On 7th July 1942 “B” Company became the first white troops to cross the Kokoda Track to provide a garrison on the aerodrome at Kokoda, pictured here as it
On 21 July Japanese troops landed at Buna & Gona with the intention of crossing the Owen Stanley Ranges to capture Port Moresby which they would use as a base to attack Australia. On 22 July 12 Platoon of “B” Company became the first unit to face the Japanese in Papua. They were forced to withdraw to Deniki but on 8th August they recaptured Kokoda but the requested, and anticipated, reinforcements were not flown in as promised and by 11 August were forced, by numerically superior numbers, to withdraw once again. The 39th Battalion is the only unit to have Kokoda listed as one of their Battle Honours
They fought unsupported from 27 July -27 August 1942. When relieved at Efogi 5 September, by units of the 6th Australian Division AIF, their unit strength was 185 all ranks!
After returning to Port Moresby they were reinforced with 800 new soldiers and again fought at Sanananda, Buna & Gona, recapturing the area permanently. At Soputa, on final withdrawal there were only 5 officers and 27 other ranks!
On 3 July 1943 the 39th Bn. was removed from the order of battle and ceased to exist as a military unit with little recognition or honour until some fifty years after the end of hostilities.
On 8th August 2006 the name of the 39th Battalion will be restored to the Battle Order when the Deployed Forces Support Unit will be re-named as 39th Personnel Support Battalion as a tribute to the part this unit played in saving Australia from a Japanese invasion in 1942.