Presented to the MHSA Victoria Branch 27 August 2009 by David Howell
"Kokoda - Then and Now"
The Kokoda Campaign of 1942 was truly the battle to save Australia. While most Australians know the date of the landing at ANZAC Cove, the 25th of April 1915, many Australians do not know the date of the start of the Battle of Isurava, the 26th August 1942. As more Australians become aware of the Kokoda Campaign's significance in Australian history many people are making the pilgrimage to the jungle battlefields high in the Owen Stanley Range.
Kokoda - 'Now and Then' provides a brief historical overview of the WWII Kokoda Track Campaign of 1942 and examines the key battlefields of the campaign. With the aid of a pictorial slide show, period photographs of key battlefield areas are compared to modern day photographs. As the slide show progresses the presenter, David Howell from Kokoda Historical, talks about the historical significance of each particular place. The presentation is also aided by Mr Ken Phelan a veteran of the Kokoda and New Guinea campaigns, having served in the 39th Militia Battalion and in the 2/2nd AIF Battalion. Ken was recently reunited with a captured Japanese Flag that was signed by him and 23 other members of the 2/2nd Battalion AIF. This flag is on public display for the first time in 67 years and Ken speaks about his own war time experiences. This, combined with David's modern day experience on the Kokoda Track, makes for an interesting perspective of Kokoda - Now and Then.
David Howell is a keen historian who runs a tour company "Kokoda Historical" that specialises in conducting military history tours to the battlefields of PNG. David has spent the last five years actively researching the Kokoda and Northern Beachhead Campaigns of WWII. His many trips over the Kokoda Track and the Northern Beachhead battlefields provide him with an intimate knowledge of the terrain and environment that Australian soldiers fought in during WWII. This combined with his ongoing research, collection of artefacts and interviews of veterans helps David to continue to develop a greater understanding and appreciation of these WWII battlefields.
David currently serves as a Rifleman in the Army Reserve and has recently returned from peacekeeping service in the Solomon Islands. David has served as a volunteer guide at the Kokoda Track memorial Walkway in Concord, NSW for 3 years and is the Vice-President of the Friends of Kokoda. He is an active member of his RSL. Recently David has become a volunteer guide at the Shrine of Remembrance, Melbourne. David regularly contributes to various publications and runs and maintains a website dedicated to Australia's involvement in the South West Pacific area during WWII, www.kokodahistorical.com.