On the crest of the Owen Stanley Ranges, a few kilometres east of the main track, there were two dry lake beds.
Realising the need for a dropping ground for supplies, Lieutenant Herbert Kienzle of the Australian New Guinea Administration Unit (ANGAU) set out to explore this area and in early August reached the first dry lake, which was covered with kunai grass.
Station 9 – The forward supply depot and medical post
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On the crest of the Owen Stanley Ranges, a few kilometres east of the main track, there were two dry lake beds. Realising the need for a dropping ground for supplies, Lieutenant Herbert Kienzle of the Australian New Guinea Administration Unit (ANGAU) set out to explore this area and in early August reached the first dry lake, which was covered with kunai grass. It made a suitable dropping zone and he put in train actions to set up a forward supply depot. He named the area Myola (after the wife of his commanding officer). Nearby, and at a higher altitude, was a second dry lake, which became known as Myola 2.
Myola was quickly developed as a forward supply depot and became the location for medical posts established by elements of the 14th and 2/6th Field Ambulances under Major J. R. Magarey. During the withdrawal the Australian battalions gained a much needed resupply of clothes and food at Myola before the location was evacuated on 4 September.
During the counter-offensive the 25th Brigade reached Myola on 8 October and quickly began to develop the area as a supply depot, relying on supplies dropped by aircraft, known as biscuit bombers, on the open dry lake. Also the 2/4th and 2/6th Field Ambulances established medical posts which were soon receiving casualties from the 25th Brigade fighting at Templeton’s Crossing and later the 16th Brigade at Eora Creek.
It was hoped that a landing strip could be cut that would allow casualties to be evacuated by plane, but the first light plane did not land until late October. However, there were insufficient light planes and several crashed on landing at Myola. Only about 40 casualties were flown out of the mountains. There were not enough native carriers to carry all the wounded out to Port Moresby and many remained in the hospital at Myola until they had recovered sufficiently to walk out themselves. Patients were carried out as carriers became available, with the last reaching the Port Moresby area shortly before Christmas 1942.
Myola was an important post for the operations of 1 Australian Corps Signals in constructing and maintaining a telegraph wire across the Owen Stanleys from Moresby to the Gona/Buna areas (Popondetta/Dobodura).
Loading Douglas C47 planes with supplies for troops in the forward area. The ground troops nicknamed these planes 'Biscuit Bombers'. While providing well-earned supplies to the forward troops, often the cargos were lost in dense jungle or the contents were shattered after being dropped from the planes, rendering them useless. (AWM 026279)
An aerial photograph of the country between Oivi and Myola Lakes. The rough terrain and unstable air conditions presented hazards for low flying, and the thickness and sameness of the vegetation made difficult the task of bombing and strafing enemy positions and for dropping supplies to the forward troops. (AWM 128150)
Date unknown. Dental treatment at Myola. Troops often had to wait for such treatment until medical staff arrived following the clearing of Japanese forces. This photograph was published in 'Australia in the War of 1939-45, Medical, Vol 1, Clinical Problems of War', p. 616. (AWM 043283)
October 1942. Tents of the Main Dressing Station (MDS) of the 2/4th Field Ambulance set up on the open plain at Myola, with jungle-covered hills in the background. (AWM P02424.080)
October 1942. At dawn, members of the surgical team attached to the 2/4th Field Ambulance work inside the tent that serves as the operating theatre at the unit's Main Dressing Station (MDS). A tub of water stands on a small table at the entrance to the tent (centre, left), while surgical gowns, towels and face masks hang out to dry on a clothes line (right). The work of the Field Ambulance units along all sections of the Track saved many lives during the campaign. (AWM P02424.053)
October 1942. An informal outdoors group portrait of members of the surgical team at the Main Dressing Station (MDS) of the 2/4th Field Ambulance. Left to right: Staff Sergeant Stanley Clark, senior theatre orderly; NX34655 Captain Alan Oliver Watson, Dental Officer and anaesthetist; VX39117 Captain Douglas Robert Leslie, surgeon; Private (Pte) W. McBean, theatre orderly; Pte Gribble, dental technician; Pte Finlay, the CO's batman. The men are standing in front of the tent that serves as the operating theatre. This picture was taken in sunny weather, in stark contrast to many other days along the Track when constant torrential rain hampered both the advance and medical treatment. (AWM P02424.107)