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Word Count: 588
Although Japans sea and air strength was severely weakened after the battle of the Coral Sea its forces were determined to capture Port Moresby On the 21 July 1942 Japanese troops landed at Buna and Gona on the north coast of New Guinea They planned to cross to Port Moresby by land This track crossed steep jungle-clad hills before descending to the coastal lowlands It contained a small airfield the only one in the area and the Japanese saw the capture of this airfield as a means of bombing their way to the conquest of Port Moresby The campaign on the Kokoda Track stands out in Australian military history For six months the young soldiers of the 39 Battalion or Maroubra Force reinforced by units of the 7th Division held off the Japanese attempts to capture this vital passage so close to Australias shores Many Australians owed their lives to these people The track extended for nearly 160 kilometres rising and falling through jungle-clad mountairs Heavy rains turned the path into a stream of putrid black mud Progress was painfully slow Engineers cut steps and cleared the way but even then the troops could move no more than a couple of kilometers per hour The supply problem made all operations difficult Food ammunition and other supplies had to be manhandled up the track or dropped from the air Groups of Papuans who came to be known affectionately as fuzzy-wuzzy angels helped carry the injured up and down the mud plastered track It was a weary existence as George Johnston describes the men are bearded to the eyes Their uniforms are hotpotches of anything that fits Despite all the difficulties the Australians were able to prevent the Japanese reaching their objective of Port Moresby The Australians made the Japanese fight for every centimetre of jungle On the 29 July 1942 the Australians were forced to retreat from a small town called Kokoda and on
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