General Horii Pushes the Australians Back: While the battle of Milne Bay was being fought, the Japanese on the Kokoda Trail were winning some of their most spectacular victories of the campaign. General Horii, who had left for the front on 22 August, had issued orders on the 24th for a general offensive. The attack began at dawn on 26 August and developed such power after a week of unremitting pressure that the Australians found themselves unable to stand firm with the forces at hand. They had no choice but to give ground. Not only were they heavily outnumbered, but their supply difficulties were greater than those of the Japanese who were supplied from nearby Kokoda and whose way, once their supply parties had reached the crest of the range, lay down, not up.
The enemy advance continued despite the mountain trail, the bitter resistance of the Australians, and the sustained bombing and strafing of Japanese supply lines by the Allied Air Force. By 7 September, the date organized resistance ceased at Milne Bay, the troops of the South Seas Detachment had made tremendous gains. They had driven the Australians from Isurava, Alola, Eora Creek, and Templeton’s Crossing.
They had gained possession of the Gap, had taken Myola, Kagi, and Efogi on the southern slopes of the range, and stood poised to take Menari, Nauro, and Ioribaiwa, the last villages between them and Port Moresby.
The Opposing Forces
General Horii had opened the attack with the 144th Infantry, reinforced by elements of the 55th Mountain Artillery, miscellaneous mortar and machine gun units, and the main body of the 15th Independent Engineers. The artillery troops had left their guns behind pending a study of how they were to be brought forward, and the engineers were advancing with the infantry troops, improving the track as they went.
One of the two battalions of the 41st Infantry, which had come in from Rabaul a few days before, joined in the attack on 28 August. The remaining battalion was held in reserve in the Kokoda area, where it helped out with supply. On the night of 2-3 September, approximately 1,500 Japanese reinforcements from Rabaul were landed safely at Basabua from a large convoy which managed to elude detection by the Allied Air Force. The reinforcements included the remaining battalion of the 41st Infantry and the rear echelon of the Nankai Shitai—the 67th Line of Communications Hospital, more service troops, and an “emergency” transport unit including vehicles and 300 pack horses. The incoming battalion was immediately ordered to the front and reached the scene of operations a few days later.
In contrast to General Horii’s five reinforced battalions, the Australians, until Efogi was reached, never had more than three battalions in the forward area to oppose the Japanese advance. One of them was the depleted 39 Battalion, which had been in action for more than a month and should have been relieved long before. The Japanese, using continuous flanking operations, had no trouble driving the Australians back. Two regimental combat teams, one under command of Colonel Masao Kusunose, commander of the 144th Infantry, and the other under Colonel Yazawa, commander of the 41st Infantry, alternated in pressing home the attack. They were thus able to outflank the Australians almost at will and, by bringing pressure to bear from different directions, to push them from one ridge after another.
When the Japanese opened their offensive in late August, the only combat troops facing them were the 39 Battalion, 30th Brigade headquarters, and the 53 Battalion. Two battalions of the 21st Brigade, the 2/14 and 2/16 Battalions (which were to be followed by the third battalion, the 2/27), were on the way to the forward area but had not yet arrived. They began arriving company by company the following day, each company being thrown into battle as soon as it came up.
The fighting was desperate and the Australians, weighed down with heavy packs and cumbersome .303 rifles, outnumbered and repeatedly outflanked, suffered heavy casualties. The 2/14 Battalion relieved the 39 Battalion on 29 August, and the latter unit moved to the rear to reorganize, as did the 53 Battalion which had been badly cut up in the battle. From 1 September to 5 September the 2/14 and 2/16 Battalions, bearing the full brunt of the enemy attack, were under such heavy pressure that they were forced to withdraw through the Gap and take up positions on the other side of the range.
The Australians found it impossible to make a stand, not only because they were outnumbered but also because they were running short of food and ammunition. Their supplies had come either via native carriers or by airdrops, and neither carriers nor planes had been able to get enough supplies to them for more than hand-to-mouth operations. The forward supply system on the trail, which at best had operated only by fits and starts, collapsed completely when the Myola dropping grounds were lost, and the natives, demoralized by the Japanese advance, began to desert in large numbers. Suffering from exhaustion, fever, and dysentery, the Australians had to pull back to a defensive position closer to their source of supply, from which, after being properly reinforced, they could hope to launch an effective counterattack. The retreat was bitterly contested but, despite the enemy’s superior strength, orderly.
