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  4. The 70th annual ceremony to commemorate the men of the 2/2 will be held at 3pm on Sunday 17 November 2019 at the unit's memorial in Lovekin Drive, Kings Park. We hope you can join us. If you can't join us, we're pleased to announce that this year's ceremony will again be live-streamed online. You can view the stream below, and it will be available for playback after the ceremony. Streaming issues? Try watching on YouTube. We'll also be streaming live on our Facebook page.
  5. 1944 or 1945

    © Copyright Gavin Paterson

  6. COMMANDO CAMPAIGN SITES – EAST TIMOR AINARO DISTRICT AINARO GPS: 8°59′49″S 125°30′18″E Ermera’s location from map in Area Study of Portuguese Timor (1943) [1] The Area study of Portuguese Timor also describes the town. The street layout is still extant as are several of the buildings indicated on the following map: "Ainaro (see Map No, 15): Also stated to be known as Suro, but no confirmation as to whether this is correct. Ainaro is 20 miles (32 km.) south of Aileu at a bearing of 192°. A large town with posto and market, which is held weekly. It is situated on the southern slopes of Ramelau Range and built between two tributaries of the Sue River. The posto is well constructed and surrounded by the usual stone wall. Several stone buildings such as the Governor's palace, administrative block, Chinese shops, church with large spire, priest's residence and uncompleted schoolhouse, hospital and annex, etc. constitute the town. The streets are well constructed and an old road leads to Maubisse. This road was suitable for M.T. A concrete bridge was demolished by Australians as a roadblock in 1942 and approaches have been washed away. The road is now in general disrepair". [2] Map of Ainaro (1943) [3] Ken Piesse of the 2/4th described arriving in Ainaro in September 1942: "Next day, with Bob Palmer's Section, we trudged past the maize and coconut plantations, up and down the hills, before finally reaching Ainaro, a really charming, beautiful spot in the centre of a rich area. What a Garden of Eden! Strawberries, sugar cane, mangoes, paw-paws, tomatoes - all kinds of vegetables. Reaching there, we sat down almost immediately to a sumptuous meal, fit for a king. We wondered how many more we would enjoy like that one. Ainaro has a characteristic common to many Portuguese towns - its streets are paved with bricks. Harry and I would go up each morning to the top of the town where a little bridge, erected in 1936, allowed a rushing stream to pass underneath a roadway. There a quick wash refreshed us before breakfast. In the evening a large waterhole in the river some 500 yards below the 'palace' served our washing requirements well. The 'palace', where David Dexter's HQ was located, was the home of the King of Ainaro, prior to the Japanese infiltration south of the Ramelau. Mighty Ramelau towered 10,000 ft above Ainaro. Its sheer slopes were separated from the pretty little town, complete with a red-roofed church, by only a mile of irrigated rice fields. The rice cultivation outside Ainaro was the biggest I had seen. Their orderly terraces were a pleasure to see". [4] AINARO, PORTUGUESE TIMOR. 1946-01-24. THE AUSTRALIANS OF SPARROW FORCE USED THIS SMALL WATERFALL AS A WASHING PLACE DURING THEIR OCCUPATION OF THE TOWN IN 1942. Callinan also described the town around that time: "At Ainaro was established a base for the treatment of sick personnel. In addition to the company's sick there were many men from Koepang who were still ineffective for one reason or another. Ainaro was placed under the control of Captain Dunkley (Company medical officer) and was ideal for our purpose. The town itself was the oldest post in the island, having been one of the early missionary centres. It was well laid out and had some fine houses and a hospital which was taken over by us. In peace time it had been used as a summer residence by the Governor, and his residence became the officers' quarters. In addition, it was a rich area peopled by friendly Christian natives, and the Chefe de Posto was most helpful and could speak good English". [5] Later on he provides this additional description: "The town was laid out in neat cobbled streets with a small park in the centre, on to which opened the house and offices of the Chefe de Posta as well as the summer residence of the Governor". [6] SIGNIFICANCE The town of Ainaro was strategically important throughout the Commando Campaign being located on the main through route heading south from Dili through Aileu and Maubisse towards the southwest strongholds of Mape and Bobonaro. Once there, a track could also be followed through Hatu-Udo to the south coast landing place of Betano. By mid-May 1942 Sparrow Force Headquarters was at Mape, with the Independent Company Headquarters located at Bobonaro. A Platoon, then commanded by Lieutenant Dexter, was dispersed between Marobo and Cailaco while Laidlaw's B Platoon was still at Remexio, covering the environs of Dili. Boyland's C Platoon was at Maubisse. Another platoon, initially called K (Koepang) Platoon, but subsequently D Platoon, was being raised from troops from Dutch Timor who had completed training. This incomplete platoon was initially based at Memo. Recent aerial view of Ainaro – Bing Maps As part of the reorganisation of the Australian forces, the hospital under Captain Dunkley had been moved to Ainaro, an old missionary town which in peacetime had housed the governor's summer retreat. In addition to providing hospital care for the sick, troops from Koepang were placed in training squads. Under the guidance of non-commissioned officers and selected privates from Independent Company sections the Koepang troops received basic infantry training followed by a grounding in Independent Company work and then became members of the new D Platoon under the command of Lt Don Turton. Callinan recorded that: "Through Ainaro passed representatives of nineteen different units including all arms of the service and many specialist units, postal, dental and similar. Also men such as refrigerator specialists, bakers and butchers. Many of these had received no infantry training what- soever and some of them were aged over fifty. Ainaro did much to rehabilitate many of the men who had come to us, and afterwards they gave good service" [7] The newly formed D Platoon went into action for the first time on 15 June 1942. Dr Dunkley’s hospital was relocated from Ainaro to Same in mid-August – the latter town was deemed to be a more secure location at that time. Map of Dili, Aileu, Maubisse Region [8] VISITING AINARO TODAY Road Conditions in 1942 The Area study of Portuguese Timor (1943) describes the terrain traversed by the road between Ainaro to Maubisse via Aituto in a manner that is still relevant today: "AINARO TO AITUTO TO MAUBISSE: Distance 17 miles (27 km.). Time taken, 81/2 hours. This track, along which many actions have taken place, is really an old road too much in disrepair to be claimed as a road. It crosses some of the most rugged country on the island. There is very little cover throughout the route. From the thickly populated mission centre of Ainaro the track winds up to the saddle of the Suro Range from which the Maubisse Valley can be seen. The track then winds steeply down and crosses a rapid tributary of the Be-Lulic River. With the huge mountain spurs of the Ramelau Range to the northwest, and of the Cablac Range to the southeast, the track winds precipitously along the right side of the Be-Lulic gorge crossing many streams until Aituto at the junction of the Maubisse-Ainaro and Maubisse-Same tracks are reached. From Aituto the track winds round a big range up to the Maubisse Saddle and then descends steeply across the Carau-Ulo River into the posto of Maubisse. Because of its nature this track from Ainaro to Maubisse has been the scene of some our most successful Australian ambushes of the Timor campaign". [9] Callinan as so often, can be relied on to provide a description of the terrain in 1942 that can also be readily applied to today: "The Portuguese had constructed a number of roads throughout the colony. The north coast road was trafficable, as were portions of the other roads; but, as we knew the inland roads, they were hopelessly cut about by landslides and the ravages of torrents. All the roads were splendidly graded, and the mind retains a vivid picture of such roads as that between Ainaro and Maubisse in steep sidling country winding with a tantalizing regular grade for mile after mile, back into chasm-like gullies and out around precipitous spurs. Grade and windings alike seemed interminable". [10] Dili-Ainaro driving directions - MapQuest Road Conditions Today The road from Dili to Ainaro has been substantially upgraded over the last five years through a major infrastructure project funded by the World Bank and can be transited by car in comfort. Rehabilitation work to complete the final section of the Dili to Ainaro road corridor in Timor-Leste has started - the project will upgrade the 22.6 km Laulara-Solerema section of the 110km road corridor. [11] The completion of the project will be an important milestone in one of the most significant transport projects ever undertaken in Timor-Leste, and will help to ensure safer, faster and more reliable travel between the North and the South of the country -- connecting the districts of Dili, Aileu and Ainaro, which jointly account for a third of the country’s population. Timor-Leste is vulnerable to extreme weather with heavy rain and landslides damaging roads and bridges, and accelerating wear and tear on vital infrastructure. The Dili to Ainaro roadworks feature improved drainage, construction or reinforcement of slope stabilization, and pavement rehabilitation and were done with a focus on future resilience to the effects of weather and natural hazards. In addition to the road construction, the World Bank is working with the United Nations Development Program to equip local communities with the skills and knowledge to better manage the effects of natural disasters and weather events along the Dili-Ainaro Road Corridor. About 25 kilometres south of Maubisse, the road tops out over a ridge at Flecha with spectacular views of the Ramelau range to the west and forks with the left heading to Same in Manufahi district and the right, which leads to the district capital of Ainaro. There are fantastic views here, east down into the deep valley of the Belulie River, and across to the Cablaque Range. Recent Description of Ainaro The rural town of Ainaro is the administrative capital of Ainaro district and Ainaro sub- district. It is located within the administrative boundaries of the village (suku) of Ainaro. The village of Ainaro is composed of seven hamlets. Of these Hatumera, Lugatu and Teliga are considered to be 'mountain' (foho) or rural hamlets, while Ainaro, Sabago, Builco and Nugufu constitute the bulk of Ainaro town. An unidentified Australian soldier in the remains of Ainaro Hospital. Ainaro is a mountain town in the southwest of East Timor. The town was hit hard during the civil unrest that occurred throughout 1999 and 2000, when its health clinics, hospital and schools were all levelled by militia groups. Ainaro town was almost completely destroyed in 1999 by pro-autonomy militia and elements of the Indonesian military. Practically all public buildings including the district hospital were destroyed; the Catholic mission school, Canossian residence and almost 80 per cent of all private dwellings were also burnt and looted. Many of the inhabitants of Ainaro town fled or were forcibly displaced to West Timor; others sought shelter in the surrounding hills and mountains. While the majority of East Timorese former residents of Ainaro have now returned, or resettled in the capital Dili, some remain in West Timor or elsewhere in Indonesia and many non-East Timorese former residents, including Indonesian civil servants and business people, have not returned and are not expected to return. Portuguese era market, Ainaro – 27 April 2014 Although the rehabilitation and reconstruction of basic infrastructure in Ainaro town has been slow, a number of public services now are available. There are two public primary schools, a public pre-secondary and secondary school, an out-patient health clinic, a hospital, and a police station. In 2007, the town water supply and electricity were also rehabilitated. The town market and abattoir is in the process of being refurbished and housing for the local police is also being built. The district and sub-district administration continue to occupy buildings rehabilitated during the UN Transitional Administration. While a number of local residents are employed as public servants, the majority are engaged in various forms of subsistence farming. Households farm a variety of crops including maize, beans, potatoes and root crops in swidden gardens on land surrounding Ainaro town. Permanent and seasonal fruits and other market vegetables are often grown in house plots or uncultivated areas of land in and around Ainaro town. A number of households have access to rice fields to the south of the town, near the neighbouring village of Cassa, or to the east near Manutasi. Many households also cultivate coffee in small plantations in upland areas. It is common for households to keep pigs and chickens; only a limited number graze cattle in upland pastures. There are two markets in Ainaro town. The first is located close to the old town centre and was originally built during the Portuguese period. The second, larger market is temporarily located in the 'new' town close to the Indonesian-era district administrator's office, which is currently being rebuilt. Saturday is the main market day in Ainaro, and people travel from surrounding villages, sub-districts and districts to buy and sell their produce. There are also a number of shops in town selling a wide variety of manufactured goods. Many of these shops are owned and run by Chinese-Indonesian or Chinese-Timorese. The size and composition of Ainaro town has changed considerably over time. Today, Ainaro village has a population of 6,937 people, the majority of whom live in Ainaro town (Census 2010). This accounts for approximately 45 per cent of the total sub-district population. The population of Ainaro town rose rapidly in the aftermath of the Indonesian invasion as communities were displaced from remote areas and resettled closer to military installations and administrative centres such as Ainaro town. Since independence, the rate of return to remote areas has been relatively slow with larger numbers of people continuing to migrate from rural areas to urban areas. While a small proportion of the current population includes persons displaced from Dili in the aftermath of the political violence in 2006, the most common reasons for moving to urban areas since independence are access to education and employment opportunities (Census 2010). [12] There are a few significant remnants of the town as it is existed in 1942 that can be seen when visiting. Portuguese Memorial to Dom Aleixo Corte Real In the central part of town there is a substantial Portuguese war memorial, the provenance of which has been well described by Geoffrey Gunn: "Another surviving reminder of the Japanese occupation is the less elaborate but no less compelling – even elegant – monument in Ainaro to Dom Aleixo Corte Real, the quintessential loyal Timorese chief killed by the Japanese in May 1943) …. Taking the form of a simple stone arch offering a large open window space into which a wrought iron cross is placed, the monument is headed ‘Por Portugal’ and, at the base, inscribed ‘A Memoria do Regulo D. Aleixo Corte Real, Morreu em 1943’. Yet, from an Australian War Memorial photograph dated 24 January 1945 and taken by K.B. Davis of Sparrow Force [Negative no. 125289], this monument was preceded by a sepulchre of the royal family where the skulls of ‘King’ Aleixo and his three ‘sons’ or more likely companheiros, Alfonso, Francisco, and Alveira, were on public (?) display, albeit arranged behind a crucifix. As Pelissier comments, the uprising by Maubisse was not out of love for the Japanese, but out of decades-old memories of the Manufahi wars, especially the quest on the part of this disaffected people in seeking revenge against rival Suro (Aileu), and its loyalists, namely Dom Aleixo Corte Real, liurai of Suro, nephew of Nai-Cau, the ‘traitor’ liuraiof the 1912 rebellion who stood with the Portuguese. Posthumously awarded Portuguese state honours, Dom Aleixo, his sons and followers, mounted a heroic but doomed stand against Japanese-led forces in the mountains of Timor in May 1943". [13] Portuguese Memorial to Dom Aleixo Corte Real – 27 April 2014 Former Summer Residence of the Portuguese Governor This building is a fine example of the Portuguese architectural heritage and is now being used as Timor-Leste government offices. This could be the former summer residence of the governor that was used as officers’ quarters by the 2/2nd. Bernard Callinan reminisces again: "I've only been back once, with my wife in 1963. The Portuguese army commander made a jeep and an officer available to take me wherever I wanted to go. Fifteen years after the war, there were the postos [districts] and all the colonial officials again, the same as before. In Ainaro, a pretty town with the mountains up high behind, there's a summer residence for the Governor which had probably been there a hundred years before Melbourne had a single white person in it. There was European influence so long; the Portuguese were in Timor twice as long as the British were in India". [14] Harry Wray became familiar with this building when back in Ainaro after the August Push: "Well, as I have said the Japs gave up their drive as suddenly as they had commenced it and returned to Dili. Dex left the village we were in and marched down into Ainaro. That is where the Doctor had his Hospital at the time I went there to have a tooth extracted". Former Summer Residence of the Portuguese Governor, Ainaro – 27 April 2014 "We took up our quarters in the Governor’s summer residence, a nice house complete with bathroom and all mod cons. Steps led down from the house to a cobbled road, and across the road was a rectangle of grass closely planted with huge trees. Facing the end of the rectangle of grass and trees was the Administrator’s house. Ainaro, like Bobonaro, was the headquarters of an Administrator. The Governor of the Porto part of the island was the head of the local government. Under him came the Administrators who each governed a Province, and under the Administrators came the Comandantes who each governed a District in the respective Provinces. The Administrator of Ainaro was absent during the close proximity of the Japs as he was known to them as friendly to the Australians. After the Japs departed from the area he returned to his house with his wife, a very pretty woman, and his young daughter. The Administrator’s house was to the left of our house, but close by. On the other side of the park like area lay the Administrative offices and jail. One Section of Dex’s men were camped in this building. … We had several visits early in the morning from Jap planes, but beyond flying over the place they did not attempt to bomb or molest anyone in Ainaro. The Administrator and his family never failed to come racing out to shelter. The Administrator would be in the lead in his pyjamas, next a few yards behind his pretty wife in a silk nightgown with a white silk dressing gown streaming out behind as she raced for the trench, and in the rear would come the little girl legging it for shelter. The procession would shoot out the front door, down the front path out of the gate, across the cobbled street and then for about fifteen yards across the grass under the trees to the trench, which was almost directly in front of our house. We never bothered to go the shelter and used to watch the race to the slit trench with much enjoyment". [15] AWM 125284 - Ainaro, Portuguese Timor. 