A Kokoda chronology
Sunday 7 December 1941
The war in the Pacific begins.
On 8 December 1941 the Japanese launched surprise attacks on the United States fleet at Pearl Harbour in Hawaii (where local time was 7 December), the United States base in Manila in the Philippines, and on the British Army in Malaya.
Tuesday 9 December
Japan invades Malaya and Thailand.
The invasion of Malaya begins shortly after midnight on 8 December 1941. On 9 December, No 8 Squadron, which also had gone into action, is evacuated from Kuantan airfield. On 10 December, the destroyer HMAS Vampire becomes the first Australian ship in action against the Japanese when HMS Repulse and HMS Prince of Wales are sunk off the east coast of Malaya by enemy aircraft.
Wednesday 10 December
Australia declares war on Japan
Saturday 3 January
Allies arrive in Port Moresby.
As part of a plan to screen the northern approaches to Australia an infantry battalion is sent to each of Timor, Ambon and Rabaul. A brigade was sent to the most important point, it began to arrive on 3 January 1942.
Friday 23 January
Japanese invade Australian Rabaul, the peacetime capital of the Australian Mandated Territory of New Guinea, falls to the Japanese on 23 January 1942. The small Australian garrison, Lark Force, is overwhelmed and most of its troops, including six army nurses, captured. Approximately 400 of the troops subsequently escape to the mainland and another 160 are massacred at Tol Plantation. Kavieng, also directly to the north east of Papua is invaded.
Tuesday 3 February
Port Moresby first bombed
Port Moresby experiences its first bombing raid as Ambon in Indonesia falls to the Japanese.
Saturday 14 February
Military rule formally declared in Papua
Military rule is formally declared and Civil Government in Papua is suspended.
Sunday 15 February
On 15 February 1942, General Edgar Percival, the British commander in Singapore, calls for a ceasefire and makes the difficult decision to surrender. He signs the surrender document that evening at the Ford Factory on Bukit Timah Road. After days of desperate fighting, all British Empire troops are to lay down their arms at 8.30 that night. More than 100,000 troops (including 14,972 Australians) become prisoners of war together with hundreds of European civilians who are interned.
Thursday 19 February
Japanese first bomb Darwin
On 19 February 1942, Darwin suffers its first and most devastating air raid and the Australian mainland is directly attacked for the first time... Darwin is subjected to a further 63 bombing raids, intermittently, until the last in November 1943. None are as devastating as this first one.
Monday 23 February
Fall of Timor
The Japanese attack Dili in East Timor about midnight on 19-20 February... Other Japanese forces come ashore at Koepang where the Australians fight valiantly but are split by the Japanese advance. In West Timor, the Australians under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel William Leggatt, many of them sick or wounded, are short of ammunition, food and water. They fight a far superior force for four days but the Japanese systematically overrun their positions when Leggatt surrenders with his 1123 men on 23 February. Dutch West Timor is surrendered to the Japanese invading forces.
Sunday 8 March
Japanese land on mainland New Guinea
Imperial Japanese Army and Navy forces land at Lae and Salamaua on the northern New Guinea coast, aiming to establish airbases to attack Port Moresby.
Thursday 12 March
Fall of Java
Java falls to the Japanese after its defence by an assortment of Dutch colonial, British, Australian and American forces. With the Allied surrender in Java the Japanese had attained, in just over three months, an empire in the Pacific and south-east Asia.
Thursday 18 April
MacArthur appointed Commander-in-Chief of SW Pacific
General Douglas MacArthur is appointed the Commander-in-Chief of the South West Pacific area.
Monday 4 May
The Battle of the Coral Sea
A Japanese infantry regiment, aboard transport ships and with a strong escort of destroyers, cruisers and aircraft carriers, was en-route from Rabaul to invade Port Moresby. An American and Australian fleet attacked the Japanese, forcing them to abandon the attempt. The Japanese lost the carrier Shoho and the Americans lost the carrier Lexington.
Friday 8 May
Philippines fall to Japanese forces. Three Japanese infantry regiments which participated in this campaign are now available for operations against New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.
Sunday 31 May
Japanese subs enter Sydney Harbour
In May and June 1942 the war was brought home to Australians on the east coast when the Japanese attacked Sydney Harbour from the sea. In the late afternoon of 31 May 1942 three Japanese submarines, I-22, I-24 and I-27, sitting about seven nautical miles (13 kilometres) out from Sydney Harbour, each launched a Type A midget submarine for an attack on shipping in Sydney Harbour. One of the Japanese midget subs fired a torpedo which sunk HMAS Kuttabul.
Wednesday 3 June
The Battle of Midway in the central Pacific
The Battle of Midway in the central Pacific takes place. Japanese naval power is checked with the loss of four aircraft carriers.
Tuesday 14 June
Japanese decide to attack Port Moresby overland
Japanese command decides that the advance on Port Moresby would be overland, from north to south. They begin planning the landing that would take the Japanese forces across the Owen Stanley Range, via the Kokoda track, to Port Moresby.
Tuesday 7 July
Australian Kokoda operations begin
Warned that the Japanese may land on the north coast, Papuan and Australian troops begin operations along the Kokoda track.
Tuesday 21 July
Japanese forces land at Gona
The Japanese Yokoyama Advance Butai force lands at Gona to begin the advance south across the Owen Stanley Range, over the Kokoda track, to attack Port Moresby.
Wednesday 29 July
Japanese attack Kokoda
The Japanese attack on Kokoda is successful. The Australian commander, Colonel Owen, is killed and the Australians retreat to Deniki where they come under the command of Colonel Cameron.
Read more about the First engagement at Kokoda and the Australian retreat to Deniki.
