No ground was harder won than Myola Ridge between October 11 and 15, 1942, when the 2/33rd faced a force of battalion strength dug in to a depth of 1800 metres along the razorback ridge. Enemy weapon pits were re-enforced with heavy logs.

It was the first major stand the Japanese made following the Australian advance against Imita Ridge.

The victory was extremely important because it secured the large Myola dry lakes, which were urgently needed for dropping supplies and establishing medical bases.

The Japanese mounted such a strong defence because they knew that whoever held the ridge controlled the dry lakes.

The battle of Myola Ridge was fought exclusively by the 2/33rd under appalling conditions: incessant fog, extreme cold at 2,300 metres and little chance to sleep because of foul weather and the closeness of the enemy.

In the bitter fighting the men had to scramble on hands and knees up the precipitous slopes.

With vast territorial advantage, the enemy repelled attack-after-attack, but with great tenacity the battalion finally gained the upper hand and had cleared the ridge by October 15. One hundred Japanese were killed and a significant, but unknown, number wounded. The 2/33rd lost 21 killed and 48 wounded. The battalion was awarded a number of decorations as a result of the action. Lieutenant Kevin Power won the Military Cross and TX1197 Acting Sergeant Fred Storey the Military Medal for

Native stretcher bearers stop at a river to give a drink of water to their 2/33rd Battalion patient Private Baldwin, wounded in action on the Kokoda Trail.

outstanding bravery during the battle. Power showed complete disregard for his own safety. He disarmed a heavy gun and led a patrol attack on the Japanese, inflicting heavy losses. At one stage he returned three times under heavy fire to help out his own wounded. On October 14 Acting Sergeant Fred Storey took control of a forward section when both his commander and platoon sergeant were wounded.

He soon had the platoon attacking again to take its objective under intense enemy machine gun and mortar fire. He and a handful of men held it against severe counter-attacks until ordered to withdraw. The location of the Myola Ridge battle is now a part of the modern Kokoda Trail, which every tourist trekking company traverses. Direct descendants of the 2/33rd men who fought on Myola Ridge visited there in 2017, to recognise the 75th Anniversary of the battle

Lt. Col. Alf Buttrose, C.O. of the 2/33rd Battalion, called “the boy wonder” because of his youth and boyish looks, gave one of the most extraordinary orders of the Pacific war by requesting that four men go forward as “bait” on a seemingly suicide mission to lure the Japanese into an ambush during the withdrawal to Imita Ridge. Buttrose was awarded a D.S.O. for his tactical skills, bravery and outstanding leadership during the Owen Stanleys campaign. and masterminding victories in major battles at Templeton’s Crossing, Gorari Village and Gona.

NX70713 Lieutenant Robert Howland examining Japanese mountain gun shells stacked on Ioribaiwa Ridge after its re-occupation by 25th Brigade.

Lieutenant George Connor on the Japanese O.P. ladder on loribaiwa after the Japanese withdrawal, September 28, 1942.

NX44065 Pte Richard Shimmin starts his daily ration of Bully Beef – straight out of the tin. Bully Beef was the mainstay of a soldier’s diet.

TX1192 Pte H.E. Newman stops for a drink during a patrol between Nauro and Menari.

Death, carnage and appalling events they could never forget were burnt forever in the memories of the men of the 2/33rd: finding the bodies of Australian soldiers, brutally beheaded and cannibalised by the enemy; the memory of the two days – October 8 and 9 – it took to bury 99 men from the 21st Brigade, killed a month earlier on Mission Ridge and Brigade Hill. Many still had fingers on the triggers of their guns showing they were still fighting when they died.

The memories live on of the barbaric indifference towards TX751, Alec Erp, a young Tasmanian, shot by the Japanese and whose body lay for three days directly in front of their position and in plain view of members of the battalion. They could do nothing about recovering Erp’s body because the Japanese were covering it with machine gun fire, daring anyone to try.

C Company veteran, VX1879 Russell ‘Ray’ Watkins recalled Erp’s tragic fate in a privately published memoir: “Private Erp was up ahead and was shot.

It was terrible as we could see him, but the Japs prevented us from getting to him.”

