The Battle for Isurava
Fighting on the Kokoda Track in the heart of the Owen Stanleys
By David W Cameron
Published by Big Sky Publishing
RRP $32.99 in paperback ISBN 9781922615671
Author David Cameron has an impressive list of books and research papers to his credit.
This year, The Battle for Isuravais due to be followed by two more titles focusing on the desperate battles to turn back the Japanese advance in New Guinea:
- Saving Port Moresby (Sept 22) and
- Retaking Kokoda (Nov 22).
With this book, he tells the story of a small Australian militia force, the Australian militiamen of ‘B’ Company, 39th Battalion, who spent four weeks fighting a delaying action against a crack Japanese force of the 144th Regiment and supporting elements, numbering at least 1500.
The Australians were outnumbered by three to one. By mid-August, the rest of the battalion had arrived, and these men took up a position at Isurava, in the heart of the cloud covered mountains and jungles of the Owen Stanley Range.
The battle for Isurava would be the defining battle of the Kokoda Campaign and has rightfully been described as Australia’s Thermopylae. (A battle fought in 480 BC between the Achaemenid Persian Empire under Xerxes I and an alliance of Greek city-states led by Sparta.)
It was here that Australia’s first Victoria Cross in the Pacific war was awarded when the Japanese conducted several ferocious attacks against the Australian perimeter.
Private Bruce Kingsbury led an Australian counterattack, rushing forward sweeping the Japanese positions with his Bren gun, saving the situation when all seemed lost. Sadly he was killed leading the charge.
Cameron reveals that despite the Australians being outnumbered and poorly equipped they fought tenaciously and determinedly.
It was to be years before the final victory against Japan could be declared.