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  3. Some historic photos were recently provided to us by Domingos De Oliveira. Domingos was just six years old when B Platoon of the 2/2 Commandos stayed in his village of Fatu-Makerek during the Japanese occupation in WWII. Domingos's father, Antonio dos Santos Oliveira, was the village chief of Fatu-Makerek. During the Indonesian occupation of East Timor, Domingos was a member of UDT (União Democrática Timorense) and involved in resistance against the occupation. In 2014, Domingos kindly accepted an invitation from the association to bear the unit's banner at the Anzac Day march. He is pictured below, holding the banner. On the right in the foreground is the 2/2 veteran, the late Keith Hayes OAM. Keith, who survived the ration truck massacre on 20 February 1942 when the Japanese invaded East Timor, acknowledged that he would not have survived the events of that day if not for the help given to him by Mrs Berta Martins. The story of the ration truck massacre can be seen here. The photo below of Mrs Berta Martins with three children was taken in Dili. The small boy was Panta Leao, who was killed when the Indonesians invaded in 1975. The group photo with Mrs Berta Martins, below, was taken after one of the young girls in the photo has had her first holy communion. At that time Mrs Martins was living in Bemori-Dili. I thank Domingos for these photos and remind friends and members of the association that you, too, can upload content to our website.
  4. Hi Robert When the unit landed in New Britain. they realised they were going to be "Mopping Up' the Jap forces left behind by Gen MacArthur's US troops. The glory would be enjoyed by the Americans and they left the AIF to clean up after them. The units time on New Britain was spent patrolling, with other AIF units, a 30 Km neck between the Gazelle Peninsula and the mainland of New Britain, as it was estimated that approx. 50.000 Japanese troops were hold up around Rabaul on New Britain. The AIF units only amounted to a couple of thousand troops. They had to keep an eye on the Japs to make sure they stayed in the Peninsula area. The unit built a camp at Lamarien and an O.P (observation point) at a place called Centre Point. The unit did 3 to 4 day patrols out to Centre Point and back. The Japanese surrendered on New Britain on 16 Sept 1945, just over a month after the atomic bombs were dropped on Japan. Your father was in No 4 section, "B" Troop under Lt Eric Smyth. Cheers Peter Epps
  5. My father, Trooper Robert Coleman Noakes was taken on strength of the 2/2 Commando Squadron on 30 January 1945 and embarked on the Taroona for Jaquinot Bay on 9 April 1945. He was previously in 2/11 Armoured Car Regiment. He remained with the unit until it was disbanded. I would like to learn more about the activities of the Squadron over the period until the end of the war. I would be grateful for any assistance in this. Yours sincerely Robert Noakes
  6. Wow! Arthur Edward Coats (Boy Coats) is my grandfather. I don't know where the name 'Earl' is coming from but my mother says 'Earl' is not part of my Grandfathers name. My mother Heather Morris (nee. Coats) is his eldest daughter who was born in June of 1948. My grandfather married Moira Jean Coats (nee. McCalman) and they had a total of 7 children. I am very proud of his achievements and greatful for his service. Thanks for sharing!
  7. My father George Coulson standing second from left
  8. Louis Crossing

    April 2019 Courier

    The latest edition of Courier is available for download here. Courier is edited by @Edward Willis.
