20 September 1942

The Japanese logistics problems reach crisis point. The Allied air forces operating out of Moresby now concentrate on disrupting or destroying the Japanese supply lines from the beachheads.

One of their key targets is the suspension bridge over the Kumusi River at Wairopi, which is constantly attacked. Each time it is destroyed, Japanese engineers quickly rebuild it.

19 September 1942

Because of events elsewhere in the Pacific, especially the grim fighting against the Americans at Guadalcanal and the setback at Milne Bay, Japanese High Command had ordered General Horii to strengthen his position at Gona.

18 September 1942

The severely depleted 39th Battalion receives reinforcements in Moresby, many from NSW and Queensland, diluting the proud Victorian unit’s original heritage.

It is ordered to Base Area and fully equipped and armed once again. It is placed under the command of the 7th Division and ordered to patrol areas to the north of Moresby to prevent any enemy infiltration.

17 September 1942

As the Diggers prepare to make last stand at Imita Ridge, the Japanese, now taking up positions opposite them on Ioribaiwa Ridge, receive orders to withdraw. Having no word in their army lexicon for retreat, they are ordered to “advance to the rear!”

It was a shattering disappointment to the Japanese soldiers, who, at night, could see the lights of Moresby, about five days march away.

The Japanese had suffered at least 1000 casualties, including battle deaths and sickness and many of the remaining troops were close to starvation and exhausted as their supply lines had broken.

16 September 1942

The constant bombardment by the Japanese mountain gun, mortars and heavy machine guns at Iroibaiwa starts to take a mental toll on the Australians and some in the forward positions have to be moved out for a rest. Many seasoned veterans have shattered nerves caused by the unrelenting stress and the mounting casualties around them.

The desperate Japanese attacks on the Australians' flanks increase in intensity during the day and eventually the defenders are forced to withdraw back to Imita Ridge, the next major ridge line back towards Moresby down the Track. Other Australian units have already set up defensive positions there.

The 2/14th Battalion, now a shadow of the proud unit that moved up the Track six weeks earlier, is withdrawn from the line and heads back to Uberi.

15 September 1942

Australians now holding Ioribaiwa for fifth day as Jap numbers build up and they redouble their efforts to find the Diggers' flanks and try their normal tactic of encircling them.

The attackers add mortars and heavy machine guns to their mountain artiller piece and the Australians suffer significant casualies. The 2/14th Battalion's HQ comes under consistent fire and the unit loses seven dead and 19 wounded, with an additional 17 evacuated due to illness.

Australian patrolling keeps Japs off balance and denies them access to the Australian flanks. Troops from 2/25th Battalion join the position.

14 September 1942

Many Australian wounded still adrift in jungle after Brigade Hill battle. Some being brought into Australian lines by Fuzzy Wuzzy stretcher bearers, Others lie unattended until they can be rescued by the Australians once they begin their advance agains the Japanese some weeks ahead.

One of the heroes of Isurava, Teddy Bear, wounded in the battle there and only able to walk backwards, moves back down the Track in a bizarre dance with a mate who can only walk when supported. They 'waltz' ino the Ausralian lines after more than 10 days struggling down the Track.

The first troops of 25th Brigade (3/31st, 2/33rd) are deployed around Ioribaiwa and Brigadier Ken Eather takes command.

13 September 1942

Australians now reinforced at Ioribaiwa and they keep Japanese off balance by patrolling heavily. Australian patrols take heavy toll of Japanese, who, by now, are in weakened state because of lack of food supplies.

The Japanese attackers are also struggling to move their ammunition forward and they are hampered by their wounded, whom they have brought forward with them in anticipation of treating them in Moresby once they have reached their goal.

12 September 1942

At Ioribaiwa Ridge Diggers again come under Jap mountain gun fire on exposed position and suffer consistent casualties.

Australians keep the Japs guessing by patrolling heavily. One patrol of 2/14 Bn springs ambush and inflicts 30 casualties without loss. Japs probing to find the extent of the Australian position, aiming to outflank and encircle. But they misjudge the width of the Australian defences.

The 3rd Battalion moves forward to join the Australians. It will go on to spend more time on the Track than any other Australian unit.

11 September 1942

Diggers now back at Ioribaiwa Ridge, setting up defensive positions on the forward slope, preparing for a final stand about 60km out from Port Moresby.

In a superhuman effort the Japanese invaders have broken down their mountain artillery into man-sized pieces and carried them with them down the Track. They assemble them at Ioribaiwa Ridge and start firing on the Australians across the valley.

With almost every shot the Australians su1ffer casualties.

But the Japanese are becoming increasingly desperate as casualties and illness deplete their numbers, they run short of food and ammunition and their supply lines are stretched to breaking point.