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Edward Willis

The Sid Wadey Story – Rescued On Timor

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INTRODUCTION

One of the Doublereds most notable exploits during the Timor campaign was the rescue of a downed and badly burned RAAF pilot, Flying Officer S.G. Wadey, who had parachuted from his damaged Hudson bomber near Cribas, an area between the Australians and Japanese.  The Timorese had taken Wadey to Manatuto where the Portuguese chefe de postocoerced him to accept internment as a prisoner of war in his custody before allowing his burns to be treated.  Wadey was then moved on further east to receive better treatment at the hospital at Calicai.

Word of the crash (though not of Wadey’s survival) reached B Platoon, and Lt Nisbet and Spr ‘Tex’ Richards were ordered to check the report.  They found the wrecked plane at Cribas, buried the three dead crewmen and burnt the aircraft’s papers.  Their inquiries revealed that one man had parachuted from the aircraft and was now in hospital at Calicai.  Realising that the Japanese would also be after the airman, Nisbet and Richards pressed on to Calicai.

When they found Wadey they realised they would need a vehicle to move him.  They asked the chefe de postoif they could borrow his truck but the official understandably was reluctant to be seen helping the Australians. However, he eventually agreed to hand it over – but only if the Australians took it at gunpoint, in front of the servants.  The charade was duly carried out with all the actors playing their parts to perfection.

The two Australians made Wadey as comfortable as possible in the back of the truck and set off for Baguia, fifty kilometres to the east, where there also was a hospital. After the airman had been given a bed Nisbet left him in Richards’ care and returned to platoon headquarters to report what had happened.

Word of the crash and of Wadey’s survival meanwhile had reached the Japanese, who were extremely anxious to get hold of the airman who had been dropping bombs on them. Soon afterwards Lt Doig of ‘H’ Force heard that a party of two hundred Japanese was on its way to Baguia to seize Wadey and take him back to Dili.

Doig and Pte Rowan-Robinson commandeered an ancient car with a driver and set off for Baguia, hoping to grab Wadey before the Japanese arrived.  The party arrived safely and made straight for the hospital where Wadey, who was still in shock, was not overly interested in leaving his bed for another overland journey.  He eventually agreed to get into the car after Doig told him he had no intentions of leaving him for the Japanese, and that he would be moved forcibly if necessary.

As soon as Wadey was settled in the back seat the party headed back towards platoon headquarters, only too well aware that if the Japanese were coming, they would more than likely meet them head-on along the mountain road.

They did not meet them but were dismayed to find that the Dutch, who had also heard the Japanese were coming, had blown a bridge across a river near Ossu.  Wadey was placed on a stretcher, carried across the river, and transferred to an even older car which was whistled up by the local Porto.

It was now decided to take Wadey to a medical post in Ossu where he rested a few days before being carried to a smaller village where a crude hut was hastily constructed to accommodate him.  He was later carried by armchair across Timor to Alas and then Betano under the care and supervision of Tex Richards and evacuated to Australia.

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Map showing Sid Wadey’s journey to safety, August-September 1942

RAAF OPERATIONS OVER TIMOR, AUGUST 1942

“In North-Western Area during August the two hard-worked Hudson squadrons - Nos. 2 and 13 - had continued their task of harassing the enemy's bases in the islands north of the Arafura and Timor Seas, and supporting the guerilla force on Timor. The need for support for Sparrow Force was now more urgent than ever because in August the Japanese opened a determined offensive aimed at enveloping and destroying the Australian-Dutch force.

