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The desperate battles of Mission Ridge and Brigade Hill

Efogi was a small village on the southern slopes of the Owen Stanley Ranges and was the fourth staging post where many troops stopped overnight as they advanced over the Kokoda Track. The village, with an altitude of some 2,000 metres was in a large river valley across which could be seen the next night’s stop at Kagi, but it would be a hard day’s climb. The river was spanned by a narrow log and had the reputation of being a fast and dangerous stream, known to rise 3 metres in an hour after a storm higher up in its headwaters. Halfway up the slope was another location known as Efogi North, where a second track branched to the right towards Myola.

During the withdrawal Brigadier Potts hoped to delay the enemy at Efogi North, but the ground was not suitable for defence and on 6 September he withdrew the remnants of his 21st Brigade south of the main village of Efogi. There the newly arrived 2/27th Battalion was preparing defensive positions on high ground known as Mission Ridge. Behind the 2/27th were the badly depleted 2/14th and 2/16th Battalions. At the southern end of the defensive position was the brigade headquarters on what became known as Brigade Hill. It was here that the gallant remnants of the 39th Battalion were finally withdrawn.

On 7 September, Allied aircraft attacked the enemy positions around Efogi while enemy patrols probed the Australian defences. Then before dawn on 8 September the Japanese force, now reinforced to 6 battalions, attacked the 2/27th Battalion. Up to eight separate assaults were repelled with heavy losses on both sides. Meanwhile the Japanese moved around to the left of the Australian position and struck at the area between the 2/16th Battalion and brigade headquarters.… Read the rest