Following the defeat of the Australian forces at Kokoda on the 29th July, the remaining Australian officers scramble to put together an effective fighting force, as they retire back down the track towards Deniki.
The decimated B and D Companies 39th Battalion are combined into the B/D Composite Company which is placed under the command of the newly appointed Captain Mclean.
Midway along the track between Kokoda and Deniki is the village of Pitoki. Pitoki is seen by the retreating Australian commanders as a vital position from which an ambush action can be initiated. The aim of laying an ambush at Pitoki is to give time to the assembling forces at Deniki enabling them to reorganise and dig in creating formalised defences at that position.
The command of the Pitoki Ambush force is assigned to Captain Smith (Promoted from Lieutenant) Papuan Infantry Battalion - a tough ex Papuan constabulary officer.
Captain Smith’s forces consist of:-
No 1 Section, 12/16 Platoon B/D Composite Company – 9 men
A Company PIB – 35 Men under command Lt Jester (PIB)
GHQ Port Moresby has assigned one flight of P39 Air Cobras from the 5th USAAF’s 8th Fighter Group to attack Kokoda. One of these aircraft has been assigned to hit pre designated targets at Pitoki.
OOB Australian Forces
Pitoki Ambush Force
C-in-C, Captain Smith (PIB)
No 1 Section, 12/16 Platoon B/D Composite Company, 39th Battalion – 9 Men
2 x NCO’s (SMG), 1 x LMG, 6 x Riflemen
A Company PIB – 35 Men (the rest not being able to be found)
HQ Section - Lt Jester , SGT, 2 x Papuan’s
A Company PIB – 4 x Sections each of 2 Australian NCO’s (SMG) 6 x Papuan’s
8th Fighter Group, 5th USAAF - 1 x P39 Air Cobra
US P-39 attacks Japanese troops in jungle (excellent Photo shop by Greg)
Battle field Conditions
The Australian forces have only been in position for around 10 hours, most of that time at night. When the Japanese advance on the Pitoki Position this occurs at 7.00am in the morning the weather conditions are fine, there is no mist, no rain. However your troops being tired and hampered by night conditions have only been able to establish shell scrap positions.