During the remainder of August Hudsons were over Timor almost every day dropping supplies and attacking Japanese positions. Thus on 21st August five Hudsons of No. 2 set out to support the hard-pressed troops on Timor by attacking Maubisse.  Bombs were dropped on the town and the Hudsons then reconnoitred the roads in the area.  Two Zeros attacked and set on fire a Hudson captained by Flying Officer Wadey, [2] who was able to bail out before the machine crashed into the side of a hill. This Zero then made seven unsuccessful attacks on the Hudsons which all remained in close formation except for one captained by Flying Officer Badger, who flew towards thin cloud, pursued by the second Zero.  Badger evaded the Zero by flying low along the valleys until he reached the sea.  There the Zero attacked again but was shot down into the sea at 50-yards range.  Wadey, badly burnt, was found by natives who carried him in a chair to men of Sparrow Force; later he was returned safely to Darwin”. [3]

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Timor Sea. c. 1943.  Interior of a No. 2 Squadron RAAF Hudson light bomber flying on a sortie over the Timor Sea.

SID WADEY’S ACCOUNT - SHOT DOWN OVER TIMOR

“On 21 August [1942], Flight Lieutenant Simon Fraser (A16-178) led five Hudsons out again to support Sparrow Force by attacking Maubisse, near Dili, for the second successive day.  Bombs were dropped on the town and the Hudsons reconnoitred the area for enemy activity.  Two Zeros attacked, and the Hudson crews soon became aware of ‘the ability of the enemy pilots and their obvious knowledge of the Hudson defences’. [4] The Zeros set on fire the aircraft flown by Flying Officer Sid Wadey (A16-209).  He was able to evacuate the aircraft, but his crew were unable to escape. [5] He described the engagement and his escape from his stricken Hudson:

‘When the Zero attacked from ahead, several bursts went through the instrument panel.  These I observed, as in slow motion; individual holes appearing, and the panel disintegrating, with a splintered (star effect) look around the holes pointing towards me.  Simultaneously, I was aware of my navigator passing me, and heading towards the body of the aircraft, when ‘whoosh’ - flames surrounded me as the incendiaries and cannon hit the inside fuel tank.

Behind the pilot's seat there is armour plating, but the tank extended a couple of inches past the vertical side of the plating, and that was where some of the projectiles went.  I saw some of the bullets hit Stan Faull, the navigator, in his back as he was passing through the entrance from the cockpit into the body of the aircraft, also he would have been directly alongside the exploding tank.  The other members of the crew were similarly in impossible predicaments.

In order to escape from the plane it was necessary for the crew to move forward in the body of the plane to one side or the other, grab the parachute, and clip it on the harness.  For the crew it was literally impossible in the intense heat and flames to find their respective (or any) parachute pack, grab it, clip it on, dash to the exit door in the back of the cabin and jettison the door, before they could jump out.  For the tail gunner, his position was even more desperate.  He had to swivel the turret, align it with an opening into the body of the aircraft, his only means of escape, then leap into what was a fiery furnace in order to obtain his pack. I had been protected from the direct blast of the explosion of the petrol tank by the armour plating.  The sound was (Whoosh) muffled, and not at all similar to the sound of a bomb; and the actual pressure wave did not subsequently affect my hearing abilities, so the body impact was not great.

As we were flying in formation, my right hand was on the throttles, and I instinctively reacted very quickly, flicked the seat belt undone, and jumped at the correct angle, toward the escape hatch in the top of the aircraft.  In the process, I knocked back the throttles, and as I jumped vertically head first through the escape hatch, I was aware of being hit in the lower back by the top of the fuselage, as the slipstream forced me backward.  I fell clear of the aircraft on the right side, facing forward and could see A16-209 dropping back out of the formation with flames streaming back behind like a comet tail.  I looked around hoping to see other parachutes but realised that there would not be any.

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Pre-enlistment studio portrait of 406716 Sergeant (Sgt) William Ross Edeson, 2 Squadron, RAAF, of West Leederville, WA.  He was a salesman prior to enlistment from Perth, WA on 31 March 1941.  Sgt Edeson died on operations over Timor in aircraft Hudson A16-209 on 21 August 1942; he was 27 years of age.  Sgt Edeson is buried at the Ambon War Cemetery, Indonesia.

