Military tradition behind the awarding of the Battle Honour: ‘Kokoda Trail’

Public interest in the Kokoda campaign over the past decade has been accompanied by the emergence of pop historians and wannabees whose new-found ‘passion‘ for our veterans seems to coincide with the opportunity to make a quid out of it. Many seem to share a couple of traits – they have never served in uniform, they have a strong bias against America, and they try to outstrip each other in their denigration of General Sir Thomas Blamey.

Their ignorance of the significance of military traditions is evident in their refusal to acknowledge the Battle Honour awarded to the 10 infantry battalions who fought in the Kokoda campaign i.e. The Kokoda Trail.

These prejudices have manifested themselves in the emergence of ‘Kokoda Track‘ as the more acceptable politically correct term. This will eventually correct itself as people become more aware of the tradition behind the awarding of a Battle Honour and its significance on the Regimental Flag or ‘Colour’.

The term ‘Colours’ broadly encompasses the four distinctive forms of Honourable Insignia that are the symbol of the spirit of a regiment, for on them are borne the battle honours and badges granted to the unit in commemoration of gallant deeds performed by members of the unit from the time their unit was raised. [Read more…]

RSL National Congress Rejects Motion to lobby government to change the name of the ‘Kokoda Trail’ to ‘Kokoda Track’

A motion to have the RSL lobby the Australian Government to have the Kokoda Trail renamed as ‘The Kokoda Track’ was defeated at the RSL National Congress held in Dubbo on 14-15 September 2010 (National Congress Resolution 6.1.2 refers).

The RSL is to be congratulated for respecting the sovereign right of the National Government of Papua New Guinea to name its own geographical features (PNG Government Gazette No 88 of 12 October 1972, page 1362, column 2, Notice 1972/28 refers). [Read more…]

Kokoda: Track or Trail?

On 12 October 1972 the name ‘Kokoda Trail’ was proclaimed in the Government Gazette of Papua New Guinea. This proclamation has never been amended or rescinded so the official name of the track over the Owen Stanley Range between Owers Corner and Kokoda is ‘The Kokoda Trail’.

The custodian of Australia’s Military History, the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, revisited the debate in 2002 after some new-age historians argued it should be referred to as the ‘Kokoda Track’.  The official historian at the War Memorial concluded that the term ‘trail’ was favoured by a majority of veterans and because it appears on the battle honours of units who served in Papua in 1942. He concluded that the official designation for the track is ‘The Kokoda Trail’. [Read more…]