Simmonds brothers among those remembered on Kokoda Track memorial

A new monument is to be erected on the Kokoda Track, commemorating the battle of Oivi-Gorari where more than 120 Australians lost their lives.

Diggers’ descendants, including John Tannock whose father was injured, have been working with the Kokoda Memorial Foundation to establish a monument they hope to unveil in November.

The project has been brought to the Advocate’s attention by the Simmonds family historian Susanne Clarkson.

Locals Edley Simmonds and James ‘Mountain’ Simmonds were amongst those killed in the battle against Japanese forces in World War II.

The two men were born in 1913 and 1914 at Bedgerabong to Thomas and Katherine Simmonds, they had 11 siblings.

Enlisting in 1939, the Simmonds brothers were called up at the beginning of 1940 and sent to Syria towards the end of the year. 

They returned to Australia in early 1942 for a short time before being sent to New Guinea where they were both shot down in the battle at Gorari on November 10, 1942. 

Mrs Clarkson said that Edley and James were both in D Company of 2/31st Battalion which formed part of the 7th Australian Division.

The battle in which they died was one of the last major engagements on the Kokoda Track.

Following heavy losses in Guadalcanal, the Japanese forces in Papua began withdrawing to their major base at Buna-Gona.

After retaking the airfield at the village of Kokoda, the major objective of Australian forces was to take the Japanese base at Buna-Gona. 

However, the Japanese had entrenched in the small villages of Oivi and Gorari to prevent the advance of the Australian forces.

The two forces were engaged in heavy fighting for days, between November 4 and 11.

As a result of their defeat at Oivi-Gorari the Japanese abandoned their plan to take the city of Port Moresby.

Both Edley and James Simmonds were killed on November 10 on the Owen Stanley Range when their Battalion was involved in a pincer movement to cut off Japanese forces.

Edley and James are buried at the Bomana War Cemetery, Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea.

For information about Edley and James Simmonds and their family, contact Susanne Clarkson at susanneclarkson@hotmail.com

For more information about the monument contact John Tannock on 0419 736 185 or jctann@skymesh.com.au

This article is based on information from the Australian War Memorial, Department of Veterans Affairs Anzac Portal and Susanne Clarkson.