1946-01-24. The stone church at Ainaro whose towers were uses as air-raid observation posts. (Photographer Sgt K.B. Davis) The Church in Ainaro In Ainaro’s Catholic precinct a large church, nunnery, seminary and schools lie in close proximity. Callinan was a devout Catholic, known to some of his compatriots as “the Saint”. He recalled: "Entering into Ainaro my attention was drawn first to the church, a large white structure with a red roof, standing away from the town. This was the missionary centre of the colony, and it was fitting that it should possess a good church". [16] Another 2/2nd veteran, Paddy Kenneally recalled: "I went to Mass in Ainaro for Easter Sunday 1942. The beautiful Gregorian chant of the natives' singing was wonderful …". [17] The Catholic Church in Ainaro has been a significant building in the townscape since before WWII. Its presence is referred to in the recollections of Callinan, Lambert and Kenneally and it is referenced in the Area Study including being placed on the map of the town in its current location. Ainaro Church, 29 July 2008 The building has a large footprint, a lofty interior and distinctive twin towers embracing the south frontage. It is a building of national significance and is undergone an extensive internal and external refurbishment that was commenced in 2013 and is still incomplete at the time of writing. Comparison of photos from 1946, 2008 and 2014 shows that some details of the front aspect have changed over time. Earlier on the bells were not hung in the towers but positioned on rather temporary looking wooden supports on either side of the front piazza. The typically Portuguese balustrade enclosing the piazza has not been recreated in the current refurbishment that has an open fully stepped approach. As yet, the front window treatments are incomplete and don’t reflect the mix of Portuguese and Timorese traditional decoration that was featured in 2008. The final internal and external colour scheme is also not evident. AWM 125285 - 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) Harry Wray recalled: "Ainaro was remarkable for an enormous church. It would have been a very large church for even a big city, but for a place like Ainaro it was immense. This church was rather like the cathedral in Dili in general design, and nearly as large. The priests looked after the church, and also ran a big mission. The natives were taught, among other things, cultivation and agriculture. One of the priests was a small man with a bright ginger red beard and hair. He looked more like a Scot than a Portuguese. He spoke excellent English. The other and younger Father was a typical Portuguese of the plump variety, but like the senior priest, very well disposed to us. The priests had a wireless set and allowed a few of us to call each night to hear a broadcast of the news. I was the representative of those at the Governor’s house and would go up each night to hear the news, and when I returned I had to repeat it to the other men. I can recall hearing the news of the Jap attack at Milne Bay and the defeat they suffered there, the first major reversal they suffered in New Guinea". AWM 125286 - 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 air force launched bombing raids on the town. (Photographer Sgt K.B. Davis) "Sometime later the Japs entered Ainaro after a day long battle with Dex and his Platoon. The two Bren gunners who were both wonderful shots silenced the crews of six Vickers’ guns time after time, and largely helped in keeping about five hundred Japs all day. Our sixty or so men walked off after dark in good order. It was out of the question to remain against the Japs at night, as with their superior numbers they would have surrounded our men in the dark and wiped them out at their leisure the next day. These Japs entered Ainaro and stayed a few days, but after they had gone our men had a look around and found that contrary to their usual habits the Japs had left the place undamaged, and clean. They had not molested any of the local inhabitants in any way. Not long after this, another large party of Japs gain visited Ainaro, after being well harassed as they passed along a narrow track on their way there. This party was just the opposite in their behaviour. A party of Dutch who were sent in to have a look around found many signs of wanton destruction, and the houses they had occupied in a filthy condition. They found and buried the remains of the two priests who had been literally hacked to pieces in their church. So it was that these two men paid the penalty for being friendly with us. They were indeed good friends to us, and we were all shocked to hear of their terrible fate". [18] Charles Bush - Captain Dunkley's hospital, Ainaro Timor. Showing the building in which Captain C R Dunkley, Australian Army Medical Corps, the Medical Officer of 2/2nd Australian Independent Company, established a base for the treatment of sick personnel of the Company, during the guerilla operations against the Japanese in 1942. Many men of "Sparrow Force" who had not surrendered at Koepang who were still ineffective for one reason or another, were also treated here. The Hospital in Ainaro The current Indonesian era building was constructed on the site of the former Portuguese hospital that was used by Dr Roger Dunkley and his medical team for lengthy periods during the Commando Campaign. Col Doig recalled travelling to Ainaro to be treated by the Doctor: "My health deteriorated rapidly at Bobanaro and pleurisy set in and my appetite deserted me completely. I was put into bed at Australia House and a Portuguese enfermeira became my kind of doctor … Ainaro Hospital, 1938. The photo can be viewed at the current hospital "I don't really know who decided that I had better get to see Capt. Dunkley at his hospital at Ainaro. A litter was made from poles and a blanket and a fair number of native carriers pressed into service to carry me from Bobanaro to Ainaro. It was to be a journey of at least five days. I am really not sure how long because I was in a stupor a lot of the time. The tracks in Timor are nothing short of terrible, and with natives carrying the litter over streams and gullies and up and down mountains, and I mean mountains, it was a bloody nightmare of the worst kind each day. A bit, of chicken soup was about all I could keep down. ….. It was a further three days before I was to reach Ainaro on this horror journey. I was but skin and bone on arrival. I remember somewhere along the journey one of our cooks, ‘Frying Pan Smith’ came up on a Timor pony and was horrified to see me and offered, me a smoke which was not on. Capt. Dunkley, who was no giant, lifted me off this litter and carried me like a baby into his hospital and gave up his mattress to me for my comfort. It was to be a fairly long grind before I got back onto the track again. Apparently in the period just before I got to Bobonaro the wonderful set 'Winnie the War Winner' had been successfully constructed by Joe Loveless and his assistants, especially Sig Keith Richards and Capt. Geo. Parker of 8th Div. Sigs, and communications had been re-established with Australia. A P.B.Y. Flying Boat had arrived and Brigadier Veale, Col. Van Straaten, badly wounded in the persons of Pte. Alan Hollow, Eddie Craighill, Gerry Maley and Clarrie Varian had been lifted back to Australia. The reason the Brigadier was at Bobanaro at the time of my outburst was to get final briefing prior to departure. By the time I reached Capt. Dunkley at Ainaro that crowd had gone to Aussie and this relieved Capt. Dunkley of these badly wounded and allowed him a bit more time for lesser fry like yours truly. So the Doctor set out to do his best for me and a big swag of sick people in his hospital". AWM 125287 - Ainaro, Portuguese Timor. 1946-01-24. This building was taken over as a hospital by Captain C.R. Dunkley, 2/2nd Independent Company, during the period in 1942 when Sparrow Force occupied the town. The verandah was used as a mess hall. (Photographer Sgt K.B. Davis) "It was estimated that I weighed less than six stone on arrival, and I learned many years later from Sgt. Cliff Paff that the Doc didn't give me much chance of survival, but that didn't deter him from getting on with the job. He used Friars Balsam all over the lung area as a counter irritant to reduce the fluid on the lung and get rid of the pleurisy. He said immediately that the quinine bark had been a disaster as it had brought on Black Water Fever, which was usually a fever that killed in 90% of cases. He fed me as best he could and gave me quinine to keep the malaria at bay, and fortunately I soon responded to his ministrations and started to show rapid improvement. It was a good job that the Japs had not moved to the south coast area in this time or I would have been in strife. Doctor Dunkley told me that to handle pleurisy properly he should have operated and drained the fluid from the lungs, but because of his precarious position with the hospital, he wasn't game to do an operation of this nature. While in hospital one of my No. 5 Section in Geo. Merritt came in with something wrong with him and it wasn't long before this hard case had things going for him. He purchased a great big bag of peanuts and then had a Timorese lad shelling them and roasting them in a big pan. I can assure you a diet of peanuts and paw-paw is such that you don't need No. 9s, cascara or any other opening medicine. Dudley Tapper came and saw me and brought me up to date on the old 5 Section. He wasn't all that happy with my replacement Lt. Geo Cardy and was hoping that I would return to the Section when I left hospital. Lt. John Burridge came in on crutches with a knife wound in his foot and we had some sing songs with John leading the way as he had a good voice. Capt. Rolf Baldwin came through and he and Dr. Dunkley kept me amused telling of the pranks of their University days. Dave Ross the Australian Consul in Dili at the start of the war came through after delivering the second surrender demand message from the Japs. He looked like a scarecrow, and he was not returning to the Japs in Dili but was going to get home to Aussie on the next contact. It was here that Staff Capt. Geo Arnold told me of the Brigadier scratching my name from his list of hopefuls. There were quite a few cases of V.D., which displeased Dr. Dunkley no end. He used to really rave when these types came in and would blast them and say, ‘You are bludging on your mates. We don't get any reinforcements, and you being here only make more patrols and guards for your mates. I'm ashamed of you’. One bloke came with the Jack, whistling. The Doc. soon took the whistle out of him. Doc Dunkley was a bit paranoid about Dutchies, he hated to see them come and hunted them as soon as he could. I have nothing but the highest praise for Capt. Dunkley; he was the real hero of the 2nd Ind. Coy, both as a doctor and as a heroic soldier. I'm afraid his services were badly overlooked when the gongs went around, and it was sad to think lesser types got good decorations for being useless". [19] Harry Wray was also a patient at the hospital: "After reaching the bottom of this cliff we climbed for a time and then passed over undulating country, then into low lying country and then up a cliff, but by a fairly easy path, and this took us to the top of a fairly flat tableland cover in long grass. A few miles across the tableland and we were in Ainaro, the summer residence of the Portuguese Governor of Timor. I reported to the Doctor who told me to find space in one of the wards, and he would see me in the morning. The Hospital was actually the Portuguese Hospital, a fine building with a tile roof, two large wards, and a number of small rooms, with a spacious veranda all around the building. I spent the night on the floor of one of the wards, and next morning went into the small room that the Doctor used as a dispensary, and as a room for doing dressings. By then he had a fair collection of drugs and dressings, but far from sufficient, so great care had to be used to avoid waste. The Doctor told me that he had pulled his first tooth only a few days before, when he drew four for a Portuguese, he said that the Porto had complemented him on his skill as a dentist. I just hoped for the best. The Doctor called for his dental kit, this was produced, and consisted of a syringe for the injections and a set of forceps. I was sat down on a basket containing medical stores, and the Doctor gave me the injections, and pulled out the tooth as if he had been a dentist for years". Pip (son of Dr Roger Dunkley) and Barb Dunkley in front of the current Ainaro Hospital that stands on the site of the old Portuguese era hospital – 27 April 2014 He told me that I could have that day and the next for a spell before setting off back to the Section. I was also told to shift to a house down in the town proper, which was used as a sort of convalescent depot, for the remainder of my stay. I went off to this house and found Do-Dah established there. After my two days rest the Doctor told me I could return to my Section and said he would send a native along next morning to carry my pack for me as far as Mape. Ainaro was full of sick, and convalescents. There were a large number of men who had escaped from Koepang there also. A training camp had been established to teach the men from Koepang some of the rudiments of guerrilla warfare. As it happened a good many of them were anything but trained soldiers. As a good many of them were batmen, orderlies, drivers and so on they had but little training and experience in drill and arms. This lack of knowledge was remedied in Ainaro, and when they had gone through a course there some were sent out as reinforcements to Sections of our own unit, and a couple of Sections formed from the remainder, and placed under the command of our officers. There were a few officers, from Majors downwards at Ainaro all from the Koepang end. Nearly all these officers were sent back to Australia as opportunity occurred, as they were more likely to be useful there, or in units being formed there, as most of them were well up in their own special branches of the service. Beyond an occasional Jap plane passing overhead life at that time was very peaceful in Ainaro. [20] REFERENCES [1] From ASPT Map 1. [2] ASPT: 28. [3] From ASPT Map 15. [4] Lambert, Commando: from Tidal River to Tarakan: 92. [5] Callinan, Independent Company: 109. [6] Callinan, Independent Company: 126. [7] Callinan, Independent Company: 110. [8] ASPT Map 3. [9] ] ASPT: 47. [10] Callinan, Independent Company: 35. [11] https://www.roadtraffic-technology.com/news/rehabilitation-dili-ainaro-road-corridor/ [12] Daniel Fitzpatrick, Andrew McWilliam and Susana Barnes. - Property and social resilience in times of conflict: land, custom and law in East Timor. – Oxford: Routledge, 2016: 210-2012. [13] Geoffrey C. Gunn ‘From Salazar to Suharto: toponomy, public architecture, and memory in the making of Timor memory’ in Gunn. - New World Hegemony in the Malay World. - Lawrenceville, N.J.: The Red Sea Press, 2000: 241 – 242. [14] Bernard Callinan ‘The best the Timorese gave us was their loyalty’ in Michelle Turner. - Telling: East Timor: personal testimonies 1942-1992. – Kensington, N.S.W.: New South Wales University Press, 1992: 62. [15] Wray, Recollections: 182, 185-186. [16] Callinan, Independent company: 126. [17] John (Paddy) Kenneally “Whitewashed walls and gum trees” in Telling: East Timor … : 15. [18] Wray, Recollections: 187-188. [19] Doig, Ramblings of a ratbag, 91-92. [20] Wray, Recollections: 118-120. Prepared by Ed Willis Revised: 9 October 2019
