Saving Port Moresby
Fighting at the end of the Kokoda Track
By David W Cameron
Published by Big Sky Publishing
RRP $32.99 in paperback
Saving Port Moresby is the second of David Cameron’s three books commemorating the 80th anniversary of the battles in New Guinea. The first book, The Battle of Isurava, featured on this blog previously LINK HERE. The third book is Retaking Kokoda, all from Big Sky Publishing.
It’s 1942 and Japanese Major General Horii Tomitarô, commanding the South Seas Force, having taken the Kokoda Plateau in late July, was tasked with entering the Owen Stanley Range to capture Port Morseby.
After the battles for Deniki and Isurava, his troops were pushing south through the mountains. After fighting a delaying action at Templeton’s Crossing, the Australians took up a position along Mission Ridge, just south of Efogi Village.
Horii and his battalions attacked and after two days of bloody hand-to-hand fighting, the Australians were forced to withdraw. To the veterans who fought here the battle would become known as ‘Butcher’s Corner’.
After several further delaying actions, Brigadier Arnold Potts and his men took up a position on Ioribaiwa Ridge, just 50 kilometres north of Port Moresby. His brigade by now numbered fewer than 300 men. Here they were reinforced with the men of the 25th Brigade.
Horii decided that he would establish himself at Ioribaiwa Ridge as his base for operations against the township. After a week of fighting the Japanese cut through the centre right flank of the Australian 25th Brigade, forcing the Australians to fall back to Imita Ridge, the last defensible ridge in the Owen Stanleys immediately behind lay Port Moresby. Potts, however, never considered that the capture of Moresby by the enemy from the north was possible.
The author delivers a harsh critique of Major General Sir Thomas Blamey, accusing him of using others as scapegoats to hide his own significant failings.
VERDICT: This book brims with the detail many readers will find engaging and interesting.