Imita Ridge.

The Australians, lacking shovels, began to dig in on Imita Ridge with
bayonets and helmets but were screened by offensive patrolling which
harassed the Japanese. Eather had five battalions with 2600 officers and
men against an estimated 5000 Japanese troops. However, the Australians
now had short supply lines and it was the Japanese whose lines of
communications were extended and with the increasing allied air power
were now being attacked for the first time from the air. On 22 September
the 2/25th Battalion began probing towards Ioribaiwa and by 28 September
the Australians were in a position to launch a full attack only to find
that the Japanese had abandoned their positions and much of their
equipment. The factors that had operated so adversely against the
Australians at the beginning of the Owen Stanley campaign; the misty,
rainy, muddy, precipitous mountains, slippery tracks and thick forests
with incredibly bad supply facilities and enormous medical problems were
now operating even more effectively against the Japanese. By the end of
September the overland threat to Port Moresby had been removed and with
the defeat of the Japanese invasion at Milne Bay and the success of the
American invasion at Guadacanal the threat to Port Moresby had been

In early October 1942 while the 25th Brigade followed up the Japanese,
further Australian and American reinforcements were reaching New Guinea.
The strategy was now to eliminate the Japanese from the north coast of
Papua by retaking the villages of Buna, Gona and Sanananda. The
Australians were to continue attacking along the Kokoda Trail towards
the coast while the Americans were to attack towards Buna from the south
west. While some American troops were flown to Pongani, 80 kilometres
down the coast from Buna, other American troops set out along the track
from Jaure to Buna undertaking the difficult task of marching across the
Owen Stanley Ranges. On the Kokoda trail, the Australians contacted the
Japanese rearguard forward of Templeton's crossing on 8 October but the
rate of the Australian advance depended on the establishment of adequate
dumps of air-dropped supplies and the ability of the men to carry
supplies forward from those dumps. The Japanese were well dug astride
the trail forward of Templeton's crossing and it was only after heavy
resistance in which 50 Australians were killed and 133 wounded that
Templeton's crossing was recaptured on 16 October.

On 20 October, Brigadier J E Lloyd of the 16th Brigade took command of
the forward area and commenced attacking the Japanese rearguard beyond
Templeton's crossing. The Japanese defended Eora Creek until 28 October
when the 2/3rd Battalion outflanked the Japanese positions and routed
the defenders. On 2 November, the leading battalion of the 25th Brigade
re-entered Kokoda with its airstrip which would finally solve the ever
present supply problem. On 5 November, the 2/2nd and 2/3rd Battalion of
the 16th Brigade ran into strongly manned Japanese positions at Oivi and
at nightfall in relatively open country faced a defensive position that
was some five kilometres in extent. A Japanese counter-attack on 6
November was defeated and while the 16th Brigade maintained pressure on
the Japanese at Oivi, the whole of the 25th Brigade moved round the
southern flank to cut Japanese communications. On 9 November, the
Japanese defence around Gorari was overcome and the Gorari-Ilimo track
was cut trapping the Japanese at Oivi. Frantic efforts by the Japanese
to break out on 10 November were unsuccessful and the Australian
battalions tightened their grip. On 11 November, the Japanese abandoned
the Oivi position and fled north and east through the bush where they
were repeatedly strafed by Beaufighters. The 25th Brigade pursued the
Japanese from the foothills of the Owen Stanley Ranges and on 13
November, the 2/31st Battalion crossed the wide, swift Kumusi River with
the coast 60 kilometres away. By 17 November 1942 all seven Australian
infantry battalions were over the river and the Owen Stanley Ranges
campaign was over.

The four month campaign in the Owen Stanley Ranges to defend Port
Moresby had ended in the complete defeat of the Japanese. The campaign
had involved four Australian Brigades with twelve infantry battalions
which lost 605 killed and 1015 wounded. No accurate records exist of
casualties due to sickness but between two to three men were
hospitalised through sickness for every battle casualty. The ground
battle had been an exclusively Australian one since they did not link up
with any American ground units until after the crossing of the Kumusi.
The campaign had been won by Australians who shown physical endurance
and courage of the highest order.