  9. The funeral of former WA Senator Gordon McIntosh was held at Karrakatta Cemetery at 2:30pm on Friday 23 March 2019. Gordon McIntosh was a Labor Party Senator in the Australian Parliament from 1974-1987. During those years he played a major role in keeping the Timor issue alive in the Parliament, despite the actions and policies of successive Australian Governments (Labor and Liberal) to oppose East Timorese self-determination and independence. In addition to the many parliamentary questions asked by Senator McIntosh, he is best known as Chair of the 1982-83 Senate Inquiry about East Timor and his membership of the Australian parliamentary delegation to Indonesia and East Timor in 1983. His dissent from the formal report of the delegation was widely reported in Australia and welcomed by the Resistance in Timor. Outside the parliament he addressed public meetings in Australia, New Zealand and New York. He petitioned the United Nations Decolonisation Committee in 1982 and joined others on the ‘Lusitania Express’ peace ship mission to Timor in 1992. In 2014, Gordon McIntosh was awarded the Order of Timor-Leste for his contribution to the East Timorese struggle for independence. In 2016 he visited Timor-Leste as a guest of the State. During this visit he met for the first time the resistance veterans who had applauded his support in the 1980s. His actions and activities in support of the people of East Timor were very much aligned with the members of the old 2/2 Commando Association of Australia. The December 1983 ‘Courier’ recorded that: ‘Senator Gordon D. Mcintosh of WA went with the last fact finding mission to Timor and undertook the task of taking a wreath, in the form of a floral cross, to lay on our memorial. Here is a letter from the Senator, followed by two photographs showing "Mission Accomplished"’. Eulogies were delivered at the funeral service by John Waddingham, former senior staff member of Gordon’s when he was a Senator and HE Abel Guterres, Ambassador for Timor-Leste who delivered personal messages of condolence from HE Francisco Guterres, President of Timor-Leste and HE Xanana Gusmão, former President of Timor-Leste. Almost 30 years after it was written, a letter from then resistance leader Xanana Gusmão to Senator Gordon McIntosh has come to light. The correspondence provides a detailed insight into 1980s resistance thinking. It also indicates the particularly high regard in which McIntosh was held for his support for East Timorese self-determination. The final speaker was HE Kim Beazley, Governor of WA, a former colleague of Gordon’s in government and opposition, who opened his remarks by saying that the personal messages from the two Timorese were the ‘finest tributes’ he had ever heard made by foreign leaders about an Australian politician. Ed Willis, Vice-President, represented the 2/2 Commando Association of Australia at the funeral.
  10. The linked website no-longer exists (the domain name is not registered anymore) so I have removed the link.
  11. Thanks. I am new to all this. I am a first cousin to Trooper Alfred Peters. His service medals were sold on ebay last weekend, and I am trying to gather as much info as I can. He also served in Korea. His number is 4/400107. I would appreciate any assistance please. Jack Williams
  12. A Jack Williams recently posted a query about the medals of Alfred Peters. Unfortunately, that query was made in the form of a now-defunct "report" function, which was intended for the reporting of inappropriate posts. Jack, if you would like assistance with your query, please post it again on this thread. Kind regards Rob Crossing
  13. Hi Glenn, I am a first cousin of William Peters. Could you please contact me at majaw1@bigpond.com
  14. Ben Marshall

    A Debt of Honour

    Thanks for posting, and directing me to, this film. Much appreciated.
  15. Title: TIMOR REVISITED Production Date: c. 1973 Produced as: Documentary Media: Film Summary: Narrative featuring an ex-Australian soldier revisiting 'Portuguese Timor', reflecting on surviving 13 months of guerilla warfare thanks to the assistance of the local inhabitants. Places and locations filmed include Dili, street markets, Hotel Turismo, Fatu-Bessi, Maubisse, cock fighting, WW2 relics, yarn spinning, art and craft making, palm tree climbing, Baucau and a military parade. Country of Origin: Australia Language: English Credits Camera Operator: Peter Goodall Director: Charles Eadon-Clarke Editor (Film): Alan Cox Producer: Charles Eadon-Clarke Production company: Brian Williams Productions Scriptwriter: Charles Eadon-Clarke Sponsor: MacRobertson Miller Airlines
