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.
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. Initially, the responsibilities and assets of the original association were handled by seven nominated trustees (all children of 2/2 Commandos). Now, the “new” association is an incorporated membership-based association, the objects of which are:
- to fund the improvement of communities in a sustainable way for the benefit of the peoples of Timor Leste, New Guinea and/or New Britain;
- to promote education about the achievements of the men who were, at any time between 1941 and 1946, enlisted in the No. 2 Australian Independent Company of the Australian Infantry Forces, also known as the 2/2 Commando Squadron (“the unit”); and
- to honour the memory of the unit and its members and to help people to recognise and appreciate those achievements.
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 has chosen to produce ‘occasional’ Couriers. These are sent 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 list of committee members can be found here.
Its website designer is, fittingly, a third-generation descendent, Louis Crossing.
The association can be contacted using the forums on this website, by using the "Contact Us" link below or via postal mail addressed to the Secretary Ms Colleen Thornton-Ward at 43 Marriot Way, Morley WA 6062. It welcomes contact from Timorese and Australian families.