16 November 1942

The 2/33rd Battalion reaches Awala, where back in July the first contact was made with the Japanese advance by members of the Papuan Infantry Battalion, led by Major Watson and some members of the 39th Battalion led by Lt Seekamp.

At Awala, the Australians are met by troops of the US 126th Regiment who had marched over the Owen Stanleys via the Kapa Kapa Track through Jaure, east of the Kokoda Track.

Unprepared for the conditions, poorly supplied and ravaged by malaria, dengue fever, bush typhus, dysentery and food poisoning, the Americans took 42 days to reach the north coast and didn’t see a Japanese soldier during the trip.

They were nicknamed the ‘ghost battalion’ and were unfit for combat. Nevertheless they would fight in the forthcoming battle at Buna.