  16. Hi John, I am preparing at least one other post on the 2/2's NG campaign about their base at Faita and I'll use this photo in that story. Regards Ed
  17. Well done Ed, you may wish to add this extract from page 746 of the Official History of the Second World War – the Guinea Offensive (By |David Dexter) Extract VI Of the Official History of the Second World War - the New Guinea Offensive.pdf
  18. An earlier post provided an overview of the 2/2’s involvement in the Australian campaign against the Japanese in the Ramu Valley during 1943 as a member of Bena Force. In Portuguese Timor the 2/2 had been the aggressors, using cover and deception to ambush the enemy and disappear. The war in New Guinea was different in that the Australians were just as vulnerable to ambush as were the Japanese. This was largely because of the density of the jungle which provided perfect cover, deadening sound and limiting visibility often to a few metres. [1] Aggressive patrolling was a core part of the 2/2’s role in the campaign and this post is centred on a report written by Lt. Col Doig (CO no. 5 Section, B Troop) on a patrol he led from Bundi-Kri across the Ramu River into the Finisterre Ranges towards the village of Orguruna ‘to have a crack’ at Japanese troops who had been observed in the area. Doig’s patrol approached a well defended Japanese defensive position, were fired upon with heavy and light machine guns, and in the subsequent fire fight two 2/2 men killed in action. The Australian’s fought back well after the initial surprise and inflicted several casualties on the Japanese before withdrawing. This action provides an illustrative example of the 2/2’s different war in New Guinea. BACKGROUND TO THE PATROL Doig recalled: To carry out our role of denying the Bismarcks to the Japs it was essential to carry out constant patrols in depth to know just what the Jap was doing and where they were going to do it from; the answer was patrol, patrol and patrol. Now patrolling in New Guinea is a difficult business. The war we were having there was very different to that of Timor. The terrain was even more frightful; we had the Finisterres which were jungle clad and the nearly impassable Ramu River and its tributaries. In the early stages the Japs had lined the far side of this river with small patrols which made it most difficult to get over and do anything effective. Initially the lads had to swim to get to the other side and then scout round the enemy - not a nice way to do business. It was different to Timor in that we were walking into their ambushes and not the other way around. Furthermore, the natives on the other side of the river were on the Jap's corner and very much against us. The only intelligence we could rely on was what we gleaned ourselves from patrols. A lot of these patrols proved to be negative in that no Japs would be encountered; this was also important as it showed where the Jap was not. When we ran in with a Jap position the only way we could decide the strength of it was to draw fire and estimate the strength from the response. This was a hazardous way of gaining information as we did not want to lose men and our main role was the gathering of information and intelligence. .... Eventually 6 Section did a patrol, having come forward and took up a position on the edge of the Ramu. This patrol went to a place called Usini where Capt. Nisbet had taken a patrol of 4 Section much earlier when it was found deserted. But 6 Section patrol discovered that Usini was most definitely occupied. They looked it over at nightfall and then had another look before the Japs had breakfast in the morning, when they saw the Nips cleaning their teeth and having ablutions in a stream near the camp. Lt. Mackintosh brought 6 Section home without having a go at them. At this Coy. H.Q. were on the move and Major Laidlaw had come ahead and was at Capt. Nisbet's H.Q. at Bundi. Lt. Mackintosh reported to Capt. Nisbet that they did not have a go because they lacked sufficient firepower to attack and then get away. "The Bull" was not very happy about this report , but more of this anon. …. It was the next day that 6 Section's message regarding the Usini patrol arrived. On receipt of this message Major Laidlaw ("The Bull") took great umbrage and before Doig and his section could settle down and have more than one feed Laidlaw called Doig up. "Get the whole of your mob", he said, then grabbed a map. "Here you are.... cross