The formation continued along a straight flight path away from me, and they were still in perfect formation.  All the other aircraft were OK.  I scanned the sky for Zeros - none in sight.  Decided I was now at about 1000 feet above the mountain - so pulled the ripcord - felt a jerk—looked up and saw the parachute open fully.  I watched A16-209 continue its rate one turn and disappear into the valley between the mountain for which I was aiming and the adjoining mountain.  The aircraft still had its comet tail of flames streaming behind it.  As I saw the plane disappear, simultaneously I observed a flight of 3 Zeros, in formation in the valley below, flying low above the trees, as they emerged from behind the opposite side of the mountain below.  To my surprise I landed legs together in the middle of the clearing at which I had aimed, slipped, then slid on to my behind a few yards.  Looking around I found myself in the clearing, which was a very small and a fairly steep rocky slope, the open space roughly circular and about fifteen yards in diameter, and to my amazement the trees surrounding me were, of all things, Gum Trees, growing densely amid dry grass which was 75 about three to five feet tall.  I had expected jungle, not eucalypti’. [6]

COL DOIG’S ACCOUNT - THE AIRMAN INCIDENT

Flying Officer Wadey – Sole Survivor

“About this time [21 August 1942] there happened an incident in which ‘H’ Force played a significant part.  A Hudson (or it might have been a Beaufort) bomber was shot down in flames near Laclubar [actually Cribas]. [7] Apparently in this type of plane when it caught fire the only crew member with any chance of survival was the pilot who could eject himself from his seat.  The Bomber and Tail Gunner had no chance whatever of ‘bailing out’.

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Sparrow Force war diary record of the Hudson crash

In this instance the pilot was Flying Officer Wadey of Adelaide, and he successfully bailed out but not before he was badly burned.  He was dressed in tropical shorts and shirt and flying boots and the exposed portions of the body, notably the legs and arms, were frightfully scorched. He had presence of mind enough to put his right arm over his eyes and this saved his eyes but this arm was very badly burned.

Wadey Taken to Manatuto

He was picked up by some natives and because of his dreadful condition, was taken to the Porto capital of the province Manatuto.  The Administrator was one of the few Portos on the island who had not espoused our cause by active assistance and although not pro-Jap he was most definitely anti-us.  He refused any form of assistance to Wadey until he signed a paper that he would take no further part in the war and would be treated as a prisoner of war or suchlike, similar to the treatment offered by Switzerland to escaping P.O.W.'s. Wadey in his weakened condition had no option but sign but as it was signed under duress he knew it had no standing under international law.  He was made to hand over his pistol, the only armament he carried, and only then was he given medical attention by the infermicera, a sort of R.A.P. type common on Timor.

Wadey Treated By the Portuguese Infermicera

To digress a moment to account for these infermicera. Because of its remoteness from the homeland, Timor had difficulty attracting sufficient doctors to staff the island and to offset this weakness the resident doctor in Dili used to train the more intelligent type of Islanders, both Timorese and half caste, in some of the medical practices, such as giving injections, and some nursing practices.  Their training appeared to be about on a par with a well-trained St. John Ambulance Brigade member and because of constant practice at the various Postos they were quite adept up to this standard and would be considered quite good at giving all types of injections, including the ‘boo gee’ which they would give at the drop of a hat.

Back to Flying Officer Wadey.  He had his burns dressed quite capably with the medicines available to the infermicerabut unfortunately these did not contain the newer type of Tannic Acid Jelly substances which were at that time the most modern thing for treatment of burns.  His morale was not good as he was on tenterhooks all the time because of the attitude of the Administrator and he felt that it was only a matter of time before the Japs discovered his presence (remember he was shot down by a Zero who would have to some extent pinpointed his position) and he would be handed over to the tender mercies of the Sons of Heaven.

Tom Nisbet and Tex Richards Investigate

Word of the airman's presence at Manatuto had filtered through to ‘B’ Platoon and Lt. Tom Nisbet of 4 Section, and Spr. ‘Tex’ Richards who was attached to ‘B’ Platoon for demolition and other duties, set off to try to find him.

