RSL gets behind a sentimental expedition marking Kokoda’s 80th Anniversary
The 1st of September marks the start of a remarkable and historical expedition undertaken by the 16th Battalion, Royal Western Australian Regiment (RWAR) of Perth and the 39th Operational Support Battalion (OSB) of Randwick in commemoration of the 80th Anniversary of the Kokoda Campaign. With the full support of the RSL, a group from each Battalion will undertake the nine-day trek across the mountainous jungle trail as they retrace the steps of their original Battalions.
The 16th RWAR will depart from the South side (starting at Owers’ Corner) and the 39th OSB will depart from Kokoda in the North. The two groups will converge at Brigade Hill partway through the trek to commemorate the battle, 80 years to the day, that both Battalions fought in.
The 39th OSB has a particularly sentimental duty to fulfil while on the track following a request from the family of Kokoda veteran Alan ‘Kanga’ Moore. Trusted in their care, they will carry his ashes and fulfil his wishes to be scattered at meaningful sites along the track. This includes Isurava and over the grave of a friend who died in his arms according to Commanding Officer 39th OSB Lieutenant Colonel David Ready.
LTCOL David Ready said it was a privilege to be able to perform the last wishes of ‘Kanga’, a remarkable Australian and the sole surviving officer of the 39th Battalion.
The expedition group is supported by twelve Papua New Guinea porters, and acknowledges the critical role porters – who were fondly known as ‘Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels’ during WWII – played in the Allies victory in 1942. RSL Australia, RSL WA, RSL NSW and the Maroubra RSL sub-Branch in collaboration with the Australian Army are proud to be supporting this commemorative expedition through the sponsorship of porters on this trip. The ‘Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels’ were revered for their strength, ingenuity, and compassion both carrying supplies to troops and for evacuating the wounded through impossible terrain.
At the end of the trek, a commemorative service will be held in Bomana attended by the 39 OSB, as well as the RSL Australia President Greg Melick along with other dignitaries. The following day a second service will be hosted at Gona with 16 RWAR.
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