World War II battlefield found
June 7th, 2010
02:31 PM ET

Lost WWII battlefield found -– war dead included

An Australian trekker said he has discovered the site of a significant World War II battle in the jungles of Papua New Guinea, complete with the remains of Japanese soldiers right where they fell almost 70 years ago.

Former army Capt. Brian Freeman, an expert on the Kokoda Trail – a 60-mile trek through rugged mountainous country and rainforest of the island – said Monday he was led to the Eora Creek battle site where he found the remains of the soldiers.

The site about half a mile from the village of Eora Creek was believed to be the location of the last major battle that was pivotal in Australia’s campaign against the Japanese in Papau New Guinea.

Although the site was known to local villages, jungles reclaimed it after the battle of Eora Creek. Although locals hunted on the plateau surrounding the site, they avoided the 600-square-meter battle ground because of a belief that spirits of the dead were still present in the "lost battlefield."

What this means is that the site has apparently remained untouched since 1942.

“On our inaugural trek, we were hoping to find the remnants of a make-shift Japanese hospital and, potentially, relics of guns and ammunition. I never anticipated that we would find war dead,” Freeman said in a statement.

Freeman trekked to the site for the first time on April 23.

“It was as if time has stood still. We found ammunition running out in a line from the rifle that was dropped as the Japanese advanced to the rear,” Freeman said.

Freeman said extensive research on battle maps and diaries led them to believe that the Japanese had a medical facility in the area during the Japanese advance and its location had remained a mystery until now.

The team found kidney-shaped medical dishes at the site, pointing to evidence that the find was indeed the site of a Japanese hospital.

The presence of large rectangular pits, referred to as rifle pits, also indicated that the location was also a significant Japanese defensive position.

“However, it was the discovery of a Japanese soldier sitting up against a tree, only centimeters from the surface still in his helmet, with his boots nearby that began to tell the human story,” Freeman said.

The battle of Eora Creek is said to be the single most costly clash of the Kokoda campaign, although different sources cite different casualty figures.

Freeman's group says 79 Australians died and 145 were wounded, while the Australian War Memorial website says 99 were killed and 192 wounded.

Freeman said they are working with respective governments to repatriate the fallen solders and preserve the site in its “current pristine condition." Until then, no groups will be permitted to trek the site.

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Filed under: Australia • Japan • Papua New Guinea • World
soundoff (257 Responses)
  1. ken1952

    The top picture loojk staged to me. It's to clean the stuff would have been grown over.

    June 7, 2010 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill Nye

      they would've had to clear the growth away to take a picture....

      June 7, 2010 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joseph g.weaver jr.

      It was not staged, they just cleaned it up to place sticks and the helmets of the departed on them so that when a decision is made, they can again go in and hopefully identify the dead and send them home...

      January 7, 2014 at 7:25 am | Report abuse |
  2. Sixoh

    That one helmet didn't fair as well as the others. Maybe it was "Made in China" LOL

    June 7, 2010 at 7:23 pm | Report abuse |
  3. niki

    Could those grenades still be live?

    June 7, 2010 at 7:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • SFC Mike

      In all likelihood, live and highly unstable. The fuse mechanism would be corroded away, but the grenade case and explosive charge likely intact, as would be the primer, which is located in the center bottom of these (type 97) grenades.

      June 7, 2010 at 7:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Retired MSgt.

      yes, mam'

      June 7, 2010 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joseph g.weaver jr.

      You can be assured they are and can be set off by a heavy shower, they will be cleaned up first(detonated)

      January 7, 2014 at 7:28 am | Report abuse |
  4. Poolchick

    I'm a little skeptical. It would be very cool to make such a find however, some photos just don't look real to me. After that many years would the hats still be on poles?? They may be tied so I'm not sure but, the shoes look shiny to me. Wouldn't there be growth of some sort on them after all that time? Moss maybe? Stranger things have happend of course but I'm not too sure about this one. Somebody may be in for publicity or cash somehow. hmmmmm!

