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Pacific World War II Reviews  

by Lex McAulay
Hutchinson  1991

Language: English

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Blood and Iron
The Battle of Kokoda 1942

The book begins by setting the stage of events prior to the battle in early 1942 with the situation in New Guinea and Port Moresby, the Japanese objective of the operation.

The campaign begins with the Japanese landing at Buna and Gona on the night of July 21-22 1942. The Japanese soon met tremendous natural obstacles: difficult terrain and supply problems. The Japanese allocated only two weeks or a month's supplies for the operation which they anticipated would end quickly. Ahead was the Kokoda Trail, a difficult mountain track that crosses the Owen Stanley Mountains to the outskirts of Port Moresby.

Instead, the campaign would last months and result in the death and destruction of the Japanese "South Seas Detachment" under General Horii. The Australian 39th Battalion, a militia unit provides the first line of defense and a fighting withdrawal over the trail towards Port Moresby. Defending in the most difficult weather, terrain with limited supplies.

This book is a balanced account of both the Australian and Japanese sides of the battle in a detailed narrative. Author McAulay does an excellent job of presenting the total picture of the Kokoda campaign, including missions by Allied aircraft, command decisions, Japanese and Australian diaries, personal accounts and unit histories.

Read interview with author Lex McAulay

Review by Justin Taylan  

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Last Updated
September 21, 2023

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