Brigade Hill - Papua New Guinea
Initially known as Efogi Ridge, Brigade Hill was the site of one of the most horrific delaying battles the Australian were forced to fight while withdrawing over the Owen Stanley Range.
Brigadier Arnold Potts knew he was faced with superior Japanese numbers and chose the location to make a delaying action. The battle area covered from Mission Ridge (a derelict Seven Day Adventist Mission Hut) south of wartime Efogi to the area of Potts’ 21st Brigade Headquarters. (2/27, 2/13 and 2/16 Battalions)
On the 6 September the forward observation from the 2/14 were unnerved by the sight of lanterns used by the Japanese moving down the northern ridge over the Efogi village. Potts requested “everything you have got from the air on Efogi” by signal to Port Moresby in response to this. The Japanese command followed the normal practice and ordered their troops to encircle the flanks in a stealthy night move. At first light on the 8 September Lance Corporal John Gill was shot by a sniper at the HQ latrine which signalled a battle for the HQ Company. The Japanese infiltrators outflanked and cut-off the units line of withdrawal. Potts asked the 2/14 th to attack back along the track to the HQ.
The attack was by extended line on the Japanese position they were well dug-in and hidden behind logs the withering fire caused horrific casualties. As darkness arrived the pressure eased just enough to withdraw the HQ down the track. The remnants of the brigade took up to two weeks to regain Australian lines through the bush. The battle and withdrawal cost 62 Australian lives.
Did you know: Veteran’s from the 2/14th call the engagement at the saddle a ‘bayonet attack’ with the brave men’s reaction like Breton Langridge cool and calm response to the order when he realised the futility of the attack, recorded in the documentary ‘Kokoda, The Bloody Track’.
Source: Field Guide to the Kokoda Track, Bill James