KAGI TO MISSION RIDGE- 6 September 1942


By the time the Australians reached the Kagi area, the three AIF battalions of the 21st Brigade were able to fight together for the first time. After meeting up at Kagi the 2/14th and 2/16th took up defensive positions on the high ground at Brigade Hill, the fresh 2/27th that had arrived from Port Moresby were placed in the forward position on Mission Ridge.

After dark on 06 September, General Horii's pursuing force appeared, cautiously coming down the steep slope opposite the Australian position, their way lit by "lanterns" made of pieces of smoldering Australian rubber coated signal wire. This became known as the “Japanese Lantern Brigade”,

The 21st Brigade was uneasy and worried by the amount of Japanese “lanterns” moving down the valley from the north. With their location clear Brigadier Potts requested “everything you have got from the air on Efogi” by signal to Port Moresby. In response to this effective air support in the form of eight B-26 Marauder medium bombers strafed and bombed the Japanese in the Efogi area. Although the Japanese did nit sustain significant losses it provided the defending Australians a considerable morale boost.

The AIF 2/27th Battalion held a position on the spur line of Mission Ridge and the Japanese scouts conducted significant reconnaissance in an attempt to find access to the main track; however in most directions the terrain was far to steep for a possible out-flanking move. 

It was decided that the plan of attack would be a full frontal assault on the Australians at Mission Ridge with one battalion whilst another moved around the flank in an attempt to block the track behind the forces on Brigade Hill.

07 September the Japanese attack commenced. The 3rd/144th Battalion came at the 2/27th dug in on Mission Ridge with the artillery support of six mountain guns and numerous mortars. Brutal close quarter fighting continued until early the following morning, however, the Japanese were unable to take any ground from the Australians. 

Nearly half the Australian soldiers lost on Mission Ridge were due to bombardment from Japanese mountain guns.

As night fell on 07 September, another Japanese battalion (2nd /144th) commenced an in-circle flanking march through the jungle in an attempt to get into the Australian rear areas. They followed a creek line around the western side of the Mission Ridge spur with the hope to advance up the steep western flank of the Australians position on Brigade Hill.

At Isurava and Eora a trek through the jungle of this kind had often resulted in the Japanese becoming lost. However here at Efogi the Japanese obtained local Papuan guides and their navigation was correct.