  7. The latest edition of Courier is available for download here. Courier is edited by @Edward Willis.
  8. ESCAPE FROM TIMOR – HOW FOUR MEN MADE IT BACK TO DARWIN AFTER THE JAPANESE INVASION OF PORTUGUESE TIMOR – ARNOLD WEBB’S AND DES LILYA’S STORIES Col Doig has provided a summary of this amazing adventure story that usefully serves as an introduction to this post: ‘A party comprising certain members of the reinforcements who came on the ‘Koolama’ and who were at a loose end and not at the time attached to any of the Sections, decided to try and get to Australia by boat and advise that the 2nd Independent Coy was still intact and fighting on. This party comprised Ptes Larney, A. Webb, D. Lilya and ‘Curly’ Freeman. They had wandered firstly to the west but were frustrated and had many adventures before heading to the east of Timor. They started their movement late in February; they ran in with a patrol of 2nd Coy who questioned them but as these boys were reo's [reinforcements] they did not know them. Arriving at Lautem on the east end they obtained a boat going to Kisa and they made a landfall on this island and finally arrived at Leti. After many efforts they left Leti and got to the island of Moa and from there to Sermata. Here Webb got sick of the bickering and tried to drown himself and was dragged back by Freeman. They ran in with a large vessel that was probably some sort of smuggler, which took them to Teepa where they broke up. Freeman and Lilya went on their own and Webb and Larney went on their way and were eventually picked up by an Australian lugger that took them to Darwin. There they met Alan Hollow and Keith Hayes. This was the last week in May. Their journey was in vain as contact had been made by Timor with Australia. Their treatment by Australian authorities was terrible and they were put in the worst type of boob and got it real tough. Eventually Lilya and Freeman arrived. The first two were interrogated by Intelligence who did not believe their story. After a lot of crook treatment Webb and Larney boarded the ‘Voyager’ and were returned to Timor and Lilya and Freeman who had been sent south on leave were also brought back and went with the others to Timor where they all rejoined Sections. This was an epic journey and the lads deserved a better fate at the hands of the Australian Administration in Darwin’. [1] There is more to Lilya and Freeman’s travails after they separated from Webb and Larney than was recounted by Doig and what happened to them will be revealed below. DES LILYA’S AND ARNOLD WEBB’S RECOLLECTIONS OF THE ESCAPE Two of the men who escaped, Des Lilya and Arnold Webb, have left their recollections of this remarkable adventure. Lilya’s account was first published in the April 1991 issue of the ‘Courier’. [2] David Dexter had asked Lilya to prepare it when they were both serving as members of Z Force in late 1944 or early 1945. Arnold Webb’s account was sympathetically recorded by Paddy Kenneally probably sometime in the early 1990s and has not been published before. [3] This post includes both men’s stories displayed side by side so that their recollection of particular events can be compared up until the time they parted company during their journey back to Australia. When it became known by the senior officers of No. 2 Independent Company what the four men had done the initial reaction was that they should all be treated as deserters when they made it back to Australia. Webb and Larney were taken into custody and treated very harshly. Freeman and Lilya who had made it home separately and had demonstrated their soldierly qualities along the way were not incarcerated. All four avoided court martial by agreeing to return to Timor with the No. 4 Independent Company on the ill-fated ‘Voyager’ in August 1942 and served out the remainder of the campaign with the No. 2 Independent Company. It is apparent from what follows that no long term ‘hard feelings’ were harboured against the four men who were well-regarded by their fellow soldiers, both officers and other ranks. INTRODUCTION BY PADDY KENNEALLY This is an account given to me by Arnold Webb [4] of the journey undertaken by himself and Bob Larney [5] when they left the 2/2nd Independent Company, with the object of reaching Australia and reporting the 2/2nd still operating as a force in the mountains of Timor. It is important that conditions in Timor at this time be known and appreciated, to understand why these two men would leave their unit to attempt such a hazardous undertaking. [6] Briefly, the 2/2nd Independent Company had been sent into neutral Portuguese Timor in December 1941 to forestall an intended Japanese base being formed there in the guise of establishing a civil aerodrome at Dili. This company was to be withdrawn to Dutch Timor when Portuguese troops from Mozambique arrived to reinforce the small garrison of Portuguese troops already in Timor. Nothing went according to plan. The Japanese advance down through Malaya and the subsequent surrender of Singapore and the speed with which they accomplished the conquest of all the East Indies, changed all previous plans for the 2/2nd in Timor. The Portuguese prudently turned back. The Japanese quickly arrived on 19th February 1942. A section of 2/2nd men held the air strip through the night. At dawn they blew up the runway and made their escape out of Dili. The Dutch and their H.Q. had already left. The main body of the 2/2nd dispersed in the mountains, did not even know the Japanese had landed until late next morning. Then the fun and games began. Rumours, rumours and more rumours, men being sent everywhere on patrols and coming back with more rumours, ammunition being moved to various dumps, other stores such as food was no worry - we didn't have any. The Company had landed with one month's supply of rations. There were Dutchmen and Javanese wandering everywhere, mainly west for Dutch Timor until they found out that was gone too. Stragglers coming through from Dutch Timor, were bringing further rumours and little else. The 2/2nd H.Q. was desperately trying to establish the true position. 2i/c, Captain Callinan, was on the go day and night all the way down into Dutch Timor attempting to get a true picture of the position and trying to sift fact from fiction. It is easy to follow the ordinary Private's reaction; in Army parlance, 'Who's up who and who is paying?' With this background, many of the men were doing a bit of planning on their own. (Sgd) PADDY KENNEALLY DES LILYA’S STORY ARNOLD WEBB’S STORY Reinforcement On January 16th, 1941, I sailed from Darwin as a reinforcement to the 2/2 Independent Company which was stationed somewhere in the NEI [Netherlands East Indies]. After three days at sea, we arrived at Koepang, the capital of Dutch Timor. Our party for the 2/2 AIC [Australian Independent Company] consisted of 50 ORs [Other Ranks] and 3 officers. We were immediately transferred to a Dutch gunboat, and after half a day wandering through the dusty, yet somehow picturesque street of the small capital, we sailed for Dili the capital of Portuguese Timor. Three Spurs – Railaco – Vila Maria On arriving the following day, we moved straight out to the Dili drome and I was taken on by truck to Three Spurs camp. There we were made into "D" platoon, and after about a week we moved on to occupy Railaco. Here we stayed about 3 weeks digging AA [Anti-Aircraft] defences and building Water Pipe Camp. Then a subsection of us with Mr Laffy in charge, moved on to make the first ·staging camp at Villa Maria. Here, our fine leader became deeply infatuated with a Portuguese by the name of Brendalina de Silva. [7] But on the night of February 19-20th, news came through that the Japs had landed at Dili in force, and our movements were much faster from then on. Major Spence came through and detailed us all our jobs and patrols. ‘The subject came up about the possibility of making an attempt to reach Australia …’ We left Railaco with Company H.Q. Some days after the Japanese landing in Dili, we crossed the Glano River and headed for Vila Maria. H.Q. was established here. Patrols were coming and going, and ammunition dumps were being established over a wide area of mountains. The wet season was in. Up in the mountains we were shivering from cold or malaria or both. Food was extremely short. At this time, I, with some other men including Bob Larney were assigned to H.Q. We knew little of what the position was. All kinds of stories were circulating as to what was happening elsewhere as we were constantly patrolling. We certainly knew the position in our own area. We talked about prospects amongst ourselves. We knew we had no contact with Australia and were cut off. Any news we gleaned came from the Portuguese who had wireless receiving sets, or just plain rumours. The subject came up about the possibility of making an attempt to reach Australia. Bob Larney was all for it as were some of the H.Q. originals, but no one wanted to be the one to attempt it. Bob Larney was willing but finding a partner to 'give it a go' was a different matter. Bob finally convinced me it was worth a try. We left that night. Some, if not all of those H.Q. men, knew we were going. However, little did we know what we were letting ourselves in for over the next three months. It would have been at the end of February or very early in March when we left the Company somewhere in-the Ermera, Vila Maria area. West to Memo Once again with Laffy in command we set out but this time we kept to the hills and after two days hard going we came to Atsabe. Here we procured horses and moved to Bobonaro and were given excellent treatment by the Controller, Sousa Santos and his pretty wife. Here Mr Laffy told us of his plan of going to Suai and procuring a boat and heading for Australia. But he changed his mind and we left for Memo and on arriving at Memo he said that he was not going on with it. It was then that Sgt. Freeman, Pte. J. Keenahan, Pte. Coles and I decided that we would go to Atapopoe and take a native prahu to Koepang in the hope that we could tell the whole location of our present area, as we had no communications at that time. From Memo we travelled a day and came to Rusa. It was about 3 hours out of there when we met a Javanese, Sgt. van Ligton [Van Linken], who informed us that Atamboea had been taken by the Nips, and we returned, accompanied by him, to Memo. First Move to the West – Linking Up With Des Lilya and Curly Freeman We moved west for a few days depending on the natives in the various villages for food and shelter. We stopped travelling for about three days to rest up and think over our own position. We built a rough shelter. The local Timorese suppled the food. We knew no Tetum so we could not get any information. We moved on but progress was very slow. We were wet, cold and hungry and our shoes were wearing thin. It was about this time we met Des Lilya [8] and Curly Freeman. [9] They were heading back east after being to the Dutch border. They told us they were heading east to keep a rendezvous with a Dutch Sergeant van Linken whom they had met down on the Dutch border. This sergeant seemed to have a good knowledge of the eastern end of the island, Freeman told us. Van Linken had gone ahead to arrange for a boat. We decided to combine our forces and attempt to reach Australia together. Next afternoon we ran into a small Australian patrol heading towards the Dutch border. The leader of the patrol was both curious and suspicious of us. He wanted to know where we had been, what we knew, where we were heading for and whose command we were under. Freeman did all the talking saying he was acting under the orders of Lieutenant Laffy, he was in charge of the patrol and he was heading back to report to Laffy. [10] He must have convinced the patrol leader. [11] They continued west in their efforts to find out what the position was there. East to Com From then on, I will more or less skip through my journey on Timor. We went to Tilomar, then to Maucatar, Bobonaro and at Bobonaro there were only two of us left, Sgt. Freeman and me. Our next stop was Mape and then to Alas. On that trip we met Pte. Larney and Pte. Webb. At Alas. Sgt. van Ligton joined our band again and we then proceeded through Fatu Berliu, Beaco [Beasso], Viqueque, Vatahudo [?], Baguia to Laga. Here we stayed a few days and learnt that a prahu from Kisar was at Com, a small bay at the end of Timor. We obtained a car and boarded the prahu at night, and at dawn we landed on Kisar. Sgt. van Ligton stayed behind on Kisar when we left. To the Eastern End of the Island We continued east. That patrol was the last Australian troops we met before leaving Timor. Who they were I cannot recall. They were 2/2nd men and as we were reinforcements, they didn't recognise us. Quite obviously they were from a section whose members had only heard of us and hadn't met us prior to then. We eventually met up with Sgt. Eddie van Linken. He and Freeman talked about the extra men. The Sgt. was quite friendly, told us we would meet up with this man Hoffman and he had arranged a car and driver to take us to where we could get passage on a boat to Kisa.· He told us he would not be coming with us. He was remaining on Timor. Whether he changed his mind because of Bob Larney and myself adding to the party and causing overcrowding on the boat, I do not know. Next day we met Hoffman somewhere on the Baucau-Beaco Road and stayed that night with him. He had a big receiving set and had all the latest outside world news. He said nothing about Timor or what was happening there. Next day his driver drove north through Viqueque. On passing through that posto we had to crouch down in the car. For some reason the Chinese driver did not wish us to be seen in the car. On reaching the north coast, we turned east and followed the north coast. Arriving at a point near the end of the road quite close to what I now believe was Lautem, we boarded a small boat which was preparing to sail for Kisa. By dark we were well on our way and arrived at Wonreli, Kisar before noon next day. Kisar Kisar was a small but pretty island and the people treated us very well. After three weeks there we were able to obtain a boat of about 25ft to take us to Saumlaki. Our first attempt to leave the island failed, as we were driven back by a storm. When we first landed at Kisar we immediately sent a message to Australia to Melbourne, in fact it was worded as follows: 2/40 BTN SURRENDERED (.) 