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  1. Today
  2. On 7 February, the 2/2 Committee approved funding of US$5,315 (AUD$6,432) to support Compact Teacher Training (Professional Development) for Calohan-Letefoho Villa Primary School, Letefoho Subdistrict, Municipality of Ermera, Timor-Leste. [1]. This amount included a $3,800 donation from the Melville Friends of Hatolia which comprised the balance of their funds when that group would up at the end of 2017. The Committee is pleased to announce that the training has been successfully completed and reports and photos of the training sessions are now available . The photos and the teacher profiles indicate that the teachers and students involved were engaged and appreciated the experience. The teacher profiles provide a nice human touch to the reports that will enhance their interest to 2/2 Association members and supporters. [1] https://doublereds.org.au/news/22-commando-association-funds-compact-teacher-training-for-calohan-letefoho-villa-primary-school-r33/ 2/2 CONNECTION WITH LETE-FOHO The No. 2 Independent Company (2/2) campaigned actively in the Lete-Foho area in 1942 and frequently used the township as a base and enjoyed great support from the Portuguese chefe de posto and the local Timorese people. Bernard Callinan, one-time commanding officer of the 2/2, held great affection for the place and named his house in Melbourne “Lete Foho”. Map showing the location of Lete-Foho from the 'Area study of Portuguese Timor' (1943) The 1943 ‘Area study of Portuguese Timor’ included the following description of the town: “Lete-Foho (Nova Obidos-see Map No. 18) is 12 miles (19 km.) from Aileu at a bearing of 234°, situated on a high ridge halfway between Ermera and Atsabe. Open to aircraft excepting in a small coffee plantation on the south of the posto. Its buildings are of stone with galvanized iron roofs, and constitute the posto which overlooks 7 Chinese shops, and market square, also the school and teacher's residence (stone and tiled roofs). A good M.T. road branches from the main Dilli road about 3 miles (5 km.) south of Ermera and leads to the town through the valley north and below Lete-Foho. This town was used as Platoon H.Q. for Australian troops from May to August, 1942. It has a small water supply by pipeline from springs”. Lete-Foho today THE TRAINING A three member team led by Snr Francisco Jorge dos Santos, Program Manager of Dili-based Learning Resource Development Center (SDRA) successfully completed the training over the five week period 27 August – 28 September 2018. Some of the teachers at a pre-training meeting 12 teachers (5 male, 8 female) completed the assessment and received attendance certificates. 557 students from grades I to VI were involved during the training. Snr dos Santos report included week by week evaluations of the training sessions by the teachers that were all very positive; one final concluding comment was: ‘We Just want SDRA team to keep continue delivering this training to all primary teacher in our territory because this is a very good and relevant strategy that we need in the teaching and learning process to be a professional teacher in the future’. Also included in the reports are profiles of all the teachers who completed the training. The reports and photos from the training are attached to this story. 1. CTT report summary.pdf 2. Teachers Profiles.pdf 3. Weekly evaluations.pdf 4. Teachers Assessment profile.pdf
  3. Earlier
  4. Peter Epps


    Photo taken prior to Embarkation to Timor, 1941. Back Row Standing L to R R A Studdy, F D Humfrey, G I Green, H J Morgan, M C Cash, F C Smith, unknown, G F Bayliss. Front Row Standing L to R F C Fagg, H S Meyers, G H Strickland, D F Murray, unknown, A E Friend, W I Holly, J R Smith, M A M Smith, Back Row Sitting L to R B J McMahon, R S Wilson, D T Ritchie, A Campbell, T G Nisbet, G H Smith, unknown, W E C Monk, A E Smith, Front Row Sitting L to R E H Craghill, N G Scott, P D Mantle, A Wares, P G Maley, G E Pendergrast, R E E Tatum.
  5. Chantal Besancon


    Thank you.
  6. Edward Willis


    Hi Chantal: There is a problem with opening that issue; it will be fixed. In the meantime please see the issue attached. Regards Ed Courier_December_1976.pdf
  7. Chantal Besancon


    Hi, I am having trouble opening the December 1976 link to The Courier. Is it just me or is there a problem with that one, all the others in 1976 have opened for me? Thank you. Regards, Chantal.
  8. Chantal Besancon


    Amendment - Colin George Holley
  9. Chantal Besancon


    Possibly Colin George Holley?
  10. Peter Epps

    ANZAC 2010

    L to R Arthur Marshall, Jack Carey, Dick Darrington, John Burridge, Bob Smyth.
  11. Chantal Besancon