The enemy’s losses were heavy, but the cost to the Australians, continuously in danger of being surrounded and overwhelmed if they held a position too long, were heavier still. When the 2/14 and 2/16 Battalions fell back on Efogi Spur on 6 September (where they joined the 2/27 Battalion which was already in position there), the 2/14 Battalion was at half-strength and the 2/16 Battalion only a company stronger.
General MacArthur Plans a Turning Movement
All this time General Headquarters had strength on the trail was slight, and that the enemy had no real intention of advancing on Port Moresby. It therefore did not immediately understand the reason for the swift Japanese advance. General MacArthur indeed found himself puzzled by the situation. Being certain, he said, that the Australians on the trail outnumbered the Japanese, he had General Chamberlin ask Allied Land Forces on 7 September for an explanation of the repeated Australian withdrawals.
The explanation came the next day from General Rowell himself, and was communicated immediately to General Chamberlin. General Rowell pointed out that, contrary to the prevailing opinion at General Headquarters, his forces had been heavily outnumbered during the previous week’s fighting. He added that the Japanese appeared to have on the trail the maximum number of troops that they could supply there.
While he was certain that he could regain the initiative with the help of the 25th Brigade, which was then disembarking at Port Moresby, he felt that he would need more troops later on in the operation. Because none of the CMF brigades at Port Moresby seemed to have enough training for the task, he asked that one of the two 6th Australian Infantry Division brigades that had recently come in from Ceylon be transferred to Port Moresby at once for action on the trail.
On 9 September the 16th Australian Infantry Brigade of the 6th Division was ordered to Port Moresby, and the 25th Brigade was rushed to the front. Since there now appeared to be sufficient Australian troops to contain the Japanese advance, General MacArthur began to plan a flanking movement by an American regimental combat team which would cut in on the enemy’s rear and hasten his withdrawal from the Kokoda-Gap area.
Choice of the unit was left to Major General Robert L. Eichelberger (then newly arrived in Australia and soon to be promoted to lieutenant general), to whom as Commanding General, I Corps, U. S. Army, the 32nd and 41st Divisions had been assigned on 5 September. General Eichelberger had already decided that the 32nd Division would precede the 41st to New Guinea. He made this decision because the training camp of the 32nd Division at Camp Cable near Brisbane was inferior to that of the 41st Division at Rockhampton. The general believed the 32nd should go first because it would in any event have to be moved to another camp.
After consulting with General Harding, commanding general of the 32nd Division, and learning from him that the 126th Infantry under Colonel Lawrence A. Quinn was the best-trained and best-led of his three regiments, General Eichelberger chose the 126th for the task. The regiment was at once alerted for transfer to New Guinea. The men prepared for immediate movement, and, on General Eichelberger’s orders, a Brisbane cleaning establishment began dyeing the men’s fatigues a mottled green for action in the jungle.
General MacArthur’s plan of maneuver was ready on 11 September, and he communicated it at once to General Blamey, Commander Allied Land Forces, to whom I Corps had been assigned for operational control. He was satisfied, General MacArthur wrote, that the dispatch of the 25th and 16th Brigades to Port Moresby would probably be sufficient to arrest any further forward movement of the Japanese toward Port Moresby, and ultimately to drive them back across the Owen Stanley Range. Since the Japanese were known to be extremely tenacious in holding ground once they had gained it, he believed that to force the Japanese back by direct attack along the Port Moresby—Kokoda track alone would be a very slow business. To hasten a Japanese withdrawal, he had therefore ordered “a wide turning movement” by the 126th U. S. Infantry to cut in behind the Japanese at Wairopi. This, General MacArthur thought, could best be accomplished by an overland advance from Port Moresby, via Rouana Falls and the Mimani, Irua, Mugoni, and Kumusi Rivers, a route his staff had particularly recommended be used.
The following day, Brigadier General Hanford MacNider, of the G-4 Section GHQ SWPA, who had been chosen by General MacArthur to make advance arrangements for the regiment’s reception and march over the mountains, left for Port Moresby by air.
General MacNider was accompanied by Lieutenant Colonel Joseph S. Bradley, the 32nd Division G-4 (who returned to Australia several days later), and members of Colonel Quinn’s staff including Major Bernd G. Baetcke, his executive officer, Captain William F. Boice, his intelligence officer, and Captain Alfred Medendorp, the assistant S-4. Suitable arrangements were made by these officers for the reception of the troops, and two days later, 15 September, the first element of the 126th Infantry left Brisbane for Port Moresby by air, the men’s fatigues still wet with dye.
