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  3. While conducting the Compact Teaching Program for Ailelo/Cosbouk and Samara schools during April-May this year, Snr Francisco Jorge dos Santos asked if any members of the local communities had memories of the Australian soldiers who based themselves in this area while fighting against the Japanese in 1942. Two local men came forward and Francisco recorded the following interviews with them in Tetum that have been translated into English. [1] They are interesting stories of two men who were criados for the Australians and travelled with them to several named locations until the Australians departed for home by boat from Betano. Several other men who were also criados (now deceased) are also named in the stories. H.E. Snr Xanana Gusmão when he met with W.A. Museum staff and members of the 2/2 Commando Association after viewing items from the ‘Debt of honour’ exhibition in April 2016 stated that he would like the Timor-Leste government to employ a team of appropriately trained Timorese to go out to district locations and interview the old people and their descendants and record their WWII stories. The two stories conveyed here are perhaps examples of what might be captured if such a program eventuated; but there are many other competing priorities for government funding in Timor-Leste. 1. MOISES BOBE When the Japanese army arrived in Dili in 1942, Grandpa Moises Bobe was only 11 to 12 years old. The Australian army was retreating from Dili with the aim of going to Betano (Manufahi) through the Ermera district. The Australian army was not alone and they were walking with Dutch army towards Hatolia town. The Japanese force were hunting the Australian and Dutch army and they killed one of the Australians at the mountain called Atabatu. Immediately afterwards a Japanese force occupied Hatolia and the Australian and Dutch withdrew. They walked to Laimea and then decided to go separate ways at a place call Bauili/Bohili. Grandpa Moises helped to carry some food and other things for the Australian force that was there. Then, the Australian force walked to Betano to get on the boat while the Dutch army walked to Indonesian area (Atambua). The people who assisted and accompanied the Australian army in walking to Betano included Jeremias (from Coliati Letefoho), Domingos and Manloe (they have all passed away). Unfortunately, there is no one else left who has the memory of this history. Iha tinan 1942 kuandu forsa Japonese embarka ona iha Dili Avo Moises Bobe halo ona +- tinan 11 ka 12. Iha tempu ne’e forsa Australiano mos retira husi Dili atu ba Betano (Manufahi) maibe liu husi Ermera. Forsa Australiano iha tempu ne’e la la’o mesak maibe sira la’o hamutuk ho forsa Olanda (Dutchs) to’o iha Hatolia Villa. Forsa Japonese mos duni tuir forsa hirak ne’e no konsege tiru mate forsa Australiano ida iha foho ida naran foho Atabatu, iha tempu ne’e kedan forsa Japonese akupa ona Hatolia Villa. Nune’e husi Hatolia Villa forsa Australiano no forsa Duths deside atu retira husi fatin ne’ebá, sira la’o tun ba Leimea Sorin Balun no fahe malu iha fatin ida naran Bauili/Bohili. Avo Moises Ajuda lori sasan no hahan balun hodi fo ba forsa Australiano sira to’o deit iha fatin ne’e. Nune’e forsa Australiano la’o ba Betano hodi sa’e ro iha ne’ebá no forsa Duths la’o tama area Indonesia nian (Atambua). Ema sira ne’ebé konsege ajuda forsa Australiano sira la’o to’o Betano mak inklui Jeremias (ema Coliati Letefoho), Domingos no Manloe (sira ne’e mate hotu ona). Infelismente Laiha rekordasaun ruma hodi lembra fali tempu ne’eba. 2. JOSE BRITO MARTINS At that time, Jose Brito Martins was a child (and he was still naked – this is to describe someone who were still a child and know nothing as he was not feeling embarrassed without clothing) but he can still remember some stories that have been told by his father. His father’s name is Manumeta and he is from Ailelo village. Australian and Dutch forces were retreating to Ermera in 1942. Before they reached Hatolia town, they were walking through a track to get Aifu village in Manusaae (Hatolia). Then, they lived in Batutlau and they asked Manloe to assist them. Jose’s father told him that Manloe and himself were helping the forces to only carry their rucksacks. The forces brought their special food which they never gave to Timorese. Both forces also consumed the food such as cassava, sweet potato, young corn which was provided by Timorese. The forces had been living in Hatolia town only for one week because the Japanese army with their better weapons chased the Australian and Dutch forces. From Hatolia town, Australian forces split up into three groups. One group with 5 people went to Talo and they were hiding in a cave, one group went to Leimea and the other one went to Tata. Manumeta was walking together with the group that hidden in a cave in Talo. From Talo, they decided to walk down to Coliati, then to Saria and reached Dukurai. Manumeta could not accompany Australian forces to Betano because he was sick and he had to return home from Dukuria. Jeremias - one of Manumeta’s friends was the one who accompanied the forces to Betano. After Australian forces got the boat, Jeremias was hiding in the area of Betano and Faturbelihu (Manufahi) for many years as the Japanese army came to Betano to pursue the Australian forces and for those Timorese which helping them as well. Jeremias married a lady from Betano and he has a son called Manuel. Before Jeremias died, he had brought back his family to Hatolia town. Sr. Jose Brito Martins iha tempu ne’ebá sei labarik (molik hela) maibe bele lembra istoria ne’ebe nia aman konta ba nia. Nia aman naran Manumeta husi suku Ailelo. Iha tin an 1942 kuandu forsa Australiano no forsa Duths retira mai Ermera, molok sira mai to’o Hatolia Villa sira la’o tuir dalan ki’ik mai to’o suku Aifu iha Manusae (Hatolia). Sira konsege hela tiha iha Batutlau no sira kaer Manloe atu bele ajuda sira. Nia apa haktuir ba nia katak nia ho Manloe ajuda lori mak Ransel deit. Forsa hirak ne’e lori rasik sira nia hahan espesial ne’ebe nunka fo ba Timor-oan. Sira mos han hahan hanesan ai-farina, fehuk, batar-nurak ne’ebe fornese husi timor-oan. Sira konsege hela iha Hatolia villa durante semana ida deit tamba forsa Japonese mai ho armas kompletu hodi duni sira. Husi Hatolia Villa forsa Australiano sira ne’e fahe malu ba grupu tolu; grupu ida ho ema nain 5 ba Talo hodi subar iha fatuk kuak, grupu ida la’o ba Leimea Kraik no grupu seluk ida la’o ba Tata. Manumeta la’o hamutuk deit grupu ne’ebé subar iha fatuk kuak iha Talo, husi Talo sira desidi la’o tun ba Coliati sai ba Saria no to’o Dukurai. Manumeta la konsege lori forsa Australiano sira to’o Betano tamba nia moras no fila deit iha Dukurai. Manumeta nia kolega ida naran Jeremias mak konsege lori forsa Australiano sira to’o iha Betano. Hafoin forsa Australiano sira sa’e tiha ro, Jeremias sei subar iha area Betano-faturbelihu (Manufahi) durante tinan barak nia laran tamba forsa Japonese ba buka Forsa Australiano no sira to’o iha ne’eba. Ikus mai Jeremias hola feto ema Betano no iha oan-mane ida naran Manuel. Molok Jeremias mate, nia konsege lori nia familia mai fali iha Hatolia Villa. [1] The Compact Teacher Training program at the schools was organised by the Melville Friends of Hatolia and funded by the 2/2 Commando Association of Australia. Translation: Francisco Jorge dos Santos, Detaviana Madelana Guterres Freitas
  4. Clarence William TURNER

