Japanese land in Papua. The Japanese landed in the Gona area of Papua on the night of 21/22 July 1942 and had built up a force of 13,500 troops by the end of July. The first contact occurred on 24 July with a forward platoon of the Papuan Infantry Battalion at Awala, 40 kilometres inland. The platoon fell back to Gorari where they linked up the following day with the leading company of the 39th Battalion, a Victorian militia unit. The Japanese pressed on and pushed the small Australian force back through Oivi to Kokoda where the 39th Battalion's commanding officer, Lt Colonel W T Owen was killed on the night of 28/29 July. The Australian defenders were again pushed back and consolidated at Deniki. On 8 August, an attack by three companies of the 39th Battalion reached Kokoda but being unable to hold the position the battalion was again forced to fall back to Deniki. The Japanese pressed the Australians and although attacks on 9 and 10 August were beaten off, the Australian position had become isolated with food and ammunition running low. The Australian position was strongly pressed on 13 and 14 August and the decision was taken to withdraw to Isurava where the 39th Battalion was joined by the 53rd Battalion on 20 August. Further reinforcements from Australia were already on the way. The veteran 21st Brigade which had seen service in Syria commenced loading in Brisbane on 6 August and as soon as it landed at Port Moresby was rushed into the mountains. The Brigade Commander, Brigadier A W Potts, on foot like all his men, reached Isurava on 23 August with two of his battalions strung out along the trail behind him. Although he had been assured that adequate supplies had been moved forward, Potts found a completely inadequate reserve of rations and ammunition and although the cold was severe, only 80 blankets. There were not enough native carriers to bring up sufficient supplies and air-supply was limited by the lack of landing grounds and dropping areas, by the problem of developing efficient dropping methods and most of all by the shortage of aircraft. Without adequate supplies, the entire Australian operation in the Owen Stanley was in danger of collapsing. The failure of the supply system undermined Potts' position even before he met the Japanese and caused his command to change from an offensive to defensive role. On 26 August, the 2/14th Battalion of the 21st Brigade moved up to Isurava to relieve the 39th Battalion whose men were in a weak condition due to a lack of warm clothing, blankets, shelter and rations. Before the relief was carried out, the Japanese renewed their attack which they sustained on the Australian positions on succeeding days. The 53rd Battalion at Alola attacked towards Missima on 27 August but its leading companies had came under sharp fire and Lt-Colonel K H Ward, their commanding officer, was killed. The Japanese broke through the Australian lines on 29 August and threatened the entire 2/14th Battalion position which was only saved by a counter attack. For his gallantry during the counter attack, Private Bruce Kingsbury was posthumously award the Victoria Cross. The position of the 2/14th remained serious and on the morning of 30 August both the 2/14th and what was left of the 39th Battalion withdrew towards Alola. The 2/14th took heavy losses that day including its commanding officer, Lt Colonel Key, the third battalion commander killed on the Kokoda Trail in just over a month. The 2/16th Battalion, which had been held in reserve, took the forward position but by 2 September the 21st Brigade had become severely depleted and the order was given to withdraw to Templeton's Crossing. By this stage, the 21st Brigade had endured nearly a week of constant fighting, during most of which time they had been unable to even brew themselves a mug of tea and had certainly received no hot meals. Shelterless, their feet pulpy and shrivelled from the constant wet, they were soaked by continuous rain. In addition to their supply problems, the evacuation of the wounded was a desperate problem with never enough carriers to move stretchers along a congested trail to the road head. The Japanese pursued the Australians who were unable to establish strong defensive positions. Just when the supply problems seemed to have been solved, Myola, with its facilities for receiving supplies, had to be abandoned. The 2/27th Battalion took up in front of Efogi on 5 September taking the automatic weapons and equipment of the 39th Battalions. The 39th Battalion was down to 185 men and moved off for Port Moresby. The Japanese probed the 2/27th position on 7 September and attacked in strength before dawn on the 8th. The frontal attack was beaten off but the Japanese worked around the flanks to threaten Brigade headquarters and to surround the rearguard unit. On the night of 8 September the survivors of the three battalions of the 21st Brigade began to extricate themselves along a side track. By 10 September, the 2/14th and 2/16th Battalion were in position in front of Ioribaiwa as a composite unit with only 307 men. In the next few days several large parties of the 2/14th, cut off in the earlier fighting and all the remained of the 2/27th, came in, weary and starving after long marches around the flanks of the advancing Japanese. In leaving Myola, Brigadier Potts not only lost his main supply point but was also disregarding his latest orders. His decision was later vindicated but on 12 September he was replaced by Brigadier S H Porter and did not receive another active command until the closing months of the war. Porter in taking command of the 21st Brigade brought with him reinforcements, the 3rd Battalion and the 2/1st Pioneer Battalion and was told that the 25th Brigade would soon arrive to spearhead operations to stabilise the Owen Stanley front. The 25th Brigade had left Australia on 1 September, arrived at Port Moresby on 9 September and on 13/14 September began its deployment on the main Ioribaiwa feature to which Porter had withdrawn. On 14 September, the commander of the 25th Brigade, Brigadier K W Eather took command of all troops in the forward area. That day the Japanese renewed their attack using the rugged country to their advantage. The next day, the pressure continued against the whole Australian front and the Australians continued to lose men since they were unable to dislodge the Japanese from the high ground. With the Japanese feeling the whole front and flanks and with Eather concerned about committing all his units to defensive tasks and losing any freedom of movement, he requested permission to withdrew to Imita Ridge. The decision was left to Eather who withdrew his forces in stages on 17 September. Eather was then ordered to fight out the battle on Imita Ridge.