Veterans' fury as history battles with legend
A PROMINENT military historian has cast doubt on the legend of the Kokoda Track, questioning the significance of the WWII campaign in a move that has outraged veterans.
In what is viewed by Kokoda Diggers as a stinging insult, professor of defence history David Horner said it was a myth that the Japanese were going to invade Australia, adding the nation had developed a tendency to exaggerate the significance of military battles due to the reverence in which Gallipoli was held.
"It's all the Anzacs' fault," Prof Horner said. "Gallipoli was one of our most significant military campaigns (and now) everybody wants to be an Anzac. Everybody wants a medal. Everybody wants to be recognised ... every child gets a prize. If you fought in a battle, it has to be a battle that was really important. Whatever you do has to be given more credit and be seen as being more significant."
Defending the statements, made during his speech as part of a two-day celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Kokoda campaign at the Australian War Memorial last month, Prof Horner said Japanese records show troops in PNG did not intend to come to Darwin and questioned whether Australian troops were as outnumbered as previously thought.
"The (Kokoda) campaign did not save Australia from invasion by the Japanese," he said.
"The original orders were to come to Port Moresby (but) Japanese orders were to stop after crossing the crest of the Owen Stanley range."
His claims have been slammed by Kokoda veterans and opposing experts.
An angry Bob Iskov, a 92-year-old veteran of the Kokoda campaign, said he knows the Japanese were bound for mainland Australia.
"I was part of a battalion which was sent to attack a village outside Gona," Mr Iskov said.
"I heard voices and so I took cover and saw three Japanese officers walking down the track towards me. I shot them and when we searched them, the colonel had maps on him, including maps of Darwin and its defences. Was he coming here to play golf?"
Bestselling author and Kokoda Foundation member Patrick Lindsay said the Japanese campaign had always intended on coming to Australia.
"I've interviewed 17 Japanese veterans of Kokoda and, without exception, all said they were coming to Australia," Mr Lindsay said.
Prof Horner stressed it was not his intention to lessen the memory of Australia's Diggers.
"They deserve every bit of credit and respect but as a historian I have to state what is accurate," he said.
"What we should do is give them the respect for what they did.
"The campaign stands on its own feet, you don't have to add additional things to it."
as a historian in this environment you do what your grant providers say eh doc?
he forgets about the captured plans the invasion money the training they gave to specialist units for the invasion but coral sea made em think twice about how far they could reach and with wake being taken then they had to totally put it off until the got the US out , and that as we know did not happen
if they had not of attacked pearl , and the US had not got into the war Australia would have been cut off and fighting off a invasion
but the good doc's pay masters dont want that to be stated now days
so PC ness says we must rewrite it all and find new facts by hiding other facts
i friggin hate PC BS