Author(s): Brian Freeman
Brian Freeman knows the Kokoda Trail better than almost any other living Australian. The former Specialist Forces soldier has set records running the length of it and led dozens of treks along it for his adventure travel company. But in more than a decade of involvement with the trail, even he never suspected the secret held by the villagers of Alola, a tiny community perched high in some of the trail's most difficult terrain. Since 1942 the villagers had passed down a secret from generation to generation - the location of a lost battlefield, where advancing Australian forces and retreating Japanese soldiers had fought in the Second World War. It was one of the bloodiest engagements of the campaign, yet inaccurate references in maps drawn after the fighting meant that when the tide of war moved on, the battlefield was forgotten and quickly reclaimed by the jungle. After years of friendship, in which Brian earned the villagers' trust, they decided to let him in on the secret, knowing that such a revelation required a trustworthy person to help them manage the intense interest they suspected would follow. Their decision was vindicated as Brian authenticated and mapped the battlefield with professional archaeologists and helped set up a trust to act as guardian for the special site. Part fascinating military history, part gripping archaeological mystery, part exciting adventure, The Lost Battlefield of Kokoda is the story of the trail and that long-ago battle - how it was fought, then lost and found.
Brian Freeman served as a captain with Special Forces of the Australian Army. Since 2000 he has worked running treks along the Kokoda Trail and adventure courses around the world. He lives in Brisbane.