80 years since Kokoda: lots of brave deeds but not ‘the battle that saved Australia’?: Honest History resources

The Australian War Memorial is today commemorating 80 years since the beginning of the Kokoda campaign in World War II. An AAP piece appears in many newspapers today, including comments from Dr Karl James, War Memorial historian.

Whether or not Kokoda ‘saved Australia’, or was part of a ‘Battle for Australia’ which did so, has long been a subject for debate, even for schoolchildren. We will not go into that much here, though others will. Dr James’ quoted remarks are reasonably balanced, though he draws a long bow (rather in the fashion of recently installed War Memorial Chair, Dr Brendan Nelson), when he says, ‘Remembering Kokoda reminds us of what it means to be an Australian’.

The most important fact about the Kokoda Campaign is that it led to the deaths of more than 2600 soldiers, Japanese, Australian and American, as well as perhaps 150 New Guinean civilian porters. Every one of those deaths was a tragedy. Amdrew Brown’s AAP piece mentions only ‘the 641 lives lost during the campaign’, that is, Australian lives.

Below are some Kokoda resources on the Honest History website. You can also use our Search engine.


David Stephens

21 July 2022


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