2/2 AIC STILL FIGHTING ON (.) MEDICAL SUPPLIES FINISHED(.) FOOD FINISHED (.) NEED HELP NOW (.) URGENTLY (.) Sgt. FREEMAN." And we were rewarded on the second night following the message by hearing over the radio that news was received through a small radio station in the NEI that the Australian troops in Timor were still fighting on. Our object achieved, we decided on reaching Australia and bringing help back as soon as possible. On to the Island of Kisar We reported to the Dutch Administrator. He allowed us to stay and live in spare quarters attached to the administrative offices in the building. He also ordered that daily rations be supplied to us while we were there and the kitchen staff to attend to the cooking. We in turn volunteered to man an observation on high ground overlooking the town and the adjacent coastal waters. Spotting for aircraft and shipping was to be our main activity whilst we were on Kisar. I added to our rations by building an oven from a drum, rocks and dirt and baking bread for all the staff and ourselves. There was a transmitting set and wireless operator in Wonreli. We arranged through the Administrator for a message to be sent in the hope that some service station on the Australian coast would pick it up. This message was to the effect that Australian troops were still fighting in the mountains of Portuguese Timor. Whether this message was received or not I do not know as it was never acknowledged. Everybody knew we were looking for a boat to continue our voyage. The wireless operator suggested his uncle may be able to help us. We accepted the offer with thanks and great relief that this problem could soon be solved. He sent a message by boat to his uncle on the island of Leti. Keep Going or Return to Timor? A boat finally arrived from Leti. The weather by now was most unfavourable. The two crewmen were not very keen on attempting the voyage back to Leti under the present conditions. We now had a boat but could not utilise it. We were keyed up and the least little thing made us irritable. The waiting was becoming unbearable and we constantly squabbled and argued amongst ourselves. I wanted to return to Timor, but Bob Larney said 'no' pointing out that if 'we can't leave here for Leti, it is equally impossible to leave for Timor.' It was frustrating. Our store of dried fish, coconuts, sweet corn, dried buffalo meat and some rice was all stored. These stores were standard fare. Our water consisted of about five full stoneware jars holding about fifty gallons in all. These stores and water supply we intended to replenish at all our stops on the trip. We had no intention of dying of thirst or starvation. We talked to the Administrator once more about the trip. He gave Freeman a letter to each Administrator at each of the islands we were to call at on the way. They advised that we were transporting rice to the garrison at Soumlankin on Yamdena Island and to render us all help possible on our voyage. Twice more at the least abatement in the weather, we tried to leave but had to return. Everybody was advising to wait; wait until later in the season. We couldn't wait. The longer we stayed, the greater the risk of the Japanese turning up. We had no wish to be prisoners or killed in a hopeless fight, or worse still, being executed. Leti – Moa We made another attempt on the following day, and more by the cleverness of our crew, which consisted of four natives, than by good luck, in three days we landed on Leti. This island was even smaller than Kisar and had a small population whose main occupation was fishing and roaming from one island to another. If you look on the map you will find it is one of a small group of three islands, separated from one another by about a mile of water. We stayed on Leti a day and then with the tide we lifted anchor and were on our way again. It took us half a day to get on to the shallow reef surrounding Moa and here we had our first shot of bad luck. On striking a hidden rock below the surface, we saw our rudder torn away, and we were forced to aid our crew by diving down and trying to tie our rudder back on with strips of bamboo. We succeeded just before sunset and so we downed sail and propelled the boat along the reef with the aid of long bamboos. It was a fairly hard job and I was relieved when we came to a house on a small beach. So we dropped anchor and slept in a soft bed given to us by the Island Headman. On to Leti, Moa then Lakor At our third attempt we succeeded. We were on our way to the Island of Leti. This was quite a long trip. Weather conditions were extremely bad, high winds and high seas. We were fearful of being swamped. All were happy to reach our destination. The usual formalities with the Administrator at Serwaroe and presenting our letter of introduction. This was to be the procedure up to and including our arrival in Soumlankin. After attending to loading stores and water we set sail for Siota on the Island of Moa. This was a far shorter trip and not too far from land at any time. The weather treated us more kindly. Here we were fortunate. We picked up two natives at Siota who wished to return to their homes on the Island of Sermata. They were expert seamen. We sailed for Werwaroe on the Island of Lakor. The weather was getting worse by the time we arrived off the north-east tip of Moa our sail and jib were torn to ribbons and we were drifting south in Lakor Straight. We finally ran aground off the northern tip of Lakor. Lakor On the following morning we shoved off again, but we did not make much headway as owing to squally rain our backsail became too heavy and ripped down the centre. We then pulled into shore and repaired it. Next day the weather was again favourable, and we cleared the island and made a short run into the island of Lakor. This island was a coral island and also very small. We were able to procure some good meat and we shot a few sea birds which helped us greatly on our next jump, as we had been living on corn and coconuts. Here also we were forced to beach our boat and scrape all the barnacles and seaweed, etc. off the keel and rudder. Our first attempt to leave the island was a failure and our backsail was torn completely in half about 6 miles offshore. So by coming back with the aid of the jib and the strong waves and current, we hit a reef and were forced to wade ashore, getting natives in their canoes to tow our boat back to the bay. We again patched up both boat and sail and using the bamboo poles we were able to get clear of Lakor. Boat Troubles and a Marriage Offer We had to take turns in diving and doing what repairs we could to the rudder. We then poled the boat to deeper water and closer to the island. We anchored the boat and left it in charge of the natives. We waded ashore and set out for the settlement of Werwaroe. We were barefooted and as it was a trip of twelve or so miles across rocks and coral, my feet were badly torn. The rock face was sheer to the sea and the whole area honeycombed with blowholes and water gushing up all over the place. On arrival at the settlement we told the head man of our plight and he soon organised a working party. The main difficulty was getting the Chinese traders to supply another sail and jib to replace our lost ones. We finally had to convince them by cocking and pointing our rifles in their direction. This was the only time we had to resort to this tactic. Elsewhere, help had been generously and cheerfully given. My feet were too badly torn to return to the boat. I stayed with the headman who spent most of his time trying to convince me I should stay on Lakor, marry the local chief's daughter and inherit the clan. I came in for a lot of ribbing from the other three when they returned with our boat. The natives sent to do the job had under the directions of the crew, speedily repaired the damage. The new sail and jib were set, and they sailed her to Werwaroe. Lu Ang – Babar The wind was favourable and after 4 days we were sailing over the huge reef that surrounded Lu Ang. We awaited the incoming tide and landed that night. Lu Ang was formed in the shape of a large mountain with hardly any flat ground on it whatsoever. The population was small, and their main occupation was fishing and pearl shell diving, but the latter had ceased since the Japanese schooners had left the area. They are a tall race and excellent seamen. The Controller was a native from Amboina and he treated us with the utmost courtesy and was very sorry to see us leave. He gave us a guide to sail us through the reef and with a strong wind our small craft travelled at a fair pace. We had no intentions of putting in at Sermata, a long narrow high strip of land which at the time was very badly off for food, but on having sailed half the length of it, bad weather once again drove us into the shore. As soon as the weather cleared up we made another start for Babar, a long heart shaped island. After sailing for approximately four days we struck an early morning calm, and while idling lazily in the deep water a school of sharks started to play around the boat. We had an old chicken leg and fixing it on to a bamboo our crew caught two of them, and although the situation seemed far from pleasant, it provided us with some fresh meat. On to Metatra then Sermata Island Here our departure was again delayed by bad weather. A couple of attempts were made to leave but it was hopeless and after our experience in Lakor Straight, we were reluctant to push our luck. A few days more and we were able to depart. The weather was now much better with a fair wind which was unfortunately not behind us. We were sailing directly into it. Consequently, progress was slow as we were tacking back and forth. However, it was a relief to get a spell from the continuous bailing which we had to do from the moment we sailed from the island of Kisar. Metatra hove in sight. Whether that was the name of the anchorage of the island I can't recall. The inhabitants gave us a great reception, produced an old gramophone and a few records. The only one we recognised was "when the Moon Comes Over the Mountain". We rested up here for a couple of nights before sailing for Le 'Ang Bay in Sermata Island. All seemed to go well with us now. The wind was favourable, and we made good time to Le 'Ang Bay. We sailed up the bay to the settlement bearing the same name. Here we saw a big Chinese lugger anchored close in shore and not far from the Administrator's house and offices. We anchored close by ourselves and went ashore in an out-rigger canoe. Here we said goodbye to our two passengers from the Island of Moa. They had given the crew and us enormous help in our difficulties. It was a sad parting for us. However, we were pleased they had reached their home island safely and hoped it was a good omen for us. Becalmed … ‘Boredom was our worst enemy now’ As always, our first duty was to report to the local Administrator and present our letter of introduction. A brief glance and he asked us how best he could assist us. We explained the sail and jib on our boat had to be returned to the Chinese in Werwaroe on Lakor Island and our stores and water needed replenishing. He quickly organised the sails to be procured from the Chinese lugger. We gave our borrowed ones to him to be returned to Lakor. The stores were put aboard, and we rested for a couple of nights in a safe anchorage. Our morale was now much better. The wind held fair for a few hours and then deserted us altogether. We were totally becalmed. This was far worse than the bad weather. Then at least we kept busy bailing and working for our lives. Here we just sat, absolutely nothing to do. Boredom was our worst enemy now. After a day of doing nothing, bickering and arguments broke out once more and the situation became very intense. I could stand it no longer and jumped overboard hoping I'd drown. My wish would have been granted had it not been for Freeman. I could not swim and was sinking. An oath and a roar from Freeman (I was told later) and Bob Larney and Des Lilya were overboard and grabbed me. I remember little of this. They got me back aboard and revived me. Freeman was furious. "You mad bastard, why die now after all you've been through? We are all well on the way to making it". Then to the three of us. "That's the finish of these stupid arguments. We bite our tongues from now on''. Encounter with the ‘Somoa’ In the afternoon of that same day on nearing Babar I noticed a rather large sailing boat leaving the island and approaching us. It was using motors and a jib. Previous to this, we had heard that there were some Fifth Columnists running away on the best boat from Saumlaki. So we decided to board their boat on the high seas. When it was fairly close to us, I gave the order to turn about and we raced after it. It was a boat of 60 ft, so our small boat gained swiftly, and when only 100 ft from it, a man sitting on a chair on the deck with a tommy gun levelled at us, commanded us to come aboard one at a time. So the position was reversed and on boarding we found that he was a Dutch Intelligence Officer who had come straight from Darwin on board the ‘Somoa’, which was the name of the boat. He gave us 50 guilders and a packet of Australian tobacco and told us that if we stayed on Babar at the village of Tepa which was the capital of the Island, he would send the ‘Somoa’ back to pick us up. [12] Intercepted by a Mysterious Patrol Boat That night the wind came in gently and to our favour. We made our way slowly, but we were progressing in the right direction. Towards next day, we were surprised to see a fairly large boat heading towards us at high speed. We thought "What's this and more importantly who is it, one of ours or one of theirs". I felt and I'm sure the others did do 'is it to be captured or saved'. As it turned out it was neither. She quickly closed the gap between us and hove to. A big blond man, standing at the stern, told us to lower our main sail and jib. He threw us a tow line and invited us aboard. We were amazed at what we saw. Big brown men wearing bangles and rings on their fingers which appeared to be gold and smart looking wristlet watches. More amazing still was the armament. About six belt-fed machine guns, mounted on tripods which were bolted to the deck. These guns could be used for ack-ack or horizontally. They had a 360 degree swivel. After all these years he is still a mystery to me. Was he German, Dutch, English, a disguised patrol boat, a Yank or just a straight out pirate. He gave us a meal and changed his course to one that we had been on, towing us towards our objective, Babar Island. He gave each of us two two-ounce tins of Log Cabin tobacco and two packets of papers. He told us if we stayed on Babar Island, he would return in 40 day’s time and send the boat's motor boat to pick us up. He told us he would not go to Saumlakin which was to be our final destination for delivery of the rice. He also gave us 40 guilden to pay for our keep in Teepa. While we were waiting for his return, after a couple of hours towing he let the tow ropes go and reversed course, heading west. We were relieved to see the last of him. One thing we were not going to do and that was wait forty days in Teepa for his return. Parting Company at Tepa That same night we pulled into Tepa and woke the police up who looked after our needs and brought the Controller before us. Larney and Webb ran amok on some wine and so we sent them on to Saumlaki with the agreement that if they were able to obtain a boat there they were to come back for us and if we got one, we were to take it on to them. After they left, Freeman and I made a tour of the island and at Tutuwawang, a village at the back of the island, we found that the Controller had been robbing the churches and taxing the people for his own foolish ideas, whenever he felt fit. So on our return to Tepa we had it out with him, and he offered to put us in jail. He sent four policemen to get us, but we turned tables on him and nearly put him and his harmless police in jail. The Arab boat that had taken Larney and Webb to Saumlaki had returned and the skipper told us that they had both gone to Darwin by an Australian lugger that came in the day they arrived. Then we left everything and ordered him to take us straight back. He at first declined but we had a way of persuading him. So we said goodbye to the isle of Babar and its notorious controller and sailed for Marsela where we took on water and headed for the open seas again. Once again we struck heavy seas, but the Arab boat was strong, although small. We had a native woman and child on board and the woman with the crew, asked me to lodge a complaint to the Controller about their overlord. A Party at Teepa We made Teepa before daylight next day. As soon as it was daylight Freeman and I approached the Administration offices to pay our respects and present our safe passage letter. The guard told us to wait. We certainly waited, about three or four hours outside a massive steel gate which however was not closed. The Administrator eventually arrived, a short tubby man in immaculately clean whites from head to foot. Freeman handed him our letter of introduction. He glanced at it and told us to bring the other two up. He showed us where our quarters were and ordered the kitchen staff to prepare a meal for us and to attend to our needs while we were there. Once more I went down with malaria. It had been recurring regularly after I had contacted it in Timor. Strangely, none of my three companions had been afflicted with it. I was very ill for a couple of days. It ran its usual cycle leaving me weak and lethargic. The garrison threw a party for us. There was lashings of food, buffalo, pork, goat, sweet potatoes, banana fritters, coffee, Java beer, wine and brandy. A feast we had never sat down to at any time previously in our lives. There were two guitarists from Ambon, good music and good companionship. I gave a couple of tunes on a violin they had. A great night. No one abused the hospitality and there was no trouble. Webb and Larney Split Ways with Freeman and Lilya Unfortunately, that was