    2/2 Commando Association Safaris

    Thank you
  12. Edward Willis

    2/2 Commando Association Safaris

    Safaris were recurring events conducted by the old 2/2 Commando Association. Over the lifetime of the Association 19 enjoyable and well-attended Safaris were completed between 1956 and 2003 at various locations around Australia. Jack Carey provided the following brief history of the Safaris just before the last one got underway: The Last Hurrah! Our 19th and last Safari is now less than 8 weeks away and although we acknowledge that all good things must come to an end, the final night on the 18th November will surely be a nostalgic occasion. More than a few tears will be shed especially by those who have enjoyed participating in our Safaris. Bert Tobin is accredited with coming up with the idea that members from all states should get together every now and then to renew wartime friendships. As a result of Bert's proposal, the first reunion or Safari as Doigy preferred to call them, was held in Melbourne in 1956 when the Olympic Games were on. The second Safari was held in Perth to coincide with the Commonwealth Games. Both were successful, and the Safaris really took off. Sydney was the 1968 venue, then followed Perth in 1971, Tassie/Melbourne 1973, Sydney 1976, Adelaide 1978, the Gold Coast, Qld 1981, Perth 1983, Canberra 1986, Phillip Island 1988, The Barossa Valley 1990, Port Macquarie 1992, Busselton 1994, Maroochydore, 1996, Canberra 1998, Hobart 2000, Mildura 2002 and yet to come Perth 2003. Each had its highlights. The 44 Sandgropers had a memorable Safari in 1968. Led by Colin Doig and travelling by train spending time at Kalgoorlie, Adelaide, Melbourne, Canberra including a trip over the Snowies, finally arriving at Sydney. We were treated like lords at all stops; the hospitality was overwhelming. It culminated with our grandest Anzac Day march ever. Led by 'the Bull' with Sandy Eggleton and Tony Bowers proudly carrying our Double Diamond banner followed by 112 members on their very best behaviour, we did the old Unit and Association proud. We remember with gratitude all those members, families and friends, many who are no longer with us, who worked so hard to ensure the 18 Safaris were such great and happy events. Your WA committee will do all it can to ensure our last Safari will also be one to remember. See you in Perth on the 12th November. God bless. .. J. Carey. A listing of all the Safaris including references to the Courier issues where they were reported follows. The list also indicates whether a photo album or other material related to a particular Safari is held in the Association archives. Also attached is a copy of the chapter from Col Doig’s history of the Association to 1992 covering the Safaris. YEAR LOCATION COURIER REPORT PHOTO ALBUM OTHER MATERIAL * 1956 21 November – December 2 Melbourne Courier March 1957: 7-10 https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/1957-03%20-%20Courier%20March%201957.pdf Olympic Games Safari 1962 22 November – December 2 Perth Courier January 1963: 1-5 https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/1963/Courier%20January%201963.pdf Commonwealth Games Safari Yes 1968 April 6 - 22 Perth-Adelaide-Melbourne-Canberra- Sydney Courier June 1968: 5-14 https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/1968-06%20-%20Courier%20June%201968.pdf The Great Safari Yes 1971 September 2 - 11 Perth Courier September 1971: 2-8 https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/1971/Courier%20September%201971.pdf Jubilee Safari Yes 1974 22 February – 16 March Melbourne-Tasmania Courier May 1974: 10-14 https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/1974/Courier%20May%201974.pdf Tasmanian Safari 1976 30 August – 11 September Sydney Courier December 1976: 2-4 https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/1976/Courier%20December%201976.pdf Yes Yes 1978 7 – 16 October Adelaide Courier December 1978: 11-13 https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/1978/Courier%20December%201978.pdf South Australian Safari Yes Yes 1981 5 – 18 October Gold Coast-Brisbane Courier December 1981: 2-5 https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/1981/Courier%20December%201981.pdf Gold Coast Safari Yes Yes 1983 3 – 16 October Perth Courier December 1983: 2-8 https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/1983/Courier%20December%201983.pdf Sandgroper Safari Yes 1986 8 – 16 March Canberra Courier June 1986: 1-8 https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/1986/Courier%20June%201986.pdf Canberra Safari Yes 1988 18 – 27 March Cowes - Phillip Island Courier June 1988: 2-4 https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/1988/Courier June 1988.pdf 1990 16 – 25 March Adelaide-Barossa Valley Courier June 1990: 2-4 https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/1990/Courier%20June%201990.pdf Barossa Valley Safari Yes Yes 1992 13 – 23 March Port Macquarie Courier April 1992: 4-7 https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/1992/Courier%20April%201992.pdf Port Macquarie Safari Yes Yes 1994 7 – 14 April Busselton Courier June 1994: 3-8 https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/1994/Courier%20June%201994.pdf Busselton Safari Yes 1996 20 – 30 April Maroochydore, Sunshine Coast Courier August 1996: 12-13 https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/1996/Courier%20August%201996.pdf Maroochydore Safari Yes Yes 1998 10 – 18 March Canberra Courier June 1998: 2-4 https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/1998/Courier%20June%201998.pdf Canberra Safari Yes Yes 2000 8 – 15 March Hobart Courier June 2000: 6-11 https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/2000/Courier%20June%202000.pdf Hobart Safari Yes Yes 2002 1 – 8 May Mildura Courier June 2002: 14-17 https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/2002/Courier%20June%202002.pdf Mildura Safari Yes Yes 2003 12 – 18 November Perth Courier March 2004: 9-10 https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/2004/Courier%20March%202004.pdf Perth Safari – The ‘Last Hurrah!' * Note: other material includes itineraries, dinner menus and commemorative service programmes, etc. REFERENCES C.D. Doig. – A great fraternity: the story of the 2/2 Commando Association 1946-1992. – Perth: C.D. Doig, 1993: Chapter 15 – Interstate Safaris (pp.96-111). J. Carey ‘The last hurrah!’ CourierSeptember 2003: 1. INTERSTATE_SAFARIS_-Great_fraternity_complete_copy.pdf
  13. Edward Willis

    Safaris & Reunions

    Hi Chantal, your enquiry prompted me to have a look at the items related to the Association Safaris in the old Association Archives - these include photo albums, itineraries, etc. and I knocked together the attached list which I hope you find useful + the relevant chapter from Col Doig's history of the Association. The Courier issues can be read/downloaded from https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/ 2003 was the last Safari - the 'last Hurrah!' Regards Ed INTERSTATE_SAFARIS_-Great_fraternity_complete.pdf Interstate Safaris - revised.pdf The last hurrah! - Courier September 2003.pdf
  14. Chantal Besancon

    Safaris & Reunions

    Thank you.
  15. Peter Epps

    Safaris & Reunions

    Hi Chantal Sorry we don't have a list of safaris / reunions, it would be a case of going through the Couriers. Peter
  16. Chantal Besancon

    Safaris & Reunions

    Hi, I am trying to date some photos and wondered if you would you have a list of Safari & Reunion locations and dates before I go searching through the Courier archives? Thanks. Regards, Chantal.
  17. Peter Epps


    Notice Warwick Crossing is carrying a sniper's .303 rifle. It is different from the other .303's in the photo.
  18. Peter Epps