the river and head up here to Mataloi III". Nearly all these villages in New Guinea had offshoots with the same name and were numbered on the maps one, two and three etc. Mataloi III was the furthest of these villages away. It was thought that the area could or could not be enemy occupied; it was a case of go out and find out. [2] [3] DOIG’S PATROL REPORT Doig submitted a formal report on the patrol sometime later that has been transcribed and reproduced here. [4] PATROL REPORT BY Lt C. D. DOIG. 2/2 COMMANDO SQN., NO. 5 SECTION B. TROOP Object:- To patrol by section to Mateloi No. 3 and attempt to discover enemy strength in this area and to inflict casualties upon the enemy by harassing tactics. Strength of Patrol:- 1 officer, 17 O.R.s. Armament 1 Bren Gun, 6 Owen Sub Machine Guns, 1 Grenade Discharger, 9 Rifles. Patrol departed from Bundi-Kri approximately 17th November 1943 and proceeded to a position West of the Ramu River occupied by No. 6 section, “B” Troop under Lt Mackintosh. [5] Here supplies of tinned meat and biscuits were obtained from a cache which had been made from a previous aerial drop. Five native carriers were also procured to assist with carriage of supplies. On 18th November, patrol proceeded to Ramu River and crossed same by use of native dugout and by swimming. The stream was in full flood and flowing at about 10 knots per hour. The method of crossing used was to pole the dugout up the bank side of stream, which was more or less dead water, for about a mile, switch over into stream and paddle madly across current until the opposite bank was reached. This process occupied most of the mile which had previously been made up stream. The swimmers adopted similar tactics to this and allowed themselves to be carried forward by the current at the same time striking across the current and eventually gaining sanctuary on the opposite bank this usually took about one mile of river. The crossing occupied approximately 2 to 3 hours. [6] Next stage was to move in a North-Easterly direction and cross a tributary of the Ramu about two miles away. This crossing was affected in a dugout canoe which was pulled over the river hand over hand on an overhead “Cunda” Rope. This stage was affected quite rapidly although only five men at a time could be carried in the canoe. The crossing of these two streams occupied most of the day. The following day patrol struck off in a North-easterly Direction meeting the foot hills of the Finisterres about midday. Tracks up to the foot hills were mostly slushy mud and at times men sunk up to their knees in mud holes especially in Pandanus areas. From the foot hills tracks were up and down razor back spurs as it was just a case of climb up one ridge drop down the other side cross a stream and climb the next spur on and on ad nauseum. This went on for approximately 1½ days and no sign of enemy occupation of area was made. No natives had been sighted to this point. Late on the evening of 20th November a small party of natives were sighted, and they attempted to make off into the jungle. One man was captured and told us that a small party of Japs were encamped at Orguruna a place about two miles distant. The native estimated the strength of enemy to be only 4 or 5 (a very rough estimate!). As the hour was late it was decided to camp on the ridge for the night and investigate Orguruna the following morning. It rained steadily all night and much native activity was noted in the way of yelling and yodelling. Before dawn on 21st, patrol set out along track for Orguruna. This small native hutment was sighted about 0900 hrs. At this point the Sigs. Were dropped off with Sig. J Stafford to operate with Sig. Studdy. The patrol then moved off with L/Cpl. Harrison in charge of small scout group comprising Tprs, Peattie, Smith and McLaughlan. Then Lt Doig at the head of main body. On approaching the camp proper, it was noticed that it bore a most deserted look with high rank grass and rotting coconut logs which appeared to be fronting deserted slit trenches, no footprints could be seen in front of the position and it appeared as if the enemy had decamped from the area. Diagrammatic representation of Section patrol formation along a jungle trail [7] L/Cpl. Harrison noting a small barbed wire fence around the area called Lt. Doig forward and suggested shedding the haversacks to get through the wire. This suggestion was promptly vetoed as our only food was in the haversacks. Harrison and Smith moved forward cautiously to investigate the wire and attempt to