Although Japan's sea and air strength was severely weakened after the battle of the Coral Sea, its forces were determined to capture Port Moresby. On the 21 July 1942, Japanese troops landed at Buna and Gona on the north coast of New Guinea. They planned to cross to Port Moresby by land. This track crossed steep jungle-clad hills, before descending to the coastal lowlands. It contained a small airfield, the only one in the area and the
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on the 1 December and a month later Buna was captured (2 January)
The fighting around Buna and Gona was very fierce as the Japanese believed it was an honour to die for their Emperor (Hirohito). Some would even booby-trap themselves with grenades that would kill themselves and any Australians who took them prisoner. Although conditions in the jungle were terrible the Australians never gave up. They were fighting to defend Australia, which was only 800 kilometres away.