At Ioribaiwa, where it's a little native village, and a village is only a collection of a dozen native huts, it was right at the top of a crest. Presumably the natives had built it there for their own protection purposes. And to make the last 100, 200 yards to get to this little village was so difficult that a couple of our older members just couldn't make that last bit to get up to that village that night. And they just simply slept in the mud where they were and rejoined us next morning. And yet, 100/200 yards up, there was a bit of hot - a hot meal available for us.
Private Albert Norman 'Bert' Ward, 2/27th Battalion. Read more about his account.
After his failure to drive the Japanese back at Efogi, Brigadier Potts was replaced by Brigadier Selwyn Porter. Brigadier Eather joined him, taking command of the remaining Maroubra Force. Eather received reinforcements from the 25th Brigade and was ordered to launch a counterattack.
The reinforcement were much needed as the troops' numbers were down to just 300 from almost 1,800 at Isurava. There were now almost 3,000 Australians at Ioribaiwa.
Eather deployed his troops along Ioribaiwa Ridge, south of Ofi Creek. It was the second-last razorback ridgeline some 40 km from Port Moresby.
On 14 September, Colonel Kusunose's troops attacked. He was determined to break through the Owen Stanley Ranges. He commanded the same force the Australians had fought at Efogi and Mission Ridge.
Kusunose directed all his artillery fire into the Australian line on the ridge. He inflicted heavy casualties but gained no ground. He then sent his reserves to test the Australian right flank.
However, Kusonose's pre-emptive attack left the Japanese at a disadvantage. Eather changed tactics and adopted a defensive stance. He ordered his men to halt and await orders. This meant that the Australian line now extended for more than two kilometres backwards. This was much further than the Japanese anticipated.
The Japanese tried to push their way through, but found themselves surrounded, and again made no ground. The Australians successfully defended each attempt to counterattack.
The fighting continued. On the morning of 16 September, both sides found themselves in a stalemate. The Japanese put pressure on from all angles with artillery fire to the centre, and attacks on the left and right flanks.
The Australian troops were holding the Japanese force back. Eather sought permission to withdraw across Ua-Ule Creek to Imita Ridge. This would give them a stronger defensive position.
High Command agreed, but ordered that further retreats would be unacceptable. They were to hold Imita Ridge at all costs as it was the final position the Australians could defend before the Japanese reached Port Moresby.
At Imita Ridge, and for the first time in the Kokoda Campaign, the Australian troops were supported by their own artillery. Two 25-pounder guns took position on top of a peak near Uberi, south of Imita.
The position also shortened the Australians' supply line. The Japanese were struggling with theirs. It had stretched to breaking point.
The fighting in the days that followed their withdrawal Imita were filled with small-scale attacks. A lack of activity from the Japanese, and a few probing patrols gave Eather the confidence to push forward. Little did he know, that on September 18, Japanese High Command had ordered the Japanese commander, Lieutenant-General Horii to withdraw his troops.
The Japanese supply line was exhausted after constant disruption from Allied aircraft and the defeat at Milne Bay. The withdrawal to Imita Ridge was a turning point for the Kokoda Campaign.
The Australians, more than ready for the tide to turn, began a cautious advance on 22 September. By nightfall on 27 September, they were ready to move on the Japanese at Ioribaiwa. When they did the next morning, they found it abandoned. And so began their pursuit to retake Kokoda.