battle of goodenough island

Trekking Kokoda: Unveiling the Battle of Goodenough Island – Papua New Guinea


Australia’s involvement in the South West Pacific Area during the war of 1939–1945 left an indelible mark on the region, with the Kokoda Track standing as a testament to the bravery and resilience of the Australian forces. In this series of articles, we delve into the pivotal events that unfolded in Papua New Guinea, exploring the lesser-known yet crucial Battle of Goodenough Island.

The Setting: Goodenough Island

Goodenough Island’s Strategic Importance Nestled in the D’Entrecasteaux Islands, Goodenough Island rises sharply from the sea, presenting a formidable landscape. Its strategic importance as a base for operations in New Guinea became evident during the Pacific campaign.

Transportation to Goodenough Island In August 1942, the island was developed into a crucial base, and Australian and United States Army troops were transported to Goodenough Island. This laid the foundation for subsequent operations in the region.

The Prelude: Kokoda to Goodenough

Prior to the Buna Campaign Before the infamous Battle of Buna and Milne Bay, Goodenough Island played a vital role in the preparation and logistics. The island served as a staging point for Australian and American forces gearing up for the challenges that lay ahead.

Operation Drake and Deception Tactics In October 1942, Operation Drake unfolded, with General Douglas MacArthur strategically utilizing Goodenough Island. Deception and camouflage tactics were employed to mislead Japanese forces, using logs pointed at the sky to make them believe the island was heavily fortified.

The Battle Unfolds

Japanese Occupation and Australian Response The Japanese Special Naval Landing Force occupied the island, prompting a decision to launch an attack. The Australian forces, along with American support, decided to confront the occupying Japanese on Goodenough Island.

Stranded on the Island: October 22–27, 1942 A fierce battle ensued from October 22 to 27, 1942, with the 5th Sasebo Special Naval Landing Force engaging the Australian troops. The fighting around Taleba Bay and Vivigani Airfield was intense, and casualties on both sides were inflicted.

Aftermath and Legacy

Strategic Outcomes The Australian and American forces successfully repelled the Japanese, solidifying the strategic importance of Goodenough Island for forthcoming operations. The island became a crucial base for subsequent campaigns in New Guinea and New Britain.

Enduring Impact The Battle of Goodenough Island left a lasting impact, with its successful defence becoming a symbol of the resilience of the Allied forces in the face of adversity. The island remained under Australian control until the end of the war, playing a pivotal role in the broader Pacific theatre.


As trekkers prepare to navigate the challenging terrain of the Kokoda Track, understanding the historical significance of places like Goodenough Island adds depth to the journey. The echoes of the Battle of Goodenough Island resonate through the lush landscapes, reminding us of the sacrifices made during this crucial chapter of Australia’s wartime history.

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