Bernie (dad) called at 6pm on tonight from camp at 1900 Crossing. They’re all well.
Today was a huge day. From Brigade Hill, they took a different route down Mission Ridge – it is a route very few people take and they even had to have some of the scrub cleared in order for them to get through. They went through some of the original Australian positions, and found mortars – pretty amazing after 70 years, and a stark reminder of the war and those who fought and died there; those to whom the trekkers are paying respect on this Tribute Trek.
The K12s traversed some very slippery ground and some tricky river crossings, taking off their boots and using ropes to cross some of the rivers. It rained the whole day and was extremely muddy, but the trekkers are all cheerful. They went up to Kagi and tackled a very big uphill to 1900 Crossing which took about 3 hours. Dad went so far as to say that today was one of the toughest days he’s ever done for the sheer amount of mud and slipping, and it included THE toughest 3 hour stint – so that’s saying something.
They got into camp at about 4.30pm. They all have tents full of wet clothes, but there’s nothing they can do about that and they’re all well and in good spirits. They’ve enjoyed a dinner of mashed potato with cut up sausages and gravy.
Tomorrow they’ll probably skip Myola, given the huge day they’ve had today, and will go straight to Eora Creek. So they’ll have a mere 9 hour walk on Sunday (it is the day of rest after all…)
The K12s called from Brigade Hill at 7.15pm on Friday night. They arrived at 2pm after an intense day, and it was nice to get there and to find they had the place to themselves after a few nights of sharing campsites.
They’re all well and had a really nice ceremony to mark the 70th anniversary of the battle of Brigade Hill. They noted that Brigade Hill is amazing as always, and still has that really special feeling about it.
Back here in Adelaide, some of the partners, parents, children and friends of the trekkers gathered for a meal to mark the anniversary, and it was while we were gathered that Bernie called, so he passed the phone around amongst the K12s and we were able to hear their voices – they all sounded like they were in really good spirits. They said they’re all thinking of all of us back home and are having a great time. Ray Baldwin, a 2/27th veteran, joined us for dinner. The K12s passed on their best wishes to him, and noted that they felt they’d paid suitable tribute to him and his mates on Brigade Hill, which Ray appreciated. They were also able to pass on their best wishes directly to Bob Kass, who, in a nice surprise, joined us for dinner.
On Saturday, the K12s will head down Mission Ridge – this section of the walk has some interesting climbs, and they have no idea what sort of state the Track will be in, so they’re not sure what time they’ll get into camp but they plan to be camping at 1900 Crossing.
The messages to and from the K12s have been getting through, so keep them coming; it can provide great motivation and support, especially now that they’re a few days in.
If you wish to support the Centacare Kokoda Challenge team’s fundraising efforts you can visit the sponsorship website at http://www.everydayhero.com.au/bernie_victory or by downloading the donation form here.
Those battalions which had been fighting constantly for two weeks since Isurava, 2/16th and 2/14th, needed rest. Consequently 2/27th was placed in the front line on Mission Ridge while the other two battalions were placed behind, in reserve on Brigade Hill. There were about 1400 Australians and 1570 Japanese in the area.
On 7 September, 1942 the Japanese attack commenced. With artillery support, the Japanese attacked the 2/27th on Mission Ridge. Though the fighting continued until early the following morning the Japanese were unable to take any ground from the Australians, half of whose losses were to a bombardment from the six big Japanese guns.
As night fell on 7 September the other Japanese battalion commenced an incredible night march. At dawn on the 8th, the Japanese found the Kokoda track in the Australian rear. A number of counter attacks, including the heroic but ill-fated charge led by Claude Nye and Lefty Langridge, failed to dislodge the Japanese. The Australians on Mission Ridge withdrew to join those on Brigade Hill and the whole cut their way south, through the jungle.
Australian casualties at Efogi were 87 dead and 77 wounded. The Japanese lost 60 dead and 165 wounded. These figures are not a true reflection of the catastrophe which overtook the Australians at Efogi. An additional 500 men, mainly from 2/27th Battalion, without food, marched south through the mountains for up to three weeks before rejoining their own force.
Written by Lucy Jenner