    Clarrie Turner was born in 1917, the fourth of eight children and was educated at Capel School and later, Narrogin Agricultural College. At seventeen, he returned home to work in the family Butcher shop and did both shop work and slaughtering until he joined the Army in December 1939. He completed his elementary and Non-Commissioned Officer training and in late 1940 completed his Officer Training on the banks of the Hume Weir at Albury-Wodonga. He underwent commando training in 1941 at Foster on Wilson's Promontory in Victoria and the 2/2nd Independent Company of commandos was formed shortly thereafter. The unit traveled by train to Alice Springs and then by truck to Katherine in the Northern Territory. Along the way, Clarrie's butchering skills were called upon to slaughter an alleged stray sheep. It was later discovered that the sheep was half of a local farmer's flock and there was hell to play. The commandos embarked for Timor from Darwin in December 1941 and Clarence recalled that the officers had to draw their own maps of the area, as there were very few maps of Timor in existence at the time. He used this map throughout his time on Timor and brought it back to Australia with him. After the tough Timor Campaign he arrived home in early February 1943 and on the 27th of that month married Grace in "All Souls "Church across the road from the Murnane horse stud. They only had a three-day honeymoon before Clarrie had to report back. He left the Army a year later, but continued his association with the commandos for the remainder of his life. He and Grace enjoyed great friendships and many good times with them and their partners for many, many years. Clarrie had No.3 Section of "A" platoon in Timor which included Bernie Langridge, Arthur Marshall, Bill Rowan-Robinson, Eric Weller and Alf Hillman to name a few. Clarrie was a good officer and was well respected by his men. Clarrie and Grace were loyal and generous supporters of the Association of which he was a Life Member. Clarrie Turner Timor reminiscences.pdf Vale Clarence William Turner - Courier September 2006.pdf
  5. Alan Sidney LUBY

    SAVING LIVES WAS HIS VOCATION October 2, 2009 Alan Luby, 1915-2009. As a medical orderly serving with a guerilla unit in the mountains of Portuguese Timor and New Guinea during World War II, Alan Luby worked miracles of bush medicine to save the lives of seriously wounded men. At home he served with the NSW Ambulance Service for almost 50 years. He had joined the service before the war and enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force's ambulance service in July 1940 before joining one of the country's first guerilla units, the 2/2nd Independent Company. Serving as a medic with a guerilla force meant Luby was required to care for wounded soldiers while the enemy was still close by. He arrived in Timor in late 1941, leaving behind his fiancee, Edith Pengilly, from Parkes. Shortly after the Japanese landed in Timor in 1942 Luby treated a seriously wounded Australian soldier who had survived an execution. Private Keith Hayes had bayonet wounds in his back and shoulders, and a bullet wound in the back of his neck. Incredibly, his wounds were not life threatening, and, after being patched up by Luby, he was cared for by a Timorese woman who applied traditional mud packs to his wounds. Thanks to their combined efforts, Hayes survived and was later evacuated to Australia. He is still alive. A week later Luby heard a gun battle raging near his base in the mountains south-west of Dili. A force of about 200 Japanese had ambushed a unit of 14 Australians, leaving two dead and three wounded. A Timorese runner told Luby of the wounded men. When Luby arrived he saw Private Alan Hollow with his lower jaw blown away by a machine gun burst. Private Eddie Craighill had copped a machine- gun burst through his right shoulder, and another man had flesh wounds in his leg. Luby did not think Hollow would survive but he did what he could to stop the bleeding and keep him alive. He stayed with the wounded men for the next three days as the Japanese continued to pursue the Australians. Luby kept Hollow alive by asking the other men to find eggs and buffalo milk. He mixed these and dropped the liquid down the back of Hollow's throat with an eye dropper. Hollow survived, was evacuated to Australia for reconstructive surgery and went on to lead a relatively normal life. These were the first two emergency cases Luby handled in his first 10 days of seeing action, and he went on to save more lives of the 2/2 Company men until the end of the war. While in New Guinea, Luby was close by when Private Harry Sproxton had a cardiac arrest from an overdose of anaesthetic. The doctor gave Sproxton up for dead. Luby was undeterred and, believing that he could be resuscitated, pummelled his back. After some minutes Sproxton came back to life, and is still alive, aged 88. Alan Sidney Luby, who has died just before his 94th birthday, was born in Newtown, the son of John Luby and his wife, Phyllis Kennedy. After Luby returned from Timor in 1943 he and Edith were married. After the war he rejoined the NSW Ambulance Service, serving in Grafton, Gilgandra and Liverpool before moving into senior management. When he retired in 1980 he was deputy operations superintendent. He remained in contact with the ambulance service and was recently awarded a life membership. Until his death, Luby remained in close contact with his 2/2nd mates and other veterans of gue- rilla units. As one of the older men in the unit, he became a father figure. For 20 years he was also president of the NSW Commando Association, which represents all veterans in the state who served in special forces. In 1982 Luby succeeded in establishing a permanent monument in Martin Place to the World War II men who did not return from dangerous and often poorly planned missions behind enemy lines. The Commando Memorial Seat, opposite the Reserve Bank head office, displays the insignia of all 11 independent companies and commando squadrons, and those of the Z and M Special Units, whose members were sent into enemy territory and were in many instances captured, tortured and killed. Alan Luby is survived by his daughter Maria and grandchildren Kieran and Belinda. Edith and two other children predeceased him. Obituary written by Paul Cleary [author of 'The men who cam out of the ground'] Published in the Sydney Morning Herald http://www.smh.com.au/comment/obituaries/saving-lives-was-his-vocation-20091001-gel2 Alan Luby honoured - South Coast Times and Wollongong Argus (NSW : 1900 - 1954), Friday 30 August 1940, page 10.pdf Alan Luby's Timor reminiscences.docx Alan_Luby's_Timor_reminiscences.pdf Alan Sidney Luby NX55531 - service record.pdf Notes for talk to Warringah Rotary Club 2000.pdf Saving lives was his vocation.pdf
  6. Kenneth James MONK

