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.
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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 three 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 It was here that the gallant remnants of the 39th Battalion were finally withdrawn.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. There was bitter fighting as the Australians tried unsuccessfully to throw the enemy back. Captain Nye of the 2/14th Battalion and Captain Langridge of the 2/16th Battalion were killed when each led determined counter attacks.
Brigadier Potts had no alternative but to order another withdrawal by his headquarters back along the track to Menari, while his three battalions moved through thick jungle to the east to meet up with him. Carrying their wounded down steep slopes in thick jungle the Australians could only move slowly, but a determined counter attack by a company of the 2/27th Battalion enabled the remainder to make a clean break.
By nightfall on 8 September, the Efogi area had been abandoned. The defence of Mission Hill and Brigade Hill was one of the most savage battles of the Kokoda Campaign and was costly in casualties to both sides. This action gained further time, which was crucial to the whole operation. During the counter offensive the 3rd Battalion reached Efogi on 4 October without meeting resistance. They were followed by the 2/33rd Battalion who buried the bodies of the Australians who were killed during the withdrawal.
October 1942: Men of the 2/33rd Australian Infantry Battalion marching through the small village of Nauro on their way through the Owen Stanley Ranges to Kokoda. Note each man has a long stick with which to gain assistance in climbing the steep slopes of the Owen Stanleys. (AWM 027068)
October 1942: A comprehensive view from a high point on the Track over the Owen Stanley Ranges near Nauro, looking directly in the direction of Kokoda. The valley is the Nauro Valley, through which the Brown River runs. The plateau immediately behind is Menari and on to Efogi, while in the distance are the Kokoda and Gap ranges. (AWM 027083)
Efogi North, mid-October 1942. The tents of 2/4th Field Ambulance are set up at a temporary camp on a partially cleared slope in the jungle. The unit was delayed here for a day in its progress by the need to perform an emergency arm amputation. While basic, the work of such Field Ambulance units saved many lives in the campaign. (AWM P02423.011)
Probably Efogi North. Members of the surgical team of the 2/4th Field Ambulance perform an operation in the tent that serves as the operating theatre at the unit's Main Dressing Station (MDS). Left to right: VX39117 Captain (Capt) Douglas Robert Leslie, the surgeon; NX454 Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Francis Hobson, the unit CO, who is assisting Capt Leslie; NX34655 Capt Alan Oliver Watson, the unit Dental Officer, who is administering the general anaesthetic. The work of the medical units was usually undertaken in such conditions, and at times they too needed to shelter from Japanese air raids. (AWM P02424.032)
The Track treated all equally. Here the Padre of the 2/33rd Australian Infantry Battalion washes his shorts in the Brown River. The Padres and other logistical units encountered the same conditions as the troops they supported. Padres provided spiritual and more earthly contributions (such as food and water) to their well-being along the Track. (AWM 027066)
Three mates in the 2/14 Battalion: from left VX15291(later Sergeant) Charles Harry Fitzpatrick, VX14096 Lieutenant (later Captain) Claude Charles Purvis Nye and VX17103 (later Sergeant) Herbert Phillip Warman, all of the 2/14 Battalion. The three men enlisted in Victoria in May 1940. Captain Nye was killed in action on 8 September 1942, aged 25, leading one of the counterattacks at Efogi. Sergeant Warman was presumed killed in action on 9 September 1942, aged 23. Sergeant Fitzpatrick returned to Australia, and was discharged from the army in January 1944. (AWM P06551.003)