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  2. Edward Willis

    George James Beedham MILSOM

    George James Beedham MILSOM (1918 – 1965) -TX4141 George Milsom was one of the 2/40 Battalion men who made their way from Dutch Timor to Portuguese Timor following the surrender of the rest of the Battalion contingent to the Japanese on 23 February 1942 after a heroic defensive battle against the invaders. About 200 Sparrow Force men escaped to Portuguese Timor. Most of these men were trades and specialist staff such as cooks and clerks and unsuited for a combat role and were later evacuated to Australia; a number of 2/40 men including George Milsom, however, were taken on as No. 2 Independent Company members, retrained and formed into a new platoon (D Platoon) under the command of Lt Don Turton, and served with distinction throughout the remainder of the Timor campaign before being evacuated back to Australia in December 1942. 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 creados and Portuguese deportados who provided such essential support. The mission’s success was achievable by its being guided by Sergeant George Milsom, who through his war service in Portuguese Timor was very familiar with the sites visited and depicted by Bush and Davis. One of George Milsom’s daughters Elizabeth (Liz) Milsom is an artist who lives in Melbourne. Back in May 2010 Liz exhibited some of her father's Timorese related art work and other items that are now in her possession. Liz has very kindly made available images of items shown in the exhibition including a brief biography of her father, photographs from his participation in the Military History Section’s Timor Mission, woven pouches, illustrated letters that he wrote home and watercolour paintings of scenes of Timorese life inspired by his service there during WWII. The images provided by Liz are supplemented by others featuring George Milsom taken by Kenneth Davis during the Military History Section’s Timor Mission that are in the Australian War Memorial’s collection. GEORGE MILSOM George James Beedham Milsom was born in Unley, South Australia on 1 April 1918. He moved with his family to Tasmania where his father worked as an engineer for the Hydro Commission at The Great Lake. In 1940 George enlisted in the army and became a member of the 2/40th Battalion, which travelled to Koepang in Dutch Timor on the 8 December 1941. When the Japanese invaded what was then Dutch Timor in February 1942, the main body of Australian soldiers were overwhelmed and after three days of vicious fighting were forced to surrender. Around 300 soldiers refused to do this and set out to join the Australian forces in what was then Portuguese Timor. Only 40 soldiers arrived. The remainder were either betrayed to the Japanese or killed by West Timorese. George was one of the surviving soldiers and he joined the Australian 2/2nd Commando Unit stationed in Portuguese Timor. George is in the back row wearing his hat Source: Henning, Peter (2014). Doomed battalion : mateship and leadership in war and captivity : the Australian 2/40 battalion 1940-45 (2nd edition). Peter Henning, Exeter, Tas. Each Australian soldier serving in Portuguese Timor was befriended by a young Timorese who became their guide, comrade, porter and assistant. They helped the soldiers set up ambushes, carried their weapons, found food for them and lead them to safety after engagement with the Japanese. These Timorese men were called Creados, a Portuguese word meaning servant. However, the relationship between the Creados and the Australians was much more than this. They regarded each other as mates and deep friendships ensued. George's Creado was named Manuberi and he was from Ainaro. George returned to Australia after one year in Timor. He had developed malaria symptoms and was admitted to Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital. The war ended, George recovered, was promoted to Sergeant and became a member of a Military History Team. In 1946 a three-man team was sent to both Dutch and Portuguese Timor to record significant battle sites. George was the guide of this team; Lieutenant Charles Bush was the official war artist and sometimes used George as a model and Sergeant Keith Davis the photographer. In Dili they received help from two new Creados Fernando and Akiu. When George returned to Melbourne after his second trip to Timor he was hospitalised with malaria, tropical ulcers and amoebic dysentery. Some of the watercolours that George painted were made