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Edward Willis

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Association Committee member and immediate past-President Ed Willis participated as a member of the vehicle-based support team in the inaugural La Rende! (No Surrender!) Trek  in Timor-Leste operated by Maddog Adventures - Sunday 24th - Saturday 30th September 2023.  (https://maddogadventures.com.au/adventures/la-rende-trek/)


Ed made the following remarks at the Trek launch event held on the evening of Saturday 23 September:

"Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.

It is an honour for me to present here representing the 2/2 Commando Association of Australia at the launching of the inaugural “La Rende! (No surrender) Trek”.  Through the Association I have attempted to promote historical tourism in Timor-Leste by identifying and documenting sites connected with WWII in this country and publishing my research on the Association’s website (Doublereds).  My father served as a signaller with the No. 2 Australian Independent Company (better known as the 2/2) during their 1942 guerrilla campaign against the invading Japanese – hence my interest – or as my wife would say – obsession.

I was pleased when contacted by Sam Maddock earlier this year to assist with planning the Trek having previously worked with David and Shirley Carlos of Timor Adventures with planning and guiding two successful road-based “Timor 1942 Commando Campaign” tours in 2018 and 2019.  We had another tour ready to go in 2020 when Covid intervened.  Dave had also put a lot of work into planning a Trek.  I would like to acknowledge David and Shirley for their pioneering efforts promoting historical, cultural and recreational tourism in TL.

Sam asked me early on about a name for the Trek and I suggested “No surrender” based on the 2/2’s rejection of a surrender demand from the Japanese at Hatolia (a key stop on the Trek) in March 1942.  I thought the name would also resonate in relation to the Timorese people’s unfailing resistance to the Indonesian occupation of the country.  Major Guy Warnock assisted by advising on the proper translation of “No Surrender” into Tetum as “La Rende!”.

I also suggested dedicating the inaugural Trek to the late Major Jim (‘Taipan”) Truscott, OAM.  An ex-SAS officer, Jim was proud of his service on Timor during the initial INTERFET peacekeeping operations in September 1999, particularly his liaison work with Tuar Matin Ruak (TMR) during the tense early stages of the operation.  He contacted me in early 2019 to work with him on preparing a ‘Battlefield guide to East Timor” covering WWII, the Independence War and the Peacekeeping operations.  Sadly that project was incomplete when he passed away in April 2021.

Before Jim passed away, with his support, I successfully applied for an Australian Army History Unit grant to prepare what I’ve called “WWII in East Timor: an Australian Army site and travel guide” that I hope to have prepared for publication by the AHU in early in 2024.  This is a comprehensive guide to all relevant sites in the country that can be utilised by ADF personnel, tour companies and the general public to plan vehicle based tour and treks.  It includes GPS references, maps, images and information about each site that puts in a WWII historical context.  It is based on my research using print publications in English, Portuguese, Dutch, Japanese and Tetum, archival sources and most importantly on country site visits – the last month-long one conducted in August-September 2022 in company with fellow 2/2 Commando Association committee member Murray Thornton.

I hope the site information I’ve shared with Sam and Guy relating to Dili and locations along the route has been useful to them and provides one of the foundation pieces for what should be a successful inaugural La Rende Trek that is a precursor to many more iterations so that becomes as well known and regarded as the Kokoda Track.

Thank you".


Robbie Martins, Ed Willis, Sam Maddock & Guy Warnock at the La Rende! Trek launch event

Trek participants were:
Sam Maddock    Owner, Maddog Adventures
Eamon Hicks    Guide, Maddog Adventures
Stuart Burns    Guide, Maddog Adventures
Robbie Martins    Guide, Maddog Adventures
Domingos ?    Guide, Maddog Adventures
Warrant Officer Tom Vallas    Defence Cooperation Program – Timor Leste (DCP-TL)
Support team members were:
Gida Freitas    Business Administration , Maddog Adventures
Marcal Costas,     Driver, Maddog Adventures
Major Guy Warnock    Defence Cooperation Program – Timor Leste (DCP-TL)
Ed Willis    Committee member, 2/2 Commando Association of Australia

Colonel Paul Pembroke, Defence Attaché, Australian Embassy TL, had approved one other DCP-TL participant who, due to unforeseen circumstances, had to withdraw at the last minute.“

The whole trek traverses the entire island of Timor from north to south, some 130km.  This iteration covered the first half of the trek from Bazartete to Hatabulico approximately 75km, over 5 days of intense hiking.  The trail crosses rugged ridges, crystal clear rivers, passes through Portuguese era coffee plantations, thick tropical jungles and crosses Mount Ramelau, which peaks at 2,986m”.  RCDIG1026118August-November1942-reportsstatementsmaps.pdfcopy3.thumb.jpg.72a4b08dcb3fb52a688d4e562f520cc3.jpg

The Trek route follows tracks utilised by the No. 2 Australian Independent Company during their commando campaign against the Japanese in 1942.

For Ed, a memorable event on the Trek was on 30 September when following a moving ceremonial welcome by local villagers “I accompanied a group of Australian Defence Force personnel and members of my tour group to visit the site where Liberator A72-159 went missing on a reconnaissance mission for Services Reconnaissance Department (SRD) Operation Sunbaker over Timor on 17 May 1945.  Sadly 15 RAAF and Services Reconnaissance Department (SRD) men, including former 2/2 man Sergeant Des Lilya, were killed in the crash.  Wreckage from the downed plane can be viewed at the site that is located on a remote hill side near the town of Maubisse”.  See “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”



This initial Trek was still part of the development phase, and proved its worth by:

•       verifying the efficacy of the route in terms of distances and timing

•       establishing and/or reinforcing local contacts for local guidance, accommodation and meals

•       confirming existing site and historic information and gathering new information

•       taking photos and video (including drone footage) to be used for the record and for promotional purposes

Maddog Adventures are planning to run the Trek again next year with potential dates scheduled around Anzac Day (25th April) and 20th September 2024 – when the 25th Anniversary of the commencement of the INTERFET peacekeeping operation will be commemorated.


Edited by Edward Willis
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  • 3 weeks later...

 Good morning Ed, Great  article on the trek and do you mind if I do knock up an article for the commando magazine about it and advertise the 2024 schedule.  I will obviously forward the draft article to you prior to insertion in the magazine. Regards Doug

Edited by Doug Knight
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