31 October 1942

The Jap commander Gen Horii remains optimistic, having been told to expect ‘a division’ of reinforcements, around 20,0f 00 troops, with which he could resume his advance to Moresby.

Within days Horii will receive orders dashing his hopes as the demands of the Guadalcanal campaign override his needs.

By this stage Horii’s Nankai Shitai (South Seas Force) has suffered devastating heavy casualties and Horii orders his Kokoda Field Hospital to withdraw, taking its patients back to the beachheads.

30 October 1942

As the Australians press forward to Kokoda, back down the Track at Myola, their sick and wounded are ordered to move back to Moresby.

They are sent back in batches. Those who can walk straggle along the treacherous Track. Stretcher cases are at last able to be taken back as sufficient numbers of Fuzzy Wuzzy carriers arrive.

Some of the wounded have languished at Myola for months, waiting for evacuation. The last of them will not arrive back in Moresby until the week before Christmas. Indeed, less than 50 casualties will have been evacuated by plane from Myola. More than 1000 make the tortuous journey by foot or on stretchers.

29 October 1942

Australians enter Jap positions above Eora Creek and find them abandoned. They count 69 enemy dead, mostly emaciated and without food, except for fish paste.

The sophistication of the Jap positions surprises the Australians. Weapons pits and trenches radiate about 100 metres across from a central ‘keep’. The Diggers recover extensive intelligence records and a substantial collection of mortars, machine guns, rifles and ammunition.

About 124 Australians were killed or died of their wounds during the battles for Templeton’s Crossing and Eora Creek. At least that many have been wounded.

28 October 1942

The decisive day of the battle for Eora Creek. Led by Major Ian Hutchison of 2/3rd Battalion, around 200 Diggers scramble to the high spur above the Japanese positions and charge their enemy.

Firing from the hip, advancing from tree to tree, the Diggers charge through to the heart of the Japanese defences. For the first time in the entire campaign, the Japanese troops break and bolt into the thick jungle, many abandoning their weapons.

Cpl Lester ‘Tarzan’ Pitt – his mates called him ‘five feet of dynamite – destroys four Jap bunkers single-handedly. His bravery is later recognised with the Military Medal. He will die of wounds incurred at the battle for Oivi two weeks later on 6 November.

27 October 1942

Gen Blamey, under pressure from MacArthur, signals Port Moresby: “the delay in seizing Kokoda may cost us unique opportunity of driving enemy out of New Guinea”.

Blamey and MacArthur fail to grasp the difficulties faced by the Diggers as they try to dislodge the Japanese from their hidden log-protected weapons pits on the jungle spurs overlooking Eora Creek.

There the Australians are meeting fierce resistance from the entrenched and desperate Japanese. Ten Diggers are killed in action on the day as the Australians continue to dig out the enemy in a jungle war of attrition.

26 October 1942

At Eora Creek both sides snipe at each other as the Australians try to claw their way up the spur to command the high ground.

Any visible movement from the Diggers draws heavy machine gun and mortar fire and their precarious positions mean they have to rely on emergency rations and rainwater collected in their capes.

The Australians devise a system when they discovered enemy posts. While holding them down with concentrated Bren and Tommy gun fire, troops hurling grenades rush them and overrun them.

Because of the steep terrain, whenever the Diggers rest after taking a post, the Japs swarm back into it, forcing the Australians to start the dangerous process all over again.

25 October 1942

During the night Diggers dig a machine-gun and mortar emplacement on the ridge overlooking Eora Creek, aiming to bring fire on the Japanese positions opposite.

But at dawn they realise they are visible to the enemy who immediately drop a high-explosive shell on to the gun pit wounding several Australians. Clearly, the Japs had accurately ranged the position in anticipation of the Australian advance.

While the Australians seek an alternative position, the Japs fire their mortars unimpeded from the top of the spur into the valley.

24 October 1942

Lt Colonel Paul Cullen leads his 2/1st Battalion across a bridge over Eora Creek in pre-dawn darkness to attack the Jap positions.

The Diggers sneak across the bridge under the noses of enemy sentries. When the Japs realise their mistake they sweep the positions with machine-gun fire from their log-reinforced weapons pits above the valley.

The Australians lose 10 killed in action, one is Pte Guy Manusu of 2/1st Battalion. His brother Alfred will die in the same battle three days later.

23 October 1942

The Battle for Eora Creek is in full swing with both sides taking heavy casualties. The Australians lose 26 killed on the day, including three missing presumed dead. All bar three are from the NSW-based 2/1st Battalion.

The Japanese defenders chose their position well, building their ‘forest fort’ around the only fresh water source on the high ridge. Consequently the Australians are forced to catch rainwater in their capes and from tree roots.

Each time Australian patrols contact the Jap defences, scouts are killed, the positions are taken but during the night when the Diggers have to withdraw, the Japs re-establish their defences.

Replaced 21 Brigade commander Arnold Potts writes note to his men thanking them and concludes: “Be loyal to all the ideals we have built up around this Bde of three hard-hitting, hard-marching and hard-living Bns, and nothing in your lives will ever give you half so much pleasure as belonging to it or so much pain as leaving it.”

22 October 1942

A dawn attack by B Company 2/1st Battalion finds the Japanese defenders have spirited away during the night, falling back to positions further along the Track.

The Diggers are surprised at the extent of the enemy defensive works, prepared almost 300 metres along the Track. The Australians lose six killed in action and three more who die of their wounds.

They know the enemy is waiting a short distance down the Track