Cooper, Anthony: Kokoda revised

Anthony Cooper

Retracing Kokoda: in defence of historical revisionism‘, Honest History, 4 August 2014

Critics of revisionism in history, including military history, assume that there is only one version of the story. But historians should interpret evidence and new evidence keeps turning up. The traditional version of Kokoda has an outnumbered band of heroes withstanding a larger, better-prepared force. This ‘Boys’ Own’ myth – what the author calls ‘military romanticism’ – is busted by evidence, both on the ground and in the air.

The author concludes ‘that the Allies successfully defended Port Moresby in 1942, not because their men were better or braver or tougher than their Japanese opposite numbers, but because they ended up bringing to the campaign more realistic plans, better logistics, better supplies, more men, more machines and more firepower than the Japanese did’.

Related: Luke Slattery reviews Peter Williams, The Kokoda Campaign 1942: Myth and Reality, another myth-busting book about Kokoda which Slattery claimed has been little noticed. Abstracts of an Australian War Memorial conference in 2012. Tom O’Lincoln on Kokoda.

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