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Sparrow Force war diary entry reporting Wadey believed to be at Baucau

 

They found the wrecked plane, buried the two dead crewmen and burnt the aircraft’s papers. Their inquiries revealed that one man had parachuted from the aircraft and was now in hospital at Calicai. Realising that the Japanese would also be after the airman, Nisbet and Richards pressed on to Calicai.  The journey took two days and left them exhausted.

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Sparrow Force war diary entry reporting Wadey now in hospital at Calicai

Lt. Pires, the District Administrator at Bacau, while not actively espousing our cause, was to all intents and purposes in our bag, considered it would be safer if he were taken further afield to Baguia where there was quite a good hospital and an excellent infermicera.  The move to Baguia was affected without incident and Nisbet left the aviator in ‘Tex’ Richard's care and headed back to his platoon, contacting Doig at Viqueque on his way back and putting him in the picture. [8]

Doig and the Old Chev 6

Things were O.K. for a while at Baguia but word got through to Doig by Porto ‘Mulga Wire’ that it was the Jap's intention to go to Baguia in force and grab the airman.

There was no time for elaborate plans so Doig and Rowan-Robinson set off for Ossu to discover the most rapid method of getting to Baguia and rescuing Wadey before the Nip moved in.  At Ossu they were able to get an old Chev 6 (remember the first model brought out by Chev with a six cylinder engine about 1930) with a pretty good motor but the tyres were in crook condition.  This car was run on a wood alcohol distillate and got in about one backfire for every firing motion and it sounded as if it were jet propelled.  The driver was the usual Porto type (probably a desperado with a reckless disregard for his own or anybody else's life) as he hooted and back-fired his way to contact Pires who was to tell them where they could obtain some petrol.  It was decided that the tyres on the car wouldn't be much good for the trip from Bacau to Bagia and another Chev 6 was found with good tyres but the engine of doubtful quality.

The Journey to Baguia

There was no time to make a change of wheels so it was the second car or nothing. Pires surreptitiously sneaked the party out of Baucau at nightfall to, of all places, the local cemetery.  They ‘dug up’ two five gallon cans of petrol which had been ‘planted’ there.  A most appropriate place to plant things if it can be so recorded.

Doig and Rowan-Robinson, with the driver and a friend, then set off on the tortuous trip to Baguia.  Robbie was in the front with the driver as he had a Tommy gun and Doig was in the rear seat with the other Porto.

The road to Baguia had to be seen to be believed.  It was more like a switch-back or a funicular railway than anything else as it wound its way up, down and around mountains.  At times it appeared we would disappear up our own grummits on some of the hairpin bends.  All the while the driver kept up a running conversation with his mate in the back seat, turning around every second or so to punctuate his remarks with appropriate hand actions.  This soon proved to be too much for Doig, who could see that R.S.L. badge receding into the dim distance, and with a splurge of the best bullock driver Australian told the driver to keep his eyes, thoughts, mind and everything else on the unmentionable road.  The idea apparently penetrated through the Porto's mind as from then on he did pay a bit more attention to the driving.

In Baguia

Baguia is situated in a fabulous rice growing area and whole mountain sides are terraced to provide paddies for the growing of rice and it was through this that the road wound - a truly magnificent sight with the water spilling from paddy to paddy as it came down the mountain side.  Eventually we reached Baguia and had the first sight of our quarry.  He looked frightful.  Never a robust type, he looked absolutely bloodless and his burns were terrific.  ‘Tex’ Richards and the Porto infermicerahad done an outstanding job of dressing his wounds and caring for him.

Wadey, not unnaturally, was in a panic at being moved as he was in a highly shocked condition and his previous journeys had not inspired him with confidence. Doig bluntly gave him the alternative of coming with the party of his own free will or being brought out forcibly as it was not the party's intention of leaving him there to be an easy capture for the Japs.

Back To Baucau

The move next day was not all that difficult.  The spare Porto was left behind and Wadey and ‘Tex’ given the back seat while Doig and ‘Robbie’ were with the driver in the front seat. Luckily the Chef de Postat Baguia spoke some English and Doig was able to get him to impress on the driver the necessity for care and haste in the task ahead.

