Prize of the week

The Battle for Isurava by David W. Cameron

Within 24 hours of the Japanese invasion of northern New Guinea at Gona in July 1942, the Australian militiamen of ‘B’ Company, 39th Battalion, spent four weeks fighting a delaying action against a crack Japanese force outnumbered by three to one.

By mid-August, the rest of the battalion had arrived, and these men took up a position at Isurava, in jungles of the Owen Stanley Range.

The small militia force, now numbering about 300 men, was determined to make a stand against a crack Japanese force numbering at least 1500.

Then on the day the Japanese launched their attack, to the great relief of these militiamen, reinforcements from the 2nd AIF began to arrive, having spent days struggling up the track from Port Moresby.

Even so, the Australians were still outnumbered, as the Japanese also received reinforcements.

The battle for Isurava would be the defining battle of the Kokoda Campaign.

It was here that Australia’s first Victoria Cross in the Pacific war was awarded to Private Bruce Kingsbury (posthhumously), who was killed leading the charge against the Japanese.

Another two men were also nominated for the VC during the fighting at Isurava.

The outnumbered and poorly equipped Australians managed to hold back the Japanese advance for almost a week; only then did these battle-scarred and weary men begin a month-long fighting withdrawal towards Ioribaiwa Ridge just north of Port Moresby.

However, their sacrifice provided time for the Australian 25th Brigade to be brought forward — finally forcing the Japanese to withdraw just as they glimpsed the lights of Port Moresby.

Australia’s leading military historian provides a powerful retelling of the campaign.

The Battle for Isurava by David W. Cameron is published by Big Sky Publishing, RRP $32.99.


We have one copy of this book to give away. For a chance to win, send your name, address, daytime phone number and the answer to this question: What is the name of the Man’s Best Friend in today’s Country News? to: Country Life ‘Isurava’ Competition, PO Box 8000, Shepparton, 3632, by Friday, July 8.


Congratulations to Ken Exton and E. Tattersall who have each won a copy of Dirt Town. Please collect your prize from our Shepparton office.