    Ken was born in Cheltenham and went to the local state school until he was 10 years old, then the family moved to a farm at Athlone and he went to the Athlone state school. On leaving school Ken worked on Margaret's family farm at North Poowong. He joined the local Militia Battalion in 1938. He joined the 2/2nd in Timor in December 1941 with other reinforcements and stayed with the Unit until the end of the war. He was a very good and reliable member of 3 Section "A' Troop throughout the war years, reaching the rank of sergeant. He was discharged in January 1946 and returned to Athlone. Ken married Margaret in April 1947 and moved on to their own farm in Poowong East. It was very hard work getting established, living in a humble dwelling and they had to carry the milk by hand from the milking shed to the roadway for pick up in the early years until they had a very nice house built later. In the meantime they had four wonderful children, Barbara, Elva, Colin and Robert - a very loving and well knit family. Ken and Margaret were great supporters of our Association and hardly missed a function and went to most of our safaris around Australia and Ken served on our committee until his passing. East_Timor_trip_-_Robert_&_Colin_Monk_-_Courier_December_2010.pdf Ken Monk Timor memories - hand written.pdf Ken Monk Timor memories.pdf Vale - Kenneth James Monk - Courier December 1997.pdf
  7. DAVID ROSS (1902-1984) – DIPLOMAT AND SPY Col Doig paid the following tribute to David Ross in the ‘Courier’ when he passed away in August 1984: Vale - Dave Ross This man will be known to many of the Unit boys, particularly those who were in the Timor Campaign. He was, when we occupied Portuguese Timor, although an Australian, the British Consul. His contribution to our cause was one of high order. He helped us to settle into Dili and was a great diplomat in his dealings with the Portuguese, Dutch and our own hierarchy. His advice on the Timorese and the way to get on side with them was invaluable, the terrain, the weather patterns, the hazards we would encounter in our patrolling, all were spot on. Dave was virtually under house surveillance once the Japanese landed and we next saw him when he was sent by the Japanese to Hatu-Lia with a 'Surrender Notice', via the Japanese Consul, but the message was from the Japanese Commander. Bernie Callinan's 'Independent Company' describes it perfectly. On the 17th March 1942 Dave was on his way back to Dili with a 'No Surrender' message for the Japanese. It was a traumatic occasion for him, likewise us, to see him go was really emotional as no one knew what would happen to him. Dave was to make another trip for the Japanese [on June 25], again carrying a 'Surrender Notice' to Ainaro, this time in poor health after close confinement and meagre rations. Before departure he told the Japanese that the Australians would not surrender, they, the Japanese, would have to go out and fight them in the hills, but even then, they did not have enough troops to capture the Australians. He was a brave man who did not hide behind his post as Consul. Out he came in June and reached Ainaro an exhausted man. He had made no promise to return so Force H.Q asked permission for this loyal man to be repatriated to Australia. It was not immediately forthcoming, but ultimately Dave Ross left Beco [on July 8] heading for Australia on the little 'Kuru' piloted by Lt. Bennett [see previous post in this series, ‘The Timor ferry service]. His job well and truly done he deserved it, an Aussie to the enth degree. We mourn the loss of this old friend, gentleman, diplomat, courageous. When the 2/2nd Commando Association was formed he became a member and was a regular guest at our Annual Dinner and other functions. He remained a friend of the 2/2nd to the very last and we honour him for his excellent contribution to our cause, to contain the Japanese and to 'Not Surrender'. Both were done and Dave Ross played a big part Indirectly in both these happenings. Vale, Dave Ross, you fought a good fight. Rest content in the Vale of Valhalla, where the only surrender will be, to God himself. Christopher C.H. Wray in his book ‘Timor 1942: Australian commandos at war with the Japanese’ (pp.111-113) provided the following narrative of David Ross’s final mission on Portuguese Timor and his subsequent return to Australia: Japan Tries to Persuade the Australians to Surrender Again In June, the Japanese made further efforts to persuade the Australians to surrender. On 9 June a cablegram from Mr Clement Attlee, the British Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs to the Commonwealth Government, reported on a Portuguese proposal that if the Australians gave up and submitted to internment in Dutch Timor, the Japanese would withdraw altogether from the Portuguese part of the island. This solution would satisfy the Portuguese Government as the Japanese were requisitioning the already inadequate food resources of Portuguese Timor and generally acting in an intolerable manner. The proposals were repeated two days later. On 18 June, the Commonwealth Government replied to Attlee, explaining that the Australian forces on Timor were well organised, sufficiently supplied and conducting guerilla warfare against the Japanese. The Portuguese proposal had been discussed with General MacArthur and the Australian Chiefs of Staff. The Commonwealth Government pointed out that Australian troops were carrying out a valuable task on Timor, and the Government was not prepared to negotiate their surrender. Attlee was asked to inform the Portuguese Government accordingly. David Ross Meets with the Japanese Consul Not long after this exchange David Ross, the British Consul-General in Dili, was called before the Japanese Consul. Since the Japanese invasion Ross had been kept a prisoner in his house, save for the occasion [in March] when he had been sent out to make contact with the commandos. During his period of house arrest he had suffered acute boredom, being allowed no visitors, and for three months had half-starved owing to the lack of food for sale in Dili and the refusal of the Japanese to allow his servants to search for food in the surrounding country. The Japanese Consul was a cultured man who was a Roman Catholic and who had been educated in Spain. The Consul informed Ross that the Commander of the Japanese forces wanted Ross to carry a surrender offer to the Australians. Ross indicated that while he was willing to do this, he did not think the Australians would surrender as those who had been captured in February had been killed. The next day Ross was interviewed by the Japanese Commander, an elderly man of soldierly demeanour. The Commander was indignant at the insinuations made about the behaviour of Japanese soldiers towards their prisoners. He stated that neither he nor soldiers under his command had ever killed prisoners, and he personally accepted the surrender of the Australians on Ambon. As a token of sincerity, the following statement was prepared in English, signed and sealed by both the Commander and the Consul: In the name of the Imperial Japanese Government we here-by guarantee that all Australian soldiers under your command, who surrender to the Japanese Force now in Portuguese Timor, will receive proper treatment as prisoners of war in accordance with International Law. The Commander also asked Ross to convey to the Australian Commander his admiration for the fight which the Australians had put up. But, he said, if they were real soldiers they would come into Dili and fight to the last man. Ross commented that there were not sufficient Japanese in Dili to round up the Australians. To his surprise the Commander agreed, saying that from his readings on the South African War and his own experience in Manchuria it required ten regular soldiers to kill each guerilla, but he said, 'I will get what is required'. Ross Departs A few days later Ross was escorted a short distance out from Dili and told to make his way towards Ainaro which the Japanese believed contained the Australian Headquarters. Weakened by lack of food and his months of close confinement Ross was soon exhausted, but with the help of friendly Portuguese he reached Ainaro where he was found by Major Callinan and taken to Force Headquarters at Mape. The Australians were quite uninterested in the surrender proposals, which they gave scant attention. Ross had not promised to return to Dili, and so it was proposed that he be returned to Australia. At first the Australian authorities were reluctant to agree, believing Ross could carry out some role in Dili. However, permission was granted after it was pointed out that he had been kept prisoner and had been unable to achieve anything. On 8 July Ross returned to Australia on the ‘Kuru’. Also on board were the Dutch Consul, Herr Brauer, and his wife who had escaped from Dili at about the time of Ross's departure with the surrender proposal. Group Captain David Ross during wartime service with the RAAF ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ABOUT DAVID ROSS [1] David Ross (1902-?) http://www.airwaysmuseum.com/David Ross biog.htm Brief biography. [2] Steven Farram. - A short-lived enthusiasm: the Australian Consulate in Portuguese Timor. - Darwin, N.T.: Charles Darwin University Press, 2010, pp.4-6 ‘The British Consulate’. Valuable history of Australia’s pre-war and early war involvement with Portuguese Timor including the work of David Ross. [3] Wayne Gobert. - The origins of Australian diplomatic intelligence in Asia, 1933-1941. - Canberra: Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, Research School of Pacific Studies, Australian National University, 1992, esp. pp.43-45, 47, 60-63 and 77. http://bellschool.anu.edu.au/experts-publications/publications/3166/origins-australian-diplomatic-intelligence-asia-1933-1941 Comprehensive coverage of David Ross’s diplomatic intelligence role in Portuguese Timor. [4] ‘Assignment Asia: Wayne Gobert uncovers the surprising truth of Australia's intelligence work before and during World War II’ The Canberra Times (ACT: 1926 - 1995) Saturday 3 Mar 1990, p.17. http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/120881983/12972094 Journalistic summary of Gobert’s monograph including content regarding David Ross. [5] Backroom briefings: John Curtin's war / edited by Clem Lloyd & Richard Hall; from original notes compiled by Frederick T. Smith. - Canberra: National Library of Australia, 1997, esp. pp.57-58, 61-64. http://www.nla.gov.au/pub/ebooks/pdf/Backroom Briefings.pdf Informative notes from David Ross’s press briefings given immediately after his return to Australia from Portuguese Timor in mid-July 1942. [6] ‘Dave Ross Memoirs’ 2/2 Commando Courier vol. 138, March 2002, pp.9-11. https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/2002/Courier March 2002.pdf Extract from an interview with David Ross covering his experiences in Portuguese Timor.
  8. 75 YEARS ON - THE TIMOR FERRY SERVICE