    This is Lt John Rose
  19. Peter Epps

    William Charles VERNEDE

    William was an original member of the unit, embarking aboard “S.S. ZEALANDIA” on 8 Dec 1941 for Timor as a Lance Corporal in No 1 Section, “A” Platoon. He returned to Australia on 22 Aug 1942 and transferred to 16th Australian Infantry Training Company, 21 Dec 1942, 3rd Australian Training Company, 29 Apr 1943 and was discharged on 26 Nov 1943.
  20. Ben Marshall


    Thank you for posting this. I didn't realise so many criados were left behind on that final night. Heartbreaking. But what fantastic achievements by the Denmark East Timor Fuiloro Association, and the Thorntons. Bravo.
  21. Edward Willis


    2/2 Commando Association of Australia Committee members Murray Thornton and Colleen Thornton-Ward (brother and sister) are the children of Norm Thornton an original member of No. 2 Independent Company (2/2). [1] Norman (Norm) Douglas Thornton WX11995 (above) Murray Thornton and Colleen Thornton-Ward (below) For 20 years and more they have been actively involved in various ways supporting the people of Timor-Leste to help repay the ‘debt of honour’ the 2/2 men felt they owed them for the assistance they received during their campaign against the Japanese occupiers of their country during WWII. One way Murray and Colleen have helped is by volunteering as election observers, most recently in the May 2018 parliamentary elections which were completed very peacefully; a sign of the maturing democracy in that still young nation. [2] This was not the case with their first experience as observers in the south-western town of Suai during the independence referendum held 20 years ago on August 30 1999. The excitement and eager wish of the local people to participate in the referendum is evocatively conveyed in these photos that Colleen took at the time. Local people gather to vote, Suai, August 30 1999 Two days after Murray and Colleen had left Suai pro-Indonesian integration supporters occupied the town and massacred as many as 200 men, women and children who had sought sanctuary in the church. Three of the church priests were amongst the victims. The Timor 1942 Commando Campaign Tour group visited Suai on 29 April 2018 and were moved when observing the memorial to the massacre victims outside the church and the magnificent cathedral, now completed, that can be seen under construction in the background of one of Colleen’s photos. Suai church massacre monument Busts of two of the priests killed in the church massacre in front of the new Suai cathedral In his address at the Anzac Day ceremony at Denmark (W.A) in 2013, Murray told the story of his family’s connection with Timor-Leste that began with his father Norm’s service there in WWII and has been sustained by Colleen and himself. DENMARK AND EAST TIMOR, EDUCATION AND FRIENDSHIP This is the story of Denmark and its bonds to East Timor over 70 years, forged in adversity and war, but for the past 12 years celebrated in education and friendship. East Timor is an island 600 km north of Wyndham at the top of Western Australia. On a good day if one is high in the southern mountains of East Timor you can actually listen to ABC radio through its Kununurra transmitter. Dark Days of 1941 This story begins in the last days of 1941. These were dark days for Australia. Japan had attacked Pearl Harbour and the East Indies on7th December1941. The main part of the Australian army, the 6th, 7th and 9th Divisions were in the Middle East. Two thirds of the 8th division were in Malaya, as the clouds of war had been gathering with Japan, whilst the 8th divisions other battalions were in West Timor, Ambon and New Britain protecting airbases that was Australia’s eyes to the North. The Japanese were able to defeat the allies on the Malayan peninsula, the Philippines and the Dutch East Indies in a matter of months. Sparrow force, the Tasmanians of the 2/40th battalion guarding the Airfield at Kupang in Dutch West Timor fort valiantly but were overwhelmed. Neutral East Timor was also invaded, with Japanese influence reaching the Australian shores with the bombing and destruction of Darwin. The 2/2nd Commandos in East Timor The 2/2nd commandos were 250 men, recruited from Western Australian, specially trained by English commandos at Portsea in Victoria. They probably expected to go to Middle East, but instead ended up in East Timor, a Neutral Portuguese Colony to the North of Australia. Because Portugal was neutral the allies only wanted a low key presence in East Timor, with the 2/2nd having recognisance role. On East Timor the 2/2 commandos refused to surrender but were cut off from Australia. The Australian Government assumed they had been captured, but instead they started a guerrilla campaign in mountains of Timor, breaking into small groups of 10-20 men and harassing the Japanese. They survived because of their skills, training, help from sympathetic Portuguese administrators, and Timorese help. They lived amongst the Timorese villagers and were supported by them. The most important help were the kriadu, (Tetum for servant) Timorese young men and boys whom attached themselves to individual Australian soldiers as helpers, guides, food scroungers and mates. Denmark’s Connection to the Timor Campaign Denmark’s connection to this campaign was in the form of 3 soldiers. Norm Thornton, whom moved to Denmark as a boy in 1910, farmed with his family at the base of Mt Lindsay, went to school at the Mt Lindsay Primary, the site of the present Mt Lindsay fire shed. Norm left Denmark and became a carpenter and builder before the war. He spent the whole war in Commandos, also fighting in their campaigns in New Guinea and New Britain. After the war he returned to Denmark and started a building business. Jeremiah Haire also moved to Denmark in 1910 with his family, one of first students at Scotsdale primary school (the present Scotsdale hall). He won a scholarship to Albany high, finished as school captain, dux and champion athlete. Jerry went to Claremont Teachers college, and before the war was teaching at Perth Modern School. He was a founding member of University athletics club, represented WA in interstate competition for 3 years and after the war coached John Winter to 1948 Gold in High jump at the London Olympics. Jeremiah (Jerry) Thomas Haire WX10744 He became the superintendent for English at all WA schools, and finished his career teaching at the WA secondary College. During the war he was transferred out of the Commandos after Timor and into intelligence. [3] Geordie Hamilton Smith,an adopted son of Denmark was from Queenstown, Tasmania. He moved with his mother to the southwest of W.A. and was involved in the timber industry on the Darling scarp before the war. During the war he served with Norm in 4 