The movement consisted of Company E, a medical officer, Captain John T. Boet, four aid men, and an attached platoon of Company A, 114th Engineer Battalion. The detachment, 172 men in all, was under command of Captain Melvin Schultz, commanding officer of Company E. These former National Guard troops, most of them from Big Rapids, Michigan, arrived at Port Moresby from Amberley Field near Brisbane on the afternoon of 15 September, the first American infantry unit to set foot in New Guinea.
General Harding had come down to Amberley Field to see the company off and, before it left, had given the men a little talk, in which he referred to them as “The Spearhead of the Spearhead of the Spearhead.” Pleased with the general’s happy phrase, Company E called itself thereafter, “The Three Spearheads.”
General MacNider’s group had no sooner arrived at Port Moresby than it discovered that the route proposed by General MacArthur’s staff for the advance to Wairopi was an impracticable one. Not only did it intersect the Australian rear and extend into an area where troops using it could be cut off by the Japanese, but it was so rough and mountainous that the only way to supply troops using it would be from the air.
Consideration was then given to an alternative route—the eighty-five mile trail, Port Moresby-Kapa Kapa-Kalikodobu-Arapara-Laruni-Jaure. From Jaure lesser trails led to Wairopi and Buna. Little was known about the route for it had not been used in years. The coastal natives avoided it because they believed it to be haunted, especially at the divide; and no white man had passed that way since 1917, a quarter of a century before. Although the route had the advantage that troops operating over it could be supported logistically by land and sea for about a third of the distance, it had also a very serious disadvantage—a 9,100-foot mountain crossing, which the Australians feared was impracticable for marching troops. General Rowell strongly opposed using it and favored an alternative route running from Abau to Jaure where the crossings were under 5,000 feet.
After thinking the matter over, General MacNider and his group decided to send a pathfinder patrol, under Captain Boice, to reconnoiter the Kapa Kapa-Jaure trail; and General Casey, who was at Port Moresby at the time, ordered his deputy, Colonel Lief J. Sverdrup, to reconnoiter the Abau route.
On 17 September, the same day that Colonel Sverdrup and a small party left for Abau to reconnoiter the route Abau-Debana-Namudi-Jaure (the Abau track), Captain Boice, accompanied by 1st Lieutenant Bernard Howes and six enlisted men of Company E, an officer of ANGAU, and forty native carriers, left Port Moresby for Kapa Kapa by lugger to begin the reconnaissance of the track leading from that point to Jaure.
The rest of Company E and its attached medical personnel and engineer platoon were moved out to help a company of the 91st U. S. Engineers construct a motor road from Tupeselei (a few miles southeast of Port Moresby) to Kapa Kapa, and thence to a rubber plantation at Cobaregari near Kalikodobu where an advanced base was to be established. The opening of the road Tupeselei-Kapa Kapa-Kalikodobu, as General McNider explained, would allow the advance base near Kalikodobu, nicknamed “Kalamazoo,” to be supplied both by road and by water and would remove entirely the need for air supply until the mountains were reached.
The main body of the regiment was now ready to move. The combat team, less artillery—180 officers and 3,610 enlisted men—took ship for New Guinea on 18 September. Colonel Quinn, who had been at Brett’s Wharf, Brisbane, to see his men off, arrived at Port Moresby by air on the 20th, accompanied by two of his staff officers, Major Simon Warmenhoven, the regimental surgeon, and Captain Oliver O. Dixon, the regimental S-3, and reported at once to General Rowell.
The regiment reached Port Moresby in convoy on 28 September to find that the 128th Regimental Combat Team, also less its artillery, was already there, having completed its move to Port Moresby by air five days before. The two American regiments, each with attached division engineer, medical, and signal troops were parceled out on arrival to different Australian commands.
The 128th Infantry, commanded by Colonel J. Tracy Hale, Jr., was assigned to the Port Moresby garrison force, and, as such, came under the operational control of Headquarters, 6th Australian Infantry Division, which was then in charge of Port Moresby’s ground defense. It relieved the 808th Engineer Aviation Battalion (which had been pulled from its normal airfield construction duties and given a combat role) and took up a defensive position along the Goldie River, north of Port Moresby. The 126th Infantry and attached troops were assigned directly to New Guinea Force for use in the advance on Wairopi. They went into bivouac at Bootless Inlet and were for the time being kept in garrison reserve.
