PNG’s Central Province extends from the south coast inland to the mid-point of the Owen Stanley Range, the central spine that divides the mainland in two. To the east lies Milne Bay Province, to the west, Gulf Province, and to the north, on the other side of the Owen Stanleys, is Northern (or Oro) Province.
The people of Central were greatly affected during the War. Those living in the mountainous inland, especially in the villages on or near the Kokoda Trail (the path from Port Moresby to Kokoda in Northern Province) had to flee the savage fighting that took place from July to November 1942. Others, living along the coast, were caught up in the Allies’ recruiting of men and boys to serve as carriers and labourers for the War effort. Many found themselves swept up as the campaign to drive out the invading Japanese moved to many parts of PNG. Women, too, were recruited, to work as servants, cleaners, and in other support capacities for the many Allied installations and bases that were established between Port Moresby and the start of the Kokoda Trail at Ower’s Corner. Many thousands of Australian and American servicemen and women spent time in one or another of the facilities situated in Central throughout the War.
The Papuan Infantry Battalion had its main base at Bisiatabu on the Sogeri plateau, and many of its members came from Central, seeing service in the Northern, Morobe, Madang, Sepik, New Britain, and Bougainville campaigns.