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 (259 Responses)
  1. koomar

    I bet you'll see the grenades on ebay for 30 usd each.

    June 8, 2010 at 4:34 am | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Keith

    To all of you jungle experts, historians, war veterans, social misfits, miscreants, raconteurs and roustabouts (thanks Tom) not to mention of course the plain stupid – thank you. You have turned – what started out as a rather depressing day – into a humorous half hour of 'time out '. There are some really good posts here – even the stupid ones.

    June 8, 2010 at 5:34 am | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Cornhulio

    The whole freaking world has gone to Hell in a handbasket ! Back in the day, human beings were actually born with a brain. What ever happened that changed that? Today everyone is brain dead or just incredibly stupid.

    June 8, 2010 at 5:57 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • jaeoe

      You must be incredibly stupid if you think people were smarter "back in the day". Read your history books. This stuff has been going on as long as the human race existed.

      June 8, 2010 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
  4. myname

    Yayyyy they found a battle found, just like they found countless others......w00t...............uh..ah..now what?

    June 8, 2010 at 6:35 am | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Johnny

    If the natives knew about this area and avoided it, how can this guy claim to have "found" it? That's like saying Columbus "discovered" America when, in fact, the Native Americans knew it was there all along.

    June 8, 2010 at 7:30 am | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Sulo

    history repeats itself ...this is a famous proverb... but we all pray that this History is never repeated ..

    June 8, 2010 at 7:42 am | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Moni G

    Wow – what a find. I always find war stories fascinating and sad at the same time. I cannot imagine the courage that they needed to face each day. It is unfathomable. I stood at the foot of a military cemetery a few years ago with a friend and she said" Wow, the grounds here are so beautiful". I said yes, it is beautiful ( San Diego) and yet it speaks of the sad testament to our failure as the human race:.

    June 8, 2010 at 7:54 am | Report abuse | Reply
  8. ali

    why does this guy get credit for finding something the natives have known about since 1945? not to mention they have the decency to respect it but now its going to get picked apart and turned into a show.

    June 8, 2010 at 8:13 am | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Rob

    It would be cool if they could construct a temperature/humidity controlled glass surrounding or greenhouse type structure around it to preserve it.

    June 8, 2010 at 8:39 am | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Nathan

    That's crazy that the weapons are still stacked and the helmets stayed on top of those sticks. Unless they staged that stuff like that after they found it.

    June 8, 2010 at 8:42 am | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Duane W

    This is an amzing find, it helps remind current generations that real people lived and died fighting for their very freedoms. Great pictures, would love to see more.

    June 8, 2010 at 9:10 am | Report abuse | Reply
  12. keith

    Makes you wonder just how many other sites like this exist throughout the Pacific, Europe and North Africa.
    Seeing these things makes it all more real. Not just something most of us read about in history books.
    It's neat when they discover things like WW2 aircraft that crashed and lay hidden for decades.

    June 8, 2010 at 9:25 am | Report abuse | Reply
  13. RS

    It's amazing that they came across that. Wow ! Imagine to be there discovering history like that !

    June 8, 2010 at 9:39 am | Report abuse | Reply
  14. RonMexico

    My dad was a WWII vet and served in New Guinea, a forgtotten hell hole. He didn't talk about it much until he was near the end of his life when he started to share some stories. He talked of corpses lying in the sweltering jungle for days, unable to be recovered due to closeness of the enemies, and the constant horrid smell the men would live with . . . he said he never, ever forgot tham smell, and he thought, as all the mn did that they would never survive the battles or the unforgiving jungle that was New Guinea.

    June 8, 2010 at 9:57 am | Report abuse | Reply
  15. John

    Having just discovered my father's own battlefield, the exact spot in the steeply wooded terrain of the Vosges mountains of of the Alsace Lorraine region of eastern France, I am once again amazed at our connection with the past. The internet has provided a wonderful tool to share these experiences and to encourage others to investigate this history. It was only 66 years ago the WWII ended. There is so much to explore.

    June 8, 2010 at 10:04 am | Report abuse | Reply
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