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robert hart

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By way of introduction, I am Robert Hart, a retired public servant, also an unproduced writer and past part-time stringer cameraman for ABCTV back in the now ancient times when motion picture film was still being used. At request of Steven Rice, who filmed oral histories with some of the veterans who were still with us in 2003, I have been co-writing a motion picture film script.

Steve has a longstanding interest in military history, prompted by his father and uncle having been British naval servicemen during the Second World War. 

This is a new project, unrelated to the 20th Century Fox project which was proposed shortly after the Second World War concluded. It depicts the period from the defence against the Japanese invasion of Koepang and Dili on Timor Island to the final evacuation via the dutch destroyer Tjerk Hiddes. 

While filming the oral history of the late Paddy Keneally, Steve learned he was very shortly to revisit East Timor which he apparently had done several times before. With his camera assistant Steve immediately followed him there and filmed a few more interviews. Unfortunately due to a technical malfunction, the recording microphone failed and much of the dialogue recorded on Timor was lost. 

Steve has been drawing heavily upon the collection of books published by veterans and the publication by Cyril Ayris which is available for purchase on this website. With published accounts, sometimes there are unavoidable gaps in a sequence of events which require additional research or fictional infill. To this end we seek to speak with descendants who may have additional information.

We are also seeking any information as to whether kriados Akiu, Berimou and Arnalda survived the post-evacuation reprisals by the Japanese. Arnalda was apparently well educated and self-motivated. Had he survived he might well have become involved in East Timor's resistance to the Indonesian occupation or become a political/local government entity. Who knows?

Steve engaged a newcomer film editor to assemble and edit his oral histories as a teaser presentation to seek funding assistance to create a feature motion picture. His efforts did not meet with success at the time. Now retired in the Kingdom of Thailand, he now has more time to re-engage in his project.

With consent of the Association's members, I seek to attend the gathering at Kings Park this coming November 21st to film the event for an EPK serving the film project should it progress and also to make an enduring record of the event's highlights for the association. 

A link to the 2003 assembly of some of the oral histories is copied below. 


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Thank you for making contact Robert and letting the Association know about your Timor campaign film project.  The video including the interviews with Tom Forster, Ray Aitken, John Burridge, Ray Parry and ‘Doc’ Wheatley is very interesting and will make a valuable addition to our video and image gallery on the Doublereds website.

The post WWII fate of the criados was of considerable interest to the veterans of the 2/2 and 2/4 several of whom visited Timor and attempted to locate the young men who had campaigned with them including Paddy Kenneally, Ray Aitken, John Burridge, Arch Campbell and others.  References to these activities can be found in the Ayris book and Arch Campbell’s book that can also be purchased and downloaded as an e-book from the Doublereds store (https://doublereds.org.au/store/).

Please contact me directly by e-mail at: president@doublereds.org.au and I can refer you to other sources of information that are relevant to your project and also to discuss your request to film the forthcoming 2/2 commemoration ceremony at Kings Park on November 21.

Ed Willis

President, 2/2 Commando Association of Australia

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Sheree Hart, 'Doc' Wheatley's granddaughter, will  deliver the address at the Commemoration Service on November 21, 2021.

My father's Kriadu, Nicolau Goncalves, visited Australia in 1968 and stayed with our family; our family is still in contact with the Goncalves family.

In the year 2000, my brother Murray and Nicolau's son, Januario Goncalves, worked together to help  rebuild Timor Lorosae. The sons of two men who fought alongside each other in 1942 are now working together to rebuild Timor Lorosae.

In 1995, Murray and I also met Louis Gon Zaga in Bazartete . Louis was the carpenter who worked with the 2/2 Commando's 4 section.


Norm and Nicolau 1968 Denmark WA.jpg


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In the writing of a screenplay, there are often missing pieces in the recollection of an event which require some interpolative wordstuff to be added. In research readings thus far of the first successful transmission to Australia, it was unclear just where that occurred. For now the event is set in Mape. This can be corrected in succeeding drafts. Meanwhile, here is a sample of a scene being worked upon in the first draft.

What is known is that the builder of the radio, Joe Loveless was very unwell and had to push himself through successive build attempts until the contact with Australia was re-established.