    75 YEARS ON The current 2/2 Commando Association of Australia inherited an archive of papers from the original Association. Amongst these papers are photocopies of newspaper and magazine articles about the 2nd Independent Company’s campaign on Portuguese Timor during 1942. One article I noticed in this archive was titled ‘The Timor ferry service’ and was written by journalist and author, John Leggoe (1909-2003). [1] After Sparrow Force made contact with Australia using the improvised radio named ‘Winnie the war winner’ (see previous post [2]) Army General Headquarters agreed that the campaign should be supported and, after initial air drops of food and supplies, the RAN was tasked with providing 40 tonnes of supplies per month across the beaches on the south coast of East (Portuguese) Timor and with being prepared to evacuate the entire force at one week’s notice. Kuru initiated the resupply service in May and was joined by Vigilant in July. The corvette Kalgoorlie joined the program in September. All these voyages escaped Japanese interception. Leggoe’s article told the story of this hazardous operation. John Leggoe authored a fuller account of the Timor Ferry Service in his book ‘Trying to be sailors’ an extract from which is included in this post. It is a fast-paced eyewitness account of the Timor Ferry Service that begins with Kuru’s initial re-supply voyage that departed from Darwin harbour on the 25th May 1942. [3] [4] Front cover of 'Trying to be sailors' Additional information about another vessel involved in the Timor Ferry Service, Vigilant is also provided. The master of the Kuru and later the Vigilant was Captain Alan Bennett and when he died in July 1987 his Vale in the 2/2 Commando Courier paid him fulsome praise and opened with the statement ‘He was one of us’. [5] EXTRACT FROM JOHN LEGGOE, 'TRYING TO BE SAILORS' ON THE 'TIMOR FERRY SERVICE' Origins of the Timor Ferry Service From time to time as Vigilant, Kuru and the corvettes secured alongside Platypus between operations the buzz spread through the ship about what was going on over on the Timor coast. Their officers, sworn to secrecy, were tight-lipped when they visited our wardroom, but we all had a pretty good idea what was going on. This was Darwin's own amphibious war - the supplying and subsequent evacuation of the gallant little Sparrow Force of Australian commandos on Timor. The Timor Ferry Service, as it came to be known, began late in May 1942. This was well into the dry season - weather which, with maximum visibility, was ideal for the Japanese reccos flying their daily routine over the Timor Sea. It was a will-o'-the-wisp campaign which went on under the very noses of the Japanese. The strength of the forces available to NOICD (Naval Officer-In-Charge Darwin) could only be described as puny and the success of the operations so far had been due largely to the audacity with which they had been carried out. All three services were involved and most of the participants were Australian. Now the campaign was entering its final phase, to be played out over the 400 miles of the Timor Sea between Darwin and Timor. It was to cost the navy two ships, the original HMAS Voyager, a destroyer which had earlier won fame in the Mediterranean as a unit of the Scrap Iron Flotilla, and the corvette Armidale, in which there was heavy loss of life. It was a period that produced bravery, ingenuity and endurance and one of the greatest survival epics in the history of the war at sea. [6] Radio Contact Established with Sparrow Force When the Japanese invaded Timor on 20 February 1942 a curtain of silence descended on the pitifully inadequate Australian Sparrow Force, which had gone to Koepang in the old transport Zealandia in early December. Under the command of Colonel W. Leggatt DSO, the force consisted of the 2/40th Battalion AIF and a commando unit, the 2/2nd Independent Company. The commandos subsequently went on to Dilli in Portuguese Timor. [7] The Navy's part in the campaign began on 20 April 1942, when a bored watch-keeping telegraphist in Darwin was startled by a faint signal: 'Force intact; still fighting ... '. This signal purported to come from the missing Australians. At first the operations officers in Darwin suspected a Japanese trap, but the message was authenticated by personal details supplied by the men in Timor. They asked for ammunition, equipment and medical supplies. [8] The Challenge of Supporting Sparrow Force First attempts to supply the commandos were made by dropping from Darwin-based RAAF Hudsons from 2 and 13 Squadrons, but with the Japanese in control of the skies over Timor, this proved too hazardous. Late in May an attempt was made to make contact with the force using a Catalina flying boat and, although the operation was successful in taking off sick and wounded and two high-ranking officers, the flight proved too hair-raising to repeat and the navy was asked to take over. At this stage, General MacArthur's headquarters took a hand and ordered that instead of being evacuated the small Australian force should remain on Timor to harass the Japanese, provide intelligence and cover possible airfield sites which could be used in any future forward move by Allied forces. NOICD was told, therefore, that the Darwin Naval forces would have to provide a sea link between Australia and Timor, to make regular supply runs, obtain information about landing sites along the enemy coast and be prepared to land or evacuate AIF forces at short notice. The catch was that NOICD had no suitable ships. Obviously, therefore, it was not possible to undertake the landing or evacuation of any sizable force, but it was possible with the limited Darwin resources to make contact, obtain intelligence, deliver medicines and other urgent supplies and bring off sick and wounded. Kuru and Vigilant Selected to Provide the Ferry Service Only two units of the Royal Darwin Navy - Kuru and Vigilant - had the speed to get in to a Timor landing in darkness with reasonable safety and be far enough away on the return journey before daylight to have a sporting chance of escaping detection by Japanese reconnaissance aircraft. The three or four corvettes in the area were fully occupied escorting supply ships between Darwin and Thursday Island. They had to be retained on convoy escort as they were the only ships equipped with Asdic. Fairmiles, the fast wooden reconnaissance boats then being built in Australia would have been ideal for the job, but the few that had been commissioned were still in southern ports. Commodore Pope, with years of service in big ships of the RN and RAN, looked out over his nondescript little fleet of cockleshells with a wry smile. It would have to be either Kuru or Vigilant and as Kuru with Lieut. J. Joel in command, was the senior ship, he decided on her. When told of the mission he was to undertake Joel was wise enough and honest enough to realise that his lack of navigation experience could jeopardise the whole operation. He asked therefore, to be supplied with a competent navigator and nominated Alan Bennett as navigator and First Lieutenant. To this Pope readily agreed - perhaps with some relief. The Mission Defined Joel and Bennett were left in no doubt as to the hazardous nature of the operation to which they had been assigned. Called to Naval Headquarters, they sat down to a conference with Pope, his Chief Staff Officer and key members of the operation staff. 