Remember this time the party was returning towards the direction from which the Jap was expected and no news had been heard of possible Jap moves since the party left Ossu.  The telephone from Baucau to Baguia was still in operation and we knew that at least the Jap was not yet at Baucau.  Robbie and Doig were on a constant alert for any signs along the road but the trip to Baucau was uneventful - if such a trip could ever be called uneventful.  Wadey was in a daze as he peered over the side of the track and it could be seen that in his dazed condition the trip was doing him the power of ‘no good’.

The Wonderful Pires

Time off to dress the patient's seeping wounds at Bagia and to give him some nourishment in the way of chicken broth thoughtfully arranged by the wonderful Pires. Pires was a wonderful man, the very best type of Porto who had been on the island some 20 odd years and had married a Timorese woman and had a tribe of children.  He was wise and understanding and had a gentle nature and was beloved by all the Timorese in his area.  He was said to be the least strict of his contemporaries as a disciplinarian but achieved outstanding results without the use of excess ‘palmatory’, the Porto method of corporal punishment.

Baucau to Ossu

The trip from Baucau to Ossu should have been fairly easy.  The road was more or less easy going after the Bagia-Baucau section, but the car was starting to show signs of wear and tear and was only running on about four cylinders as we left Baucau.  None of this was assisting the patient who began to look like a frightened child and was complaining bitterly.  As the party neared Ossu they were heaving sighs of relief that the job had been accomplished without undue incident when it was discovered that the ‘bloody Dutch’ had blown the bridge over the river just north of Ossu and therefore the car would not be able to ford the river.  Apparently when the Porto rumour that the Japs were on the move got to the Dutch they panicked and blew up the bridge and set up a defensive position.

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VENILALE, PORTUGUESE TIMOR. 1946-01-08. MEMBERS OF THE MILITARY HISTORY FIELD TEAM STANDING ON A BRIDGE ON THE VENILALE TO OSSU ROAD. (PHOTOGRAPHER SGT K. B. DAVIS)

The Blown Bridge North of Ossu

Thank God Zylstra was in charge In no time flat he saw the predicament his O.C.’s precipitate action had placed the rescuing party in and he set about to rectify it.  He got onto Olivera, the Chef de Postofor both Ossu and Viqueque and between them they got a car of type to go to the river on the Ossu side.  As far as the writer remembers this was a big sedan, possibly a late model Chev, but the engine was hors de combat and it had to be pushed or pulled.  Zylstra arranged for his men to act as stretcher bearers to carry Wadey over the fordable portion of the river and he was placed in the car, then all and sundry pushed and pulled it into Ossu.

In Ossu

By now it was dark and the patient required dressing and food.  The infermiceraat Ossu although competent, was not the same gentle type as his counterpart at Bagia and this was not at all to the patient's liking and once again Doig had to take a firm stand for the patient’s own good.

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OSSU, PORTUGUESE TIMOR. 1946-01-07. THE DUTCH FORCES USED THIS HOUSE AS A HEADQUARTERS WHEN THE TOWN WAS OCCUPIED BY SPARROW FORCE IN 1942. AN INJURED AUSTRALIAN PILOT, PROBABLY 407068 FLIGHT LIEUTENANT S. G. WADEY OF 2 SQUADRON, WAS BROUGHT TO THIS HOUSE FOR TREATMENT AFTER EVADING THE JAPANESE. MOUNT LAURITAME IS IN THE BACKGROUND. (PHOTOGRAPHER SGT K. B. DAVIS)

After a few days at Ossu it was decided that it was too prominent a position to have a stretcher case, as a quick swoop would have the Japs right on us before the patient could be moved, also our wireless contact might have been compromised. A move was made into the bush to a native village called Ossu Rua (Ossu Two) and huts were quickly erected by the natives so that the patient would not lack comfort.

