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One of the biggest problems during the Kokoda campaign was supply. Douglas DC-3 transport aircraft became known as ‘biscuit bombers’ as they dropped supplies along the Kokoda Track. These supplies were then collected and carried to the forward lines by Papuan carriers. Supplies were dropped into clearings, although many supplies missed their target and fell into the surrounding jungle or were dropped from too high an altitude and were smashed when they hit the ground. Supply dropping improved as the battle along the Kokoda Track developed. Pilots and crews became better able to pinpoint the drop areas and fly at the optimum height for the dropping of packages, however the supplies then still had to be hauled for up to three days to the front line.
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Papuan carriers, drawn from the surrounding villages or brought into the mountains from coastal villages, carried the huge quantities of supplies and medical equipment necessary for the campaign. Sometimes they were also assisted by troops.
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HMAS Bendigo, a Royal Australian Navy corvette, transfers men wounded on the Kokoda Track to the hospital ship Manunda in Port Moresby harbour, for the voyage back to Australia.
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The men fighting in New Guinea suffered from disease as well as battle wounds. Diarrhoea, dysentery, malaria, pneumonia and tinea were all problematic and sometimes debilitating for the men in the front line. Many of the Papuan stretcher-bearers and carriers also suffered from these illnesses, some of them dying on the Kokoda Track and at Milne Bay, Buna, Gona and Sanananda. Here, Captain Henry ‘Blue’ Steward, Regimental Medical Officer, 2/16th Battalion, tends a casualty on the Kokoda Track on 22 September 1942.
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A Japanese prisoner captured near Nauro on the Kokoda Track in October 1942. This soldier suffered starvation, like many Japanese soldiers during their withdrawal over the Kokoda Track in October-November 1942.
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Men of the 2/31st Battalion rest between Nauro and Menari during the advance against the Japanese on the Kokoda Track in October 1942.
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The Australian flag was finally raised over Kokoda village in early November 1942.
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