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Old 18-03-2005, 11:54 AM
***aCe*** ***aCe*** is offline
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Kokoda Trail – The sum of all tears

Is Kokoda Trail, the sum of all tears?? Well, may be not but it is extremely tough and painful. A once bloodied WWII trail with a remarkable tale of courage, sacrifice, endurance and mate ship.

KOKODA Trail or track is perhaps a household name for hundreds of Australians who still come in droves to tread where the diggers once walked and fought during 1942’s campaign.

However, if you study the history, there is a remarkable tale behind this 96km WWII trail which runs through and in between the peaks and falls of the Owen Stanley Ranges in the Northern (Oro) province of Papua New Guinea.
There are recorded accounts of exceptional courage where by both the Australian soldiers and the native Papuans along the trail originally referred to as the “fuzzy wuzzy angels” have shown during the battle.

A native man on the look-out for Australians.....
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Old 18-03-2005, 12:15 PM
***aCe*** ***aCe*** is offline
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There are recorded accounts of exceptional courage where by both the Australian soldiers and the native Papuans along the trail originally referred to as the “fuzzy wuzzy angels” have shown during the battle. The Australians have done their part by defending this territory of Papua New Guinea from the advancing Japanese forces. And the natives have faithfully and obediently helped them through their battle as careers or bearers.

Perhaps a striking account of such a tale would be this one:

“Along this track, day after day, the walking sick and wounded passed and plodded Carrying improvised stretchers, one or two blankets lashed with native string or vine to two long poles spread by stout traverse bars, as many as eight or ten native bearers would traverse the track day after day. To watch them descend steep spurs into a mountain stream, along the bed and up the steep ascent, was an object lesson in stretcher bearing. They carried stretchers over seemingly impassable barriers, with the patient reasonably comfortable.
The care they give to the patient is magnificent. If night finds the stretcher still on the track, they will find a level spot and build a shelter over the patient. They will make him as comfortable as possible fetch him water and feed him if food is available, regardless of their own needs. They sleep four each side of the stretcher and if the patient moves or requires any attention during the night, this is given instantly. These were the deeds of the "Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels"-for us! What can we do for them?”


The map of the WWII Kokoda Trail....
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Old 18-03-2005, 12:36 PM
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Now a renowned National Walking Park, the trek symbolizes a significant relationship between Australians and the natives living along the trail. Thus many still come to walk in honor of their fellow country men who fought and died during 1942’s battle waged in Kokoda against the Japanese forces.
Perhaps what remains, of this once-bloodied trail is the evident bullet holes, the empty shells and other war relics which a trekker can catch a glimpse of from time to time whilst trekking.

For many who have journeyed through this rough, tough, steep, perilous and ragged terrain and experienced firsthand its unkempt wilderness and the beauty surrounding it , it is quiet an experience. Meaning, its one of those very rare experiences – one, which you will probably never forget in a lifetime.

People who wrote about their experiences while trekking through this disheveled WWII route have come to put their own name for it.

Dudley McCarthy, a Sydney born soldier and diplomat in his 1959 volume spoke of it as an “evil track” when giving an account of one of the horrendous battles that took place in Kokoda. He wrote:

“So, quietly, the Australians re-entered Kokoda. Apart from its Airfield its significance lay on only on its name which would identify in history the evil track which passed across the Papuan Mountains from the sea to the sea.”

Trekkers with their porters and guide at Ower's Corner during their victorious end...
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Old 18-03-2005, 12:44 PM
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And Major –General Frank Kingsley Norris in his account describes in detail the rough terrain:

“Imagine an area of approximately 100 miles long, crumple and fold this into a series of ridges, each rising higher and higher until 7,000 feet is reached, then declining again to 3,000 feet. Cover this thickly with jungle, short trees and tall trees tangled with great entwining savage vines; then through the oppression of this density cut a little native track two to three feet wide, up the ridges, over the spurs, around gorges and down across swiftly flowing happy mountain streams. And where the track clambers up the mountainsides, cut steps – big steps, little steps, steep steps or clear the soil from the tree roots. Every few miles bring the track through a small patch of sunlit kunai grass, or an old deserted native garden, and every seven or ten miles build a group of dilapidated grass huts as staging shelters, generally set in a foul offensive clearing. Every now and then leave beside the track dumps of discarded putrefying food, and occasional dead bodies. In the morning flicker the sunlight through the tall trees, flutter green and blue and purple and white butterflies lazily through the air, and hide birds of deep-throated song or harsh cockatoos in the foliage. About midday and through the night, pour water over the forest, so that the steps become broken and a continual yellow stream flows downwards, and the few level areas become pools and puddles of putrid mud. In the high ridges about Myola, drip this water day and night softly over the track through a fetid forest grotesque with moss and growing phosphorescent fungi.”

Such is the track that has indeed become impassible for motor vehicles leaving people from the villages scattered across mountain tops walking on foot from one end of the track towards the other.
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Old 18-03-2005, 12:49 PM
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For one who has a special bondage with this area – you can be easily moved to tears. Well perhaps not only for the emotionally attached, but also to those who are fighting physical pain whilst trekking and others who have accomplished the task of walking through to the end, and their victory is accompanied by tears of joy.

Here, you will want to cry for all sorts of reasons. There will come a time where a particular experience along this infamous trail will move one beyond words and to tears. Some maybe too hard to cry – but whatever reason – a taste of Kokoda Trail will bring about all kinds of tears.

I end this with this wonderful text taken from “AS YOU WERE” 1946 by the AWM.

“As to the walking sick and wounded absolute ruthlessness was essential. Those alone that were quite unable to stagger or struggle along were carried, but frequently men against their will had to be ordered on to stretchers. There was practically never a complaint nor any resentment. From each staging post at dawn, the walkers, the lame and the halt were set upon their way, while the native bearers were assembled for their tasks. Late each afternoon, and far into the night, each staging post would receive its casualties. These would be fed, sheltered and tended until dawn, then on again.
The courage and cheerfulness of these casualties was wonderful, beyond praise-some-times almost incredible. One soldier with a two-inch gap in a fractured patella, splinted by a banana leaf, walked for six days and arrived at hospital in good condition.

That no known live casualty was abandoned, that of the many hundreds brought out during these weeks only four died subsequently in hospital, is a magnificent tribute to the fitness and the fortitude of these men.”


Time and rain and the jungle will obliterate this little native pad, but for ever more will live the memory of weary men who have passed this way, ghosts of glorious men that have gone. Gone far beyond, the Kokoda Trail.

Ends//
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