Committee Edward Willis Posted March 12 Committee Share Posted March 12 Over 10 years ago former Brigadier General Ernest (Ernie) Chamberlain waged a well-documented but sadly under-recognised campaign for recognition of the Timorese men who served with Australian special operations in Portuguese Timor during WWII. His comprehensive and aptly-titled monograph ‘Forgotten men’ (self-published 2010) includes pen-portraits of the Timorese men who served – one of these men was Sancho da Silva (1917-1997) who is featured in an image on the front cover of Chamberlain’s work along with other Timorese operatives while they were underdoing training at the Fraser Island Commando School in November 1943. Paul Cleary observed that: ‘A small detachment of Australia's Z Special Unit, a forerunner of the SAS, operated in the rugged eastern mountains of Portuguese Timor (now East Timor) in late 1942, while as many as 700 commandos fought the Japanese in the centre of the island. The Z unit recruited 71 Timorese men and brought them to Australia for training in special operations. About 40 were trained as "operatives". Timorese recruits were paid Australian salaries and wore Australian uniforms. A handful were then "inserted" into Japanese-occupied Portuguese Timor from 1943 onwards. Most were killed, captured or died in captivity. Sancho da Silva was captured in January 1944 when his mission was compromised because Japanese troops had obtained the Australian code. He was tortured and spent 18 months in captivity along with his commanding officer, Lieutenant John Cashman’. Sancho da Silva returned to Portuguese Timor in 1946 and lived in his home area at Ossu Wagia. He gave statements to the post-War war crimes investigation. He married Laurentina da Costa in 1946. During the Indonesian occupation, Sancho da Silva was a member of the anti-Indonesian Resistance movement in the period 1975-1977. In 1977, he was captured by Indonesian forces and imprisoned for three months at Ossu. Da Silva died in 1997 of pulmonary and respiratory failure. As a result of assistance and advocacy by Ernie Chamberlain, in 2011 the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) Mrs da Silva was awarded a one-off "act of grace" payment of about $30,000, a Gold Card for medical treatment and a regular monthly pension. Chamberlain noted: ‘Apropos Sancho da Silva’s monument, I believe that his widow Sra Laurentina paid for it from her DVA “act of grace” payment’. Though movingly dedicated to the memory of one of the ‘forgotten men’, in the absence of an appropriate national memorial for the whole group, this monument can in some measure fulfill that purpose. Visiting the site can be included in an itinerary covering the nearby Wasadiga “Golden Bullet” Memorial at Loihuno. One of the plaques at Wasadiga commemorates the Australian and Timorese who ‘resisted together in the District of Viqueque’ against the Japanese during WWII. Sancho da Silva is one of the Timorese listed on that plaque. Sancho da Silva monument location - 8.74938° S, 126.40370° E - coordinates were recorded during a visit to the site - 15/8/2022, 11:20 am The monument is located in a cemetery on the southern outskirts of Ossu township – heading south on the main road through the township, turn left immediately after passing the Mercado Municipal Ossu (Municipal Market) onto a road heading east for approximately 2 kilometres. The cemetery is on the right hand side of the road. The prominent monument should be able to be easily located within the cemetery. The inscription on the memorial reads: IN MEMORIAL SANCHO DA SILVA BORN: 12-8-1917 DEAD: 27-3-1997 TO HONOUR HIS CONTRIBUTION TO Z SPECIAL UNIT OPERATIONS IN PORTUGUESE TIMOR DURING WORLD WAR TWO. HE WAS CAPTURED BY JAPANESE FORCES. DUE TO HIS INVOLVEMENT TO THE AUSTRALIAN COMMONWEALTH MILITARY FORCE OPERATION IN VIQUEQUE, TIMOR-LESTE, 1943-1945. Monument - front view SOURCE: Chamberlain, Ernest. - Forgotten men : Timorese in special operations during World War II. - Point Lonsdale, Vic. : Ernest Chamberlain, 2010: 56-57. https://www.scribd.com/doc/29688334/Forgotten-Men-Timorese-in-Special-Operations-during-World-War-II# Sancho da Silva – Timorese, born in 1923 - of Ossu Rua. Scout and guide with OP LIZARD.  