The No. 2 Australian Independent Company
(2/2 Commando Squadron)
Welcome to the website of the 2/2 Commando Squadron (formerly the 2nd Independent Company), one of the most amazing units ever formed by the Australian army. Its contribution to winning the Second World War is indeed great, and we hope these pages will explain concisely just how significant it was.
The 2/2 men are Australia’s first commandos. They were among the first Australian soldiers to be trained in guerilla warfare, and the first to successfully practice it.
When faced with Japan’s lightning thrust through Asia in early 1942, the 270 men of this company became the only unit in the entire army to remain an integrated force and continue offensive action while all around them, 22,000 Australians were captured or killed.
The company fought the Japanese to a standstill in the colony of Portuguese Timor months before Australia’s main force in New Guinea successfully halted Japan’s drive on the Kokoda Track. When news came back to Australia, and around the world, that the 2/2 men were still fighting, their campaign proved to be a huge morale boost during the nation’s darkest hour.
But the company’s contribution was much more than morale. It played a crucial role in turning back the Japanese by tying up several thousand seasoned troops in the mountains of Timor while the battle for Kokoda was hanging in the balance. For ten long months they continued fighting on Timor, pulling off scores of successful ambushes that kept the enemy running around in circles.
Australia’s Oscar-winning film-maker Damien Parer, who spent 16 days with these forces in November 1942, said the men of the 2/2nd Company were something special. “These men of Timor are unique in that they remained an organised fighting body all through the lightning Jap successes… These lads are writing an epic of guerrilla warfare,” he said.
After their epic campaign on Timor, the 2/2 was deployed to New Guinea where it took part in Australia’s campaign to drive the Japanese out of New Guinea and New Britain. A total of 610 men served in the Company, and of these 51 were killed during the war.
Through this website, we hope to:
pay tribute to the men of the 2/2 and to the Timorese who helped them;
provide a means by which the families of 2/2 members can share photos, information and memories; and
ensure that the story of the 2/2 receives the recognition it deserves.
With thanks to Paul Cleary.
Cinesound Review Circa 1943
The 2/2 Commando Association of Australia (Inc.)
In 2010, after 60 years of thriving activity, the original 2/2 Commando Association of Australia wound up its operations and passed over its responsibilities and assets to seven nominated trustees (all children of 2/2 Commandos) to:
- uphold the values, spirit, ethos and reputation of the 2/2 Commando Association of Australia;
- represent the intent of the 2/2 in the distribution of any assets for the support and development of the Timorese peoples of Timor Leste; and
- hold the copyright and negotiate any royalties relating to the intellectual property of the association.
The new association, which has been incorporated and operates out of Western Australia,
has a similar name to the original organisation. It honours the remaining (and many now deceased members) by continuing with the ANZAC gathering and the November remembrance service held each year in Kings Park. It is maintaining and forging new links with the Timorese peoples.
The new association, whilst not primarily membership-based, has chosen to produce ‘occasional’ Couriers. These aresent out as E bulletins and have been welcomed as a way of keeping contact between families of 2/2 Commandos, their East Timorese friends and allies and others with an interest in this extraordinary history.
The seven trustees are:
- Jenny (Aitken) Beahan – President
- John Burridge Jr – Deputy-president
- Colleen Thornton-Ward – Secretary/Treasurer
- John Carey
- Murray Thornton
- Peter Epps
- Rob Crossing
Its website designer is, fittingly, a third-generation descendent, Louis Crossing.
The association can be contacted via the Secretary Ms Colleen Thornton-Ward at 43 Marriot Way, Morley. It welcomes contact from Timorese and Australian families.