'Because you will be hopelessly outclassed by any enemy force you might encounter,' Pope began, 'this operation depends for its success entirely on secrecy and stealth, accuracy of navigation and perfect timing. You will be on your own from the time you pass the boom until you return. There will be no air cover because the risk of giving away your position is considered greater than the risk of attack on you. You understand, of course, that It is even more important that the enemy should get no inkling of what is going on. 'For some time now,' Pope went on, ‘we have been in radio contact with Australian commandos in Timor and it is now proposed to make contact with them by sea to supply them with stores, ammunition and medicines and bring off sick and wounded. Betano Set as the Landing Location 'They will be waiting for you at a place called Betano, about midway along the south-east coast of Timor. You will take on ammunition, stores and Army personnel at the Boom Wharf on 25 May and be ready to sail at dusk. To avoid detection, you will have to make the greatest use of the hours of darkness and it is planned for you to arrive off Betano at dusk on the 27th, get in and unload as rapidly as possible and then sail so as to be as far as possible out into the Timor Sea by daylight. Pope turned to a chart of the Timor Sea which the CSO had spread out on the table and stabbed his finger on a shallow bay about half way along the south-east coast of Timor. 'This is Betano,' he said. 'There is deep water close in to the beach but there is not a great deal of shelter, particularly from the south-east. The land is thickly wooded with dense jungle backed by a range of mountains. Recognition signals will be flashed to seaward during the hours of darkness and once recognition has been established three fires will be lit along the beach.' Aerial Reconnaissance of Betano Bennett said, 'It would help, sir, if we could get some idea of the coastline in the vicinity of Betano - any prominent peaks or other features that could be recognised from seaward. As Betano is merely a name on the chart and not a port there are no sketches on the chart and no Admiralty sailing directions to give us any guidance. Even if our navigation is spot on and we hit it on the nose, one part of the coastline is going to look much the same as another.' 'We thought of that,' the CSO said, 'and have arranged to fly Joel and Bennett over the landing beach tomorrow to fix in their minds the salient features of the coastline'. Next day Joel and Bennett were airborne in a Hudson heading out over the Timor Sea on a north-westerly course. They had already discussed with the pilot and navigator the purpose of the flight while revealing as little as possible of the forthcoming operation. Bennett had asked that the coast be approached at zero altitude so that he could get a silhouette of the coastline as he would see it when approaching in Kuru. After about an hour's flying the pale blue peaks of Timor showed up on the horizon and the pilot began to descend. Twenty miles off the coast the Hudson was down to 200 feet and as it swept in towards Betano Bennett, sitting in the co-pilot's seat with a chart spread out on his knees, hastily sketched the silhouette of the coastline and any navigational features which would assist him in guiding Kuru in. AWM item no. 300927 - Kuru careened in Francis Bay, Darwin, for maintenance and hull cleaning The First Mission Gets Underway – 25 May 1942 Kuru, a former Northern Territory patrol craft, was seventy-six feet long and displacing fifty-five tons. Her diesel engines gave her a speed of nine knots and her armament consisted of an Oerlikon gun on the forecastle, twin point-five machine-gun amidships and two .303 machine guns and depth charges aft. She carried a complement of two officers and twelve ratings. [9] Kuru left Darwin at sundown on 25 May and two days later after an uneventful crossing of the Timor Sea, she was approaching the Timor coast a black saw-toothed frieze against the setting sun. During the crossing, conditions for sun and star sights had been good, and, with his sketches of the land to aid him, Bennett was pretty sure that they were on target. During the afternoon Joel had slowed Kuru so as to leave as little wake as possible and now with darkness falling, he ordered an increase in speed. The night was calm with a low swell. The Landing at Betano Not long after dark there came a call from the lookout on top of the wheelhouse: ‘Flashing light ahead sir, making letter B’. Joel, turning to the signalman, ordered: ‘Hop up there with your Aldis and reply with five K’s’. As soon as the recognition signals had been exchanged three fires blazed along the beach against the velvet blackness of the jungle and speed was reduced as Kuru felt her way cautiously towards the beach. So far everything had gone according to plan but all were edgy until there floated out on the still night air two unmistakable Australian voices. ‘Is it them?’ ‘Buggered if I know.’ Joel called a greeting and the tension was broken. Betano – surf landing, September-October 1942 [10] The men in Kuru made out the shape of a raft being paddled out by half a dozen bearded completely naked men. The raft bumped alongside and five months’ tension of jungle fighting was forgotten for a moment as eager greetings and handshakes were exchanged. Hastily Kuru’s dinghy was launched and with urgent efficiency the work of discharging began. Cookie Bray Shows the Way As Bennett was supervising the launching of the dinghy Cook Bray appeared beside him and said, ‘I’ll take her in if you like’. Bennett looked at him curiously. Though a cook, Bray, a powerfully built man, had already shown himself to be a competent seaman and several times on the way over had taken a trick at the wheel. ‘Well, O.K., Cookie, if you think you can manage her.’ ‘I’m used to boats, sir,’ said Bray quietly. That proved a monumental understatement. As soon as he took over the oars it was evident Bray was a superb boatman. Driven by the rippling muscles of his back and arms, the dinghy flew across the water, made a perfect landing on the beach and was soon back alongside for another load. For hours Bray manned the oars without relief throughout the whole operation, landing passengers and supplies and bringing off from the beach sick and wounded commandos, several high-ranking Dutch and Portuguese officials and Army mails and dispatches. The Navy had brought the commandos their first letters from home for six months as well as copies of the Darwin Army News and old copies of other Australian periodicals. They were eagerly seized by men starving for news of their homeland and the outside world. Mission Completed By midnight the work of unloading and loading had been completed and Kuru was at full speed on her way back to Darwin. When dawn broke she was out of sight of the Timor peaks. With the coming of daylight speed was reduced to eliminate the tell-tale wake which was such a give-away to enemy reccos and as Kuru wallowed along in steadily rising heat Bray wandered into the wheelhouse where Bennett had the watch. ‘Great job you did last night, Cookie', said Bennett. 