not to last. Bob Larney wandered down to the Arab quarters and got on the arrack. He started to break out in large red blotches. He sat on the steps leading to our quarters and started to shoot coconuts off the trees. His aim was erratic. The Arabs headed for the hills. The garrison guard discreetly stayed out of sight. Curley Freeman showed up and dressed Larney down and told him he was on his own and to get to hell out of there next morning. Des Lilya stayed with Curley Freeman at Teepa. I decided to go with Bob Larney. Two more natives joined our crew. Unknown to Bob Larney and myself we were sailing into trouble. DES LILYA’S STORY CONTINUED Saumlaki In about four days we stood off Selaru. The natives of this island were hostile, and we were forced to put a few holes in their canoes before we headed for Tanimbar of which Saumlaki was the capital. We were now sailing down between small coral and mangrove islands and we were greatly relieved when, after a rough voyage, we landed on the pier at Saumlaki. There was a small Dutch force of Javanese soldiers, 13 all told, with an Ambonese, Sgt. Tahia in charge of them. A Dutch radio officer, and a Dutch Chief of Police also were there. They all treated us well and we were told that an Australian boat would be in in about a week. Japanese Assault This news was something to rejoice over, but it was far too good to be true for on our fourth day at 4.30am we were awakened by a native who was banging violently on the door. He said that two Australian cruisers were lying off the pier. I walked down and saw two cruisers, but I told them they were Japs. As we watched 6 boats were lowered and all we could hear was the dip, dip of their oars as they came towards the pier. Sgt. Tahia had his men in dug-in positions covering the 500 yard pier. Saumlaki town plan at the time of the Japanese attack [13] The Japs came down the pier after having landed at the end of it four abreast with their rifles· slung over their shoulder. When the column was about 150 yards from Sgt. Tahia he ordered them to stop in many languages and then opened up with his twelve tommy guns and while the tommy guns reloaded, the Lewis gunner opened up. Freeman and I were back a little from this trying to get a tommy gun each. The cruisers then were using their searchlights and six inch guns plus point five machine guns, and the situation was rather sticky. The radio officer raced up to Freeman and I and said we had to go with him to try and get a message through. We then had the job of forcing our way through about 1¼ miles of screaming Chinese and natives. The searchlights picked us a few times and were followed by shells. On reaching the wireless station we managed to get out SOS once before the wires were cut. RV (Rendezvous) The firing at Saumlaki had then ceased and so we wrecked the set and carried the magnetos away and took them into the swamps. We headed for our RV (Rendezvous) which was quite a fair distance away. After trudging through swampy jungle for half a day we came to the RV. Here we waited until Sgt Tahia and his men joined us. Our party now consisted of Freeman, Sgt Tahia, the Dutch Controller, the Dutch Chief of Police, the Controller's manservant and seven soldiers plus me. At the RV we stopped long enough to eat a fine handful of red rice and then pushed on as fast as possible. One of the Javanese soldiers had a piece of shrapnel in his back, so travel was slow. Continuing on after dark we had to light torches of half wet wood. We then reached the village of Makatiandol at 10.30 pm tired and owing to lack of boots my feet were sore. This village was at the end of the track across the island. Next night, we left by a large canoe and sailed up to the next villages. Our only danger now was from the sea and air. Every day, two Nip single-seater planes flew up and down the coast. I had one of my many attacks of malaria here. Here Sgt Tahia left us to go to the island of Larat on a reconnaissance. Meanwhile the rest of the party sailed to a small island called Teinman, on which lived an old German who had served time with the Darwin mounted police. His island was only about a mile square and he used it for a copra plantation. He knew nothing much of what was going on outside. Sgt Tahia returned to us then accompanied by about 12 Javanese soldiers from the Kei Island who were stationed at Tuai. The Japs had attacked them the same night they had attacked us, but with eight cruisers instead of two. Larat - Vordata We planned an attack on Larat which we still believed had a few Japs on it. This time we had a two-masted boat of about 30 feet. We planned to land at dawn, but fate was against us. We hit a reef about midnight and leaking badly we had to wait for the tide. We landed on Larat at 10 am and stormed the town. Not a Jap was in sight, so we proceeded to haul the lugger off the beach. The job took us two days. When we left, we took the controller and his wife and son with us because two spies had already left to inform the Japs at Saumlaki of our stay there. Our new boat was much faster, and for the first time we seemed to be really sailing. It was a boat of about 45 feet and 10 ft beam with two masts. We dropped anchor off the island of Vordata. Here we had to wait for one Javanese soldier who had been left behind on Tanimbar. He turned up after 2 days and we fixed all our water casks and that was our main worry as we had plenty of food brought from the Kei Island. We Set Sail for Australia The people of little Vordata wished us well and we set sail for Australia. Our first mishap was off the west point of the island where a huge wave nearly overturned our heavily laden boat which now had 33 persons on it. We circled the island, and with half our water knocked overboard by the seas, we headed down the east coast of Tanimbar and hoped for the best. Luck was with us and as we watched Tanimbar fade away, all of us saw a convoy of ships going towards Saumlaki. The seas were kind and we made fair headway. We were very cramped, but that was the least of our worries. The Dutch radio officer and Sgt Tahia took charge of the navigation, using an oil compass and a school atlas. Melville Island It took us eight days to sight the coast of what we guessed was Melville Island and we sailed along the coast heading west for two days until we struck Anstey Strait which divides Melville Island from Bathurst Island. As we turned into the mouth of the strait, a Hudson bomber flew over us. We waved and shouted like mad and it circled us twice, gave us a wave and then headed in the direction of Darwin. At this spot we had run aground on a sandbar and an Australian waved to us from the shore and in an old dugout canoe brought us a sugar bag of turtles eggs which were most welcome. He offered to guide us through the channel to Fort Dundas. We lifted off the sandbar with the tide and at sunset we landed at Fort Dundas, where there was a missionary. He gave us a real Australian welcome and sent a native runner to the radio station at Bathurst. The next day we set sail down the Strait and after grounding a number of times we reached the radio station. A Moth plane came in and took the Dutch radio officer straight to Darwin. The next morning they sent an old trawler manned by the Navy, which we all boarded, and it towed our lugger to Darwin. We were met by Intelligence Officers and all sent to Darwin Hospital. [14] Conclusion Freeman and I had made notes of everything important on the different islands and it proved quite useful. We offered to lead troops back to Timor, but it was of no avail. The Javanese and their native friends left us, and we remained in hospital until we returned to our Company. Larney and Webb [were] less fortunate, had been taken to jail for causing a disturbance on Babar. And so ends my storey of a trip which taught me many things. L/Cpl D.L. Lilya. ARNOLD WEBB’S STORY CONTINUED In Australian Hands at Saumlankin HMAS ‘Chinampa’ HMAS ‘Chinampa’One of these new natives had a letter to the Commander at Saumlankin. We had good wind behind us and made good time. We made Saumlankin in the middle of the afternoon about the third day out. There was an Australian lugger tied up at the wharf. It was skippered by an Australian naval officer and had a navy crew. We reported to the garrison commander, gave him our letter of introduction, and delivered our cargo. Unfortunately, the native delivered his letter too. What it contained I can only guess but it was most certainly connected with what happened at Teepa. The commander passed the information on to the naval officer. Next afternoon we boarded the lugger. The Commander soon started on Larney who wasn't slow in answering back. He was detailed to cook for the crew. This he did but did not relent his feud with the skipper. He couldn't win of course but he handed out all he could, piling up more trouble for himself later. [15] Back in Darwin Next afternoon we arrived in Darwin. We were immediately taken to hospital. There we met Alan Hollows and Keith Hayes who had been evacuated from Timor. It was then we found out that contact had been made with Australia sometime towards the end of April. Our journey was in vain and more than likely more trouble was coming our way. It was either the last week in May or the first week in June when we arrived. I know this through one of my friends whom Alan Hollow told he had landed in Darwin exactly twelve weeks after he was wounded and had stayed there for two weeks before being sent south to hospital. If this is correct, Alan landed in Darwin on May 25 and left on June 8 so somewhere between these two dates, Bob Larney and I landed in Darwin. Interrogated by Intelligence Next day Intelligence commenced questioning us concerning the places we had been to and what we had seen. Timor was not even mentioned. We told them we had only seen odd Japanese planes and then only in singles. They were, we told them, quite obviously on reconnaissance patrol. However, on one occasion one had strafed Wonreli in Kisar. We informed them that we saw no Japanese troops whatsoever during our voyage. We told them of the Chinese lugger in Le' Ang in Sermata. We also told them of the strange heavily armed boat with the blond skipper and unusual crew and what he had told us concerning waiting for him at Teepa and finally delivering the cargo and boat to Saumlankin and our voyage thence to Darwin with the Navy. The men from Intelligence returned next day and told us they had no records of the boat, skipper or crew which we had seen between Sermata and Barar. At the hospital we were given a medical check and remained there for some days. In Detention – ‘The guards were sadistic bastards’ A Provost arrived to take us away. He said, "I don't know what you've done boys, but they are putting you in a crook boob". He certainly was right. The guards were sadistic bastards. On some occasions they marched the prisoners all night, taunting them with "We can get relief, you bastards can't". On one occasion a guard named Masters fired shots from a pistol over our heads. On another occasion some Yankee soldiers came up to the compound and threatened to come back and shoot 'every goddam son of a bitch of guards'. [16] Bob Larney was back in the cook house. I was serving in the staff mess. I collapsed and was taken to hospital and was placed in a section of the ward that was completely mosquito proof. I was its first patient and underwent the full malarial treatment course there. Some days later the second patient arrived. He was a crew member from the lugger that had brought us from Saumlankin to Darwin. I enquired about the Skipper. "Dead" he said. I asked how. "We returned to Saumlankin and the Japs had captured the place. They opened up and the Skipper was killed. We got the boat out and back to Darwin" he told me. [17] On hearing this news, I wondered how Des Lilya and Curley Freeman were faring. I had finished my malaria course. No effort was made to discharge me or return me to the detention camp. Reunited with Des Lilya and Curley Freeman Up at the canteen I bumped into Des Lilya and Curley. They told me their story. As far as I recall, here it is. They remained in Teepa awaiting another boat to Saumlankin. One at last set out and they were on it. How long they were there I do not know how long they were in Saumlankin before the Japanese arrived I cannot recall. It's enough to say that when they did arrive, Curley and Des were with the Dutch garrison. The Dutch guns engaged the Japanese gunboat. Whether it was a destroyer or cruiser I do not know. The Japanese fire was far heavier, so the Dutch withdrew, Curley and Des with them. They headed north up the island, blowing up a transmitting station on the way. On reaching the north-east tip of Yamdena they rafted across to the island of Larat. There they found a Japanese boat. It was two masted and all its sails and lanyards were in good running order. The Dutch soon had sails hoisted and they were heading for Darwin. An Australian patrol boat took them in tow at Melville Island. [18] Back to the ‘Boob’ They were surprised to hear we had been placed in detention. I told them I was going back there to let Bob Larney know they had made it. I asked to be returned to the 'boob'. They said, "no fear, you stay where you are". I insisted they get a provost to escort me back. They thought I was mad however, they did as I asked. I returned to my job as mess waiter to the staff. I gave Bob Larney the news about Curley and Des, also about the death of the skipper. He didn't waste any tears for the Skipper. Once more marching all night and shots over our heads. Without doubt, army prison guards must be brought up from the cesspits of hell. About 10 days after I re-entered the detention camp we were released. We went to a staging camp which I think was Winnellie. Surprisingly Lilya and Freeman had been sent south on leave. They were intercepted somewhere south and returned to Darwin. Return to Timor on the ‘Voyager’ We boarded the ‘Voyager’ in September 1942 to return to Timor with the 2/4th Independent Company. We landed at Betano on the south coast, so did the ‘Voyager’. She ran aground and is still there. She also brought the Japs out once more. This time they achieved what they had never previously been able to accomplish, reach the south coast of Timor. Even though we now had two companies there, either they were getting better, or we were slipping. Des Lilya and I went to 'A' Platoon, back where I was in February 1942 but in a different area. I went to 2 section, Des went either to No.1 or 3 Section. Curley Freeman and Bob Larney went to 4 Section in 'B' Platoon. We saw out the remainder of the Timor campaign. Home on Leave then New Guinea Back to Australia on leave then six months. Later to New Guinea where we fought in the Ramu River campaign from June 1943 to its finish. We were the first unit in there and the last one out. Curley Freeman had left us after Timor. Des Lilya went to Z Force and was killed in a plane shot down over Timor in 1945. He died over the island where he had first fought four years before. [19] After New Guinea Bob Larney and I were still with the unit. Transfer to the 2/2nd Forestry Company on New Britain On to New Britain, still with the 2/2nd. Whilst at Jacquinot Bay, I wandered down to a sawmill run by the 2/2nd Forestry Company. It was like being home in Hill End, Victoria. I saw so many men I had worked with falling timber and in the mills. They told me their C.O. was Major Benallia. I ran into him at the mill. We shook hands and he asked me what I was doing. I told him I was with the 2/2nd Commandos and told him the story. He said, "I could do with you here". I said, "I'll see". I saw Major Laidlaw, C.O. of the 2/2nd Commandos and told him the story. He said, "Right Arnold, if that's what you want, I'll sign the transfer". Within 48 hours of lodging the transfer, I was in the 2/2nd Forestry Coy. I started in the mill as a sawyer. After a short period I was promoted to Lance Corporal and put in charge of the second shift. Trouble arose with the native fallers in the bush. Major Benallie asked me would I take over the supervising of the native fallers as I had had much experience with native carrier when a member of the 2/2nd Commandos. I consented and