Fictional representations of factual events in motion picture films are sometimes resented by family members/next of kin of persons depicted.  Especially sensitive can be when some characters are combined for the sake of the necessary brevity which the 90 to 120 minutes of screen time demands. It is the writers' intent to remain faithful to the truths as they are known and also to respect the memory of the people who gave so much of their lives and well-being for the sake of us who have inherited this country after them. 

Please be gentle with us. We are far from confident in what we are doing. 


Jack Sargeant, stiffens and leans closer to the speaker 
as a faint morse code in tone replies. 

That's Darwin. They heard us. 

He keys in a reply. 


The heaters in the valves which fade from dull red to 


His face creases in concentration. 

Nothing. --- I think we've gone dead.

The batteries are too low. 

Parker moves to Joe Loveless and pats him hard on the 

Doesn't matter. You did it Joe. YOU 
did it. We got through. They know. 

Joe Loveless manages a momentary weak smile.

I think I'll go and sit down. Maybe I 
better try to have a sleep. --- 

I'm a bit buggered -- you see. 

You go and do that Joe. --- 

Joe Loveless walks unsteadily out of the radio room. 

We'll get the engine running and try 
again tomorrow night. She'll be a sure 
thing. -- She'll be a winner. - You'll see.

(plus improvised chorus from 
the other men)
Goodnight Joe. 

Improvised cheers and hollers from the men as Joe walks 
towards our view.

                                                             FADE TO BLACK:

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I have another favour to ask of everyone in research. Was Paddy Keneally part of the radio link being set up between Darwin and Timor (Fretilin) after Indonesia invaded,? My vague recollection that the unions were involved. My equally vague recollection is that there remained in our governance and military thinking, a concern about communism getting a foothold in Timor and that Indonesia was strongly anti-communist, thus why the Indos were given licence to do what they did.

Any advice will be much appreciated.

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 1 month later...

In the course of researching the creado Akiu and his possible later connection with a Sgt. Stevenson of Z force surveilling the village of Maubisse, some interesting information has emerged. That surveillance occurred after the independent companies were evacuated.

It seems that Capt Callinan's suspicions that there was a fifth column at work may have been triggered by non-coincidental events may in part or wholly have resulted from the capture and turning by the Japanese Kempeitai of Australian covert operatives during the latter half of the 2/2nd's presence in East Timor. 

This is a good fit for the sighting of taller Japanese men in black uniforms referred to in one of the published books. 

Sgt. Stevenson discovered only after two long years of Japanese impersonating the covert teams that they had been compromised. It was a remarkable coup by the Japanese.  It unfortunately seems that some incompetences by Australians back on the mainland permitted the Japanese counter-intelligence campaign to succeed as long as it did.

Fortunately, ciphers were redrawn locally by the independent companies when codes and ciphers were lost or had gone obsolete. The frequencies, radio schedules and ciphers between the 2/2nd and the mainland may have been compromised. This observation has only come about though an initial reading with more homework to be done. 

These websites may be of interest to those not already familiar with apparent other parallel development in the Timor campaign. How much Capt. Callinan and Maj. Spence knew of the covert team operating in their patch one can only guess :-


Operation Sunlag

If anyone can give me any leads on further information relating to creados Akiu, Montelo, Berimou, Arnalda,during and postwar, this would be much appreciated. 

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  • 1 year later...


Hello Robert,

My name is Guy Warnock and I am a serving officer in the ADF serving in Timor-Leste at present.

I have met with and am in contact with Ed Willis about various Sparrow Force and post-WW2 historical matters in Timor-Leste. 

As to your query about the kriadu 'Akiu', both Ed and I are in frequent contact with the Akiu's family, including his daughter Ines and - in particular - his granddaughter Gracia, who is a particularly bright 20 year-old student here in Dili with a great deal of potential.  Perhaps this might be of interest to you and your enquiry?  

Please feel free to contact me on the following means or perhaps reach out to Ed Willis for further information. 

+670 7727 2852 (WhatsApp [best] or call)

+61 447 408 444 (WhatsApp only after hours or call / text after December 2023) 


Kind regards,


Guy Warnock


Australian Regular Army  

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  • 1 month later...

