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. Marilyn

    An absoluitely amazing find. It would seem that at last the battles of World War II that took place in New Guinea are at last beginning to surface. So much we should have been aware of so many years ago.

    June 7, 2010 at 10:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sidewinder

      Not much was ever written in the US, that I am familiar with, about the war in New Guinea. Mainly because it was primarily an ANZAC show, though there were plenty of US units there. The ops in the Solomons tended to overshadow New Guinea.

      June 8, 2010 at 12:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Dee

      My father was in New Guinea during this time. He was Army, and he told us only a few stories about it. He said it was too horrific to share with his children. I went to the inauguartion of the WWII Memorial in DC and got to talk to some other veterans of the same campaigns. They told me a lot about what my father lived through, and all I can say is those were amazing soldiers and it is incredible that so many made it home alive. We owe them honor, regardless of what country they came from. This story gave me a chill, and I only hope these lost soldiers finally find their way home to their families for a proper burial quickly. They have waited long enough.

      June 8, 2010 at 8:41 am | Report abuse |
  2. Jim

    This is a chilling story. I am a big VET advocate. One picture looks like MEN where buried at that site, what with the helmonts placed on a stick or the rifle the man used. iT IS CHILLING.

    June 7, 2010 at 11:23 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jim

    Not sure anything should be made a joke of in war, death , I do not see any humor. Whoever the smart ones are that profess themselves as smart, I guess okay. They have themselves to deal with. But they are here on this site typing a comment. I do not think they were in the wars and fighting anyone.

    June 7, 2010 at 11:36 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Pmakre

    More details on the WWII findings over at http://www.civilinspection.info/?content=1550

    It would be amazing to discover something like this...

    June 7, 2010 at 11:53 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Belle

    This is so fascinating! My father served on Papau, New Guinea during WWII doing reconnaissance. He was a photographer for the army air corps. Sure wish he was still here with us so I could discuss this with him. Reading this makes me miss him terribly tonight.

    June 7, 2010 at 11:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • starr

      sorry for you're loss; it would be cool to talk to someone who was there

      June 8, 2010 at 1:37 am | Report abuse |
    • DOC V

      My heart goes out to you. Just remember, you miss him because you loved him, and you loved him because he must have been a great person to you. Don't be sad, be happy for the fact that you had a father like him.

      June 8, 2010 at 3:04 am | Report abuse |
  6. pmo5010

    certainly wouldn't want to touch those rusted grenades.

    June 8, 2010 at 1:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Spell Check

      Did you mean granates? ;-)

      June 8, 2010 at 6:52 am | Report abuse |
  7. starr

    all in all very interesting, what about the 'gladiator' graveyard found in the u.k. at york!

    June 8, 2010 at 1:40 am | Report abuse |
  8. TheWatcher

    Conspiracy? This has to be part of B.P.'s plan to distract prople from the Gulf spill. This is a nice, small, archeological find. It is interesting...not some Illuminati plot. Go back to grade school.

    June 8, 2010 at 2:24 am | Report abuse |
  9. MrSmith2U

    To OIF Vet – right on, brother! You sound like a repeat of my points, except I see where your comments were posted before mine. If this space cadet does, in fact, get back to you, be sure to let me know what grade of maryjane she was smokin'. I need some of that!

    June 8, 2010 at 2:33 am | Report abuse |
  10. PNG Old timer

    I like to remind anybody searching the jungles of PNG, that war relics are protected by law under the PNG Cultural property act. It is ilegal to remove any war relic or intefere with a war relic in any shape or form.

    June 8, 2010 at 2:54 am | Report abuse |
  11. shawn

    this should be on TOP news. what the world has come to.

    June 8, 2010 at 2:57 am | Report abuse |
  12. george

    this thing ate my post

    June 8, 2010 at 3:21 am | Report abuse |
  13. turd

    It smells like turd in here..

    June 8, 2010 at 3:23 am | Report abuse |
  14. true veteran

    I was in the korean war. And I've been in the german war. I've been shot, blown up, ran over you name it. I've earned metals of honor. But then my mom started yelling because I was on my ps3 for 10hrs straight.

    June 8, 2010 at 3:52 am | Report abuse |
  15. Frank

    You all make some good points. Wish we could get the truth on this. If this is real...well then Fantastic! If not real...well then maybe a good piece of Fiction.

    And for you, Veronique's doctor, if she is in California then you will be contacting her Parole Agent, not parole officer. Many of the public do not know the correct classification is Parole Agent. Also confusing is that in Probation, it is Probation Officer. Difference is that Probation is county jail time. In Parole the person went to either a state or federal prison. I realize this is a little off the subject of the Jungle find, sorry.

    June 8, 2010 at 4:00 am | Report abuse |
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