    June 7, 2010 at 7:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • JDitty

      I agree. This 'find' looks staged.

      June 7, 2010 at 7:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill Nye

      omg same thing, they cleared it away, the poles were set up by researchers to mark the places the dead were, and yes this is a real find. The shoes might have been brushed off to see manufacturers or something to check the correctness of the dates.

      June 7, 2010 at 7:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andy

      I used to get mad at the ignorance of people like poolchick. Now I just accept the fact the some people are lazy, and others just aren't that bright.

      June 8, 2010 at 3:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      yoo are so right!!! Everything is a conspirucY!!! Even this! And why??? WHO NOES???? Why would anyone bother? Who cares!!! EVERYTING IS A CONSPIRUCY I TELLS YA!!!

      June 8, 2010 at 10:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Kummin

      Poolchick is 'skeptical', huh? Same kind that is probably skeptical that the world is round, or that 9/11 happened at 'they' say it did! Kooks like Pool and those that agree abound everywhere.

      June 8, 2010 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
    • seriously

      Quick, call Alex Jones!

      June 8, 2010 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Frank

      In the article it says, the people who found the bodies put their hats like that to show respect for the dead at the site.

      June 8, 2010 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
    • inter-nyet

      I think the problem is 2-fold: Poor writing by the "journalist", poor reading by many readers.

      June 8, 2010 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Don

    Half a mile from a village and this is the first we heard about this battle. Picture is undoubtablly a fake and most people, if not totally out of touch with reality, can figure this out rather quickly.

    June 7, 2010 at 7:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andy

      Thanks Don. How many times have you vistied PNG?

      June 8, 2010 at 3:21 am | Report abuse |
  6. Jeff

    Come on guys. Helmets with the metal completely rusted through? Are we to believe that a helmet will rust through in less time than a wooden stick would not decay in a rain forest? And are to believe that LEATHER which is made of animal skin would continue to exist after decades of rainfall, humidity, insect infestation? The guns are rusty but it looks like everything has been cleaned up and the surface rust grinded away.

    This is a fraud.

    June 7, 2010 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill Nye

      actually, in the rain forest, wood has a longer time before decaying than most wood outside the rain forest. Why? It is kept moist by the water in the ground. Consistently wet means no drying periods for weakness to set in. The helmets probably rusted through 20 years ago, the holes are just getting bigger. No, these were set up by researchers. Not everything can be reported in 10 minutes from the middle of a freakin rainforest so yes, progress would have been made in the time it took.

      June 7, 2010 at 7:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • MC

      They've pulled leather from ancient shipwrecks before – it's tanned, soaked in old-school chemicals.

      June 7, 2010 at 10:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      I knows you! You are in my ppoor reeding comprehenshun club! YOU ARE RIGHT!!! ITS ALL a CONSPIRUCY!!!! Why would people bother with something so mundanne? Who knoes?? but reading properly is FOR CHUMPS!!! who needs facts ard gud reeding skillz when the CONSPIRACISTS ARE EVEREWHERE!!!

      June 8, 2010 at 10:10 am | Report abuse |
  7. Roland

    I wish people knew what they were talking about BEFORE they started typing.

    June 7, 2010 at 7:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • CaptKC

      I agree. Now I have one thing to say to all the idiots out there, READ THE DAMN
      ARTICLE FIRST, THEN POST, jerks...

      June 8, 2010 at 1:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Frank

      I am happy to see ignorance isn't just in America. Looks to be pandemic. Its also unfortunate that here in the USA this is how our governments actions are a result of; politicians who watch the news and don't read or know the facts are first before commenting. The politicians are many times basing their reactions off of the ignorant chants being reported on the news they are watching. It's a viscious cycle.

      June 8, 2010 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
  8. independent

    Some skepticism can be healthy. Cynicism, however, betrays an illness of mind or soul.
    I don't need to measure you. Measure yourselves.