section, and after the war joined Norm in his building business in Denmark. In later years he and his wife Joan owned the Foursquare store, the present small IGA on Holling road. [4] My impressions from working in the Mountains of Timor are that the men of the Scotsdale valley would have been at home here. The subsistence farmers of East Timor would have been very similar to the farmers of 1920 Denmark. The Commando Campaign Against the Japanese The 2/2nd commandos had many stories of daring, ingenuity, bravery and loss in there year in Timor. Author Paul Cleary has written a ripping yarn of this campaign entitled “The Men who came out of the ground”. It is so titled because the Japanese were frustrated by these men whom appeared from nowhere, ambushed, and then disappeared. One of the great tales is how they managed to scrounge parts to build a radio to contact Darwin. Once they had convinced Australia it was really them, they received by airdrop desperately needed, medication, cloths, boots and ammunition. A small boat was also organised to come in stealthily by night to evacuate sick and wounded men on a regular basis. An interesting comment from one of the reinforcement soldiers who joined Norm and Geordies section was that he thought he has joined a platoon of scarecrows, so thin and emaciated were the soldiers who had been in Timor from the beginning of the campaign. By the end of 1942 Australia had decided to bring the 2/2nd commandos home, as the Japanese were killing many of the Timorese in a scorched earth policy, trying to deprive the commandos of food and shelter. Also, by this time the Americans had gained the upper hand in the Solomon Islands, and Kojonup farmer Brigadier Arnold Potts had led the Australians in the Kokoda campaign with the first elements of the 7th Division returned from the Middle East, bringing the Japanese advance to a stop. The commandos were to be picked up from the south coast of Timor at Betano, by the destroyer HMAS Voyager. Unfortunately, the Voyager came in too close and ran aground, only to be destroyed by Japanese aircraft at daybreak. A replacement destroyer was hastily organised and a couple of nights later the 2/2nd commandos left Timor, leaving 250 crying Kriaduon the beach, and a rearguard force that had to quickly melt into the mountains. Norm’s kriadu Nicolau Goncalves The story of Timor is the story of theKriadu. Norm’s kriaduwas Nicolau Goncalves, a16 year old from the hill town Basetete. He was an educated boy who spoke Portuguese and Tetum, and by the end of a couple of months he could swear in English. They lived and fought together for a year, saving each other’s lives many times. As an adult in1968 Nicolau came to Denmark on an Agriculture exchange sponsored by the Portuguese administration of Timor and the men of the 2/2nd. Portugal gave up all its colonies in 1975. Indonesia then invaded the fledgling independent East Timor. Nicolau, along with 3 of his sons were killed fighting the Indonesians. The story of the Goncalves family is the story of East Timor, with 200,000 out of 800,000 Timorese perishing in the invasion and subsequent famine. Nicolau Goncalves as a young man Indonesian closed East Timor to foreigners, and it was not until the 1990’s that international visitors could travel to Timor. Murray and Colleen Help in Timor In 1995 my sister Colleen and I travelled to East Timor and re-established our contacts with the Goncalves family. [5] In 1999 we once again visited East Timor as UN election observers, helping overseeing the ballot the UN had persuaded the Indonesians to hold for the future of East Timor. At the conclusion of the ballot, when the vote was known to be overwhelmingly for an independent East Timor, Indonesian militia gangs started a wave of looting, destruction and murder. It was appropriate that Australia led the International Assistance force under General Cosgrove that restored peace to East Timor and saw the withdrawal of Indonesia. The UN then administered east Timor until 2002, when it was granted independence. After the elections of 1999 and into early 2000 I worked for an NGO and the UN organizing food and emergency supplies for three provinces of East Timor. Murray Thornton at work for NGO after referendum vote Working alongside me was Janario Goncalves, one of Niciloe’s surviving sons. One of the chances of fate that life sometimes throws up was that I had to organize the first barge of rice to be shipped to the south coast of Timor from Darwin for the UN world food programme. We brought the barge into a sheltered bay on the South Coast, over the top of the wreck of HMAS Voyager. The Denmark East Timor Fuiloro Association Denmark’s connection with education and East Timor was driven by Libby Corson, a former English teacher at the Denmark Agriculture College. Libby and her band of fabulous helpers organised many events to sponsor East Timorese students. Between 2002 and 2012 the Denmark East Timor Fuiloro Association, with the great support of the Denmark community, sponsored students with over $100,000 for school fees and books. Whilst Libby worked at the College we were able to facilitate student exchanges between Denmark Ag School and Fuiloro Agriculture College. [6] With the support of Denmark sponsoring family’s we were able to sponsor 80 students to complete a diploma in agriculture, 150 students to complete high school, and 450 Primary students. The last of 10 Students sponsored at university will finish his Veterinary Science degree this year in Indonesia, before returning to East Timor. Conclusion East Timor now has money from oil and gas in the Timor Sea to pay for teachers and schools. It is still very much a third world country, and it will be a number of generations before it reaches the standard of health and education we take for granted in the West. Through education and friendship Denmark has been able to repay some of the Debt of Honour to the Timorese for looking after the sons of Denmark in the dark days of 1942. MURRAY THORNTON REFERENCES [1] ‘Vale Norman Thornton: tribute from Paddy Kenneally’ Courier April 1984: 9; ‘[Vale] Norman D. Thornton’ Courier February 1984: 8. [2] ‘Elections in Timor-Leste – Colleen and Murray act as election observers’ Courier June 2018: 2; https://www.communitynews.com.au/eastern-reporter/news/morley-great-grandmother-journeys-to-east-timor-to-volunteer-on-election-day/ [3] ‘Vale Jerry Haire’ Courier August 1990: 5-6. [4] ‘Vale George Hamilton-Smith’ Courier December 1989: 4-5. [5] ‘Murray Thornton's visit to East Timor’ Courier August 1995: 12-16. [6] https://wwwdotdfetdotorgdotaudotorg.wordpress.com/about/
  22. http://thewest2.smedia.com.au/Olive/APA/thewest-archives/SharedView.Article.aspx?href=WAN%2F2018%2F08%2F25&id=Ar04801&sk=AD6EB6A0
  23. Peter Epps