'Well, sir, I was just as anxious as you were to get away from that place.' Asked where he had learnt to handle a boat like that, Bray told how he had been brought up in and spent his life in wheat schooners, trading in and out of the gulf ports in South Australia. Kuru arrived back m Darwin without incident on 29 May. Soon after returning from Timor Joel received a draft south and Bennett took command of Kuru on her continuing Timor sorties. Suai as an Alternative Landing Location Not altogether happy with Betano as a landing beach, the army decided to try Suai, forty-five miles south-west, and it was to Suai that Kuru was directed on her next trip. Her sailing orders opened with the customary preface: 'Being in all respects ready for sea and to engage the enemy … ' The thought of Kuru, or for that matter any unit of the Royal Darwin Navy, getting stuck into an enemy destroyer was always good for a laugh. Map of south coast of Portuguese showing landing locations used by the Timor Ferry Service Again, the mission was accomplished without detection and by the beginning of September Kuru had made six successful trips to Timor. She carried some strange passengers and stranger cargoes. Land Mines and Silver as Cargo On several occasions, she took across land mines. The commandos used them to booby trap jungle trails which they knew the Japanese would be using. The detonators for the mines held an unstable explosive which had to be treated with the greatest respect. They were carefully packed in a small wooden box which Bennett would stow under his bunk during the crossing. So it would not receive a sudden jolt in being landed by boat, the box was always wrapped in waterproof sheeting and swam ashore by the commandos. Often large quantities of silver were taken across to pay the Portuguese and the natives for goods and services. It was carried in heavy heavy linen bags and Bennett insisted on delivering it ashore himself. One night when going ashore with two heavy bags of silver Bennett was tipped out of the boat in the surf and went straight to the bottom. He walked along the bottom up the steeply sloping beach and emerged like a dripping Neptune still clutching a bag of silver in each hand. Vigilant Joins the Ferry Service Bennett was now given command of Vigilant, a larger and faster vessel than Kuru and she went on to the Darwin-Timor run. Lieut. J.A. Grant took command of Kuru. Sub-Lieut. R.B. Helliar, a young West Australian yacht master officer, joined Vigilant as First Lieutenant and a tall bearded young RANR(S) Sub-Lieutenant named Coupe sailed as First Lieutenant with Grant. As promotion to Lieutenant was automatic after three months with yacht master officers it was not long before Helliar was promoted and became senior to his Commanding Officer. However, they were firm friends and Helliar had a great respect for his young captain's ability, courage and mature judgment, so the question of rank never arose. HMAS Vigilant ship plan [11] Bennett's youth and junior rank were a perpetual source of embarrassment to the top brass in Darwin as invariably it was found that he was taking command over or offering advice to officers’ senior to him. Ultimately the Navy Board overcame it by giving him accelerated promotion to Lieutenant and finally to Lieut.-Commander. His association with Vigilant was a love affair for Bennett which had dated back to pre-war days. As a young apprentice, he had stood on the wharf at Cairns and drunk in the beauty of her lines, gleaming white and newly commissioned in the Customs service. He dreamed the impossible dream that one day he would command this miniature destroyer. Now, years later, the dream had miraculously come true - but in very different circumstances. Vigilant’s Armament Upgraded Bennett was not happy with Vigilant's armament. So far, his luck had held on his numerous trips to Timor, but he knew that if and when he did strike trouble it would be from the air. Vigilant's antiquated anti-aircraft armament offered little protection. The Navy in Darwin was hopelessly short of offensive ironmongery so Bennett went to the Americans and found a U.S. Army Air Force unit only too willing to help. He was given a magnificent set of twin point-five Browning machine guns with ammunition and mountings. The Americans took them to Vigilant, mounted them and drilled a crew in use maintenance. Still not satisfied, Bennett pleaded with the Naval ordnance people for an Oerlikon to replace the ancient twelve pounder mounted forward. Finally, they consented and at last Vigilant was in a position to give·a good account of herself against aircraft. Close Call for Vigilant Both Vigilant and Kuru continued regular runs to Timor and still their luck held. On one occasion, however, Vigilant came close to disaster. A Japanese landing force, consisting of three troop transports and a cruiser, steamed into the bay at Suai only twelve hours after Vigilant had left to return to Darwin. As the Japanese came in on the same bearing as that on which Vigilant had departed, Sparrow Force observers could not see how she would have escaped and signalled Darwin that Vigilant had probably been destroyed. Immediately Pope sent an aircraft to investigate and Vigilant was found unharmed steaming unconcernedly for Darwin. An RAAF strike force was sent from Darwin and inflicted heavy casualties on the Japanese force, which obviously had landed to attack the Australian commandos in the rear. Two weeks later when Vigilant returned again to Suai the beach was littered with the bodies of Japanese soldiers and there was evidence that the remnants of the landing force were only a few miles down the beach. Helliar had been detailed to go ashore and he entered the boat with a service revolver in a holster strapped around his waist. 'Number One, you look like the Lone Star Ranger,’ said Bennett. 