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Edward Willis

Commando Campaign Site Survey Project - Completing The Remaining Survey Work

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Commando Campaign Site Survey Project

Completing the remaining survey work

 

Perhaps even the grandchildren, or your sons and daughters one day will follow in your footsteps in Timor Leste?  To be walking the hills together seeing those places where, as young commandos with your Timorese companheiros you fought the enemy, will be a grand tribute to honour our wartime generations.

Letter from Francisco Xavier do Amaral (1937-2012), first President of East Timor to Jack Carey, 2008

1.        Promoting pilgrimage tourism to help the Timorese people

If you have a family or other personal connection to the 2/2, travelling to Timor-Leste for a holiday can be a very direct way to remember and honour a former 2/2 soldier. By visiting Timor-Leste, you also provide an important benefit to the Timorese people, in that you provide a much-needed stimulus to the local economy. 

The country is spectacular, and the people today are much like those wonderful people Timorese our soldiers knew – open, friendly, welcoming and helpful. Most Timorese speak fondly and with reverence about the men who were “criados” or others who provided such vital assistance to the Australians during WWII.

2.        Commando Campaign Site Survey Project

The 2/2 Commando Association of Australia has been working on a project to survey and record information about sites connected with the commando campaign against the Japanese on Timor during 1942-1943.

Those travelling to Timor-Leste to visit sites connected with the military campaign of the 2/2 and the 2/4 on Portuguese Timor would benefit greatly from better documentation and identification the locations of those sites.

Relevant sites include:

  •  places where significant actions were fought against the Japanese, such as ambush sites (eg: Lahane, Nunamogue and near Remexio where the Singapore Tiger was killed);
  •  places where 2/2 men were killed in action (eg: ration truck massacre, the old airfield, Bazar Tete and Liltai); and
  •   villages and postos where the 2/2 and 2/4 were based (eg: Cactus Flats, Three Spurs and Vila Maria).

There are a number of potential sites, some of which can be accessed by vehicle and others only by trekking.  It is intended to have all such sites documented in a standard and succinct way.  This will include each site’s name, location (GPS coordinates), relevant history, with ready access to other information such as maps, photos, local contacts etc.

The availability of such information will enable those wishing to visit these sites on an organised tour or travelling independently to readily locate them and be better able to appreciate their history and significance.

We are documenting these sites and will make the information publicly available through the Doublereds website (doublereds.org.au) and possibly by publishing a guidebook and releasing an app for smart phones and tablets.

The site information provided could also be used to:

  • devise itineraries for driving tours; and
  • plan trekking routes, including those based on actual journeys undertaken during the commando campaign (eg: the Winnie the War Winner Trek, the Sid Wadey Rescue Trek and the Timor Escapees Trek.  [1]

An example of the type of site documentation to be made available as an outcome of this project is that provided about Bazar-Tete and Ermera on the Doublereds website. [2]

More documentation for other sites that have been surveyed will be progressively added to the Doublereds website.

The aims of the project are:

  • to economically assist Timor-Leste by encouraging tourists with a connection to the 2/2, 2/4 or Z Force, or those with a more general interest in WWII history and heritage, to visit the country; and 
  • to foster greater awareness of the exploits of our soldiers and the invaluable support that they received from the Timorese people.

Survey work to date has been completed by committee members voluntarily, with some funding provided by the association.

3.         Remaining survey work to be done

There are 270 sites listed in the Gazetteer included the ‘Area study of Portuguese Timor’ (1943). [3]

  • 117 sites have been identified as ‘Key’ and worthy of being surveyed and documented because of their being mentioned in the unit and campaign histories, war diaries and personal accounts.
  • 31 Key sites have been surveyed and are being documented.
  • 86 sites and a few others not listed in the Gazetteer remain to be surveyed and documented.
  • Several key sites are difficult to access because of their locations in remote and mountainous terrain.

4.           Itinerary of sites to be surveyed

The following table lists the key sites to be visited, in order of a direction of travel heading south-west to begin with and then working back east, moving through the central part of the island then investigating the eastern end of the island before heading back to Dili along the north coast over a four-week period.

