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 (256 Responses)
  1. Frank

    Wow, this is an amazing find. As an archaeologist myself, I would love to be able to excavate a site like this, especially the human remains. I hope that they are able to identify the soldiers and send them home to their families.

    June 9, 2010 at 2:45 am | Report abuse |
  2. juan

    Did he died?

    June 9, 2010 at 8:09 am | Report abuse |
  3. Bill

    The real shame is in todays world the children in USA have no clue what this may be about or mean after all its not politicly corect to speak of war and killing but ok to play it on viedo games. Let the teachers teach real world and not FCAT or one test that is all memorizion nuff said
    its a great find for history lets teach it to our kids and the new generation

    June 9, 2010 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rick

      You're kidding, right? We've spent the last decade talking about war in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria. But, thanks for the tangent anyway...

      April 15, 2013 at 6:34 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Akilla21

    What is more shocking to me, is the neither country performed Grave Registration after the conflict. There are teams of folks that have the responsibility to ensure the fallen are returned to their homes and assured the proper burial. It saddens me to see that both countries did not take the responsibility to return the fallen. After the exchange of strategic positions the fallen should have been collected and tagged for removal at a later date.

    June 11, 2010 at 3:34 am | Report abuse |
    • HollywoodLyn

      The article states that the respective countries are working on returning the soldiers to their homes.

      January 4, 2014 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Dave

    Iora Creek : 9° 04”S 147° 43”E [ ]

    August 10, 2010 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Meridia

    Meridia 😉 <a

    September 29, 2010 at 7:36 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Briumsu

    Hey, I receive a 504 Gateway Timeout error when I view your page. This usually indicates the host did not receive a timely response. I thought yuo may want to know. Best wishes Jim

    October 21, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  8. andrew freeman

    i am so proud of my brothers efforts in locating the lost battlefield

    April 13, 2012 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Joseph g.weaver jr.

    People, wake up, nothing staged here, all you see is what the expedition did to prove it exists, and mark the departed, as for the other items, obviously they were looking for country of origin and who was actually here, the site was left and now it is in the hands of the higher powers whether to excavate it or not, but iam sure they will try to send the dead home, and get rid of the live ordnance!

    January 7, 2014 at 7:33 am | Report abuse |
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