The reason for the swift and dramatic movement to New Guinea by air of the 128th Infantry (the greatest that the Air Force had undertaken up to that time) soon became obvious. It lay in the continued advance along the Kokoda Trail of General Horii’s troops. Not only did Horii still have the initiative, but he seemed to be threatening Port Moresby as it had never been threatened before.
The Japanese Take Ioribaiwa
When General Horii attacked Efogi spur on 8 September, he had five reinforced battalions of infantry in action. The 21st Brigade, on the other hand, was down to nine companies, and only four of them (the four companies of the 2/27 Battalion) had fresh troops. Exploiting their numerical superiority, the Japanese first struck the 2/27 Battalion, cutting it off from the balance of MAROUBRA Force, then pushed the unit completely out of the fight by forcing it off the trail. Another Japanese column struck elements of the 2/14 and 2/16 Battalions echeloned along the trail in rear of the 2/27 positions, established a trail block, and isolated 21st Brigade headquarters and a company from the 2/14 Battalion. With control lost, the command group and the Australian infantrymen fought their way through the block and with the rest of the 2/14 Battalion withdrew through the 2/16 Battalion to Nauro by nightfall on 9 September. General Horii had meanwhile called in his reserve, the 3rd Battalion, 41st Infantry. After its arrival in the front lines about 12 September, the Japanese had two full infantry regiments on the trail, depleted in strength but with engineer and other attached troops, a force of at least 5,000 men.
[NOTE: G-2 Daily Summaries Enemy Intel No. 170, 8-9 Sep 42, No. 171, 9-10 Sep 42, No. 172, 10-11 Sep 42: Lanops Bul No. 30, 9 Sep 42, in G-3 Jnl, GHQ SWPA; ALF, Rpt on New Guinea Opns, Buna-Ioribaiwa; Nankai Shitai Opns Order No. A-115, 11 Sep 42, in ATIS EP No. 33; Diary, Actg Comdr No. 2 MG Co, 2nd Bn, 144th Inf , in ATIS CT 29, No. 358. The figure, 5,000, is of course an approximation, but it appears reasonably clear from captured enemy records that General Horii’s frontline force, even allowing for heavy losses, and the diversion of part of its strength to supply duties, was at least 5,000 strong at the time.]
The 2/14 and 2/16 Battalions, now with a combined strength of 320 men and fighting as a composite battalion, yielded Nauro and fell back to an east-west ridge north of Ioribaiwa during 10-11 September. Already established on the ridge were the 2/1 Pioneer Battalion and the 3 Battalion, 14th Brigade (which had come up from Port Moresby ahead of the 25th Brigade). The 2/31 and 2/33 Battalions, the leading elements of the 25th Brigade, under Brigadier Kenneth W. Eather, reached Ioribaiwa on 14 September and attempted to drive past both flanks of the Japanese position. When these flanking movements were met by a strong counterthrust that pierced the Australian line, a further withdrawal was ordered to the Imita Range, a strong defensive position, a full day’s march from Ioribaiwa, and separated from it by the deep valley of Ua-Ule Creek.
The Japanese reached Ioribaiwa on 16 September and took up a position there. The Allied situation was not as difficult as it seemed. The Australians, then only one pack stage away from Uberi, their main rearward supply base, were finally in position to counterattack. The Japanese supply situation had by this time become impossible. That this was the case was in large part due to General Kenney, who had taken command of the Allied Air Forces on 4 August. The Fifth Air Force, the American element of the Allied Air Forces, which Kenney in the interests of greater operational efficiency had established as a separate command in early September, had completed disrupted Japanese supply. The advance echelon of the air force at Port Moresby, under General Kenney’s deputy commander, Brigadier General Ennis P. Whitehead, was doing a magnificent job of pulverizing Japanese lines of communication.
