AUSTRALIAN WITHDRAWAL TO NAURO- 10 September 1942


With the failure of all attempts to remove the Japanese from the track at Brigade Hill and the loss of communications with Brigadier Potts, Lieutenant Colonel Caro, Commanding Officer of the 2/16th Battalion took command of all the Australians north of the Japanese. 

Lieutenant Colonel Caro also decided to retreat. The members of the 2/14th and 2/16th withdrew off the track and cut their way through the jungle on route to the Village of Menari. They carried their wounded and they pushed on as fast as possible, living off the land and fully aware that the track was currently in Japanese hands and their Brigade Commander was holding at Menari with minimal troops. 

The 2/27th also withdrew from Mission Ridge carrying fifteen stretcher cases; attempting to rejoin Australian lines, cutting their way through the jungle. The Japanese pursued them but a rearguard action by B and D Companies of the 2/27th caused them to break contact. 

The remainders of the 2/14th and 2/16th Battalions managed to re-unite with Brigadier Potts and 21st Brigade Headquarters at Menari. The 2/27th Battalion was unable to reach Menari before the rest of the brigade departed. On their arrival they found Menari occupied by the Japanese, and they were again forced to leave the track and again push south towards Port Moresby through the dense jungle. 

The 2/27th along with wounded from the other battalions were forced to follow paths parallel to the main track. They eventually rejoined the main Australian force 2 weeks later after having made a difficult trek over the mountains via alternate jungle routes and streams. They were presumed lost; however, appeared from the jungle east of the village of Ilolo. 

After a considerable defeat on Brigade Hill and substantial effort to re-organise and then regain the track in front of the Japanese advance forces at the village of Menari, the Australians were once again forced to withdraw quickly. 

They did this, as always denying their attackers free access to the track towards Port Moresby and taking a heavy toll as the Japanese progressed. The withdrawal continued through the swamps in the Menari area, over the nine false peaks of the Maguli Range and continued towards Nauro, Ofi Creek and beyond.