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The end of the Jeep Track

Late in August 1942, Lieutenant N.Owers, with a small survey party, was looking for an alternative route forward of Ilolo by which the troops on the Kokoda Track might more easily be supplied. The jeep track only ever reached as far as the point which became known as Owers’ Corner, and then gave way to a foot track which wound down a steep slope towards Uberi.

During the month of September 1942 two 25 pounder field guns of the 14th Australian Field Regiment were brought forward to Owers’ Corner, where they were manhandled into firing positions. This was the only allied Field Artillery used during the Kokoda Track campaign to support the out gunned and greatly out numbered Infantry. This action assisted in halting the Japanese advance just 48 kilometres from Port Moresby; so began the Japanese retreat. The terrain was almost impassable for Infantry let alone Artillery. A third 25 pounder field gun was dismantled and manhandled to Peg 66 beyond Uberi. The Regiment was assisted in reaching their firing position by a Platoon of the 2/1st Pioneer Battalion. However, by then the Japanese had withdrawn beyond the range of the gun.

Following the action at Owers’ Corner from 22 to 28 September 1942, the Commander Royal Artillery 7th Division, Brigadier L.S. Barker despatched the following:

“The ejection of the enemy from Ioribaiwa Ridge indicates a turning point in the battle for Port Moresby. The success of our forces was due in no small part to the action of 53rd Field Battery, 14th Field Regiment in bringing fire to bear on the enemy position which they had every reason to consider was safe from artillery fire.

The manner in which difficulties were overcome in bringing guns into action at Owers’ Corner and later in taking guns forward to Uberi is another example of the aptness of the gunner motto, “UBIQUE”.

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