[NOTE: Msg, Gen Kenney to Gen Marshall, No. A-201, CM-IN 1752, 4 Aug 42: Fifth Air Force GO No. 1, 3 Sep 42. When he established the Fifth Air Force, General Kenney drew a clear line of demarcation between its responsibilities and those of the RAAF. Thus, while the Fifth Air Force became responsible for operations in the Northeast Area, the RAAF took over the responsibility for defense of the Australian continent and particularly of the Darwin area. In practice, the Fifth Air Force always had the support of Australian squadrons in its operations to the northeast of Australia, and the RAAF in turn was repeatedly reinforced bv Fifth Air Force units, especially at Darwin, which was still under regular Japanese air attack. From Darwin, in turn, attacks were being mounted on strategic points in the Netherlands Indies. AAF, Air Actn in Papua. 21 Jul 42-23 Jan 43, pp. 51-52, copy in USAF Hist Off.]
After considerable experimentation it had been found that the A-20 bomber, modified to carry eight forward machine guns and using a parachute fragmentation bomb invented by General Kenney himself, was particularly effective in low-level attacks on Japanese supply trains, dumps, and landing barges.
The runway at Buna and the suspension bridge at Wairopi were under almost continuous attack. As fast as the Japanese naval construction troops at Buna filled in the runway, the Fifth Air Force would see to it that it was pitted again; and efforts of the 15th Independent Engineers to keep the Wairopi Bridge in use were being continually set at naught by Fifth Air Force and attached RAAF units that would roar in at low levels to demolish it. Because of the relentless air attack, Japanese supply trains were virtually forced off the trails.
Food, as a result, though still available to the Japanese in the rear areas, was not getting through to the front lines. Whole battalions of the South Seas Detachment were foraging everywhere along the trail for food. Native gardens along the line of march were being stripped of sugar cane, taro, yams, pumpkins, melons, and everything else that was edible, but there was not enough food in that poor upland area to feed such a host for long. By September the front-line ration was down to less than a cupful of rice per day. By 17 September, the day after the Japanese seizure of Ioribaiwa, with the beach at Port Moresby almost visible from the height on which the Japanese found themselves, there was not a grain of rice left on the ridge for issue to the troops.
General Horii’s Orders Are Changed
When he first opened his offensive on 26 August, General Horii’s objective had been Port Moresby. The deterioration of the situation at Milne Bay, and the difficulty of getting troops ashore at Guadalcanal in the face of Allied naval and air forces operating in the Solomons area, caused General Hyakutake on 29 August to instruct General Horii to halt the South Seas Detachment as soon as it had reached the southern foothills of the Owen Stanley Range. The advance was not to be resumed, he was told, until such time as Milne Bay had been taken and the Guadalcanal operation was progressing satisfactorily. Imperial General Headquarters concurred in these orders and two days later directed that General Horii go on the defensive as soon as he had crossed the Owen Stanley Range.
Upon receipt of these instructions, General Horii had pressed through the Gap, looking for a defensible position on the other side of the range which he could hold until he was ordered to resume the advance on Port Moresby. Horii’s first choice had been Nauro, but after sending out a reconnaissance party forward of Nauro he chose Ioribaiwa as the place to make his stand. The day after its seizure the troops holding it were told that they were to wait there until the middle of the following month, when it was expected that the final push against Port Moresby would be undertaken.
On 20 September General Horii called together his commanders at a hill near his headquarters at Nauro and told them how things stood. He praised them for the way in which they and their men had succeeded in crossing “the so-called impregnable Stanley Range,” and explained that the reason for the halt was to regain their fighting strength, so as to be able, at the proper time, “to strike a crushing blow at the enemy’s positions at Port Moresby.” How this was to be done with the existing state of supply was not explained.
Shortly after General Horii had ordered his subordinate commanders to hold Ioribaiwa he received, as a result of further Japanese reverses at Guadalcanal, instructions which in effect ordered his withdrawal from Ioribaiwa. The Kawaguchi Detachment, which had finally reached Guadalcanal in late August, was virtually wiped out on the night of 13-14 September, in the Battle of Edson’s or Bloody Ridge. The Japanese were thus left without an effective striking force on the island. Because of this new reverse, and the complete failure of the Milne Bay operation, Imperial General Headquarters felt impelled once again to revise its operational plan for Port Moresby. On 18 September new orders were issued which emphasized that everything was to be subordinated to the retaking of Guadalcanal.
Existing positions in New Guinea were to be held as long as possible, but the South Seas Detachment was to be absolved of the responsibility of maintaining itself indefinitely in the southern foothills of the Owen Stanley Range. Instead, it was to begin preparations at once for the defense of the Buna-Gona beachhead, which it was to hold as its primary defensive position until again ordered to advance.