    James Maxwell STEWART

  24. Peter Epps

    John Henry STEEN

  25. Edward Willis

    Passing of Keith Hayes, OAM (1921-2018) - WX12317

    Following the recent notification of the passing of Fred Otway, members and supporters of the 2/2 Commando Association of Australia will be further saddened to learn of the passing yesterday of Keith Mortimer Hayes OAM , also an original member of the 2/2 and a stalwart of the old Association of which he was made a life member in 1988. Keith was 97 years of age. Details of Keith’s war service and awards, including his remarkable survival of the Ration Truck Massacre, can be found the Doublereds website: https://doublereds.org.au/history/men-of-the-22/wx/keith-mortimer-hayes-r335/ In 2007, he was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for service to the community of Timor-Leste through the Independent Trust of the 2/2nd Commando Association, and to veterans and their families. Association President Peter Epps has noted that: 'Keith spent many years helping to raise and send goods, school equipment, seeds and money to Timor and that is the main reason for his Life Membership of the Association. He did not like the lime light especially about his war service and injuries - he was one of the last gentlemen of that era’. The Association will publish a full Vale covering Keith’s life after his funeral service, details of which should be announced shortly. With Keith's passing Jack Hanson (Queensland) is the sole surviving member of the 2/2.
  26. Members and supporters of 2/2 Commando Association of Australia will be saddened to learn that one of the last three surviving members of the 2/2, Fred Otway, passed away in Brisbane on the 3 April 2018 aged 97 years. The two surviving members of the unit are Keith Hayes (W.A.) and John ‘Jack’ Hanson (Queensland). Source: RSL Virtual Memorial Born in Pingelly, W.A., Fred was an original member of the unit and served in No. 1 Section, A Platoon throughout the campaign in Portuguese Timor. He was promoted to Corporal before the end of the campaign. Deployed to New Guinea with the 2/2 in 1943, Fred left in June 1944 along with several other men to serve with the Z Special Unit, and after training, was based in Darwin. As a Sergeant, Fred participated in three Z Special operations to Portuguese Timor in mid-1945. Post-war Fred undertook a government sponsored training course and qualified as a painter and decorator and worked in that trade for the Queensland Government until he retired. He was an active member of the Queensland branch of the Association, from the beginning to the end, and he and his wife Ellen participated in all the safaris and reunions, including the special trip back to Portuguese Timor for the opening of the Dare Memorial Pool and Resting Place in 1969. He was a regular correspondent to the ‘Courier’ and contributed several interesting articles related to his personal life, family history and wartime experiences. In August 2012 Fred along with Keith Hayes was invited by the Department of Veterans Affairs to be a member of the Commemorative Mission Timor-Leste for the 70th Anniversary of the Timor Campaign. The Committee extends its condolences to Fred Otway’s family, salutes his service to the nation during WWII and recognises his supportive involvement with the old Association from its beginning to the end. LEST WE FORGET Fred Otway photo April 2016 Source: Paul Cleary ‘Remembering Australia's first commandos: the men who stopped the Japanese in Timor’ http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-04-25/remembering-the-diggers-who-stopped-the-japanese-in-timor/7356020 Ian McPhedran interviewed Fred for his recent book on the history of Australian special forces; see the following extract: Source: Ian McPhedran. – Too bold to die: the making of Australian war heroes. – Sydney, NSW: Harper Collins Australia, 2013: 39-45. CHAPTER 3: Behind Enemy Lines Living hard was part and parcel of Fred Otway’s life from a very early age. Little did he know as he struggled through a poverty-filled childhood that one day the hardships that had forged him would help to keep him alive in the jungles of East Timor and elsewhere as a commando and ‘Z’ Special Unit operative during the fight to save Australia from the marauding Japanese Imperial Army. Early Life Fred’s early years around Pinjarra in Western Australia were tough. The son of a drunkard railway-sleeper cutter and a sickly mother, he was born in 1920. By the time he was eight, he and his four brothers and one sister had been removed from their parents and sent to live in institutions in Perth after their mother contracted tuberculosis. Fred, the second youngest, was sent to a Salvation Army Boys Home in the inner-city suburb of Nedlands. It was a grim existence and 92-year-old Fred recalls, with the clarity of someone who has known real hunger, being permanently famished and having cracked feet in winter because he had no shoes. “When he was 12 years old Fred remembers the wife of the manager coming down the path and blurting out, ‘By the way, your mother has died.’ ‘Just like that,’ he says. Young Fred had never even had a letter from his mum and was never able to write to her to say hello, to tell her to get well and that he loved her.” “No kid in that home ever wrote a letter and no kid ever received a letter. They [the supervisors] got any letters that came and just told us, “Your father wrote to us”,’ he says. ‘What a terrible thing it must have been for that woman to be in that house, or in that place, wherever it was. They separated us because it was a contagious disease, living there for eight years and no contact with her family, just waiting to die.’ Off to Work At 14 Fred was sent to work on a poultry farm. He lasted six months, sleeping in the feed shed and eating in a corridor of the main house, never at the table of the farm owners. One day he said, ‘I’m sick of working my guts out for you, I’m going back to the home.’ So he went back to Nedlands and they immediately sent him to another farm as virtual slave labour. His second job was on a mixed farm where at least he was taught some skills, including harnessing and driving a team of eight horses. The sleeping arrangements were no better and he dossed down in a flea-ridden hessian bed as he “as he toiled six days a week for the paltry sum of two shillings. The only reason he got Sundays off was so he could wash his clothes. ‘There was no 40-hour week back then and you worked longer in summer than you did in winter.’ At 17 Fred was finally reunited with two of his brothers, Jack and Charlie, and the trio worked an unsuccessful mining lease together before they went travelling, jumping freight trains, with all their worldly goods, including the mandatory frying pan in a sugar bag, slung over their shoulders. Eventually Charlie got a job on a dairy farm in Coolgardie and Fred snared a start as a general hand in a boarding house in Kalgoorlie for ‘ten bob’ a week and his tea. Fred Joins the 2/2 His next job was as a barman in a pub at Leonora, where there was a nickel rush on. After returning for a “brief stint in the mines, Fred eventually made his way back to Perth and enlisted in the army in May 1941. Due to his bush upbringing and his ability to live off the land, he was transferred from the training camp at Northam north of Perth across to the 2/2nd Independent Company at Wilsons Promontory in Victoria. The British commandos ran a training camp there to teach fresh recruits the dark arts of commando warfare — from demolitions and hand-to-hand combat to guerrilla warfare and how to recruit and train the locals. Fred says the 2/2nd was very different from any other unit in the Australian Army. He didn’t like the rigid formality and spit-and-polish traditions of the ‘big army’, but he loved the informal approach of the commandos. ‘In the 2/2nd you might be a captain, but you are just Bill or Tom, that’s all, nothing else, just one of us, we were all the same. Each depended on the other, none of this bloody army stuff saluting, yes sir, none of that stuff,’ he says. ‘We were free and easy, and the unit was allowed to do what it liked, “The 350 or so Australian commandos joined other allied fighters from the 2/40th Battalion and British and Dutch units to form Sparrow Force, which would harass and occupy an entire Japanese division in Timor for a year. Unfortunately, the army’s knowledge of tropical diseases was rudimentary at best, and the men, dressed in shorts and light shirts, succumbed en masse to malaria. On Timor Just before the Japanese arrived in Timor in late February 1942, the commandos decided to leave Dili and head for a healthier environment in the hills to the south of the capital. The town is built on a narrow coastal strip and immediately behind the built-up area the mountains rise almost vertically to provide a natural barrier to the interior and the island’s south coast. The high ridges overlooking Dili made ideal observation posts for the diggers and their comrades, who included local fighters drafted to the cause. Visitors to Dili today can clearly see how vital the high ground was to the Aussie guerrillas of Sparrow Force by visiting the Commando Memorial at the village of Dare high above the town. The views from the memorial to the 2/2nd Company (double red diamond insignia “ 2/40th Battalion [i.e. 2/4 Company] (double blue diamonds) and their local helpers take in a panorama of the coastline, the town and the roads leading up into the hills. During the East Timor independence battles in 1999 the Dare area would once again take on crucial tactical significance as Australian troops moved inland in pursuit of pro-Jakarta militia thugs. Following some alcohol-fuelled skylarking in the town prior to the Japanese invasion, the Australians had been banned from taking their rifles into Dili, and they only found out the enemy had arrived when a supply truck carrying 17 diggers was intercepted by a Japanese patrol. The men were all shot and bayonetted, and only one, Keith Hayes, escaped with his life. He was treated and sheltered by locals, including a middle-aged woman called Donnabella Martins, who nursed him back to health using mudpacks and banana leaves to heal his wounds. Source: Cyril Ayris. – All the Bull’s men. – Perth: 2/2 Commando Association of Australia, 2006: 386 Guerrilla Fighters The Australians eventually split into small bands of guerrilla fighters and would spend most of 1942 and 1943 killing and harassing the enemy across East Timor. “You can do plenty of damage even if there is only four or five of you,’ Fred says. ‘As a guerrilla fighter there are certain rules to be observed and number one is you cannot exist without the support of the civilian population. You don’t interfere with them, you don’t interfere with their women, you don’t interfere with their customs and if you want food, you pay for it, which the Japs didn’t do. ‘I had information about one native boy that was helping the Australians; they [the Japanese] wiped his whole little village out. That was how the Japs worked, trade on fear, “This is what will happen to you if you help the Australians, if you give food to the Australians.”’ The threat of death or torture didn’t deter most of the hardy and God-fearing East Timorese, who remained loyal to the Aussies throughout the war. Respect for the locals and paying their way whenever possible were basic tenets of Australian special operations during the war. According to Fred Otway, every time the Australians killed a goat or got some rice, they gave the farmer a chit that he could later convert into silver or gold “courtesy of the Australian Government. Unfortunately, this system didn’t always work, and many Timorese were left out of pocket, but this did not stop them from risking their lives to support the commandos in their quest to rid the island of the invader.” “Many veterans of Sparrow Force spent decades after the war fighting for justice for the East Timorese people in return for their vital help in the campaign to save Australia. In 1999 the Prime Minister, John Howard, provided the ultimate ‘thank you’ when he encouraged the Indonesians to leave the island and the international community to step in and to help bring independence to East Timor (Timor Leste). During its year-long guerrilla campaign, Sparrow Force killed about 1700 Japanese troops and delayed Japan’s eastwards advance. Fred Otway took to army life like a duck to water. Finally, at the age of 21, he had found a home. To New Guinea After returning from Timor and with yet another serious bout of malaria under his belt, Fred was sent to New Guinea in June 1943 to chase and harass the Japanese again. From Port Moresby the men of the 2/2nd were flown up to a place called Bena Bena near Goroka in the Highlands where the Japanese were expected to try and take the