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Veterans revisit Kokoda and the Beachheads 70 years on

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Thursday 25 October 2012 VA089


Australian veterans of the Kokoda and Beachhead battles will return to wartime soil in Papua New Guinea next week to mark the 70th anniversaries of the iconic Second World War campaign.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Warren Snowdon said ensuring the Japanese advance halted in Papua was vital to the defence of Australia.

“Australian soldiers on the Kokoda Track won an important victory for the Allies and played a crucial role in bringing an end to Japanese occupation of Papua,” he said.

“In July 1942 the Japanese landed near Gona on the north coast of Papua (now a part of Papua New Guinea) and advanced along the Kokoda Track over the rugged Owen Stanley Range, reaching within 48 kilometres of Port Moresby.

“For four gruelling months on the treacherous terrain and jungles of the Kokoda Track, Australian soldiers fought side-by-side with Papuan infantry, forcing Japanese troops slowly back along the track. Assisting the troops were civilians who became affectionately known as the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels,” he said.

After Kokoda was secured, the fighting moved to the Beachheads where Australians and Americans joined together in attacks on the Japanese positions at Buna, Gona and Sanananda in late 1942. With increased supplies, reinforcements and air support, they took all three strongholds by January 1943.

“The battles of Kokoda and the Beachheads were a long struggle that cost more than 1,800 Australian lives and more than 4,000 wounded or struck down with terrible illnesses.”

Mr Snowdon said this special journey back to the battlefields will see veterans of the campaign share their memories and honour those who fell 70 years ago in the courageous defence of our shores.

The veterans travelling to Papua New Guinea will represent all Australians who served and died during the battles. They will participate in a range of commemorative activities including services at Kokoda and Popondetta and visits to the Bomana War Cemetery to pay tribute to lost mates.

The Port Moresby (Bomana) War Cemetery contains the graves of more than 3,300 Australian service personnel who died in the Second World War. More than 700 Australian soldiers, sailors and airmen who have no known grave are commemorated on the Port Moresby Memorial to the Missing within the cemetery.


Editor’s note: Follow the veterans on Facebook at DVA Aus, Twitter at @dvaaus and Flickr at DVA Aus. Veteran biographies, images, historical background and other resources are available at For interviews with veteran representatives contact or 0419 120 908.

Media inquiries: Minister Snowdon: Marcus Butler 02 6277 7820 or 0417 917 796 Department of Veterans’ Affairs Media: 02 6289 6203

Veteran representatives travelling to Papua New Guinea

Name Location Age on mission Unit/Service

Mr Cyril Boyd Allender Palmyra, WA 93 2/14th Battalion, Army

Mr Raymond Gordon Wilson Baldwin OAM Glenelg, SA 91 2/27th Battalion, Army

Mr Leslie Eric Cook Garran, ACT 89 7th Division Signals, Army

Mr Leonard Donald Griffiths Narrabundah, ACT

90 3rd Battalion, Army

Mr Robert Francis Iskov Wangaratta, VIC

92 2/14th Battalion, Army

Mr Kenneth Kell Forster, NSW 90 2/1st Field Regiment, Army

Mr Eric Thomas Sambell

Peterborough, SA


2/27th Infantry Battalion, Army

Mr William (Bill) Wallace Stuart

Beaumaris, VIC

92 39th Battalion, Army