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Port Moresby is the capital of Papua New Guinea. The harbour was named by Captain John Moresby in 1873. In 1884 the Southern part of the island was declared a British protectorate whilst the North became a German protectorate. the original township which was established in 1886 has become the main business centre.

During the Second World War the small town was transformed into a vast military base and accommodated tens of thousands of allied servicemen and women for the duration of the pacific campaigns. Port Moresby was repeatedly raided by the Japanese airforce as it's sheltered deep water harbour made an ideal port for shipping, several airfields including Jackson were centred around the town. the planes defended the area including Milne Bay and the northern battlefields; to provide the crucial air support needed in the battles of New Guinea.

Port Moresby continued to develop post war. After independence in 1975 it became the centre for government, culture and business. The status of national capital has led many institutions and organisations including the Papua New Guinea defence force to establish their headquarters in Port Moresby.

Kokoda Trail Plaques - Master Text.

The Japanese attack on Port Moresby in May 1942 was repulsed at the battle of the Coral Sea, a month later their navy was severely damaged at the Battle of Midway. These events prompted another approach to Moresby and on 22 July, 2,000 Japanese were landed near Gona with the aim of crossing the Owen Stanley Range via the tortuous Kokoda Trail (track).

During the next week 80 Australians and Papuans fought delaying actions, culminating in a battle at Kokoda Village. The Japanese force rose to 10,000 whilst advancing along the Kokoda Trail. They were constantly delayed by defensive action particularly at Isurava and Brigade Hill. However, by mid- September the Australians (reduced from 3,000 to 300 men) were forced back to Imita Ridge, 42 km from Moresby,

The Japanese were then ordered to withdraw as their 5,000 remaining men and supplies were totally exhausted, and their army at Guadacanal (Solomon Islands) was on the defensive against the Americans.

On 23 September the Australians, now 2,600 strong, moved northwards to recover the trail, encountering major opposition only at Templeton's and Era creek. Kokoda was entered unopposed on 2 November. The Japanese rearguard was destroyed near Gorari.

5,000 Japanese survived and joined 4,000 fresh troops around Gona and Buna, Australian and American forces captured these strongholds by January 1943 incurring heavy casualties on both sides.

The Papuan carriers played an important role in the defense of the Kokoda Trail, they transported Australian casualties and supplies. Their loyalty will be remembered forever.


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