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Death of the hero of the Battle of Kaiapit

King_Gordon THE DEATH of former commando Captain Gordon King, 91, is reported in today’s Sydney Morning Herald.

In 1941 King was posted as instructor to the School of Guerilla Warfare. The next year he helped to raise the 2/6 Independent Company, which was posted to New Guinea with King as second in command. He was 24.

The unit provided flank and forward protection for the 7th Division, usually behind enemy lines. In September 1943 the squadron, with King now in command, was airlifted to a jungle landing ground in the upper Markham Valley with the task of capturing and holding Kaiapit and its small airstrip.

The group of 150 troops captured the village and destroyed the enemy garrison and the citation for the Distinguished Service Order King was awarded for the encounter records that, although wounded in the leg, he organised the defence against two counter-attacks, which were successfully repulsed.

Then, around daybreak, the enemy in superior numbers made a further attack. King moved among his troops, encouraging and directing them and, when ammunition was low he ordered a bayonet attack.

The enemy were routed and 214 of their dead were later buried while the squadron lost 14 with 23 men wounded. The airstrip was enlarged elements of the 7th Division were flown in.

The Battle of Kaiapit is regarded as something of a classic and is still taught at Duntroon Military College and in special forces officer training in Britain. King always maintained the DSO was really awarded to the squadron.

Link to Gordon King’s full obituary here.

Source: ‘A true hero who lived his life serving others’ by Edwina Jones & Ken Handley, Sydney Morning Herald, 15 July 2010


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Geoffrey Phillips

I would like to correspond to Geoff Godwin one of the people who commented on Harold Betts. Harold was my uncle, his sister Mabel Phillips/Betts is his sister.

I think Geoff Goodwin would be the son of my cousin Coleen Godwin/Thompson whom I have lost contact with and would love to contact her again.

Last time I saw her was at my father's funeral (Mervyn Thomas Phillips).

So if you can help reconnecting us that would be appreciated. [email protected]

Josiah Pup

Hi, I wasn't told this story in my history lesson. There must have been very great military heroes in the past.

A true hero was Captain Gordon King, who lived his life serving others and representing his country, Australia .

Thanks Captain King for your services in our country, PNG.

Captain King rest in eternal peace.

Geoff Goodwin

A soldier and a gentleman, my uncle Harold G Betts was one of the 14 men from 2/6 Ind Coy killed in action on 20 September 1943 serving alongside Captain King. RIP

Joe Wasia

It is sad to hear that war hero, Captain Gordon King, passed away recently. Condolences to him and those others who took part in the war and left us.

They may leave, but the history remains. We can't stop either growth or death. They are natural events in life that all humans have to go through.

May his soul rest in eternal peace.

Reginald Renagi

Ah, the stuff of legends of military heroes of the past.

This sad and inspiring story of war hero, Captain Gordon King, takes me back to the good days of my military history syndicate classes at Fort Queenscliff Australian Command and Staff College, Victoria, Australia. We studied and learned about all the military exploits of the Australian Armed Forces.

I want to send my personal condolences to the family of Captain King on their sad loss. I thank the late hero and Captain King for his service to my country.

He was a good loyal soldier who represented his country Australia well. I am sure he brought pride to his family and Australia.

May Captain Gordon King rest in peace.

Effrey Dademo

Wow, I wasn't told this story in my history class!

History sometimes puts less emphasis on stories such as this but thank you so much for this insight. I say farewell, Captain Gordon King, a truly brave and selfless man, to whom every Papua New Guinean should be indebted.

I am sure God will say to you: "Well done, my good and faithful servant". Rest in peace.

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