1

Nasuta

23

Lebos

45

Maubere

67

Baucau

2

Three Spurs

24

Fatu-Lulic

46

Turiscai

68

Calicai

3

Railaco

25

Fatu-Mean

47

Fatu-Maquerec

69

Baguia

4

Liu

26

Foho-Rem

48

Punar

70

Iliomar

5

Taco-Lulic

27

Tilomar

49

Laclubar

71

Lore

6

Gleno

28

Maucatar

50

Cribas

72

Jaco

7

Ermera

29

Lebos

51

Soibada

73

Tutuala

8

Ai-Fu

30

Cumnassa

52

Fatu-Berliu

74

Com

9

Fatu-Bessi

31

Suai

53

Ailalec

75

Fuiloro

10

Vila-Maria

32

Beco

54

Mindelo

76

Lautem

11

Talo

33

Rai-Mean

55

Alas

77

Laivai

12

Hatu-Lia

34

Lias

56

Same

78

Laga

13

Tata

35

Hatu-Udo

57

Betano

79

Vemasse

14

Lete-Foho

36

Mape

58

Fatu-Cuac

80

Laleia

15

Atsabe

37

Cassa

59

Manu-Fai

81

Manatuto

16

Cailaco

38

Suro

60

Quelan River

82

Laclo

17

Marobo

39

Ainaro

61

Barique

83

Metinaro

18

Rita-Bau

40

Montassi

62

Lacluta

84

Hera

19

Bobonaro

41

Nunamogue

63

Viqueque

85

Remexio

20

Maliana

42

Aituto

64

Beasso

86

Liltai

21

Memo

43

Hatu-Builico

65

Ossu

 

 

22

Lolotoi

44

Maubisse

66

Venilale

 

 

 

  • The itinerary must be flexible, so that each site can be properly investigated and documented without the obligation to be at a set location at the end of each day
  •  Food and meals would be purchased as required along the way.
  • Accommodation would be utilised at hotel and guest houses when available. Survey participants would camp out at other times.

1205195260_Sitesmap.thumb.jpg.f3086a8c87ccf432401437096e72cc6d.jpg

Map of itinerary of sites to be surveyed

5.           Support needed to complete remaining survey work

Funding will need to be sufficient to cover the cost of a four-week research survey, conducted during the dry season, to allow the remaining survey work to be completed.

Costs will include air fares, accommodation, meals, vehicle hire, fuel, guide/interpreter, mobile phone calls and data, etc.

The survey would be best undertaken later in the dry season (July to September), when land is drier and therefore more stable and accessible.  Access to some sites can be made difficult by the steep and rugged terrain and by muddy road and track conditions.

Some sites may only be accessible in the final stages on foot or, where practicable, as a motorbike pillion passenger.

6.            Can you help?

The association is seeking donations that for the costs of completing the remaining site survey work.  A target of $20,000 has been set for the project.

Your contribution can be made using the Doublereds ‘Donations’ page and completed using ‘Commando Campaign Site Survey’ link located there:

https://doublereds.org.au/donations/

Any donation, great or small, would be greatly appreciated.

7.             References

[1] See ‘The Sid Wadey Story – Rescued On Timor’ https://doublereds.org.au/forums/topic/207-the-sid-wadey-story-–-rescued-on-timor/?tab=comments#comment-370;

‘75 Years On – “Winnie The War Winner” – Mape, Portuguese Timor - April 20, 1942’ https://doublereds.org.au/forums/topic/106-75-years-on-winnie-the-war-winner-–-mape-portuguese-timor-april-20-1942/?tab=comments#comment-163;

‘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’ https://doublereds.org.au/forums/topic/218-escape-from-timor-–-how-four-men-made-it-back-to-darwin-after-the-japanese-invasion-of-portuguese-timor-–-arnold-webbs-and-des-lilyas-stories/?tab=comments#comment-399

[2] ‘Commando Campaign Sites – East Timor - Ermera District – Ermera’ https://doublereds.org.au/forums/topic/217-commando-campaign-sites-–-east-timor-ermera-district-ermera/;

‘Commando Campaign Sites – East Timor - Liquiça District - Bazar-Tete’ https://doublereds.org.au/forums/topic/214-commando-campaign-sites-–-east-timor-liquica-district-bazar-tete/

[3] Allied Forces. South West Pacific Area. Allied Geographical Section.  Area study of Portuguese Timor / Allied Geographical Section, South West Pacific Area: The Section [Brisbane], 1943.

https://repository.monash.edu/items/show/26455#?c=0&m=0&s=0&cv=0

Captain David Dexter of the 2/2 was seconded to the Allied Geographical Section to compile this publication.  It is an invaluable primary resource for the Timor campaign containing descriptions of towns, postos, roads, tracks plus maps, town plans, photos and most significantly for this exercise a ‘Gazetteer of Towns and Villages in Portuguese Timor’.  A useful adjunct to the gazetteer is a map showing all the listed towns and villages and the roads and tracks connecting them.

 

Prepared by Ed Willis

Vice-President, 2/2 Commando Association of Australia

Revised: 11 November 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Edward Willis
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This is really great mapping project. I have done last year some research after travelling together with Ian Hampel and his son Bruce together with Timor Awakening group. As I am originally cartographer, I did dived deep in the history of 2/2 & 2/4 maps and aerial images.

Here is a link to Google Earth presentation of those maps used in all of the operations.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iV4RjfiWoTQ&t=31s

 

 

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