Tex Richards Cares For Wadey

All this time patrols and recce groups were going on and the work of "H" Force was not sublimated to the necessity to look after the badly shocked and burnt airman.  He was not the best patient in the world and poor old ‘Tex’ Richards had a hell of a time as his personal attendant.  It was eventually necessary to tell him to act up mansize and point out to him that the Company had had some pretty bad casualties in the way of Allan Hollow, Keith Hayes, Eddie Craghill, Jerry Maley and others who had had tougher times than Wadey without requiring the full time assistance of a nursemaid.  This proved to be the start of the road back for Wadey as his morale rose from that day and although his burns were still terrific he threw off his shocked condition and started to help himself.

…..

Olivera got together quite a big line of stretcher bearers and ‘Tex’ Richards and (I think) Geo. Timms set off for Beco with the patient.  Wadey was in good spirits at this time and thanked all in ‘H’ Force for what had been done for him.  The carry to Beco was arduous but largely uneventful”. [9]

….

SID WADEY’S EVACUATION FROM TIMOR

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Sparrow Force war diary entry showing ‘Airman Wadey being moved to Force HQ now at Barique’

It is certain that Wadey was not transported all the way to Beco because the Sparrow Force war diary entry for 22 September 1942 records that ‘Airman Wadey arrived Force HQ’ which at that time was in Alas. [10]

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Sparrow Force war diary entry showing Wadey’s arrival at Force HQ (Alas)

The date of his arrival at Alas coincided with preparations to receive the destroyer ‘Voyager’ that was carrying the 2/4 Independent Company as reinforcements for Sparrow Force.  The ‘Voyager’ unfortunately ran aground at Betano and had to be scuttled to prevent it falling into Japanese hands.

“When news of the ‘Voyager’ disaster reached Darwin two corvettes, HMAS ‘Warrnambool’ and ‘Kalgoorlie’, were ordered to Betano to take off the officers and crew of ‘Voyager’ and the 2/2nd sick and wounded, including Wadey, the airman who had been rescued earlier.  The two ships arrived about midnight on 25 September 1942, anchoring well out in the bay in seventeen fathoms of water.  Their motorboats slipped ashore to meet the Voyager’s barges filled with seamen and soldiers and towed them back to the ships.  In little more than an hour the transfers were complete and the two corvettes were heading back to Darwin”. [11]

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Sparrow Force war diary entry recording Wadey’s evacuation

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HMAS ‘Kalgoorlie’ Report of Proceedings recording the embarkation of ‘1 Air Force personnel’ (Wadey)

SID WADEY’S JOURNEY TO SAFETY

After Sid Wadey was back in Australia he told the story of his rescue to the press:

Timor Jungle Journey

“How an R.A.A.F. Pilot Escaped Flying-Officer Sid . Wadey, R.A.A.F., who recently returned to Australia, owes his life to the commandos in Timor, who made his escape possible after he had spent 35 days on the island.

Corporal R.C. (‘Tex’) Richards, of South Hobart, organised the party of natives which carried the South Australian pilot in an armchair for the greater part of the 35 days' journey over mountains 2,000 feet high and through dense buffalo grass and bamboo jungle.  The grass was so thick that it was impossible for the untrained eye to see the track followed by the natives.

Flying-Officer Wadey was shot down by Zeros and bailed out.  He landed on a mountain side in buffalo grass 12 feet high and was suffering so badly from burns that he had to tear his parachute with his teeth to bandage his arms and legs.

He had visions of hiding by day and travelling by night till he could reach the coast, but the arrival of a native who gave him three cups of native ‘bomber’ - which looked like  coconut milk - had disastrous results on Pilot-Officer Wadey's strained nerves. At the point of a knife the pilot was forced to stumble two miles to a native village, where he was well received and hidden.

Natives Friendly

Four days later, when his endurance was low and his temperature high, the commandos turned up to take charge of Wadey ‘And was I pleased to see these heavily-bearded sons of Australia’ he said yesterday.

During the time he was hiding in the native village a male hospital attendant wearing the Red Cross had made an excellent lob of Wadey’s burns and he was in better condition to face the 31 day journey during which he was carried across the island always a lap or two ahead of the Japanese.

