30 July 1942

Major Watson of ANGAU takes temporary command of 39th Bn after its CO, Lt-Col Bill Owen, is mortally wounded at Kokoda and the heavily outnumbered Diggers take their wounded and withdraw under the cover of mist through the rubber trees behind Kokoda plateau and gather at Deniki.

60-year-old Doc Vernon, the 39th’s Medical Officer, tends to the dying Lt Col Owen before being one of the last to leave Kokoda.

Medic Jack Wilkinson: "... Light mist is our saving. Waited for Dr Vernon till he started up road but he turned back to some others who were at edge of rubber. Went on alone to rear-guard. Picked up several wounded on track and bandaged them. Reached Deniki after daylight very buggared."