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Phil Bradley 2003
During August 13-19, the Australian Army 39th Battalion of militia assembled at Isurava to establish defensive positions to block an enemy advance over the trail. On August 16, 1942 39th Battalion commanding officer Lt. Col. Ralph Honner arrived at Isurava.
The Japanese patrols began to probe the area, indicating an impeding assault. By late August, the militia were exhausted by fighting, deprived of sleep, poor food and heavy rains.
Battle of Isurava
On August 27, the Japanese had cut off an Australian patrol 500m north of the village and efforts by C Company, 2/14th Battalion failed to relieve them. At 4pm, the Japanese made a frontal attack up the Kokoda Trail encountering E Company defenses. Meanwhile a small Japanese force attempted to outflank the position.
During the night of August 27-28, heavy rains fell in the area and the Japanese attack resumed from dawn to 8am, while Japanese forces attempted to outflank the C Company positions and kept attacking all afternoon until the evening. In total approximately 350 Japanese casualties were inflicted.
At dawn on August 29, heavy Japanese attacks began and the Australian defenders managed to repelled two assaults before their line was broken and forced the Australians to commit their reserves. In an attempt to repel the enemy, Private Bruce Kingsbury rushed forward with a Bren gun and firing from his hip to clear a path through the enemy before being shot by a sniper from the forest. He posthumously earned the Victoria Cross. The location where he was killed became known as "Kingsbury Rock".
By the end of the day, the Japanese had suffered an estimated 500 casualties and the Australians 17 KIA and 48 wounded. In total, 75 Australians died during the Battle of Isurava and the Isurava Rest House. During the night, the Australians began withdrawing with their wounded under fire. On August 30, Brigadier Potts ordered the remaining Australians to withdraw southward to Alolo (Alola).
American missions against Isurava
September 3, 1942
September 5, 1942
October 25, 1942
October 27, 1942
Dedicated in August 2002 by Australian Prime Minister, John Howard and PNG Prime Minister, Michael Somare. Ten veterans attended the dedication including RSL president Maj. Gen Peter Phillips (retired). This memorial was the first of three memorial upgrades, including Popondetta and Milne Bay memorial upgrades and re-dedications during 2002. There is an adjacent helicopter landing pad at the memorial, and a guest house in Isurava for visitors. Since then, the memorial has become a place of pilgrimage for Australian trekkers and for dawn services on ANZAC Day.
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