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    Toko Bougainville Province Papua New Guinea (PNG)

Location
Lat 6° 39' 0S Long 155° 14' 20E  Toko is a coastal village on the western coast of Bougainville in Papua New Guinea (PNG). Located to the south of Empress Augusta Bay.

Wartime History
On January 24, 1945, the Australian Army 25th Battalion relieved the 47th Battalion on the Tavera River. The same day a platoon from "D" Company landed at Motupena Point and set off down the coast towards Toko. By February 3 the platoon had closed to within half a mile of Toko and established itself on a lagoon. That day another platoon landed from a barge and the force, carrying the sandbar at the point of the bayonet, swept into the area which was to become the base for Australian divisional operations in southern Bougainville.

From Toko a track ran inland a few hundred yards above the Puriata River in the direction of Darara on the No. 1 government road to Buin. This road was a continuation of the track south from Kupon through Mosigetta to Darara and on to the main Puriata ford. An eastward move from Toko towards Darara would close the river crossing, cutting the escape route of the Japanese retreating before the two battalions reorganizing at Mosigetta for the Darara drive.

On February 10, 1945 "D" Company was ordered to take Darara. At first the push was one of platoon strength; two others remaining at Toko to assist unloading through the heavy surf. It was not until the arrival of "A" Company and a platoon of the New Guinea Infantry Battalion that the position improved and the whole company got under way. It was a nerve-racking job. Twice the force was ambushed and attacked, and once while split into groups the Japanese swept in between. All the way the men had had to cut their own jeep track and on 23 February "A" Company pushed through and drove the Japanese from Darara. Patrols reached the Puriata and sealed the southern fords. The Japanese moved inland to escape across the northern fords, falling to the commandos in twos and threes. The way had been cleared for a shortened line of communication. Within a fortnight 7th Brigade established headquarters at Toko.

More and more air dropping came to the force. At Piva, the men of the air maintenance platoon worked late into the night stowing the para-packs and free-drop rations. To maintain the road between Torokina and Toko engineers struggled against floods and a pounding surf which gnawed away at the coastline, washing out the road and breaking through the swamps. With Toko-Darara in Australian hands Brigadier Field prepared to cross the Puriata River.

At 9am on Thursday and again on Good Friday advance tanks of "B" Squadron 2/4th Armoured Regiment went ashore at Toko from LCTs. On Thursday night Brigadier Field ordered the tanks to the Puriata. The following morning engineers of the 15th Field Company closed the three-ton truck bridge at Combes Crossing to traffic, and by 2.30 pm had a "tankable" bridge across the ditch. The tanks were delayed fifteen minutes. But the Puriata River had flooded and although the level had fallen on Friday it was too high to ford the Matildas. The crews got to work and in half the time prescribed had waterproofed their vehicles. By 4.45pm they were ready to cross. The first tank bogged and had to be abandoned. The other three crossed with the aid of a bulldozer and moved on to 25th Battalion behind Slater's Knoll.

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Last Updated
January 11, 2018

 

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