'It's all very well for you,' said Helliar, you’ve got a charmed life on this coast, but I’m not taking any chances’. Getting ashore, Helliar was dumped in the surf as the boat was cart-wheeled by a roller. He returned aboard dripping, much to the merriment of Bennett, who said, 'Now you’d better turn to and get that gun thoroughly cleaned and oiled’. Kuru’s 150 HP starboard engine on display in the Darwin Military Museum Kuru’s Fate On 27 January 1943 Kuru proceeded to the Wessel Islands to pick up the survivors of HMAS Patricia Cam. The remainder of her service was on patrol and boom defence work in and around Darwin. Kuru paid off on 22 October 1943 when she sank alongside the floating dock during a heavy storm. She was recovered the same day but was so badly damaged that she never recommissioned. During 1945 she was blown ashore during another heavy storm and became the home of a hermit. REFERENCES [1] The photocopy of the article is of poor quality and I haven’t been able to determine where it was originally published. [2] https://doublereds.org.au/forums/topic/106-75-years-on-winnie-the-war-winner-–-mape-portuguese-timor-april-20-1942/ [3] John Leggoe, Trying to be sailors. – Perth: St. George’s Books, 1983, especially Chapter 4 ‘The Timor Ferry Service’, pp.35-44. [4] The following biographical details about John Leggoe are derived from the end paper of his book: Born in 1909 at the historic farming town of York, Western Australia, John Leggoe grew up as a typical farmer’s son. Most of his boyhood was spent in the Great Southern district, where his father was developing a large tract of land. He was educated at country State schools, through correspondence classes, and finally at Hale School in Perth. He left school to join his father in farming – a plan rudely shattered by the Great Depression of the thirties. Wool prices collapsed, and John Leggoe quit the land penniless. Undaunted, he frequented newspaper offices in the city, and eked out a living as a casual reporter. He was then appointed to the staff of ‘The West Australian’. During the World War, he entered the Royal Australian Naval Volunteer Reserve, this period provides material for this book. After the war came another stint of journalism, before he resumed sheep farming. Now retired, he lives in the Perth suburb of Cottesloe within sight of the sea. [5] ‘Vale – Alan Bennett’ 2/2 Commando Courier June 1987, p.8 https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/1987/Courier June 1987.pdf. Lt-Cdr H.A. (Alan) Bennett; RANR. Command HMAS's Kuru and Vigilant 1942-43; HMAS Swan1944; command HMAS Warrnambool 1945-46. Of Claremont, WA; b. Claremont, 3 May 1919. [6] Later posts will be devoted to the stories of the Voyager and the Armidale. [7] See the earlier post in this series https://doublereds.org.au/forums/topic/86-75-years-on-sparrow-force-departs-from-darwin-for-koepang-dutch-timor-–-10-december-1941/ [8] See the previous post in this series https://doublereds.org.au/forums/topic/106-75-years-on-winnie-the-war-winner-–-mape-portuguese-timor-april-20-1942/ [9] For more information about Kuru, see ‘HMAS Kuru’ http://www.navy.gov.au/hmas-kuru [10] Area study of Portuguese Timor / Allied Geographical Section, South West Pacific Area. [Brisbane]: The Section, 1943, photo 20. [11] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMAS_Vigilant ADDITIONAL READING Ian Pfennigwerth ‘The Territory Remembers - The Little Ships’ www.territoryremembers.nt.gov.au Colin Jones ‘The night bird’ Wartime Magazine (Australian War Memorial) Issue 39, July 2007, pp.40-41.
  9. 75 YEARS ON ART AND PHOTOGRAPHS IN THE AUSTRALIAN WAR MEMORIAL COLLECTION RELATED TO THE CAMPAIGN IN PORTUGUESE TIMOR – CHARLES BUSH AND KEITH DAVIS A major part of the art and photographs in the Australian War Memorial collection related to the 2nd Independent Company campaign in Portuguese Timor were created by two men who were members of the Australian Military History Section mission that went there in late 1945 and early 1946, namely war artist Charles Bush and photographer Keith Davis. The artistic and photographic contributions of these two men significantly add to the historical archive of the campaign not only by providing visual records of the places where the Doublereds lived and fought but also of some of the Timorese criados and Portuguese deportados who provided such essential support. The mission was guided by Sergeant George Milsom, originally of the 2/40 Battalion, who joined the 2nd Independent Company after escaping from Dutch Timor. THE AUSTRALIAN MILITARY HISTORY SECTION TIMOR MISSION Historian William Bradley Horton has recorded the background to the origin of much of the art and photographs in the Australian War Memorial collection related to the 2nd Independent Company campaign in Portuguese Timor. These invaluable resources were created by two men who were members of the Military History Section who went there in late 1945, namely war artist Charles Bush and photographer Keith Davis [1]: CHARLES BUSH – THE ARTIST The Australian War Memorial provides this biography of Charles Bush [2] CASE STUDY OF CHARLES BUSH’S TIMOR ART WORK - HMAS Voyager wrecked and burning at Betano Bay Professional artist, Michael Grant, prepared the following case study of one of Charles Bush’s Timor art works that usefully demonstrates his approach and technique [3]: VALUE OF THE BUSH TIMOR ART WORKS AND DAVIS PHOTOGRAPHS Emily Wubben, in a recent blog post on the AWM website tilted Art of Nation: Insightful 'then and now' comparisons made the following opening statement: ‘The Memorial’s online, interactive exhibition Art of Nation will enable users to compare field sketches by Australia’s First World War official war artists with contemporary digital imagery of the same locations in Google street view. Comparing ‘then and now’ images encourages a ‘spot the difference’ method of analysis, reminiscent of puzzle books in which images are replicated with minor changes to be discovered. These comparisons invite us to delve beyond surface level visual analysis and consider the history of these places’. [4] For the descendants of 2nd Independent Company veterans like myself, the history of the places in Timor depicted by Bush and photographed by Davis is put in a more personal context, in that they portray locations that were familiar to the men of the unit and mentioned in historical accounts. The paintings, drawings and photographs also help present day visitors to Timor-Leste to find and relate to these locations, including particular buildings (where they still exist). Photographic comparisons can be made to assess how much they have changed over 75 years. Bush depicted and Davis photographed a number of these locations including Dili, Same, Hatu-Udo, Fatu-Bessi, Ossu, Mape, Taibessi, Maubisse and Bobonaro. There are 66 art works by Charles Bush in the AWM collection related to the Timor campaign. A small number of them have been digitised and are available for download from the AWM website. None of his paintings are on public display in the Timor component of the Second World War galleries. Access to works of art not on display in the galleries is available by appointment. REFERENCES [1] William Bradley Horton ‘Through the eyes of Australians: the Timor Area in the early postwar period’ Journal of Asia-Pacific Studies (Waseda University) No. 12 (March 2009), pp.268-269. https://waseda.repo.nii.ac.jp/?action=repository_action_common... [2] https://www.awm.gov.au/people/P65029/; See also David Keys ‘Bush, Charles William (1919–1989)’ Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 17, (MUP), 2007 http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/bush-charles-william-12272 [3] https://www.awm.gov.au/blog/2016/02/05/hmas-voyager-wrecked-and-burning-betano-bay/; http://www.michaelgrant.com.au/index.html. [4] https://www.awm.gov.au/blog/2017/02/23/art-nation-insightful-then-and-now-comparisons/
  10. Robert S R Chalmers