airstrip in order to attack American bombers on their runs from Port Moresby to Wewak. ‘Our task was to give the impression that we were 2000 strong “rather than 200,’ Fred says. They accomplished their mission and the Japanese force withdrew towards the north coast. Z Special About this time, he got word that his old commanding officer from Timor, Captain Dave Dexter, who had been seriously wounded in New Guinea and had joined ‘Z’ Special Unit in Melbourne, was looking for volunteers. Regarded as a fine officer, Dexter was well liked and trusted by the men, so in October 1944 Fred and eight of his mates from the unit decided to make the move. After completing parachute and submarine training and learning how to operate a variety of boats, Fred Otway was sent back to Timor to train the locals and to “observe the Japanese, who by then controlled the island. ‘A lot of the natives were with us, some were against us, they’d be telling the Japs where we were, setting up the ambushes and so forth,’ Fred says. ‘The Australian Government decided that we would help Portuguese civilians to escape from the occupied island. I’ll never forget how we were loading these nuns up and we were all naked, except for our boots. We weren’t going to get our clothes wet so that once the boat had gone we could lay down in the wet soil but keep our clothes dry. We didn’t mind wet boots.’ Some Portuguese didn’t want to leave, and they took the Japanese at their word that they would be placed in a secure enclave and looked after. Fred says it was nothing more than a concentration camp and many Portuguese, including five children, starved to death or succumbed to disease. Despite being from a neutral country, nine Portuguese soldiers were executed during his time there. Reflections Looking back, Fred says he enjoyed being in East Timor because he regarded it as a civilised place when compared with New Guinea. ‘I hated New Guinea. There wasn’t “There wasn’t even anyone to talk to, whereas in Timor you could talk to the locals, including the women,’ Fred says. ‘There were plenty of people there; it was really like being in Brisbane, only you’d have to go out and do a bit of fighting every now and then — simple.’ After the War After the war, Fred Otway retrained as a painter and decorator, and in 1956 he moved to Brisbane where he settled with his family. A motorcycle accident put paid to his ambition to be a politician, so he spent the next 22 years working for the Queensland Government. FRED OTWAY’S CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE ‘COURIER’ ‘Random Harvest’ 2/2 Commando CourierJune 1973: 9-10 [web address to be advised] ‘[Otway family history – letter to the ‘Courier’] 2/2 Commando Courier September 1998: 11-12 ‘[Burial locations of 2/2 men killed in action, brief recollections of Northam, Caulfield, Foster and Wayville and parachute training with Z Special]’ 2/2 Commando Courier December 1999: 16-17 ‘Hard times – part one’ 2/2 Commando Courier March 2002: 14-15 ‘Hard times – part two’ 2/2 Commando Courier June 2002: 17-19 ‘An old soldier's memories - New Guinea 1943’ 2/2 Commando Courier September 2003: 18-19 ‘An old soldier's memories. Part II - On the way to Z Special’ 2/2 Commando Courier December 2003: 17-18 ‘An old soldier. Part 3’ 2/2 Commando Courier March 2004: 12-14 ‘The missing fortune’ 2/2 Commando Courier March 2005: 17-18 ‘Life and times of an old soldier’ 2/2 Commando Courier March 2006: 9-11 APPENDIX FRED OTWAY’S SERVICE IN Z SPECIAL Fred participated in three Z Special operations to Portuguese Timor in June 1945 - STARLING – SUNDOG, SUNDOG RAID and BRIM. The stories of these two raids was told in the official history of Special Operations Australia: STARLING – SUNDOG This project was first planned in 1942 in conjunction with Lagarto, for the insertion of a party into the western districts of Portuguese Timor under the leadership of Sr A. da Sousa Santos who had been administrator of Fronteira Province. The insertion in the original plan called for the cooperation of Dom Alexio, a ruling chief of the western districts and to get his good will, a party of 4 members of PORTOLIZARD was despatched from the Dilor area about June 1942. A month later it was learned that the PORTOLIZARD men had been killed and that Dom Alexio and his family had been massacred. In these circumstances, the project was suspended. From time to time thereafter it was revived, first under the name STARLING as a division of the SOUNDER plan and last as a division of SUNFISH when it was renamed SUNDOG or SUNFISH D. The purpose of the project was to set up a HQ in the vicinity of Ramelau Range in the Bobonaro district from which intelligence, propaganda and resistance activities could be carried out. The original composition of the party was: Da Sousa Santos, A. (Leader) Sgt Shand J.A. (AIF) (Sig) Sgt Hartley (AIF) Robello Soares Rente Da Sousa, A. Felix Barreto Insertion was to be performed by ML’s in the vicinity of the mouth of the Be Lulic River on the south coast. Source:https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C998734 Following disaffection among the Portuguese and Timorese personnel and in particular to their failure to volunteer to serve under Santos, in March 1945 the party was completely recast, Australian personnel being substituted for the Portuguese. Shand and Hartley were omitted from the party, the former joining SUNABLE. The new party, all AIF comprised: Lt D.B. Austin (Leader) Sgt Otway F.A. (2 i/c) Cpl Stewart A.S. Cfn Jones H.J. Tpr Criddle C.R. Cpl Grinham L.A. Sig Poole W.P. A support party comprising: Capt Florence J.M. Lt Middleton P.V. Bdr Burrow F.W. Bdr Felstead N. Sgt Hartley J.F. Sig Bale W.R. was allotted the task of making the initial landing and of assisting the main party to land and cache its stores. On 6 June 1945, the party sailed from Darwin in HMAS ‘Seasnake’ (Lt D. Jarvis. RANVR). On 8 June, the vessel closed the south coast of Timor in the vicinity of the mouth of the Sue River, the approach being made in poor weather some hours ahead of the scheduled time. As the mountains were cloud covered, the position of the vessel could not be fixed and at about 1500 hours, when probably less than 10 miles off the coast, columns of smoke were seen on the land. These were interpreted as smoke signals advising the approach of the vessel and the success of the mission was considered prejudiced thereby. The landing was therefore abandoned