Battle of Gorari

Gorari was a small village on the Kokoda Trail that stood at the point where a smaller north-south track joined the trail, which at that point ran roughly east-west. Gorari was approximately 6.5 km east of the village of Oivi, the next village along the trail from Kokoda. On 5 November 1942 the 2/2nd and 2/3rd Battalions, advancing from Kokoda, were stopped by a strong Japanese defensive position at Oivi. Frontal attacks over the next two days made no progress against the well-sited positions so the 25th Brigade was sent along a subsidiary track, along which the 2/1st Battalion had already advanced, to outflank them. By nightfall on 9 November the 2/31st and 2/25th Battalions had enveloped the Japanese position blocking the north-south track, and the 2/33rd and 2/1st Battalions, having bypassed it through the jungle, were astride the main trail at Gorari, but sandwiched between two Japanese positions. Realising they were caught in a steadily closing trap, the Japanese sought desperately on 10 November to force the 2/33rd and 2/1st Battalions from their positions on the trail; bitter fighting lasted all day and into the night but both battalions held firm. To their south, the 2/25th and 2/31st Battalions endured similarly hard fighting as they squeezed the Japanese position on the north-south track between them. The climax of the battle came on 11 November. Renewing their attacks, the 2/25th and 2/31st crushed the Japanese position to the south and then moved to assist the 2/1st Battalion at Gorari. Late in the afternoon the 2/1st and the 2/31st attacked the Japanese position to the east of the 2/1st. The fighting was vicious, but eventually the Australians managed to encircle and destroy the position. Meanwhile back at Oivi, patrols of the 2/2nd and 2/3rd Battalion encountered no opposition. An advance was ordered and found that the Japanese had withdrawn the previous night. The battle of Gorari was the last major engagement on the Kokoda Trail and demonstrated a growing tactical confidence on the part of Australian commanders who were learning from their enemies to outflank and encircle defensive positions through the jungle, rather than confront them head-on.