As he was unable to move his arm to signal for anything he wanted during the first few days he was on the island Wadey had to learn the native language as best he could in order to obtain food.  The natives were always friendly but afraid of being discovered by the Japanese.

While learning native words to enable him to live, Wadey reciprocated by trying to teach the natives the words of Army songs - not all of them censored.

In his journey across the Island, Flying-Officer Wadey travelled first by ambulance car next by arm chair carried by natives and then by motor car, with no headlights progress was difficult at night in the mist and once when petrol gave out in the middle of a bridge on either side of which was a drop of 1,000 feet, 60 natives pushed the car uphill for the next few miles.

For 11 days Wadey was carried shoulder high by natives through the buffalo grass, following Corporal Richards whose head and shoulders only could be seen although he was riding a horse.

Married On Return

Mountains 2,000 feet high had to be traversed before Wadey reached the place where arrangements were made to enable him to return to Australia.

He enlisted in May 1940 and Is now awaiting the doctor's permission to meet the Japanese in the air again.

During his leave, Flying-Officer Wadey married a South Australian girl, and he said yesterday that he had heard that Corporal Richards was also on his way home to be married.

Flying-Officer Wadey paid a tribute to the work of the commandos in Timor.  ‘The first one I saw was Tom Nisbet, who weighed 17 stone, and never looked fitter’ he said 'I had expected some half-emaciated creatures to crawl in from the jungle.  The natives are giving magnificent assistance to the commandos, and they seek out an A.I.F. man asking him to be 'tuan'.  The natives who carried me across the island couldn't have been more gentle, and they didn't drop me once”. [12]

POSTCRIPT

Doig concluded his account of Sid Wadey’s story as follows:

“He did regain his health and his strength and it is understood that he returned to flying duties and thanks to the wonderful nursing attention by ‘Tex’ Richards and two or three excellent Porto infermiceras, he has little bodily to show for his terrific ordeal. He featured in a movie made during the war to publicise a Loan Campaign and for this he looked extra well and gave our show quite a rap up with an extra special mention for ‘Tex’ Richards. Which is how it should be”. [13]

Many years later, Keith Dignum of Seaton, South Australia, contributed this interesting and perceptive story about Sid Wadey to the ‘Courier’ in 1995:

“Sid Wadey: On the 7th November the widow of Sid passed away and that caused me to think of Sid.  He used to come here to meet the boys and relive his experiences of Timor and talk.  He was good at that.  He always appeared to have an unlit cigarette in his fingers and that gave him the opportunity to approach someone for a light and start up a conversation.  The cigarette would smoulder away until the ash was about 1 1/2" long.  Gravity would take over and it would finish up on the floor.  Sid was the bane of Betty's life, sweeping up the ashes.

Sid was forever quizzing the chaps on Timor.  Bob Williamson was the only one who could help him.  Unbeknown to us Sid had dementia.  He wanted all the information for a book he was going to write.  In due course he gave me a draft to read.  I read a couple of pages, that was all, later he rang me up and asked me what I thought of it.  I said it was B.S. which didn't make him very happy.

After that 'Big Charlie' smote me with his dirty left.  About 4 years later I was cleaning up and lo and behold, I had Sid's story in diary form.  I read it and it is one of the best accounts I have read.  At no time did he big time himself.  He thought Tex Richards was wonderful, a veritable 'oracle,' a mister fix it and thought the 2/2 were great.  He got down to the beach, the ‘Voyager’ was aground and had to come off on the ‘Kalgoorlie’ on 27 [25]/9/47 [42].  ….

I have more respect for Sid after reading his story.  He had three psychological barriers to cross.  1. Pain - he was badly burnt.  2. Remorse - his crew were all incinerated.  3. He was completely out of his element.  He probably had never been camping with half a dozen rabbit traps and a .22 rifle and then to meet up with the 2/2nd in Timor would probably throw him for a loop”. [14]

REFERENCES

[1] ‘Private advices’ Advertiser(Adelaide, SA : 1931 - 1954), Friday 28 August 1942, page 8.