No one who saw him ever forgot QX18156 Alan Roy “Dick” Luckell from Bundaberg, a 23-year-old member of the 2/25th Battalion. During the withdrawal from Ioribaiwa on September 16, 1942, wounded men from other battalions were making their slow and painful way through the 2/33rd positions, some struggling under the burden of stretcher cases. A storm was raging. Towards the end of the column, the young lad, Luckell, with one leg blown off from an artillery burst, was sitting upright on a stretcher. As his mates carried him along he was handing out cigarettes and softly singing the popular 1940’s song ‘Swinging along the road to Victory’. He died that night. Next day, D Company took up a position beside this courageous and generous soldier’s grave. They never forgot him.

Taken in 2017, this photograph shows the legendary Templeton’s Crossing, the scene of the 2/33rd Battalion’s last major fighting on the Owen Stanley Range – from October, 16 to 21, 1942 – before advancing to Gorari and Gona-Buna. A rough log bridge had been built for soldiers to cross the fast running Eora Creek. Nothing has changed except the log bridge is no longer there. Modern day trekkers still pass this historic spot. A flat area on the far side of the creek and slightly downstream is thought to have been the battalion’s mortar position, giving “line of sight firing on the Japanese entrenched at Eora Creek Village, 4km away. A Battalion mortar crew was accidentally killed at Templeton’s Crossing by their own exploding mortar bomb, and were originally buried there. Killed were NX2752 Corporal Kevin Golsby, aged 23, from Rockley, NSW, and Privates NX28825 William Jones, 25, from Tasmania and NX73091 William Williams, from Port Kembla, NSW.

Above: This 1940 dated Australian helmet bail was located in the northernmost Japanese position on Myola Ridge during the 75th Anniversary trek in September, 2017. The British designed Brodie Pattern helmet was manufactured in Australia under licence and had two stainless steel helmet bails like this to secure a cotton webbing chin strap. Bill Crooks located a number of relic Australian helmets on Myola Ridge
during his 1969 pilgrimage.

Above: These rusty relics were located on the southern slope of the northernmost Japanese position on Myola Ridge. They are corroded portions of an Australian steel helmet and two rifle charger clips containing .303 ammunition. Discovered in the remains of an Australian “two-man” weapons pit, which was partially filled with decades of rotted leaf litter. Apart from temporary ambushing by the retreating Australians in early September 1942, the 2/33rd Australian Infantry Battalion was the only unit which fought the Japanese on this ground during the advance in October.

A Battalion Association trek of the Kokoda Trail was conducted in September, 2017, to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of that campaign. Members of the 2/33rd Australian Infantry Battalion Association paused on location to recite the names of the 46 Australian troops from all units, who fell on or near Myola Ridge. The majority of trek participants were direct descendants of the following 2/33rd Battalion veterans: NX81054 Ronald Bean; NX81910 Robert Gawne; NX12806 Dick Fletcher; NX44575 Allan Sparrow; SX1662 Jack Balfour-Ogilvy and NX95329 Harry Bonham.

On Ioribaiwa: October, 1942. Standing at Back: John Savage, John Hughes, “Bonnie” Neediman, “Tex” Shields, Jim Hutchison, S. White, Joe Mackrill, “Butch” Oldfield, Bill Musgrave, Olly Hawkins, Dick Cox, Mal Kennedy, Doug Copp (or Cullen, with steel helmet), Kneeling: “Pedro” Druhan, “Canada” Preston, Bruce Stanton, “Bushy” Banfield, Bobbie Steele, Reg Ward , Doug Thompson. Sitting: The C.O. Lt. Col. Buttrose, Col Leary, Jim Lindsay, “Tich” Wharton, George Wenham, Eddie Ball, Peter McCowan (front). Bruce Stanton, Joe Mackrill, H.R. “Canada” Preston and Reg Ward died as a result of the Liberator crash. Olly Hawkins was killed in action and Jim Hutchison mortally- wounded a few weeks after the photograph was taken.

Soldiers of the 2/33rd Battalion on the move near Nauro.

B Company crossing the Kumusi River at Wairopi November 14, 1942. Sergeant “Red Robbie” Robinson is on the bridge looking backwards. Bobby Cooper, in the singlet, is making running repairs to the bridge. To build this and similar bridges over other fast-running rivers a man first had to swim across with a rope, a swim often made more dangerous in rivers infested with crocodiles. When crocodiles were seen in the water they were killed with grenades to reduce the dangers for swimmers.