20km inland, to prepare ambush.

20 July 1942

Transport ship Gili Gili reaches Buna and immediately begins unloading supplies for carriers to take to B Coy, now at Kokoda.

They don’t know it but the carriers leave with the much-needed supplies less that 24 hours ahead of the advance party of the Japanese invasion force headed for the same coastal village.

3 transport ships carrying Japanese 5th Sasebo Special Naval Landing Forces and Yokoyama Detachment (17th Army) depart Rabaul, headed for the North coast of Papua. 40 Japanese aircraft raid Port Moresby on the South coast.

19 July 1942

C Company 39th Battalion heads off up the Track to Ilolo following B Coy's steps on their way to Kokoda. 

That same day, unknown to the Diggers or their commanders, the Yokoyama Advance Butai of the Japanese Nankai Shitai (South Seas Force) sets sail from Rabaul, headed for the north coast of New Guinea.

18 July 1942

In Moresby, Col Bill Owen gets orders to move 39th Battalion to Kokoda, company by company, starting with C Coy the following day.

He orders his troops to immediately ready themselves for the journey across the Owen Stanley Range via the Kokoda Track, following B Company, now already at Kokoda.

17 July 1942

The commander of the native carrier system, Lt Bert Kienzle lifts the spirits of the young Diggers at Kokoda by bringing them supplies from his home in the nearby Yodda Valley.

He then sets off back down the Track to Moresby to supervise the recently-created carrier system.

16 July 1942

As B Coy 39Bn settles into its positions around Kokoda, its Medic Jack Wilkinson takes over the native hospital at Kokoda.

Wilkinson treats his young Diggers for blistered and swollen feet by soaking in solution of potash permanganate, then drying in sun.

15 July 1942

B Coy 39th Battalion arrives at Kokoda and Capt Sam Templeton immediately orders intensive weapon and patrol training.

He places one Platoon to defend the Kokoda airstrip, another where the Track crosses the Yodda River and the third in the Yodda Valley.

14 July 1942

B Coy 39th Bn arrives on the flat ground below Deniki, where it camps with a strength of 5 officers and 103 other ranks.

Troops enjoy the warmth and see Kokoda from below as they feast on bananas and pawpaws. Bert Kienzle proceeds to Kokoda to arrange tents for the troops.

13 July 1942

B Coy 39 Bn moves from Kagi to Eora Creek crossing, saturated by tropical downpours, held up by steep terrain, slippery track, lawyer vines, cold and mist.

The unit’s CO, ‘Uncle Sam’ Templeton orders his young troops to camp by the edge of the roaring Eora Creek.