    GIdday Peter sorry to take so long but here is a photo of Bob Chalmers,Reckless as he was known.
  11. William (Bill) Cooper

    Hello Peter we are in Perth. I will try your suggestion thanks. I have attached the photo of Dad. Cheers Pam Hinkley
  12. William (Bill) Cooper

    Hi Pam Depending on the state you live in, I would try the Yellow Business Pages and look up Medal Mounting as most of these supply copy medals. I would suggest you ask for "Court Mounting" as the medals are held secure were as "Swing Mounting" the medals as the name suggests swing on the ribbon and are not as secure. We are trying to get a photo of each member of the unit to put in their Bio, is there any one in the family that has a photo of Bill, preferably in uniform, that we can use, please???? Looking forward to hearing from you. Peter
  13. William (Bill) Cooper

    My Dad was a member of the 2/2 unit and I would like to purchase replicas of his medals. We have his original medals and they have been split to give each of his children an original medal. Can anyone direct me to the correct place to purchase these replicas please. Pam Hinkley
  14. April 2017 Courier

    Thank you Louis
  15. April 2017 Courier

    Hi @Dorothy Bourke, The initial stock of 50 sold like hot cakes! We've ordered some more and are currently awaiting the stock's arrival.
  16. April 2017 Courier

    Hi Louis, Thank you for your work for the 2/2nds. I noticed in the new edition of the Courier that doublel diamond pins are available once again. The online store says that the pins are out of stock. Have they all been snapped up so quickly or are we waiting for the site to be updated? My husband, Ed Bourke, served with the double reds and I would like to purchase several pins for our grandchildren. Kind regards Dorothy
  17. Robert S R Chalmers

    HI Belinda,I will ring you soon and catch up on things.Is Shirl still going,and where are you living now.John
  18. WA Safari Marching 1983

    WA Safari Marching 1983

    © Smith Family Collection

  19. WA Safari 1983.jpg

    West Australia Safari 1983

    © Smith Family Collection

  20. 58fc5dd195053_SurfersParadiseApr1943.jpg

    Taken at Surfers Paradise Apr 1943, Jim "Bye Bye" Veal, W "Dum Dum" Williamson, R "Tex" Richards & H "Carl" Marks.

    © Smith Family Collection

  21. Robert S R Chalmers

    Hi Peter I too have obtained a photograph of Robert although it would most likely be the same one that John has...that is all i have. I unfortunately do not have any extra information. Hi John Very unexpected to see another family member post. I am Malcolms daughter and if you would like to get in touch I would love to hear from you. You can get in touch any time on 0417862801. Kind Regards Belinda
  22. 58fc56042d4e9_StrathpineOct1944toApr1945BillTich.jpg

    Taken at Strathpine Camp between Oct 1944 & Apr 1945, Bill "Binatang""Weir & "Tich".

    © Smith Family Collection

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