MAROUBRA FORCE START THE TREK - 07 July 1942
On 20 June, 1942 on the command of the Supreme Allied Commander in the Pacific campaign (General Douglas McArthur), General Blamey (Commander of the Australian Army) gave orders to General Basil Morris (Commander Allied forces in PNG) to take action to prepare to confront the Japanese in the event of their army landing of the north coast of PNG.
In response to this, General Morris on 24 June ordered the Australian 39th Battalion and the Papuan Infantry Battalion (PIB) to establish as a force named Maroubra Force. They were given the reasonability of protecting the airstrip at Kokoda and stopping any invasion on the north coast of PNG, if this was not achievable they were to delay any advance from the beachheads towards Kokoda.
Their absolute mission was to prevent any Japanese advance in the direction of Port Moresby, and in order to accomplish this they were to march via an overland mail route through the Owen Stanley Range to Kokoda. This mail route is now immortalised as the Kokoda Track.
The order was given that B Company of the 39th Battalion was to leave Port Moresby on 26 June, however after being delayed they eventually departed on the 7 July. B Companies strength consisted of five Officers and one hundred and 25 soldiers.
On their first day on the track, the soldiers of B Company were each carrying up to 36 kilos of equipment. Over the seven-eight days of the journey to Kokoda their loads were considerably reduced due to the aid they received from PNG natives the “Fuzzy Wuzzy” Angels.