was promoted Corporal and went out to the felling gangs. We got over whatever difficulties that had arisen. I was fortunate in that some of the natives had known me in the Ramu. Wars End Work proceeded smoothly after that and we had no difficulty in reaching our target. I collapsed from malaria, pleurisy and overwork and was taken to hospital in Jacquinot Bay. After a couple of weeks, I returned to the Unit. Within a few days I was informed that I was being sent back to Australia on discharge. The war was over. I was home for Christmas and returned to Royal Park for discharge on 8 January 1946. Nearly five years of my life was spent in the army. It was a way of life new to me. It wasn't all that hard to take, even the worst of it. Being placed in detention in Darwin, guarded by thugs masquerading as men, I did not take kindly to. Reflections on Lilya, Freeman and Larney As stated, Des Lilya died over Timor in 1945, Curley Freeman was heard of no more after ill health forced him out of the unit on our return from Timor in December 1942. Men who served with him held him in high regards as a soldier. He had qualities of leadership which he displayed on numerous occasions during our trip from Kisar to Babar. Bob Larney served right through with the unit until it was disbanded in 1946. In 'B' Platoon or ‘B’ Troop as it was later known, he was considered a tough, hard soldier. If there was any fear in his make-up, it never showed. After overcoming his initial wildness and lack of discipline, he was a first class reliable man and soldier. Paddy Kenneally also recorded this tribute to Bob in 1984: ‘Bob Larney was killed in a motor car accident on 13th December 1974. I was lucky and managed to find where his widow lived. We had not seen Bob for years, and then only once. I caught up with his history. He married a Land Army Girl from Roma while the war was still on, raised four girls and one son - the son was a long time behind the rest, he was only eight when Bob was killed. A fine boy, [he] finished school last year after his finals and has a good position with a future. All the girls are married and spread around the country. Looking and listening to Mrs Larney, I reckon she was the best luck Bob ever had. She is a fine woman. Reckon that's what turned the rough, wild tearaway from Redfern to reasonable mellowness. There was one hell of a lot of good beneath that wild exterior, as Norman Thornton could testify. If Bob was about when Norman arrived at the end of his track it would have been a happy reunion. They had a friendship, understanding, and a high regard for each other hidden under the guise of rough humour and banter’. [20] CONCLUDING REMARKS BY PADDY KENNEALLY The facts concerning the voyage from Timor to Darwin undertaken by Curley Freeman, Bob Larney, Des Lilya and Arnold Webb, are given in simple language by Arnold Webb. Any departure from that simplicity occurs because of my inability to adequately describe the events in like expression. It is not a departure from the veracity of the facts as such. I have spent many hours in his company. I believe he has understated rather than exaggerated events on that trip. Arnold Webb was raised on a dairy farm in Victoria during the hungry thirties; like most of his generation raised on similar farms in that era, he was raised on a diet of wholesome food, strenuous work and hardship. The apparently impossible, was to people like him, slightly more difficult that the ordinary. Just a matter of finding a way around it. Consequently, the difficulties experienced were no more than expected on a voyage as was undertaken by them. He is to be complimented for the time and thought he put into recalling events that took place 40 years ago. He is the only survivor still alive who took part in that trip. [21] Des Lilya died over Timor when as a member of Z Force, the plane in which he was travelling, was shot down over Timor in I believe, 1945. Bob Larney was killed in a car accident on 13 December 1974. Curley Freeman is almost certainly dead; no one has heard of him since he left our unit after its return to Australia in 1942. If he is not, and anyone knows of him or his whereabouts, I for one would like to hear from them. [22] Should there be any errors in Arnold Webb's account, it is understandable. Recalling events that happened over forty years without benefit of diaries, notes, or some other participant to help jog the memory is quite a feat; to expect it to be free of error is to yearn for the miraculous. My only wish is that some person with far more ability than I possess, would take hold of the story of that voyage bring it to life and make the reader live every moment of fear hope, frustration and at times despair, but at all times humour and courage. My thanks to Arnold, at least four men to liked and respected, no matter what their faults or virtues, will continue to live in our minds more vividly and for a little longer. (Sgd) PADDY KENNEALLY REFERENCES [1] C.D. (Colin D.) Doig. - A history of the 2nd Independent Company and 2/2 Commando Squadron. - Carlisle, W.A.: Hesperian Press, 2009: 74-75. [2] ‘Des Lilya's Story - Via Dave Dexter’ 2/2 Commando CourierApril 1991: 7, 11-13. [3] The original document is contained in the 2/2 Commando Association of Australia archives. [4] Arnold Samuel Webb, VX58984 - https://doublereds.org.au/history/men-of-the-22/vx/arnold-samuel-webb-r731/ [5] Robert Sydney (Bob) Larney, NX39586 - https://doublereds.org.au/history/men-of-the-22/nx/robert-sydney-larney-r408/ [6] Paddy makes reference to only Webb’s account in his opening words but they are also applicable to Lilya’s account. [7] On Brendalina de Silva, see Appendix 1. [8] Desmond Laurence (Des) Lilya, NX48987 - https://doublereds.org.au/history/men-of-the-22/nx/desmond-laurence-lilya-r410/ [9] Johnny (Curly) Freeman, NX41543 - https://doublereds.org.au/history/men-of-the-22/nx/johnny-freeman-r219/ [10] John Phillip Laffy, NX77257 - https://doublereds.org.au/history/men-of-the-22/nx/john-phillip-laffy-r407/. [11] The leader of the patrol was Captain Bernard Callinan who recorded the encounter in the unit war diary as follows: 2 Mar[ch] Left CAILACO approx. 0800 hours arrived MEMO approx. 1700 hours. Was surprised to meet Lt Laffy and A/Sgt McCabe whom I thought were carrying out a patrol around LETE FOHO (NOVA OBIDOS) area. He informed me he had been sent there by the Administrator at BOBNARA [Bobonaro] as being a safe place. His four men, he informed me had been sent back to Coy H.Q. at Villa Maria as runners. I instructed him to return to CAILACO the next day … 3 Mar[ch] I discovered that Lt Laffy’s four men under A/Sgt Freeman had come into the town during the night; they had come in from DUTCH territory and were accompanied by some fugitive DUTCH soldiers from DILLI [Dili]. I ordered Lt LAFFY to take the AUSTRALIANS back to CAILACO …. AWM52 25/3/2. [12] Operation Lion was formed to establish an intelligence centre on central Sulawesi (called Celebes at the time). First Lieutenant I.H.T. Hees, 1st Cl. B. Belloni, a telegraphist and Sailor J.L. Brandon comprised the party which left Darwin by the prahu ‘Somoa’ on 24 June 1942, to land near Wotoe, 60 kilometres (37 miles) west of Malili, on Celebes. Lieutenant Hees had previously worked as an engineer for the department of public works and it was hoped he could contact one of his "mandoers" (overseers). The party was contacted by radio on 7 November 1942, however their signals were too weak to be received. [a] [a] National Archives of Australia (1946) – [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. 1 [for Director, Military Intelligence (DMI), Headquarters (HQ), Australian Military Forces (AMF), Melbourne: 6. On 14 December 1942, two Dutch NCO's (from the NEI Section) were in Darwin awaiting movement to LION party, but it was suspected that LION had come under Japanese control they were not dispatched. National Archives Australia (1942–1945) – [SRD (Services Reconnaissance Department) HQ] NEI [Netherlands East Indies] Section IASD [Inter-Allied Services Department]: 4-5. On 5 January 1945, a party of five Indonesians under the codename of Operation Apricot left Darwin to ascertain the fate of Operation Lion. The leader was captured; the remainder were evacuated by Catalina flying boat on 31 January 1945. [c] [c] National Archives Australia NEI Section, p. 5. [13] Julius Tahija. - Julius Tahija, entrepreneurs of Asia horizon beyond. – Singapore: Singapore Times Books International 1995: 45. For more on Tahija and the defence of Saumlaki see Paul Anthony Rosenzweig Ziarah: the Gull Force Association pilgrimages to AmbonMaster of Arts by Research (AMA), Northern Territory University, 1999: 43-47. https://espace.cdu.edu.au/eserv/cdu:6343/Thesis_CDU_6343_Rosenzweig_P.pdf. [14] Staff Officer (Intelligence), Darwin, report to NOIC Darwin, 20 August 1942 and Preliminary report by Colonel Sandberg GHQ SWPA, 30 August 1942, Australian Archives Series MP1587/1, Item 120A "Saumlaki, Japanese invasion of Tanimbar". Tahija's escape party comprised 21 KNIL soldiers, 5 Dutch officials, 5 policemen, one woman and two children, and 2 Australians - Sergeant Freeman and Private Lilija [Lilya], who had escaped from Timor and had joined Tahija at Saumlaki. [15] The Australian lugger was the ‘Chinampa’ commanded by Commissioned Warrant Officer (WO) Frederick Henderson, RANR. http://www.navy.gov.au/hmas-chinampa [16] A harsh attitude by the military staff towards detention prevailed; military prisons and detention compounds were to be an effective deterrent to errant behaviour and the sort of place that men would not prefer over the front line. Many of the Provost guards or ‘screws’ as they were more popularly known were ill-educated and poor character and the harsh regime they imposed on the inmates was condoned by their supervising officers. The Darwin detention centre was especially notorious in this regard. See Glenn Wahlert ‘The other enemy?’ Australian soldiers and the Military Police. -Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1999: 127-139. [17] ‘Chinampa’ anchored in Saumlakin harbour 30 July 1942 and, expecting a small Dutch force to still be in control, her commanding officer, Bob Larney’s nemesis WO Fred (Chick) Henderson, went ashore but after being fired upon, rejoined his ship. When the more heavily armed ‘Southern Cross’ arrived the next day, ‘Chinampa’ proceeded to the jetty to attempt to land her troops but was forced to withdraw after coming under heavy fire which killed the 34 year-old Henderson and wounded two others. ‘Chinampa’ and ‘Southern Cross’ consequently withdrew without landing their troops and returned to Darwin where they arrived on 2 August 1942. See Paul Anthony Rosenzweig ‘Ziarah: the Gull Force Association pilgrimages to Ambon’ Master of Arts by Research (AMA), Northern Territory University, 1999: 39-42. https://espace.cdu.edu.au/eserv/cdu:6343/Thesis_CDU_6343_Rosenzweig_P.pdf [18] For the full story from Des Lilya’s recollections see the latter part of this post. [19] For Des Lilya’s remaining story including his death on Timor see Appendix 2. [20] Paddy Kenneally ‘Letter’ 2/2 Commando CourierAugust 1984: 10.https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/1984/Courier%20August%201984.pdf. See also https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/190034831/robert-sydney-larney. [21] See also, Col Doig ‘Vale Arnold Webb’ 2/2 Commando CourierOctober 1992: 5 https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/1992/Courier%20October%201992.pdf [22] Lionel [sic] (Curly) Freeman’s death ‘in early April 1969 after a long illness’ was in fact reported in the 2/2 Commando CourierMay 1969: 14. https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/1969-05%20-%20Courier%20May%201969.pdf APPENDIX 1 Brandolinda da Silva Brandolinda da Silva (left rear) with her family in Portugal, June 1945 Ray Aitken recalled the attractive and feisty Brandolinda da Silva and her relationship with Lieutenant John (Jack) Laffy: “The small party made the climb into Hatu Builico the following morning and spent the night there. At this time the Chef Posto was da Silva whose daughter Brendalina was the most personable eligible young European on the island. Brendalina had been in Ermera when the Japanese had paid their first visit to the town shortly after "B" Platoon left Ifoo (Ai-Fu). The Japs made themselves at home and their senior officers had demanded and received hospitality at her own. The Jap officers were courteous enough but did not prevent their troops from commandeering furniture for fires as it was raining heavily, and the furniture provided a ready source of dry fuel. Brenda was a hot-tempered young Latin who had accepted the loss of chairs and tables with rising anger. When she discovered that the Japs had wrenched the lid off her piano, she 'did her block' as the Australians say. Without thought of the consequences, she appeared on the verandah beside the officers who were still dining, with a sixteen gauge shotgun. The two Japanese carrying the piano lid ran hurriedly down the slope but Brendalina 'browned' them with both barrels of quail-shot in their meaty parts. The officers roared with laughter and admiration. One of them quietly disarmed Brendalina and wrapped the shotgun around a verandah post then still writhing with mirth they rose as one man and bowed to her in appreciation. Their manners were wasted on Brendalina. She was finished with Japs for all time as her face flushed with rage and her eyes flashed when the story was retold. She saw no humour in the situation and was cross with herself because in her haste and anger she had snatched quail instead of buckshot. At this time, Brendalina had a 'thing' about one of our reinforcement officers known as Tenenti Jack [Lieutenant John (Jack) Laffy]. The Tenenti was a plausible rogue of considerable presence and carriage. Brendalina's image of him was that he was the individual hero of the Company and that while he stayed on the island the Japs were in imminent danger of defeat. This was not at all our opinion of the Tenenti, but emotional interest is notoriously blind. Charlie and Ray had a morning dip in the creek which coming from the peaks was icy cold. They found it rather disconcerting to have Brendalina conduct a conversation with them from a short distance away while they bathed. She removed herself a little while they dried and changed and then conducted them to breakfast. Hatu Builico at about eight thousand feet had many acres of splendid peaches. Despite Brendalina's supervision of the Posto culinary department, it was peaches and cream which claimed most of the attention of Charlie and Ray. They had eaten them for dinner and now they had them for breakfast to the utter astonishment of the omelette eating da Silvas”. [1] [1] Ray Aiken Tales of the Second Second, privately published: 60-61. APPENDIX 2 Des Lilya’s Death on Timor SUNBAKER aircraft crash site indicated on map top left Des Lilya transferred to from the 2/2 Commando Squadron to Z Force in September 1944. He was a member of the Operation SUNBAKER team that was tasked with establishing a shipping observation post on the eastern end of the island of Flores – i.e. west of Portuguese Timor. The SUNBAKER party of four Australians conducted an aerial reconnaissance of the area on 17 May 1945 – a few days before their planned parachute insertion, in a RAAF B-24 Liberator aircraft of 200 Flight. However, the aircraft did not return, and the party and RAAF crew were posted as “missing” on 22 May 1945. The wreckage of the aircraft was found in mid-September 1945 by the SRD GROPER party in the mountainous Maubisse area of Portuguese Timor – about 45km south of Dili. All onboard the aircraft (totalling 15) had been killed in the crash. The bodies were subsequently recovered and buried in the Ambon War Cemetery; see Ernest Chamberlain. - Forgotten men: Timorese in special operations during World War II. - Point Lonsdale, Vic. : Ernest Chamberlain, 2010: 31. The crash site has been located but all that remains now is some of the undercarriage. Undercarriage from the wreck RAAF B-24 Liberator aircraft of 200 Flight in which Des Lilya died Des Lilya’s memorial plaque, Lovekin Drive, Kings Park PREPARED BY Ed Willis REVISED 14 September 2019.
