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Kokoda Trail: the Japanese Perspective
Transcript of Kokoda Trail: the Japanese Perspective
By: Miwa Tippinyu 10K
As the goal for the Japanese was to conquer Asia to keep it from Western influence, the Japanese were to let the US have no connection to any where in Asia. This was also the reason they bombed Pearl Harbor. Hence, they decided to invade islands around New Guinea and part of it so that American Supply ships couldn't get to Australia, the Allies couldn't use it as a base and the Japanese could possibly attack Australia's important
The Japanese first landed in New Guinea with hopes of reaching Port Moresby so they could have a base to attack Australia easily despite having conquered many islands in that region already.
If the Japanese had conquered
Port Moresby, they would have quickly launched an attack on Queensland and would be likely to invade Australia but as Australia won this campaign and the Battle of the Coral Sea before it, the Japanese weren't an immediate threat Australia.
The Japanese Troops
The Japanese troops were transported from Rabaul on the New Britain island every night, the convoy unloaded and then sent back before sunrise to keep the Allies from stopping the transporting of troops. Although one was sunk by the Allied airforce, the most of the soldiers made it ashore and some bad weather also prevented the transporting of troops. There were 13,500 Japanese troops who arrived in New Guinea and 6,500 soldiers perished on the campaign. They also weren't trained to combat automatic artillery, a major hindrance to their advancement. The Japanese troops were also uninformed about the strategy of capturing Port Moresby, being given only instructions but no explainations.
Although the Japanese were not skilled in jungle warfare like the Australian 'chocos', they were trained in night fighting which helped them during the clashes at night.
The Conditions of Kokoda
The harsh and unfamiliar conditions of Kokoda was a central issue of both sides. The steep ridges of the Owen Stanley Range as well as the torrential rainfall of Kokoda was a chief obstacle of the Japanese troops but they advanced swiftly and methodically down the trail. However, as the Japanese troops got further along the trail, their supply line was cut leaving the soldiers starved and victims to the many diseases of the tropics. This caused them to retreat and eventually defeated. The number of deaths due to the harsh conditions and attacks caused Japanese soldiers to say, "New Guinea is where no one comes back."
The statistics also support this. Out of the 13,500 Japanese soldiers who fought in Kokoda, only 7,000 survived which is just over a half. On the Australian side however, the 625 deaths are slight against the 30,000 soldiers who fought there, this lower percentage due to the help of the fuzzy wuzzy angels that helped the soldiers carry the wounded, navigate and care for the ill. The number of Allied soldiers also outnumbered the number of Japanese soldiers.
The Japanese soldiers heard that, "Australia is the destination of British criminals. So be careful, they are going to be very cruel
The Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels
Although the New Guineans helped the Australians in multiple ways, they never assisted the Japanese in any way. They helped the Australian troops by helping to transport supplies and wounded men to and from the battlefield. This is possibly due to the sudden invasion of the Japanese and the way they treated the prisoners of war. The Japanese also ransacked the villlages of the New Guineans, causing damage and the air attacks made by the Allies also caused further damage.
The harsh conditions
No help from the natives
Led to the high death toll
Imita Ridge was a major turning point of the campaign as it was the closest the Japanese got to Port Moresby before they were forced to retreat. The Battle of Ioribaiwa Ridge was before this and although Ioribaiwa Ridge was within 40 km and the Japanese could see the lights of Port Moresby and were celebrating, Brigadier Ken Eather ordered Major General Allen for permission to withdraw to Imita Ridge to which his superior replied, "There won't be any withdrawal from the Imita position, Ken. You'll die there if necessary."
At Imita Ridge, the overstretched Japanese supply lines caused the Japanese troops to be hungry and fell vicitim to the malaria and other diseases that were suppressed. They were also physically weak from all the previous battles and therefore, Major General Tomitaro Horii decided to retreat until his troops recovered however, the Australian soldiers pushed back the Japanese and they never captured Port Moresby.
“They carried stretchers over seemingly impassable barriers, with the patient reasonably comfortable. The care they give to the patient is magnificent. If night finds the stretcher still on the track, they will find a level spot and build a shelter over the patient. They will make him as comfortable as possible fetch him water and feed him if food is available, regardless of their own needs. They sleep four each side of the stretcher and if the patient moves or requires any attention during the night, this is given instantly. These were the deeds of the ‘Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels’ – for us!”
...help from the fuzzy wuzzies...
The Harsh Conditions...
...was a main issue for both sides.
...was an asset to the Australian army.
This is a quote from an Australian soldier about the help of the New Guineans. The quotes tells of how caring and angelic the fuzzy wuzzies were to the soldiers that helped the campaign and made it easier to navigate along the track with the help of the fuzzy wuzzies. They also made the wounded less distressed and cared for the soldiers attentively throughout the whole campaign .
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The steep and precarious mountain range the soldiers had to climb over, often with a big machine gun.