[2] F-Lt S. G. Wadey, 407068. 6, 14 and 2 Sqns. Accountant; of Adelaide; b. Adelaide, 2 Apr 1918.

[3] Douglas Gillison. - Royal Australian Air Force 1939-42(Australia in the War of 1939-1945, series 3 Air, v.1): 643-644.  https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C1417627

[4] Air Reconnaissance Report No 83, of 22 Aug 1942.

[5] Crew: Plt Off S.W. Faull (401779), Sgts W.R. Edeson (406716), F.M. O'Reilly (406730), W.H. Gould (414224).

[6] Extract from Sid Wadey, The Operation Order for the Day Read, unpublished manuscript, courtesy of his widow Mrs M. Wadey, RAAF Hudson Squadrons Association, Adelaide reprinted in John Bennett. -Highest traditions: the history of No 2 Squadron, RAAF. – Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service, 1995: 195, 204.

[7] Doig’s recollection of events is slightly awry here.  The Hudson bomber actually crashed north east of Laclubar at Cribas. Ron Birch visited the site in September-October 2015 and provided the following description:

“South of Manatuto is the village of Cribas where I asked, always my questions were via an interpreter, if anyone had any knowledge of a plane crash in the area. I was directed to an elderly local who remembered the crash.  The local agreed to accompany me to the site where, without prompting, he said that he remembers the big aircraft being shot down by another plane.  He pointed out where some of the wreckage landed on two sides of a narrow ravine and other wreckage on an easterly ravine side.  He remembers the parachute, he indicated what it was but did not know what to call it, landing slightly to the north of where we were.  The three bodies were near the wreckage on the easterly slope.  The badly burnt Wadey he remembers well and asked after him. The three dead crewmen he helped bury and pointed out the site.  I asked if any Australians had visited the site and he could not remember if any had.  The three dead crewmen have in fact been re buried in Ambon.

Three is no visible wreckage now after 73 years of monsoonal rains washing down the ravines and yearly flooding.

This local, Manuel Luis age unknown, is the last one alive who witnessed the shooting down and loss of this aircraft.

GPS location of crash site 8°41.587'S125°58.899'E”.

[8] Callinan notes that ‘To obtain close control of the whole operation I moved Force Headquarters over to Company Headquarters at Ailalec the day before the major moves were commenced.  When I entered Ailalec there awaited me two priests whom I had not met previously.  One of them introduced himself as Father Goulart, the Administrator of the Diocese of Dili.  It was in his car that Wadey had been taken by Nisbet from the hospital at Calicai [and transported to Baguia] to avoid capture by the Japanese.  He [Goulart] had been threatened and beaten by the Japanese for this assistance he had given on this and other occasions; this did not deter him, but now he had been warned by loyal chiefs that arms and bribes were being offered to natives to kill all the whites.  The visit to me was to seek evacuation to Australia for eleven nuns, one of whom was over eighty years of age, and for ten priests’.  See Callinan Independent Company: 197.

[9] Doig History of the 2/2 Independent Company …: 144-146; see also Doig Ramblings of a Ratbag: 96-98.

[10] See also Sid Wadey’s recollection that ‘I was told when leaving Cailicai, plans had changed and I was on my way to Alas’; ‘A Hudson pilot over Timor - Sid Wadey's Remarkable Experience’ 2/2 Commando Courier, February 1985, pp. 6–7.

[11] Ayris All the Bull’s men: 334-335.

[12] ‘Timor Jungle Journey’ Sydney Morning Herald(NSW : 1842 – 1954), Thursday 14 January 1943, page 6; see also ‘By Armchair Over Timor's Mountains’ Courier-Mail(Brisbane, Qld. : 1933 - 1954), Thursday 14 January 1943, page 1.

[13] Doig History of the 2/2 Independent Company …: 146.

[14] O.K. (Keith) Dignum, [Letter] 2/2 Commando CourierDecember 1995: 6-7.

ADDITIONAL READING

Callinan Independent Company: 160-161, 167.

Cleary The men who came out of the ground : 202.

Wray Timor 1942: 128-131.

 

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