AUSTRALIANS RE-OCCUPY KOKODA- 03 November 1942
The Japanese were badly crushed at Eora Creek and they retreated in a disorderly state. They made no attempt to defend or hold the Kokoda village or airstrip. 02nd of November 1942 members of the 2/31st Battalion entered Kokoda unopposed and only to find that the Japanese had left two days prior. By mid afternoon that day the entire battalion was in place in Kokoda and the airstrip and the Kokoda village was secure.
The meaning of the retaking Kokoda was immeasurable. At this stage in the campaign “Kokoda” had become a household word in Australian cities and towns. The retaking of this small village along a long and winding track through hostile jungle in the Owen Stanley Range was seen by all, even those with little military knowledge, as a huge turning point in the destinies of our soldiers in the Pacific.
03rd November 1942 Major General Vasey (Commander 7th Australian Division) arrived by air and landed at Kokoda airstrip. Two ceremonies were undertaken, with the Major General in attendance. One was around the flagpole on the Kokoda Plateau with majority of the 25th Brigade in attendance, the other was on the Kokoda airstrip and it was to recognise and commemorate the Papuan carriers and soldiers of the Papuan Infantry Battalion.
The war in Papua did not end at Kokoda, concentrated fighting continued along the road back to the beaches that the Japanese had initially landed on. The fighting in the region continued until mid January 1943 where the Japanese were defeated on the beaches in the area of Gona and Buna.
In other areas of Papua the Japanese continued to fight until 1945.