  9. COMMANDO CAMPAIGN SITES – EAST TIMOR ERMERA DISTRICT ERMERA GPS: 8°45′8″S 125°23′49″E “Ermera (Vila de Ermera—see Map No. 16) is 12 miles (19 km.) from Aileu at a bearing of 260°. One of the larger towns in the province. It is a posto and market town situated about 2,000 feet (600 m.) above sea level. The district is very rich in coffee, maize, rice and rubber. The natural vegetation is fairly heavy on the southwest and northern sides, and the mountains, which are very steep, help to give good air protection. The posto commands a good view of the Glano Flats and also the main road which crosses the flat and winds its way round the mountain sides to the posto. There are about 40 stone buildings, the most important ones being the posto, church, school and Chinese trading shops. A good M.T. [Motor Transport] road passes through the town to Fatu-Bessi. Australian troops occupied the town in March and April; Japanese in May and June, Australians July and August, 1942. It is believed to be once again held by Japanese forces [1943]. There is a reticulated water system with supply tank behind the church.” [1] Ermera’s location from map in Area Study of Portuguese Timor (1943) [2] Signaller Corporal Harry Wray described his first visit to Ermera in April 1942 as follows: "We stayed some hours at this house before pushing on to Ermera that we entered from the rear of the town and made our way past a quite important looking building complete with rather fine gardens, and fountain in the front paved courtyard. The Porto’s were all keen on fountains and paved yards in front of their houses. We discovered that the building was the home of the local Comandante. From the Commandante’s yard we emerged into a large town square, well paved and surrounded by large trees, along the sides of the spacious square were the usual Chinese shops. After crossing the square we set off down a well-made road and had not gone far when a coloured gentleman in a motor car appeared, he pulled up and gave us much cheering war news, all wrong and very much exaggerated I fear, but it sounded good to us. At the time we were willing to believe anything in the way of good news’. [3] Map of Ermera (1943) [4] SIGNIFICANCE Ermera became known to Callinan early in the campaign: “The following week [after Christmas 1941] Major Spence authorised Callinan to make a reconnaissance of the road that ran from Dili through the middle of the colony, to the Dutch border. It was important to know as much as possible of this road, and of the country it traversed, as it would doubtless be the route along which the 2/2nd would withdraw, should the Japanese land in Dili in force. The following day they tried again, this time reaching the town of Ermera, less than fifty kilometres to the south. There, they were met by Portuguese Government officials who were polite though unwelcoming. Once again Callinan turned back in the interests of diplomatic harmony. But the ‘recce’ had been valuable – it had enabled the four officers to map the road, get the lie of the land and make the acquaintance of many local people”. [5] Ermera was again in mind when the camp at Three Spurs was established: “It was decided in mid-January to move C Platoon from its terrible positions round the aerodrome to a new campsite about ten kilometres inland, to the south. Named Three Spurs (there were three spurs in the immediate area) it was strategically placed on the main road to the town of Ermera – the only road to the border with Dutch Timor”. [6] The Japanese used Ermera as their base when they first sortied in force from Dili after their invasion: “The Bazar-Tete ambush was a precursor to a determined drive by the Japanese into the hills south-west of Dili, where the Australians were now based. On 4 March, two days after the ambush, the Japanese moved about 500 troops and artillery into the town of Ermera, a key trading post in the mountains above Dili, and in mid-March they began shelling Australian positions in the Gleno Valley around Ermera. From Ermera the Japanese pushed out further south to the villages of Lete-Foho and Hato-Lia. The men from C Platoon who patrolled this area watched from the hills above as the Japanese moved brazenly into their territory unchallenged”. [7] Discussing the situation in early April, Robinson recorded that: The enemy had meanwhile moved strong forces into Ermera, the main town out on the hills from Dilli which boasted quite a thriving marketplace. It was 2000 feet up in the hills and the surrounding area was very rich in coffee, rice, and maize. It was a good strategical position for the Japanese to occupy as it commanded the approaches to the Glano Valley and two or three good roads. Reports showed that the Japanese were consolidating here, their closest base to the Australians. In this same area “C” platoon were most active. [8] Soon afterwards by mid-late April: “For their part, the Japanese had established a base at Ermera about thirty kilometres south of Dili – a modest advance, given their strength and the length of time they had been in Timor. (Their comrades had swept through Malaya in less than half the time). They believed that from Ermera they would be well positioned to control any 2/2nd activities, however they did not take into account their need for a supply line along a twenty- kilometre stretch of road, which the Australians now knew by heart. Indeed, there was not a bend or an ambush point with which they were not familiar. The enemy reacted to the ambushes by setting up ‘strong posts’ along the road to protect their convoys. They were also to be used as bases from where their troops would flush out the Australians. It was precisely what the 2/2nd had hoped for: the Japanese were now fragmenting their force and exhausting their troops with twenty-four hour guards over every position they occupied. [9] Map showing Ermera’s significance in the first half of the Timor campaign [10] “The Ermera ground defences were particularly interesting: the schoolhouse was said to have been surrounded with weapon trenches which covered all approaches to the town, while another line of trenches had been dug on a hill overlooking the town”. [11] “Incredible as it may seem, the David and Goliath struggle on Timor had, by the end of July 1942, reached something of a stalemate. The 2/2nd had the Japanese ‘surrounded’ in Dili (the enemy had withdrawn from Ermera, allowing the Australians to reclaim it) and the Australians were feeling remarkably confident – not only of holding their positions, but of keeping the enemy bottled up in the capital. Indeed, it seemed that only a concerted mass attack could succeed in dislodging the 2/2nd from its mountain strongholds. The possibility of such an attack was always on the Australians’ minds and everything possible had been done to make sure they were forewarned so that they could disrupt any motorised advance. When the enemy withdrew from Ermera the dust from their trucks had barely settled before the Australians moved back in and resumed their patrols as far as the coast. They even took to erecting checkpoints on roads leading from the capital to make sure no food was taken in”. [12] Recent aerial view of Ermera [13] VISITING ERMERA TODAY Ermera can be visited as part of a day trip from Dili or as a stopping point on a trip to other locations further south as Lete Foho, Atsabe or Maliana. “The inland route runs from Dili to Ermera, then to Maliana and Balibo through the mountains, before finally reaching the coast at Batugade, just before the West Timor border. Today the sealed coast road is in much better shape, although from Dili the inland road is OK as far as Ermera”. [14] Road route between Dili - Ermera “West of Dili keep going south at the Tibar T-junction. The road (very good) winds through tranquil valleys and over heavily-forested mountains. After 35 min, it reaches the wide valley where Gleno, the district capital, is located. After Gleno, the road quickly gets worse as it winds into the mountains, often flanked by coffee trees and with views of Ramelau on the left. After about 1.5 more hours, you will have passed the turnoff to Ermera …” [15] As in many parts of Timor-Leste the road is being progressively upgraded and roadworks will frequently be encountered along the way. “Ermera stands in the heart of coffee country. Dominated by a church overlooking a single commercial centre and marketplace. Ermera formerly hosted a small community of Chinese merchants and coffee buyers. Traces of its former prosperity have undoubtedly faded, however. During the Indonesian occupation the marketplace came to be dominated by Muslim immigrants as the original Chinese merchants had fled. Today the economic outlook in Ermera is bleak just as poverty is apparent to the user”. [16] “The area around Ermera, 62km southwest of Dili, was once the main coffee plantation of Portuguese Timor. It is still a major coffee-producing area but things have changed. Coffee brought wealth to the town, and good examples of Portuguese architecture can be seen, including a beautiful church. The old part of town is interesting to wander around, although Emera’s best days are in the past. It has been a regular location of political upheavals since 2002. During the independence struggle, Nino Konis (or Conis) Sanatana, who succeeded Xanana Gusmão after his capture, was based for a time in Ermera. Unfortunately Sanatana died in an accident in early 1998, just over a year before the independence referendum”. [17] Comparing the 1943 map of Ermera with the recent aerial view from Google Maps shows the street layout hasn’t changed. The town’s growth was stunted during the Indonesian era by their establishment of the new town of Gleno in the valley lower down; this trend has been continued in the independence era. The town was heavily bombed by the Japanese and the allies during WWII and not many of the Portuguese buildings that existed at that time have not survived. The church at the western end of the main street, for example, was photographed in ruins in late 1945 but rebuilt in the same place sometime afterward, apparently in the image of the old. The elegant steps at the front survived the war and provide an inviting approach to the building itself. Blue azulejo tilework features on the first landing of the steps and the stations of the cross inside the church. “The unique Timorese cult of the Virgin manifests itself once a century in a special procession, when a statue of NossaSenhora Peregrina kept in the church in Ermera is carried to all 13 of the province's districts. … But annual processions, albeit on a smaller scale, take place for the Virgin Mary on May 13 and October 13, and there is a three-day carnival before Lent begins”. [18] The Portuguese era posto at the eastern was built in 1957 as a replacement for the old. [18] REFERENCES [1] ASPT: 28. [2] ASPT Timor road and tracks map. [3] Wray recollections: 64. [4] ASPT: Map 16. [5] Ayris: 74. [6] Ayris: 78. [7] Cleary: 120. [8] Robinson: 44. [9] Ayris: 246. [10] An Atlas of Australia’s wars: Map 82. [11] Ayris: 271. [12] Ayris: 307. [13] Google Maps. [14] Lonely Planet Timor: 67. [15] https://en.wikivoyage.org/wiki/Ermera. [16] Gunn, Historical dictionary of East Timor, 84. [17] Lonely Planet Timor: 67. [18] Kal Muller. – East of Bali from Lombok to Timor. – Lincolnwood, Ill.: Passport Books, ??: 267. [19] Date inscription on front foundation. Prepared by Ed Willis Revised: 8 September 2019 ERMERA, PORTUGUESE TIMOR. 1946-01-25. THE SMALL POSTO (FORT) OF ERMERA (MIDDLE DISTANCE) ERMERA, PORTUGUESE TIMOR. 1946-01-26. RUINS OF THE OLD STONE POSTO (FORT) Portuguese era posto building (built 1958), now sub-district administration office - May 2019 ERMERA, PORTUGUESE TIMOR. 1946-01-26. THE MAIN STREET OF ERMERA Main Street of Ermera looking from the administration office down towards the church - May 2019 ERMERA, PORTUGUESE TIMOR. 1946-01-26. THE RUINED STONE CHURCH (LEFT) AND SCHOOL BUILDING (RIGHT). ... Church at Ermera with the school in the background - April 2014 ERMERA, PORTUGUESE TIMOR 1945-12-26. A RUINED CHURCH AT ERMERA, AN AREA VISITED BY MEN OF SPARROW FORCE Blue azulejo tile work features on the first landing of the steps leading up to the church - May 2019 ERMERA, PORTUGUESE TIMOR 1945-12-26. INTERIOR OF THE RUINED CHURCH AT ERMERA