on site in Timor and some when he was in hospital. One of his visitors while in hospital was Mary Adams whom he had met in Tasmania. Mary's father F.R. Adams was the headmaster of Launceston Grammar where George attended school. George and Mary married at St Paul's Cathedral, Melbourne in 1947. After living in Tasmania for about two years, George, Mary and children Robyn and Margaret, moved to King Island where George was granted a soldier settlement farm. During the next thirteen years on the sheep farm George and Mary had three more children, Alison, Elizabeth and John. In 1965 the family moved to Melbourne when George was diagnosed with cancer. He died that year leaving behind a special collection of Timor memorabilia. 45 years later his daughter Elizabeth, an artist living in the City of Port Phillip and a member of the Friends of Suai, is learning about her father through his connection with East Timor and is keen to keep the friendship ongoing. George Milsom was an avid letter writer and his parents kept all of his letters. George wrote two letters home after his arrival in Koepang in 1942. In January 1942 he writes that he has "sores on his leg which developed from mosquito bites"; these sores became tropical ulcers. During the second period in Timor (1945-46) George wrote around twenty letters home to his parents in Tasmania. In one of these letters he describes the meeting with Manuberi at a crowded market in Dili. When Manuberi heard that George had returned to Timor he walked over 50 miles from his village to see him. 1. Betano, Timor 15.12.1945 with the wreck of HMAS Voyager in the background, Sgt Milsom, Military History Section Field Team, and Jacob, who had: assisted the Australians against the Japanese, discuss the location of the evacuation of the 2/2nd Independent company in 1942. Photograph Keith Davis (AWM121479) 2. George and Manuberi from Ainaro 3. Sketch by Charles Bush of Manuberi 4. Timor, 10.11.1945. this boy Fernando was bayoneted by the Japanese, during their occupation of Timor. When the Australians returned in 1945, they kitted him out with a slouch hat, rifle and webbing. Photograph Keith Davis (AWM121423) 5. George and Manuberi, Dili, 12.1.1945. Photograph Keith Davis (AWM125263) 6. Dili, 29.12.1945 Military History Tours, left to right; Manuel Camara, Keith Davis, Antonio, Fernando, · Chas Bush, Georges Milsom, and Akiu. (AWM125248) 7. Our faithful staff; Alberto, Fernando, Akiu, Feb, 1946 8. Dili, Timor,9.12.1945 José Eduardo de abreu de silva Marques (Joe), seen with Sgt Milsom, reminisce over a map drawn by Milsom in 1942 when he was serving with the 2/2nd Independent Company. 'Joe' as he was known to Australian troops had assisted Milsom in recording the positions of Japanese troops. Photograph Keith Davis (AWM141403) 9. Sgt G. Milsom and war artist Lt Charles Bush, 1945 10. Military History Section Field Team 1945 - Sgt Keith Davis, Lt Charles Bush, Sgt George Milsom 11. Photograph of hand drawn map by George. The original is in the Australian War Memorial, Canberra. Photograph by Keith Davis. (AWM100888) 12. Sgt G. Milsom 1946 13. Tjamplong, Protestant church, Dutch Timor, used by the Australians in 1942 14. George in Catalina over Arafura sea en route to Timor, 13.10.45 15. [Church Ainaro] Photograph G. Milsom 16. [Waterfront Koepang?] Photograph G. Milsom ART WORKS BY GEORGE MILSOM AND OTHER ITEMS DISPLAYED AT THE 2010 EXHIBITION Native woven pouches Natives attending market, Native with bananas for sale, Chief of a village and Portuguese ‘posto’ Untitled [Village scene] Church - Tjamplong Soldier passing through village, Soldier buying paw-paws, Timor ponies and On the track View from a village in the mountains, Mountain village scene, Group of dancers, and Mountain scene Letters home IMAGES FEATURING GEORGE MILSOM TAKEN BY KENNETH DAVIS DURING THE MILITARY HISTORY SECTION’S TIMOR MISSION THAT ARE IN THE AUSTRALIAN WAR MEMORIAL’S COLLECTION Portuguese locals and the Australians they entertained at Christmas dinner [1945]. Identified are: (1) 252442 Flight Lieutenant Clive Maurice Hamer, of RAAF Intelligence; (2) an unidentified Portuguese local; (3) VX128381 Sergeant Keith Benjamin Davis, Military History Section, official war photographer; (4) an unidentified Portuguese local; (5) VX128043 Lieutenant Charles William Bush, Military History Section, official war artist; (6) an unidentified Portuguese local; (7) TX4141 Sergeant George James Beedham Milsom, Military History Section, formerly of the 2/2nd Independent Company; (8) an unidentified Portuguese local; (9) NX133274 Captain Reginald James Crilley, Australian War Graves Unit; (10) an unidentified Portuguese local; (11) 42005 Warrant Officer Deryck Noel Bingley, RAAF. DILI, PORTUGUESE TIMOR. 