Tuesday 4 August
Cameron takes command of Maroubra Force
Lieutenant-Colonel Allan Cameron arrives to take command of what was now called "Maroubra Force".
Friday 7 August
US Marines land at Guadalcanal
US Marines land at Guadalcanal (Solomon Islands) diverting Japanese focus from Papua.
Saturday 8 August
Under Colonel Cameron the Australians counter attack from Deniki and retake Kokoda. They are unable to hold it and again retreat to Deniki.
Thursday 13 August
Major General Allen arrives at Port Moresby
The 7th Australian Division is to reinforce the Australians along the Kokoda track. Its commander, Major General Allen, flies into Port Moresby.
Sunday 16 August
Lt Col Honner arrives at Isurava to command Maroubra Force
Lt Col Honner arrives at Isurava and assumes command of the 39th Battalion from Cameron.
Saturday 23 August
Brigadier Potts assumes command of Maroubra Force
Brigadier Arnold Potts assumes command of Maroubra Force from Porter.
Monday 25 August
Japanese offensive: Milne Bay - Isurava
Japanese troops launch a co-ordinated Papuan offensive at Milne Bay and Isurava.
Friday 29 August
Private Bruce Kingsbury wins the only VC of the Kokoda campaign
The out-numbered Australians were defending Isurava. Firing his Bren gun from the hip, Kingsbury broke a path through the enemy to recapture the position. Felled by a sniper, he is awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously.
Sunday 31 August
Australians withdraw from Isurava
In a series of rearguard actions the Australians, hotly pursued by the Japanese, fall back along Eora Creek through Templeton’s Crossing.
Thursday 4 September
Japanese defeated at Milne Bay
The Japanese suffer their first land defeat of the war, by Australian troops, at Milne Bay.
Sunday 7 September
Japanese attack at Efogi
The Australians, holding two hills near Efogi, Mission Ridge and Brigade Hill , are again defeated and driven back by the Japanese.
Wednesday 10 September
Potts recalled by Blamey
Blamed for the Australian defeats from Isurava to Brigade Hill, Brigadier Arnold Potts is recalled by General Thomas Blamey.
Tuesday 16 September
Japanese gain control of Ioribaiwa Ridge
After several days of heavy fighting, the Australian defences are shattered by the use of mountain gun fire. Shells burst in the tree foliage overhead, raining shell fragments onto the Australians below. The Japanese occupy Ioribaiwa Ridge and Australian forces pull back to Imita Ridge.
Tuesday 23 September
General Blamey arrives Port Moresby
General Blamey arrives at Port Moresby to take personal command of New Guinea Force.
Sunday 28 September
Japanese withdrawal begins
Owing to defeats at Guadalcanal and the fear that the Australians may land in their rear, the Japanese retreat. When Brigadier Eather attacks Ioribaiwa Ridge, he finds the Japanese have gone.
Monday 29 September
Australian push back Japanese
Australian begin to push the Japanese back along the Kokoda track.
Tuesday 30 September
Australian re-enter Nauro
On 30 September, Australian 2/25th battalion patrols enter Nauro and find it unoccupied.
Monday 12 October
Japanese defeated at Eora-Templeton's
The Japanese attempt to hold a position in the Owen Stanley Range fails. In two weeks fighting the Australians drive them out of the mountains.
Wednesday 28 October
Australian Divisional Commander replaced
General MacArthur, dissatisfied with progress, has Major-General Arthur "Tubby" Allen removed. Major-General George Vasey is appointed to replace him. The Australian forces pursue the Japanese rear guard from Eora Creek to Alola.
Monday 2 November
The Australians re-enter Kokoda on 2 November, 1942.
Tuesday 3 November
General Vasey hoists Australian flag over Kokoda
Eather's 25th brigade move north from Deniki and enter the abandoned town of Kokoda on 2 November. A Japanese rear guard had left two days earlier. Just after 1100 hours, 3 November 1942, General Vasey hoists an Australian flag over Kokoda.
Wednesday 4 November
Japanese defeated at Oivi-GorariIn the decisive action of the campaign the Japanese are defeated and driven back to their base on the coast between Gona and Buna.
Friday 6 November
MacArther arrives Port Moresby
MacArther arrives in Port Moresby to take up residence
Monday 9 November
Blamey delivers 'Rabbits' speech. In a controversial address to the troops General Blamey is accused of implying that the men ran like rabbits during the Japanese advance along the Kokoda track.
Thursday 12 November
Naval battle at Guadalcanal
The Japanese decide to withdraw from Guadalcanal after their largest attempt to reinforce the island fails.
Monday 16 November
The Battle of Buna-Gona beginsThe Japanese, pursued back to their main base in Papua, dig in around Gona, Sanananda and Buna. The Australians and Americans attack them there.
Wednesday 9 December
Gona falls to the Australians
Saturday 2 January
Buna falls to the Australians and Americans
Friday 22 January
Japanese final foothold annihilated
Final Japanese beach foothold at Sanananda annihilated. Remnants of the Japanese force escaped north along the coast towards Lae.
Saturday 23 January
Papuan Campaign ends
Official end to the Papuan Campaign.
Tuesday 2 March
The Battle of the Bismarck Sea
The Japanese sent a convoy of eight transports, with a destroyer escort, to reinforce their garrison at Lae in New Guinea. In three days of air attacks the Royal Australian Air Force and the United States Army Air Force sank all the transports and four of the destroyers. At least 2890 Japanese were killed.
Saturday 24 April
Australians occupy Madang, New Guinea
Australian troops occupy Madang, New Guinea.
Saturday 26 October
Australians launch campaign in northern New Guinea
Australians launch Aitape-Wewak Campaign in northern New Guinea.
Saturday 4 November
Australian forces land on Bougainville and New Britain.