  10. 2/2 INDEPENDENT COMPANY MEMORIAL ROCKY CREEK WAR MEMORIAL PARK, ATHERTON TABLELAND, QUEENSLAND Sunday 11 August 2019 saw the unveiling of a memorial to the 2/2nd Independent Company at Rocky Creek War Memorial Park on the Atherton Tableland, Queensland. This was part of the larger ceremony there to commemorate Victory in the Pacific Day. [1] The Memorial Park is situated on the site of the 2/2 Australian General Hospital laundry and medical stores site at Rocky Creek adjoining the Kennedy Highway near Tolga on the Atherton Tableland. The installation of the plaque was the initiative of Sally Mellick who is the daughter of Captain Ian McPhee, Regimental Medical Officer (RMO) of the 2/2nd on New Britain. [2] Sally expressed her regret that this process could not be completed while Keith Hayes was still alive, as he had kindly contributed to the text on the monument. The Association thanks and commends Sally for taking this initiative. Sally has expressed her thanks to Association Committee member John Cramb for his assistance with the project. In an e-mail to the Association, Sally mentioned that “the 2/2nd's wartime presence in that area was very brief and involved only a few men (led by Colin Doig and described, for example, in his book), but I strongly believe this form of recognition is important, among all the other monuments there”. BACKGROUND Units of the Australian 6th and 7th Divisions arrived on the [Atherton] Tableland in January 1943 and began establishing tent encampments around the settlements of Wongabel, Wondecla and Ravenshoe. The 9th Division returned to Australia from the Middle East during February and the following month moved into camps around Kairi, Tinaroo and Danbulla. … Jungle warfare training took place in rainforest country near Tully Falls, Longland Gap, Mount Edith near Mount Bartle Frere and on Rainy Mountain in the Kuranda Range. Following the capture of Buna and the end of the Kokoda campaign, Australian operations on the north coast of New Guinea continued with the advance towards Salamaua, the capture of Lae, the subsequent advance up the Markham and Ramu River valleys, the landing at Finschhafen, and the taking of Sattelberg. Cairns replaced Townsville during 1943 as the main port of embarkation for Australian troops engaged in the New Guinea campaigns. [3] Colin Doig provided the fullest account of the 2/2’s connection with the Atherton Tableland [4]: “Anzac Day 1943 was celebrated at Canungra with a parade at the local War Memorial. Soon after word came through that 2nd Ind. Coy, was to be brigaded with the other Independent Companies and become part of the 6th Cavalry Commando Regiment and were to go to the Atherton Tableland in North Queensland to be trained and integrated into the Regiment. The Bull selected me to take an advance party to the Tableland and prepare the campsite for the Company to occupy. [5] I took off for Brisbane with a little band that comprised Cpl. Bernie Langridge, Cpl. Don Murray, Ptes. Alex Boast, Tom Crouch, Paddy Kenneally and Wendel Wilkerson, all good performers with axe and shovel. [6] There were other advance parties awaiting the departure of the train at Brisbane, and one crowd started a bit of a kerfuffle about seating or something and reckoned they were not going to board the train. I smartly told my mob we were going irrespective of the others. I got the message to the officer in charge of the other advance party and the train departed on time. The trip to Cairns was uneventful. There we caught the train from Cairns to the Tableland. This rail trip was a real stunner. We passed through nineteen tunnels on the climb from Cairns Bay to Barron Falls. The scenery was breathtaking with terrific gorges and rivers and massive trees of all sorts. This was the first real rainforest I had ever seen. The Barron and Spring Creek falls were most spectacular and among the greatest waterfalls of the world. There were many campsites on the Tableland, as all the A.I.F. Division had or were training there. Our campsite was at Ravenshoe. We worked very hard at tearing a campsite out of the jungle. There was but one hut already erected, and this was our living quarters. The climate at Ravenshoe was a real sanitorium, you could work without a shirt all day and require a couple of blankets at night. I had a good time on the Tableland in the short time we were there, as on weekends we were able to get around and see this paradise. Trips to the various lakes like Lake Bareen were top grade. The actual soil was obviously old time volcanic and was up to sixty feet deep all over. I asked one cocky what they grew, and he said, ‘The only thing that doesn't grow, is what you don't plant’. The campsite was soon accomplished and we cleared what we hoped would be a sports ground. When we had got this far we were visited by Major Laidlaw who was in advance of the main body of the Company. The Lt. Colonel who was to be C.O. of the Brigaded Independent Companies also arrived. The Bull had hardly had time to settle down when a telegram arrived notifying that there had been a change of plans and that we were to stay at Cairns awaiting further orders of our future role. It was a case of hell for leather back to Cairns by the one way road through Gordonvale”. On 3 June 1943 the rest of the Company moved from Canungra to a staging camp known as Red Lynch, on the outskirts of Cairns. Doig and the rest of the Ravenshoe advance party joined them after a mad dash to the coast along precipitous roads and tracks. [7] It was confirmed that the 2/2nd would be going overseas and that it was to head for Townsville for embarkation. So began the unit’s campaign in New Guinea. [8] The 2/2’s reinforcing unit on Timor, the 2/4 Independent Company also has a memorial at the Park. It is appropriate that the two unit’s memorials have been placed next to each other. After departing Timor and home leave, the 2/4th Company was reformed at Canungra in early April 1943, was reinforced and re-equipped, and then moved to the Atherton Tableland to become part of the 2/7th Cavalry (Commando) Regiment at Wongabel on 29 May 1943. After further training, the 2/4th was once more on its way overseas and landed at Milne Bay, New Guinea, on 11 August 1943. [9] REFERENCES [1] For more information on Rocky Creek War Memorial Park see https://raafacairns.files.wordpress.com/2015/06/rocky-creek-war-memorial-park-brochure.pdfand https://monumentaustralia.org.au/themes/conflict/ww2/display/92452-rocky-creek-war-memorial-park [2] https://doublereds.org.au/history/men-of-the-22/qx/ian-gavin-mcphee-r481/ [3] Howard Pearce. - A cultural heritage overview of significant places in the defence of north Queensland during World War II. – Brisbane: The State of Queensland (Environmental Protection Agency) 2009: 55 (https://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/documents/tableoffice/tabledpapers/2009/5309t121.pdf) [4] Doig, Ramblings …: 110-111. [5] 2/2 war diary – 24 May 1943 – Lieut C.D. Doig plus 12 O/Rs left [CANUNGRA] for an unknown destination as an advance party. [6] Keith Hayes was also a member of this advance party. [7] 2/2 war diary – 6 June 1943 – MAJ LAIDLAW returned to this unit from ATHERTON where he had been conferring with O.C. 2/7 AUST CAV COMMANDO REGT. This Coy was ordered to move there from CANUNGRA but this order is now amended. … [8] See Ed Willis ‘Bena Force – The 2/2 Independent Company in The Ramu River Valley, New Guinea, 1943’ https://doublereds.org.au/forums/topic/169-bena-force-–-the-22-independent-company-in-the-ramu-river-valley-new-guinea-1943/?tab=comments#comment-280 [9] Lambert: xx. Prepared by Ed Willis Revised: 29 August 2019
  11. Peter Epps


    L to R H A Sargent, ?? Williams, C Chopping, W Crossing, A Smith
  12. Peter Epps


    Timor 1942 L to R F Napier, W Taylor
  13. Peter Epps

    tom Gar.JPG

    Timor 1942 L to R W E Tomasetti, H J Garland
  14. Peter Epps


    Timor 1942 Mixed group. L to R Standing C Chopping, G McKenzie, C Sadler, ??, S Ward, A Elder, C Maher, J Coyle, A Walsh. Front S Sadler, G Rowley, M Wheatley
  15. Peter Epps

    New Guinea 1943-44

    L to R Back 1. W Rowan Robinson, 2. J Wicks, 3. W Foot, 4. ?? Cullen, 5. T Crouch. Squat 1 J Carey, 2. ?? Mitchell Front 1. C Beavis, 2. F Cahill, 3. H Sproxton, 4. R Burton, 5. M Lindsay
  16. Peter Epps


    Crossing the RAMU New Guinea. L to R L Anderson, T Towers, L Bagley, J Hallinan, Back to Camera, J Keenahan, ?? Monk, K Curran, ???, D Dexter, T Giles.
  17. L to R Standing 1. ?? 2. ?? 3. ?? 4. G Laidlaw. 5. ?? 6. J Fox Squat. 1 ?? 2. ?? 3. ?? 4. ?? 5. D Turton. 6. ?? 7. ?? 8. ?? Sit. 1. ?? 2. ?? 3. ?? 4. ??
  18. American Liberator Crashed at FAITI Airstrip L to R Unknown, J Fox, Alan Dixon, W Coker ???
  19. Thanks Ed Can't wait to do the tour next year and your guide is going to be a great asset to tourists to Timor Leste. If the rest of your guide is like this then congratulations
  20. COMMANDO CAMPAIGN SITES – EAST TIMOR LIQUICA DISTRICT BAZAR-TETE GPS: S 08°37`30.9”, E 125°22`59.5” ‘Bazar-Tete (Vila Eduardo Marques) is 14 miles (221/2 km) southwest of Dilli at a bearing of 242°. A small posto town on the southern slopes of the range running through Dilli Province. The posto is situated 3,000 feet (900 m) above sea level and has the usual surrounding stone wall. Besides the posto there are a few Chinese shops built of stone with galvanized iron roofs. It is connected to Dilli by MT road and joins the main road at Aipelo. Bazar-Tete is usually cloud bound, especially in the afternoons. Australian troops established an OP on Cutu-Lau for observation on Dilli and north coast with, good results. Water pipeline from small concrete reservoir on Cutu-Lau’. [1] Callinan described his first visit there as follows: ‘Between Liquissa and Dili a road led off up into the hills to a place called Bazar-Tete. We followed the road until a landslide blocked it, but, proceeding on foot, some of the party found the posto perched on a long spur and looking out over the sea, with Maubara, Liquissa and Dili spread out below. The Chef de Posto was most hospitable and provided refreshments which included a bottle of Johnny Walker Black Label whisky’. [2] Significance By early February 1942 Laidlaw's B platoon was in the Bazar-Tete area, where it was in a position to control the coast road running west from Dili and had an OP overlooking the airfield. Laidlaw observed the Japanese landings from the OP on 20 February and reported this to Company HQ at Railaco. The Japanese reacted to an ambush conducted by Lieutenant Tom Nisbet’s 4 Section of B Platoon on the coast road by mounting an attack on Bazar-Tete on 2 March with 200 men. In the firefight, the men of 4 Section defended their position against a frontal assault and flanking movement by the Japanese. Although cut off, the Australians carried out an organised withdrawal along another track, but not before suffering casualties. A Japanese soldier armed with a machine-gun worked his way behind the Australians and opened fire, killing Private H.E. Mitchell (https://doublereds.org.au/history/men-of-the-22/wx/henry-eric-mitchell-r464/) instantly. Turning towards the Japanese, Private W.P. 'Paddy' Knight (whose real name was Cotter) (https://doublereds.org.au/history/men-of-the-22/wx/patrick-knight-r397/) was hit in the stomach by several bullets. Another man, Private A.R. Hollow (https://doublereds.org.au/history/men-of-the-22/wx/allan-read-hollow-r340/), was shot in the face, his jaw being carried away. Under severe pressure, the Australians conducted a fighting withdrawal towards Hatu-Lia and were not pursued by the Japanese who lost forty or even more men in the action including two officers. The Portuguese chefe de postoat Bazaar-Tete arranged for the two men to be buried on high ground overlooking the sea, marking their graves with simple wooden crosses. The Timorese later erected a cairn. Their bodies were eventually recovered by the War Graves Commission. [3] Visiting Bazar-Tete Today The township can be visited following the same road from Aipelo described in the ASPT and by Callinan. The road is bituminised but badly cut about by landslides and flood damage in several places. A new road from Dili should reach the township in a year or two. The Sede de Posto (Administration Headquarters) is a building of Portuguese origins, dated from 1939, with a simple rectangular plan and would been well known to the 2/2 men. Built in carved stone and a mortar of lime and sand, it has a zinc covering. Originally the Headquarters of the Administrator of Bazar-Tete, it was adapted to a military command during the Indonesian occupation. It was burned in 1999, following the announcement of the results of the Popular Consultation, and renovated in 2003. Nowadays, it serves as the Headquarters of the Subdistrict Administration of Bazar-Tete. Close by is the Residência do Administrador de Posto (Administrator’s Residence); also dated from 1939, with a simple rectangular plan. Built in carved stone and a mortar of lime and sand, it has a zinc covering. It is one of the few examples of buildings of this period that maintains its original layout, both from the point of view of the facades and the organisation of its inner spaces. Satellite view of Bazar-Tete indicating key locations Built as the House of the Administrator of Bazar-Tete, it was adapted during the Indonesian occupation to host a Military Command. In 1985, it returned to its original functions as the residence of the Administrator (Camat, in Indonesian language) of Bazar-Tete. It was looted and burnt in 1999 by the administrator himself, following the announcement of the results of the Popular Consultation, and it has since been recovered, currently working as the Command Post of the Bazar-Tete PNTL (National Police of Timor-Leste). [4] A local resident Sr Eugénio dos Santos, the son of Louis Gonzaga – 2/2 soldier Ray Aitken’s creado - can be contacted (+670 7368009) and employed as a local guide when visiting the township and surrounding areas where the fighting took place including the Australian encampment, gun pits and the place where Knight and Mitchell were buried. Anyone visiting will need to speak Tetum or be accompanied by an interpreter. There is thick bush and difficult terrain in the battle site locations, and they cannot be located without local guidance. References [1] ASPT: 26. [2] Callinan: 24. [3] For accounts of the firefight at Bazar-Tete, see Ayris: 145-148, Cleary: 113-117 and Wray: 74-76. [4] Património Arquitetónico de Origem Portuguesa De Liquiçá́: 119-137. Prepared by Ed Willis Revised: 22 August 2019
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