1946-01-11. SERGEANT G. MILSOM (LEFT) TALKING TO VASCO MARIA DE MARCAL (RIGHT), A PORTUGUESE WHO HAD BEEN OF GREAT ASSISTANCE TO THE AUSTRALIANS OF SPARROW FORCE DURING 1942. HE FOUGHT WITH CAPTAIN DEXTER AND "A" PLATOON AT AINARO, SAUIE, FATUCAUE AND BETANO. HE EMBARKED FOR AUSTRALIA WITH THE 2/2ND INDEPENDENT COMPANY AT BETANO ON 1942-12-12 AND LATER WORKED IN A WAR FACTORY. (PHOTOGRAPHER SGT K. B. DAVIS) DILI, PORTUGUESE TIMOR 1945-12-09. JOSE EDUARDO DE ABREU DE SILVA MARQUES, KNOWN TO THE AUSTRALIAN TROOPS AS "JOE", WAS COMMANDANT AT THE HATU-UDO POSTO (ADMINISTRATIVE HEADQUARTERS) WHEN THE AUSTRALIAN GUERILLAS WERE IN THE AREA IN 1942. HE AND PRIVATE G. MILSOM OF THE 2/2ND INDEPENDENT COMPANY WERE DISCUSSING THE DISPOSITION OF JAPANESE TROOPS USING A MAP DRAWN BY MILSOM, AND BY EXTREME COINCIDENCE, A DROP OF OIL FROM THEIR GOURD LAMP FELL ON THE EXACT SPOT AT THE EXACT TIME AS HMAS VOYAGER RAN AGROUND AT BETANO ON 1942-09-25. MARQUES LATER ESCAPED TO AUSTRALIA ON HMAS CASTLEMAINE AND RETURNED TO DILI ON SS ANGOLA ON 1945-12-08 WHERE HE AGAIN MET MILSOM WHO WAS NOW ACTING AS A GUIDE WITH THE MILITARY HISTORY SECTION. THEY ARE SEEN EXAMINING A PHOTOCOPY OF MILSOM'S MAP AS HE POINTS OUT THE OIL SPOT. (PHOTOGRAPHER SGT K. DAVIS) Informal outdoor portrait of, left to right: Sergeant (Sgt) George Milsom, ex 2/2nd Independent Company and Military History Section (MHS) field team; Staff Sergeant Paul Takeo Bannai, a Japanese-American interpreter with the United States Army Intelligence Service, later the first Japanese-American member of the California State Legislature; and Sgt Keith B. Davis, official photographer MHS and member of the field team. MAPE, PORTUGUESE TIMOR 1945-12-12. SERGEANT G. MILSOM, FORMERLY OF 2/2ND INDEPENDENT COMPANY, AND NOW ACTING AS GUIDE TO THE MILITARY HISTORY SECTION FIELD TEAM ATTACHED TO TIMFORCE, EXAMINES THE REMAINS OF BATTERIES IN THE BUILDING USED BY AUSTRALIAN SIGNALLERS AT FORCE HEADQUARTERS OF THE COMPANY. (PHOTOGRAPHER SGT K. DAVIS) 125405 - MUREMA, PORTUGUESE TIMOR. 1946-01-25. THE MILITARY HISTORY SECTION FIELD TEAM, HALTED ON THE ROAD TO ATSABE BY A LANDSLIDE ... AINARO, PORTUGUESE TIMOR. 1946-01-24. SERGEANT G. MILSOM, MILITARY HISTORY SECTION FIELD TEAM AND FORMERLY OF THE 2/2ND INDEPENDENT COMPANY, STANDS BESIDE THE GRAVE OF THREE PORTUGUESE PRIESTS. FATHERS PIRIS, ALBERTO AND LUIZ WERE KILLED BECAUSE OF THEIR ANTI JAPANESE SYMPATHIES. (PHOTOGRAPHER SGT K. B. DAVIS) AINARO, PORTUGUESE TIMOR. 1946-01-23. SERGEANT G. MILSOM, MILITARY HISTORY SECTION FIELD TEAM AND JAMIE, A TIMORESE WHO FOUGHT ALONGSIDE THE AUSTRALIANS, OUTSIDE WHAT WAS SPARROW FORCE BARRACKS DURING THE AUSTRALIAN OCCUPATION OF THE TOWN IN 1942. THE BUILDING ON THE LEFT WAS USED AS A COOKHOUSE. (PHOTOGRAPHER SGT K. B. DAVIS) LAUTEM PLAIN, PORTUGUESE TIMOR. 1946-01-04. LIEUTENANT BUSH, OFFICIAL ARTIST, AND SERGEANT MILSOM, MILITARY HISTORY FIELD TEAM, EXAMINING ONE OF THE SHARPENED BAMBOO STAKES THE JAPANESE PLACED ON THE PLAINS AND OPEN SPACES THEY THOUGHT SUITABLE FOR ALLIED PARACHUTE LANDINGS. (PHOTOGRAPHER SGT K. B. DAVIS) Lautem, Portuguese Timor. Senhor Gonsales seated on the verandah of a mud house built by the Japanese. VX128043 Charles William Bush (in shorts), Military History Section (MHS), an Official War Artist, is working at an easel. Also identified (far right, back to camera) is TX4141 George James Beedham Milsom, MHS. AINARO, PORTUGUESE TIMOR. 1946-01-24. SERGEANT G. MILSOM, MILITARY HISTORY SECTION FIELD TEAM AND FORMERLY OF THE 2/2ND INDEPENDENT COMPANY, RE-ENACTS WHAT WAS A REGULAR OCCURRENCE DURING THE AUSTRALIAN OCCUPATION OF AINARO. AS MANUBERI HIS CREADO OR NATIVE HELPER POINTS TO THE DISTANCE SGT MILSOM RINGS ONE OF THE CHURCH BELLS THAT WERE USED TO SOUND AIR RAID ALARMS WHEN THE JAPANESE AIRFORCE LAUNCHED BOMBING RAIDS ON THE TOWN. (PHOTOGRAPHER SGT K. B. DAVIS) SAME, PORTUGUESE TIMOR 1945-12-16. SERGEANT G. MILSOM, MILITARY HISTORY SECTION FIELD TEAM, FORMERLY A MEMBER OF THE 2/2ND INDEPENDENT COMPANY, RENEWS ACQUAINTANCES AMONG TIMORESE NATIVES. SERGEANT MILSOM ACTED AS GUIDE TO THE MILITARY HISTORY TEAM AS IT TRAVERSED THE AREAS WHERE THE 2/2ND AND 2/4TH INDEPENDENT COMPANIES CARRIED OUT GUERRILLA WARFARE AGAINST THE JAPANESE OCCUPATION FORCES.
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  4. Peter Epps