and ‘Seasnake’ returned to Darwin. The difficulties of navigation were underestimated in planning this operation. At the same time, while the exact position of the vessel off the Timor coast was not known, its distance offshore was capable of better estimation. The precipitate approach in broad daylight was highly prejudicial. However, in the circumstances, withdrawal was the only logical procedure. The mission was replanned to leave Darwin on 17 June. On 15 June, Advanced HQ of SRD instructed that the insertion of the party was to be preceded by a raid for the extraction of natives for interrogation. The arrangements which had already been made were adopted for the raid, which was given the name SUNDOG RAID. SUNDOG RAID The personnel of SUNDOG were allotted to SUNDOG RAID with the addition of Dr Carlos Brandãoas interpreter and adviser on native matters. The party left Darwin aboard ‘Seasnake’ on 19 June 1945 and landed at the mouth of the Sue River at 2130 hours on the night of 21 June. The support party under Captain Florence made the initial landing and then held the beach head while the main raiding party under Lt Austin moved inland. The raiding party was unable to locate the village for which it was aiming. While reconnoitring, the party discovered a number of fresh tracks of enemy patrols and heard a rifle shot. Dr Brandão advised the party that on hearing the shot, the natives in the vicinity would have gone into hiding and considering that the discovery of natives in these circumstances was most unlikely, the raid was abandoned. The whole party re-embarked on ‘Seasnake’ at 2305 hours and sailed for Darwin. BRIM The operation BRIM was originally planned for the purpose of extracting SUNCOB party from the south coast of Portuguese Timor by surface craft. The plan was based on the Emergency Procedure of SUNCOB and took effect on the sighting of rather doubtful ground signals reported by search aircraft on 20 July. These ground signals, calling for extraction, were seen in the vicinity of one of the alternative extraction points prescribed in the SUNCOB plan, namely at the mouth of the Jre Bere River on the south coast. The extraction was arranged for the night of 28-29 July 1945, being the prescribed 8 days after the sighting of the ground signal, and an additional visit by the extraction craft on the following night was provided for. While the planning was in progress, ‘Krait’ returned from the unsuccessful LAGARTOUT mission for the extraction of SUNLAG and after interrogating the LAGARTOUT party, it was arranged to extend the BRIM plan to enable [the] extraction vessel to visit the extraction points of both SUNCOB and SUNLAG on each of the two nights. At the suggestion of NOIC, Darwin HDML 1324 of the RAN was detailed for the task with Sub Lt Bramley as extra navigator. A boat party comprising Lt J. Crombie (Leader), Sgts Boyle C.D. (2 i/c), Reid L.A., Otway, F.A., Gnr Hugo J. and Pte Young G. (all AIF) were allotted as boat party and were equipped with one 2-man rubber boat, one 7-man fitted with outboard and a spare 7-man boat. The intention was for Lt Crombie in the 2-man boat to proceed ashore as scout leaving the rest of the party in a 7-man boat outside the surf. On contacting the party ashore, Crombie was to ferry them through the surf to be picked up by the 7-man. When the plan had been finalised, broadcast messages were sent to both SUNCOB and SUNLAG giving them the essential details of the plan, in the hope that although they were not in contact by wireless, they might be keeping listening watch. HDML 1324 sailed from Darwin with BRIM party on 27 July 1945. On the afternoon of the 28th a signal reached Darwin from SUNLAG acknowledging the broadcast message but requesting that the extraction be delayed until 1st August as the party could not reach the rendezvous any earlier. By this time the ML was approaching the rendezvous point of SUNCOB. By arrangement with NOIC Darwin the vessel was recalled and returned to a sheltered anchorage at Snake Bay, Melville Island. SUNCOB later deferred to the rendezvous to the 3rd August to the 5th August and the ML returned to replenish fuel, water and stores. The vessel with BRIM party aboard finally left Darwin on the afternoon of 3rd August 1945 under a revised plan which provided for a rendezvous with SUNLAG at dawn on 5th August at the mouth of the Dilor River. When off this point at 0600H on the 5th SUNLAG’s flares were seen on the shore. The ML approached within 150 yards of the beach and launched the boats at 0615H. Owing to breaking its towline the 2-man boat with Lt Crombie was last to reach the beach. SUNLAG party with one native prisoner was waiting on the beach and was ferried off immediately to the ML which was reached at 0640H. After taking the boats aboard the vessel sailed for Darwin at 0645H arriving at LMS on the evening of 6th August. The success of this mission as compared with LAGARTOUT is ascribed to the time of the rendezvous being at dawn with the immeasurable benefit of the light and to the more seaworthy and commodious nature of the vessel used. The success however was due in a very large measure to the excellence of the signals communication maintained by SUNLAG’s signaller, Sgt Dawson, which permitted all details of the extraction to be worked out between the party and base. It is significant that whereas [the] SRD vessel had been operating off the Timor coast alone the HDML was provided with the AMS ‘Parkes’ as support standing 50 miles off Timor and fighter aircraft were at immediate standby in Darwin. The decision to withdraw the ML when within striking distance of SUNCOB’s extraction point on 28th July was based on the positive nature of the SUNLAG extraction and the indefinite nature of that of SUNCOB. It proved a most fortunate decision as the Japanese having captured SUNCOB and received the broadcast message had a strong reception party with light artillery waiting at one of the two alternative emergency evacuation points of the SUNCOB party. Source: The Official History of the Operations and Administration of] Special Operations - Australia [(SOA), also known as the Inter-Allied Services Department (ISD) and Services Reconnaissance Department (SRD)] Volume 2 - Operations - copy no 4 [for Director, Military Intelligence (DMI), Headquarters (HQ), Australian Military Forces (AMF), Melbourne. - NAA: A3269, O8/A
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