    June 7, 2010 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • SWBeth

      This is the best response I've ever seen to the incredible landslide of anger on most CNN commentary. Well said..

      June 7, 2010 at 8:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • eric

      agreed, SWBeth!

      June 7, 2010 at 11:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andy

      Well said. I am eagerly awaiting a similar explanation for ignorance.

      June 8, 2010 at 3:23 am | Report abuse |
  9. Jeff

    Could the supposed "Kokoda trail expert" be trying to draw attention to his business?

    June 7, 2010 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
  10. babyfacemagee

    I see dumb people...and they're on this comment thread and don't actually read the article before posting.

    June 7, 2010 at 7:46 pm | Report abuse |
  11. YourPantiesInnaWad

    There is no need for any of you folks to Have Your Panties Inna Wad.

    June 7, 2010 at 7:46 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Dyl

    I'm with Jeff with this 1 70 years in those sort of conditions, is there a new WW2 film out soon which needs some PR ??

    And wouldn't photo 2 be much better in 3D 🙂

    June 7, 2010 at 7:50 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Tony of Aus

    There was a 60 minute style story on this in Australia on Sunday 6th June 2010. The program was called Sunday Night and airs on Channel 7 here in oz thats if you want to find out more.

    June 7, 2010 at 7:52 pm | Report abuse |
  14. dave

    Kind of risky moving some of that unexploded ordnance around. Something tells me next time they do some digging it will be with a bomb squad.

    June 7, 2010 at 7:53 pm | Report abuse |
  15. ElisabethinCA

    ok everybody...take your meds and calm down....there is no conspiracy here to be found...there are quite a few people here that didn't fully read the story...the SEARCHERS put up the wooden sticks and helmets in respect for the soldiers..it was KNOWN to all the little villages around but they didn’t tell anybody and stayed away due to not wanting to disturb the sight for fear of disturbing the dead.....and do you know how thick a rainforest is and can be? Thick enough that it can PROTECT a lot of that stuff you think is staged...

    June 7, 2010 at 7:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • MrSmith2U

      You make an interesting point, HOWEVER, why didn't they take before and after pix? Maybe they did, I'd like to see them. As any credible forensic investigator does, take pix BEFORE ANYONE even walks on the scene, let alone 'put helmets on sticks to show respect for the fallen'. This single act did nothing but destroy their credibility.

      June 8, 2010 at 1:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Britt

      I doubt CNN would have been interested in the 'before' pictures. After all, that's most likely undergrowth with bits sticking out the top. Very few undug sites are very interesting to look at to anyone not fascinated by archaeology.

      June 8, 2010 at 6:10 am | Report abuse |
    • rmsbl4

      I have gone back and read the story five times and I still can't find any referenc to the searchers putting up the sticks. Can you tell me in what paragraph this is stated.

      June 8, 2010 at 8:36 am | Report abuse |
    • just me

      @ rmsbl4: Look on picture 4 with the text. It says that those who made the discovery placed their helmets on stakes to mark where the soldiers had died...'in typical military tradition". You should look at ALL the evidence before posting.......

      June 8, 2010 at 9:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      reading properly is FOR CHUMPS!!!! Yeah lets all join in for POOR READING COMPREHENSHUN AWARENESS!!!!!!! its a conspirucy for NO RAISIN !!!1!!!! its all a trick! and jfk is involved somehow! and aliens!!!!

      June 8, 2010 at 10:13 am | Report abuse |
    • spp

      I don't necessarily read that the searchers put the helmets on sticks. It simply says three dead soldiers were marked with sticks in typical military fashion. They could be saying that is how it was found with the sticks as markers. I'm not one of the skeptics saying this has to be faked; when I was younger I was involved with a lot of living history in Florida and we had some amazingly well preserved relics. The weather conditions often cause exactly the opposite reaction most people think. Some cloth buried in sand or deep mud can often be cleaned and end up in almost pristine condition even after several centuries.

      June 8, 2010 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
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