20 October 1942

In heavy fighting the 2/2nd the Australians work their way around the Jap positions at Templeton's Crossing and break through their perimeter on the high ground, led by the 2/2nd Battalion. Casualties are high on both sides, with 24 Diggers killed in action, 22 of them from the 2/2nd Battalion.

The Japanese are forced to withdraw back down the Track to prepared positions at Eora Creek where the fighting continues.

19 October 1942

Fighting intensifies at Templeton’s Crossing as the Australians, led by 3rd and 2/2nd Battalions, work their way around the high ground above the Japanese positions.

The Australians lose 16 killed in action on the day, eight of them from the 3rd Battalion. By the end of the day the 2/2nd troops are heavily pressing the Japanese perimeter.

All the while Higher Command demands the Diggers energise their attacks: "During last five days you have made practically no advance against a weaker enemy." HQ had no concept of the precipitous terrain and the advantage it gave an entrenched force.

18 October 1942

Battle at Templeton’s Crossing continues as Diggers try to outflank the Japanese defences, dug in on the high ground.

The 3rd Battalion takes brunt of the action, losing four soldiers killed: Cpl Bob Rogers and Ptes Kevin Cosgrove, John Jones and Arnold Kemp.

Meanwhile Blamey signals General ‘Tubby’ Allen: “General MacArthur considers quote extremely light casualties indicate no serious effort yet made to displace enemy unquote. You will attack enemy with energy and all possible speed at each point of resistance. Essential that Kokoda airfield be taken at earliest. Apparent enemy gaining time by delaying you with inferior strength.”

Gen Tubby Allen replies: “25th Brigade has been attacking all day and enemy is now counter-attacking".

17 October 1942

Near modern day Templeton’s Crossing No 2, Sgt Bede Tongs 3rd Battalion takes command of his platoon after his officer Lt Col Richardson is badly wounded. He evacuates Richardson then deploys his platoon to attack Jap machine gun positions.

Tongs crawls down a fire lane close to Jap machine gunners, takes a grenade, pulls out the pin waits two seconds then tosses the grenade into the pit, silencing them.

He will later be awarded the Military Medal for his gallantry. Colin Richardson survives harrowing evacuation. Loses lung but survives. Both Tongs and Richardson hale and hearty in their 90s.

16 October 1942

At the Battle of Templeton’s Crossing, fresh Australian troops now probing around Japanese positions as both sides hit by the illnesses concealed by the jungle.

Captured enemy documents reveal Japs suffered around 1000 casualties during their advance to Ioirbaiwa. The Australian advance is already showing signs of the devastating impact of illness. To date they have lost 24 officers and 706 other ranks to sickness.

General ‘Tubby’ Allen doesn’t believe that his commander General Blamey understands the problems faced by the Diggers as they try to push the enemy back along the Track. He tells Blamey “this country is much tougher than any other previous theatre”.

15 October 1942

Brigadier Ken Eather establishes 25th Brigade HQ at the Myola dry lakes, east of Kagi village on the Track. It has become the central supply dropping point for the Australian advance.

The 3rd Battalion is in the vanguard of the advance, battling the Japanese delaying force at Templeton’s Crossing along with the 2/25th and 2/33rd Battalions.

Fighting is sporadic during the day and only one Digger is killed in action, Queenslander Private David Walker from the 2/25th.

14 October 1942

Both sides suffering heavy casualties at Templeton’s Crossing as the Australians try to edge their way around the Japanese defenders on the high ground.

Five Diggers are killed today – Privates Ted James and John Ryan, Cpls Terry Campbell and Fred Woods and Lt Bert Warne – with many more wounded.

13 October 1942

The Australians now strike the main delaying force around Templeton’s Crossing, around 1000 deeply entrenched Japanese troops.

The advancing Australian force totals around 3000, although because of the terrain they cannot bring large numbers against the Japanese defenders, who have a substantial advantage because they are well dug in, often hidden under logs, and have created coordinated supporting fields of fire.

It’s usually agreed that to be confident of success an attacking force should outnumber properly entrenched defenders by at least five to one.

It’s the start of a week of desperate close-quarter fighting.

12 October 1942

At 10am C Company 2/33rd Battalion attacks Jap position at Templeton’s Crossing. In fierce fighting over very small territory about 3m wide by about 70m deep, the Jap defenders fire from weapons pits as the Diggers attack with rifles and grenades.

Four Diggers, Privates Alex Erp, Reg Foott, Les Gunns and Gordon Ludbrook are killed in the action. But the Australians force the enemy to withdraw about 100m further up the Track.

C Company then settles down to wait for the rest of its battalion to reach them around mid afternoon. The battalion is ordered to attack within hours of arriving, with little time to recover from their march and no time for reconnaissance.

11 October 1942

A captured Japanese diary reveals the heavy casualties they have suffered to date in the campaign. Lt Horibe wrote in his notebook that his company had landed with 162 men. By Isurava they were reduced to 112 men and were down to 88 at Ioribaiwa. By the time they had withdrawn to Eora Creek they could only muster 43 men.

They were now surviving on a handful of rice per man per day as they dug in on the high ground above Eora Creek village and waited for the advancing Australians.