Evacuated to Australia as a member of the Dom Paulo group on 10 February 1943 on the US submarine ‘USS Gudgeon’ (with Lieutenant M. de J. Pires) from the mouth of the Dilor River (to Fremantle – arriving 18 February). With the Dom Paulo group in Melbourne with Lieutenant Pires for several weeks before moving to Bob’s Farm (Newcastle area) in March 1943 – i.e. with the “cinco indígenas” ex-‘Gudgeon’ (Cardoso - 2007, p.175). He trained at FCS in October-November 1943. A member of the SRD OP COBRA group inserted on 27 January 1944 by RAN Fairmile ML 814 in Darabei area. Compromised by LAGARTO, the two Australians (Lieutenant J.R. Cashman, Sergeant E.L. Liversidge) and Cosme Soares were captured that night in a Japanese ambush. Sancho da Silva and Paulo da Silva escaped, but were captured 12-14 days later. He was imprisoned by the Japanese military in Dili, in Lautem (August-September 1944), and at Dili/Tibar. Sancho da Silva’s rate of pay in November 1944 was 11/6 per day (i.e. an Australian sergeant’s pay rate).  On 12 February 1945, he was declared by SRD to Portuguese Consul Laborinho as “employed in semi-Army work”. Sancho da Silva survived Japanese captivity. He was evacuated by the Japanese to Flores on 5 September 1945, to Sumbawa on 15 September 1945, to East Java (arrived 23 September 45), to Bali on 24 September 45, was recovered and taken to Singapore on 3 October 1945.  He was returned to Australia and debriefed by Captain A.J. Ellwood (OP LAGARTO) on the fates of SRD personnel in Timor - and was declared as a “Sergeant” in the attached AAF A119 (Casualty Report) of 4 October 1945.  In Sydney on 19 October 1945, he received ₤150 in “back pay” and, at Armidale on 31 October 1945, he withdrew his bank funds. Sancho da Silva returned to Portuguese Timor in 1946 and lived in his home area at Ossu Wagia. He gave statements to the post-War war crimes investigation (MP742/1, 336/1/1724; AWM54, 1010/4/40). He married Laurentina da Costa in 1946. During the Indonesian occupation, Sancho da Silva was a member of the anti-Indonesian Resistance movement in the period 1975-1977. In 1977, he was captured by Indonesian forces and imprisoned for three months at Ossu. In 1988, he sought compensation from the Australian Government (through the retired former SRD Lieutenant Frank Holland - and subsequent correspondence with Warren Truss, MP and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs). Sancho da Silva died in Viqueque on 27 March 1997 (aged 74). His apparently unresolved compensation case was re-raised with the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) by Brigadier (Retd) E.P. Chamberlain in July 2007. The Minister for DVA stated that da Silva’s earlier file had not been retained, and its outcome was unclear. Subsequently, a formal pension/compensation claim for Sra. Laurentina (Sancho’s da Silva’s widow) was submitted to DVA on 30 October 2008 (Claim NX347528). As at mid-January 2010, a decision had yet to be made on the submission. References  Stone, P. (ed), El Tigre …, op. cit., pp.140-142 related Sancho da Silva’s activities in early February 1943 - including recovering a hidden wireless set for the SRD LIZARD III party. Sancho is mentioned as a criado - Brandão, C.C., Funo …, 1953, op. cit., p.165.  His SRD wage payments were made into an account at the Bank of Adelaide (267 Collins St, Melbourne) – from April 1944 allocated to “H.B. Manderson, Account H” (NAA: A3269, V20). From May 1944, the wages of Paulo da Silva and Sancho da Silva were to be paid to Paulo’s wife – Joanna da Silva (NAA: A3269, V20).  The Japanese did not intend evacuating Sancho da Silva – the only non-Australian SRD POW, as an Allied POW until fellow POW Captain J.R. Cashman (Sancho’s COBRA party commander) intervened.  Ellwood, A.J., ‘Operational Report on Lagarto, October 45’ (NAA: A3269, V17, p.146-149). See Carvalho, M. de Abreu Ferreira, Relatório …, 1947, op. cit., pp.441-442, p.471, p.735. SOURCE: Paul Cleary “Pension denied for widow of heroic Timorese 'Digger'” The Australian September 12, 2011 https://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/pension-denied-for-...roic-timorese-digger/news-story/95c48c0df6413fcf9d3418ae9a44d409 CELESTINO dos Anjos served with distinction in Australia's special forces in World War II, becoming the only Timorese recruit to receive a bravery decoration. But his execution by the Indonesian army in 1983 -- as part of a massacre of hundreds of Timorese -- has disqualified dos Anjos's widow Madalena from receiving an Australian government war widow's pension. Vietnam veteran Ernie Chamberlain, a retired brigadier who has pushed the interests of Timorese war widows