BATTLE OF IORIBAIWA- 11 September 1942


After the catastrophe at Brigade Hill, the Australian’s on the track again undertook tactics of ambush, fight, stall, withdrawal, a tactical game of cat and mouse. With their rear guard being harassed by the Japanese, the Australian forces fell back over the Maguli Range to Ioribaiwa Ridge. This was just two ridges from the end of the desolate jungle of the Owen Stanley Ranges.

Here at Ioribaiwa Ridge the Australian were reinforced with the fresh 25th militia battalion and overall command was now handed over to its commander Brigadier Ken Ether. The 21st Brigade were still in battle however, they were severely depleted by sick, dying and killed. The 2/14th and 2/16th were acting as a composite battalion and the 2/27th were still attempting to make their way back to allied lines via the jungle to the east of the Kokoda Track.

Australian fire power was increased with the addition of Vickers medium machine guns and also ten three inch mortars; however, at this point the Australians were still unable to be assisted by friendly artillery. The Australian artillery units were currently in the vicinity of Owers Corner (25 pounders) and still out of range. The Japanese had managed to man handle their mountain guns all the way across the Owen Stanley Range and at this point were shelling the Australians with depressing regularity.

Japanese supply lines were now extended dramatically, at this point, reinforcements were minimal and the wounded were being retained at the front in the hope that captured medical facilities were closer than their own medical facilities in their rear.

Over the period 14th to 16th September 1942 both the Japanese and the Australian forces initiated attacks against each other in the Ioribaiwa region. The battles in this area could almost be considered a draw. The Japanese failed to push the Australians off the ridge, however the Australians whom now had a much larger and stronger force had failed to remove the Japanese from the footholds they did have on the ridge.