    Request for Photographs - Stories

    Hi Gregory It’s great that you are writing a book on Australia’s commandos in WWII. Theirs is a story that should be better known by the Australian people. As for photos, our committee’s position is as stated on the footer of our website. The material therein is copyright, except for non-commercial public use, except if otherwise agreed. Several issues arise from your query: · Although we do hold some original photographs, we do not propose to part with them. All of our photos appear on our website. If a photo is to be reproduced for non-commercial public use, the images from the website are those that would ordinarily be used. · As you wish to use photos from the website for publication in a book, where would the profit go? If, for example, the whole of the profits was to be used in accordance with our association’s objects , the committee may indeed agree for specific photos to be used in your book. · The photo of Chapman and Calvert to which you refer (on this page https://doublereds.org.au/forums/topic/85-brigadier-michael-calvert-1913%E2%80%931998-%E2%80%93-trainer-and-long-term-friend-of-the-doublereds/?tab=comments#comment-133) appears in Paul Cleary’s “The Men Who Came Out of the Ground” (https://catalogue.nla.gov.au/Record/4804433). We do not know where else it appears, or where the original is. · As for stories or photos that members might provide to you, you are free to use our public forums to ask people to contact you and provide such input. All of the stories that we have, we have published on our website and they are subject to the copyright described above (except where otherwise stated). I hope that this does not come across as obstructive or unreasonably uncooperative. However, we are an incorporated association and the committee is bound to act at all times in accordance with the association’s objects. If you do have a specific proposal to use photos or other material from the website, please let me know. Kind regards Peter Epps President
  5. Hi Rob: Thanks for the reply and comment. I should have re-read my own post because at the beginning I say the photo of interest was in the 'Debt of Honour' exhibition where it gets the same publisher copyright acknowledgement as given by Cleary. Yes Calvert was an amazing man; Spencer-Chapman's story is well worth telling as well and I hope to do a Doublereds post on him too. Ed
  6. Hi Ed I've only just read this post. Sorry. Thanks for writing it. The links are fascinating, too. He was an amazing fellow. The 2/2 was very fortunate to have the benefit of his expertise and bravery. The amazing life story of Mad Mike Calvert would easily find its way to the big screen. The hard part would be getting the right balance between paying appropriate tribute to his role in the development of commando warfare, while acknowledging the difficulties he faced after the war. Thanks again Rob
  7. Gregory Blake