After a long period of not being able to log in, I finally discovered that my password which is a rather complex traditional aboriginal word had a capital letter in it that I somehow misread. I guess that comes with the territory of ageing eyesight. 

So a public thank you to Guy Warnock whom I have since contacted and the lead to another history which I have yet to lay my eyes on. 

Since my last information request, we have taken a break. One needs to step away, then return to a project with fresh eyes and a clear mind. Meanwhile, co-writer/researcher Steve Rice who filmed some oral histories with veterans in 2003 suffered a stroke in Thailand which is his home. He has made good progress since. Becoming all disconnected down one side was a scare for him. Fortunately, his faulty circuits have largely reconnected themselves. He has been going out fitness-walking again and has also taken some excursions to popular spots since. 

Our screenplay is comprised of 219 pages which in screenplay formatting comes out as about 219 minutes of running time. There are still some inserts to be made. Since most commercial cinema feature films vary between about 90 to 120 minutes of running time, we are way over and yet have not completely covered the story.

I can understand why 20th Century Fox did not progress their own project during the early to mid-1950s. Their writers would have encountered the same dilemma of whom and what do you include and dismiss. A popular writing device is to meld several persons into single characters but how can this be done with fairness and authenticity in this instance we have yet to resolve. 

Prior to Steve's stroke, we had contemplated rewriting the script as a eight-part Netflix-style presentation. Where the streaming services are now heading is anyone's guess. They are encountering difficulties and may not continue to fund productions to the same degree they have been. For now, the task will be to complete scripting the histories and information we have and to hunt down the inevitable errors.

Thank you again for your information and suggestions.

Ricey on foot again.jpg

Edited by robert hart
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For the sake of the curious, here is an extract from the Gerry Maley rescue. The are some improbables like a broader understanding of english among the local population than was real at the time. We shall have to deal with that in the next draft or just drop much of the dialogue and allow the action and gestures to do the work. 

AUDIO FX: Night creatures, crickets dominate the 


Turton, Dunkley and their two guides stalk slowly 
towards the village. They halt near a sleeping Japanese 
with his back against a tree.  

No boss. We can't see him off without 
bringing hell down on this village 

The two Timorese appear relieved. They resume their move 

AUDIO TX: A nearby pig grunts. Then we hear extremely 
loudly a dog scratching itself.


The dog stops scratching and looks towards them. They 
freeze. The two Timorese keep moving and beckon Turton 
and Dunkley to follow. 

He friend no bark.

They move on through a silhouette skeleton of posts, 
campfire smoke drifting, small yards and oomahs on 

A baby cries followed by the soft murmur of a mother 

By the entrance of the next oomah, Blank halts and signs 
the others to halt. 


On a split bamboo verander floor lays a Japanese soldier 
in sleep. He slaps at a mosquito, scratches his backside 
then is at rest again. 


We move with Turton, Dunkley and the two Timorese and 
they arrive at an oomah with a closed front entry door. 
Blank beckons towards the door. At the door he softly 
whistles a bird call. 


Dunkley, Turton and the two Timorese enter. By the door 
is the bayonet boy with his weapon held ready. He lowers 
the blade.


On the floor in the gloom is Gerry Maley, covered in 

Thank god for small mercies. I gave up 
on you. 

Well we're here now. 

The Japs are closing in on me. I was 
going to have to move again but you've 
turned up.

The late arrival is not my doing but 
talk about that later. I'm going to 
give you some morphine. 

You'll yelp for sure if I set that leg 
without it. 

Before I do, you need to know this 
place is full of Japs. When we move 
you, silence is the order of the day, 

Gerry Maley nods. 

Allright. Let's get this into you.

Capt Dunkley administers the morphine. Gerry's tense 
face relaxes.   

Thank god for that. It's been hurting 
like a bastard. No sleep for over a 

Save your breath Gerry. Let's get you 
fixed up first. 

The boys built me another stretcher 
but had to destroy it when the Japs 
rolled in.  

Nice to have friends like these 

You're not kidding. The Japs would 
have had my head for a football if 
these fellas had not looked after me. 

Don't fight it. We are watching over 
you. Just go to sleep. --

                                             CUT TO:

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