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    Kokoda Gap (The Kokoda Gap, The Gap) Oro Province Papua New Guinea (PNG)
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Phil Bradley 2009
Location
The Kokoda Gap is roughly 11 miles wide gap with a 2,000' / 610m elevation drop at each end that forms a "gap" in the Owen Stanley Range in New Guinea. This feature is known as "Kokoda Gap, "The Kokoda Gap" or simply "The Gap". Prewar and during the Pacific War located in the territory of Papua. Today located in the Kairuku-Hiri District of Central Province in Papua New Guinea (PNG).

To the west is the Kokoda Trail and Eora Creek (Iora Creek) and beyond Mount Bellamy (Mt. Bellamy). To the south is Myola (Lake Myola) and to the southwest is the Kagi Gap. To the north Templeton's Crossing No. 1 and Templeton's Crossing No. 2. This ridge is the highest elevation on the Kokoda Trail. Adjacent is another geological dubbed False Gap by pilots because it looks similar. On the northern side of the Kokoda Gap is a cleared area known as a lookout that overlooks the Eora Creek Valley (Eora Valley) and on a clear day beyond to the Yodda Valley.

Prewar
A track used as a mail route diverged near the Kokoda Gap northward and rejoined the Kokoda Trail at Templeton's Crossing No. 2. Also, an alternate track spanned from Myola along the Kokoda Gap that crossed Eora Creek then reconnected with the Kokoda Trail. Also, the Kokoda Gap was used as a reference point used by pilots flying across New Guinea.

Wartime History
During the Pacific War, the Kokoda Gap was used by Allied and Japanese aircraft crossing the Owen Stanley Range as a gap in the mountains for aircraft flying from th north coast to the south coast or vice versa.

During the Kokoda campaign, the stretch of the Kokoda Trail near the Kokoda Gap was regarded as "an abomination" due to the terrible condition. This area was named "Templeton's Crossing" by Bert Kienzle in honor of Australian Army Captain Samuel "Sam" Templeton who was killed July 26, 1942 and included Templeton's Crossing No. 1 and Templeton's Crossing No. 2.

On August 13, 1942 U. S. Army General Richard Sutherland (General MacArthur's chief of staff), on advice from his chief engineer Major General Hugh Casey suggested in a communication to the Australian Army to select points like the gap "so that the pass may be readily blocked by demolition with TNT" in a misguided belief this was possible or could stop the Japanese advance.

In reply, Australian Army General Rowell responded, "The amount of explosives required would hardly increase the present difficulties of the track [Kokoda Trail]. Some parts have to be negotiated on hands and knees, and the use of tons of explosives would not increase these difficulties. It is respectfully suggested that such explosives as can be got forward would be better employed in facilitating our advance than for preparing to deny the enemy."

References
AWM Kokoda File - Australian Army General Rowell reply to U. S. Army
WW2 Nominal Roll - Samuel Victor Templeton, V50190

Field Guide to the Kokoda Track by Bill James (2006) pages 280 (map Myola to Templeton's Crossing No. 2), 281 (map profile: Myola to Templeton's Crossing No. 2), 285 (map troop dispositions, mid-October 1942)

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Last Updated
October 23, 2019

 

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