since 2007, said the government had made an overly bureaucratic and unsympathetic decision regarding Mrs dos Anjos. The Department of Veterans Affairs recently granted a pension to Laurentina da Silva, whose husband Sancho was captured on Timor by Japanese forces in 1944 and imprisoned. Da Silva died in 1997 of pulmonary and respiratory failure. But after agreeing to provide Mrs da Silva with financial assistance, the department denied a request from Mrs dos Anjos. "It was apparently deemed by DVA that Sancho da Silva's death could be linked to his WWII service while the death of Madalena's husband could not," Mr Chamberlain said. Mrs da Silva was awarded a one-off "act of grace" payment of about $30,000, a Gold Card for medical treatment and a regular monthly pension. All that Mrs dos Anjos has in return for her husband's bravery is a weighty specially minted and numbered silver medal that has the Australian coat of arms on one side and the words "For Loyal Service" on the other. A small detachment of Australia's Z Special Unit, a forerunner of the SAS, operated in the rugged eastern mountains of Portuguese Timor (now East Timor) in late 1942, while as many as 700 commandos fought the Japanese in the centre of the island. The Z unit recruited 71 Timorese men and brought them to Australia for training in special operations. About 40 were trained as "operatives". Timorese recruits were paid Australian salaries and wore Australian uniforms. Some, like dos Anjos, enlisted in the Australian army and had intensive training that included parachuting. A handful were then "inserted" into Japanese-occupied Portuguese Timor from 1943 onwards. Most were killed, captured or died in captivity. Sancho da Silva was captured in January 1944 when his mission was compromised because Japanese troops had obtained the Australian code. He was tortured and spent 18 months in captivity along with his commanding officer, Lieutenant John Cashman. Several other missions sent to Portuguese Timor suffered a similar fate. It wasn't until mid- 1945 that Z Special Unit discovered the shocking truth when they sent unannounced a three- man party that included dos Anjos and Lieutenant Arthur Stevenson. The three were dropped in by parachute and soon learned that all the Australians and Timorese from their unit had been captured. The party was discovered by Japanese troops and hotly pursued. Mr Stevenson wrote in his report on the mission that it was only dos Anjos's bravery and local knowledge that allowed the party to evade the enemy for five weeks and be rescued. Mr Stevenson immediately recommended that dos Anjos be awarded a high military honour for bravery, but this did not happen until the early 1970s. A decade later, dos Anjos was one of hundreds of Timorese massacred by Indonesian troops in the villages of Kraras and Bibileo. He and his daughter were forced to dig their own graves. It was the village of Bibileo that had supplied and protected Mr Stevenson's party back in July 1945. A spokeswoman for Veterans Affairs Minister Warren Snowdon declined to comment on Mrs dos Anjos's case for privacy reasons. Paul Cleary is senior writer at The Australian and author of a history of Australia's World War II guerrilla war in Timor [?] SOURCE: From: "Ernest Chamberlain" Subject: Timor - Geoffrey Gunn, Forgotten Men Date: 1 February 2020 at 12:09:49 pm AWST To: "'Edward Willis'" Apropos Sancho da Silva’s monument, I believe that his widow Sra Laurentina paid for it from her DVA “act of grace” payment. See attached a photo - taken by my wife Christine, of me assisting Sra Laurentina fill in the DVA application forms near Viqueque in October 2008. As you know, the Australian Government did not viewed favourably any “recognition/compensation” for Timor’s “Forgotten Men” or their NoK – except belatedly in the case of Sra Laurentina. It’s not fully clear to me why DVA relented on Laurentina’s case – but it was the “Year of the PoW” in Australia at that time, and I think that probably had something to do with it (i.e. as Sancho survived the Japanese camps). All my correspondence to the Australian Government and their agencies seeking recognition for the Timorese “Forgotten Men” is summarized at pp.86-87 of “Forgotten Men” – 2010. Regards, Ernie _____________ Prepared by Ed Willis Revised 12 March 2023 © 2/2 Commando Association of Australia Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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