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
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
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.