21 July 1942

Around 4pm, a cruser escorting the Japanese advance invasion party suddenly appears off Gona-Sanananda and starts shelling the 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 2000 Japanese troops of the Yokoyama Butai, the advance party, start disembarking at dusk and continue 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 his young Diggers at Awala, about 20km inland, to prepare ambush.