    Request for Photographs - Stories

    My name is Gregory Blake. I am currently writing a book on the history of the Australian Independent Companies - Commandos during WW2. I am very keen to get photos related to the subject. The AWM has a good collection of photos, but I was hoping to find new images. For publication purposes I need to get copies of actual photos, not internet images. I noticed on your website an excellent photo of Freddy Spencer Chapman and Michael Calvert training at Wilson's Promontory. I was wondering if you could tell me where this photo came from so that I can make use of it for my book. I would also be very interested in any photos related to WW2 commando service or personal stories which association members might have access to which they are willing to share with me. If so please reply on this forum.
  8. Ben Marshall

    President sets the record straight

    True history is important, and worth correcting mistakes. Onya.
  9. Ben Marshall

    Timor 1942 Commando Campaign Tour - Successfully Completed

    Cheers, Edward. Had I not been in the middle of moving from Queensland to Tassie during this time, and caught up in work, I'd have loved to have returned to Timor with your group. Well done to everyone involved for helping pay back a little bit of that debt all Aussies owe the Timorese.
  10. Edward Willis

    Timor 1942 Commando Campaign Tour - Successfully Completed

    Thanks for your response Ben. I'm hopeful that there will be another tour so keep any eye on Doublereds and Facebook for developments. I'll be reporting more fully on the tour shortly - all the feedback I've had from members of the tour party has been very positive and hopefully some of their stories and thoughts will emerge soon - this will help promote interest in future tours like ours – as well as a great experience for those involved, I think our group did have a positive impact economically and socially on the people we encountered and the places we visited during the tour and it would be great to keep that going.
  11. Ben Marshall

    Timor 1942 Commando Campaign Tour - Successfully Completed

    Thanks for posting the shots on YouTube. Would love to be on this trip, so perhaps I can manage the next. Look forward to hearing stories and thoughts of those who went on this trip. Regards to all, Ben
  12. Edward Willis

    Dili - Av. de Portugal - View of Cristo Rei.JPG

    © 2/2 Commando Association of Australia

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  17. Edward Willis

    Dili - Arport - Welcome dancers.JPG

    © 2/2 Commando Association of Australia

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  19. Edward Willis

    Dili - Arport - Welcome dancers 5.JPG

    © 2/2 Commando Association of Australia

  20. Edward Willis

    Dili - Arport - Welcome dancers 4.JPG

    © 2/2 Commando Association of Australia

  21. Edward Willis

    Dili - Arport - Welcome dancers 3.JPG

    © 2/2 Commando Association of Australia

  22. Edward Willis

    Dili - Arport - Welcome dancers 2.JPG

    © 2/2 Commando Association of Australia

  23. Edward Willis

    Dili - Arport - Welcome dancers 1.JPG

    © 2/2 Commando Association of Australia

  24. Edward Willis

    Dili - Arport - Welcome dancers - Close up.JPG

    © 2/2 Commando Association of Australia

  25. Edward Willis

    Dili - Arport - Waiting to pay entry visa.JPG

    © 2/2 Commando Association of Australia

  26. Edward Willis

    Dili - Arport - Tour group with tais.JPG

    © 2/2 Commando Association of Australia

  27. Edward Willis

    Dili - Airport - WelcomeJPG.JPG

    © 2/2 Commando Association of Australia

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