hawkeye (hawkeye7) wrote,

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Got an e-mail from some dude who writes a newsletter for a society of WWII Jeep collectors in New South Wales. I think he wants me to write an article for him. This is unlikely to make it into the high priority tray around here.

Went down to the War Memorial looking for some information about the construction of the tree-slung Jungle lines. No luck so far, so it looks like I'll have to go to the war diaries, which will probably take a fortnight to retrieve.

Found correspondence on the Kokoda airstrip in 1944. This is two years after the famous battle and all that remained in the area was some 40 signallers maintaining the Moresby-Lae telephone line, and a few hundred Papuans, mostly carriers, of the Australian New Guinea Administrative Unit (ANGAU). A C-47 flew in to Kokoda every other day to keep them supplied. Over time the airstrip became a bit of a mess and one day a C-47 slid right off the runway. So the Air Force announced that it wasn't going to fly there anymore until it was fixed up. The Moresby Base Area, now a complete backwater command, found some 20 parachutes in stock to drop supplies in to Kokoda. More were requisitioned from the big base at Lae. After a bit of discussion about whose responsibility it was to repair the runway, and how much it had to be repaired, ANGAU arranged for Papuan labourers to level the field and spread some gravel over it. C-47s then resumed landing at Kokoda. Flights were suspended for good on 30 September 1944.

This is the kind of gripping stuff that history is made of.

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