By concentrating on the Guadalcanal operation and ordering the South Seas Detachment back from the southern foothills of the range to the more easily defended beachhead, Imperial General Headquarters could still hope to retrieve the situation in both the Solomons and New Guinea.
It was now planned that, as soon as Guadalcanal was retaken, the forces committed to that operation would be diverted to New Guinea. A part would seize Milne Bay and then, in accordance with the original plan, would move on Port Moresby by sea. The rest would be used to reinforce the South Seas Detachment, which, at the proper time, would sally forth from the beachhead, recross the mountains, and, in spite of all previous reverses, complete the Port Moresby operation in concert with the forces coming in from Milne Bay.
Complying with his new instructions, General Horii began at once to prepare for an orderly withdrawal that would commit a minimum number of troops while allowing the forces to the rear the maximum possible time to reinforce the beachhead.
He left the 1st and 3rd Battalions of the 144th Infantry at Ioribaiwa and two companies of the 1st Battalion, 41st Infantry, immediately to the rear at Nauro. The and supporting troops General Horii ordered to Isurava. The main body of the 41st Infantry, less the two companies at Nauro and a company at Kokoda, was ordered to the Sanananda—Giruwa coastal area. General Horii’s instructions to the main body of the 144th Infantry were that it was to hold Ioribaiwa as long as possible and then retire northward to be relieved at the proper time by the troops in the Kokoda-Isurava area. As the latter fell back, they would be relieved in turn by troops from the beachhead.
On 24 September, the day the 2nd Battalion, 144th Infantry, was pulled out of the line and sent to Isurava, the 3rd Battalion, 41st Infantry, reached Giruwa. It was followed in a few days by the main body of the 41st Infantry, under Colonel Yazawa. The naval garrison and the airfield at Buna were under the command of Navy Captain Yoshitatsu Yasuda, who had come in from Rabaul on 17 September with 280 Yokosuka 5th SNLF troops. Colonel Yazawa took over command in the Giruwa coastal area, where were to be found the main Japanese supply dumps and the most important medical installation, the 67th Line of Communications Hospital.
Work on beachhead defenses was well under way by 23 September. There were several thousand service troops in the rear area to do the job, and as each new increment of troops reached the coastal area it joined with the others in building bunkers, emplacing guns, clearing fields of fire, and otherwise preparing the beachhead for defense.
The Australians Take the Offensive
Allied Land Forces lost no time in taking the offensive. On 23 September General Blamey, Commander ALF, arrived at Port Moresby and took over command of New Guinea Force. Lieutenant General Edmund F. Herring, succeeding General Rowell, became Commander, Advance New Guinea Force.
On 26 September, after aggressive patrol action to fix the enemy’s position, and a short preparation which included an artillery bombardment by two 25 pounders brought up from Uberi, the 25th Brigade began an all-out attack on Ioribaiwa, taking it with relative ease two days later. The Japanese had put up only token resistance. Instead of making a stand, they had abandoned their elaborate positions on Ioribaiwa Ridge almost on contact, and had retreated so swiftly up the trail that the Australians, who took up the pursuit, were unable to keep up with them. Like the attempt to take Milne Bay, the Japanese overland offensive had collapsed.
The Japanese had again done the unexpected. Instead of holding Ioribaiwa tenaciously as General MacArthur had assumed they would, they had thinned out their lines and withdrawn after the opening encounter. Their withdrawal, if unexpected, nevertheless enabled GHQ for the first time in the campaign to issue a comprehensive plan on 1 October looking to the envelopment and destruction of the enemy at the Buna-Gona beachhead. This plan and the more detailed instructions of 11 October provided for the recapture of Goodenough Island and stipulated that the troops available to the Commander, New Guinea Force, would move on the beachhead along three axes of advance: along the Kokoda Trail; via the Kapa Kapa-Jaure track or the Abau-Namudi-Jaure route; and up the coast northwestward from Milne Bay.
The advance would be in two stages. The troops moving overland would, before any further advance, secure the line of the Kumusi River from the Owalama Divide (north of Jaure) to the crossing of the Buna-Kokoda track at Wairopi. Those moving up from Milne Bay would first secure Goodenough Island and the coastal area to the northward as far as Cape Nelson. When these areas were secured, a concerted advance by all land forces upon the Buna-Gona area would be ordered.
SOURCE: Victory in Papua, BY: Samuel Milner (United States Army Center of Military History)