get through it. Meantime the main body of the patrol had gone to ground and took up covering positions for the scout party. As the two scouts attempted to get through the wire all hell broke loose. Bullets and mortars whizzed madly in all directions indicating at least a platoon strength of enemy entrenchments and possibly two platoons. With the scout group and Lt. Doig irrevocably compromised and forced to withdraw rapidly (and how!). As Orgoruna was on a crest of a ridge it was a simple matter for scout group and the Commander to drop out of sight under the ridge and thus become defilade to the enemy fire. During this rapid movement one of the patrol was heard to remark that the kitchen sink and piano had just flown over his head. Meanwhile the main body of the patrol under Sgt. Tapper and Cpl. Lewis opened fire on the enemy position. Tpr. Keith Craig who had been able to establish an excellent sniping position along the enemy position and as the enemy exposed themselves over the parapet in their evident desire to pump more lead into the patrol, Craig picked off at least six with his sniper rifle. Tpr. Merrett with his Owen gun accounted for at least two as did Tpr. Thomson. Tpr. Hugh Brown with the Bren Gun got off at least three magazines. The enemy fire was mostly high, and it appeared that their machine guns were all sighted too high. During the engagement Tpr. Merrett who was lying in a slight depression in the ground had a deep creasing wound inflicted in his head and promptly got away from the spot. Tpr. Percy Mitchell moved into the position vacated by Merrett and was shot through the head obviously from a sniper who had a position in a look-out up a tree. Sgt. Tapper gave the order to withdraw and the whole patrol moved off except Tpr. Brown who continued to slog it out with the enemy with his Bren gun. Tapper called to Brown to withdraw but at the moment his Bren ceased to fire but Brown did not come out. The obvious conclusion being that he was killed at the moment his gun ceased firing. The patrol withdrew in orderly fashion to where the Sigs. were stationed and then continued the withdrawal in the direction of the Ramu. The whole action had taken about half an hour. The scout group during this action had got completely out of touch with the main patrol and had covered two re-entrants before getting away from enemy fire. This small group followed down a creek for a considerable distance and then struck back in the general direction of the track which they had followed in the morning. This track was found late in the evening and it was noted that the main body had already passed by. The patrol made its way back to camp in two parties. The main body reached Lt. Mackintosh’s camp on the 24th November and scout group on 25th November. Sgt. Tapper had previously reported the action by wireless to Troop H.Q. Estimated casualties – Enemy – 12 killed and others wounded. Own Casualties – 2 killed and 1 wounded. Conclusions drawn:- Orguruna which was astride the Mateloi track was occupied in strength by the enemy possibly 2 platoons certainly one platoon. Position on the razor back ridge a very strong one which gave the enemy a great view of any attacking force from any direction. Would require at least a Company attack to dislodge the enemy from this position. (Signed)C.D. DOIG. [8] HUGH BROWN’S AND PERCY MITCHELL’S BODIES NOT RECOVERED Hugh Brown’s and Percy Mitchell’s bodies were not recovered. Fellow B Troop member Jim Smith reported that he visited Lae War Cemetery in late 1956 and took photos of the graves of the 2/2 men buried there. He noted that the following names are shown on a plaque at the Cemetery ‘as their bodies were not recovered’: NX57432, Hugh Brown, Tpr, died 25/10/43, aged 29 VX117978 Percy Robert Mitchell, Tpr, died 27/10/43, aged 20 [9] Hugh Brown’s memorial plaque, Lovekin Drive, Kings Park [10] Percy Mitchell’s memorial plaque, Lovekin Drive, Kings Park [11] 2/2 COMMANDO SQUADRON MEN INVOLVED IN THIS STORY Major Geoffrey Gosford (The Bull) Laidlaw NX70537 Officer Commanding, 2/2 Commando Squadron Lt Kenneth Granville Mackintosh WX9169 Officer Commanding, No 6 Section, “B” Troop Lt Colin (Col) Douglas Doig WX11054 Officer Commanding, No 5 Section, “B” Troop Sgt Dudley Lawrence Tapper WX10512 No 5 Section, “B” Troop Cpl George Roy Lewis WX11482 No 5 Section, “B” Troop L/Cpl Percy John (Kiwi) Harrison NX53272 No 5 Section, “B” Troop L/Cpl Godfrey Merritt WX11604 No 5 Section, “B” Troop L/Cpl John (Jack) Campbell Peattie NX97345 No 5 Section, “B” Troop Tpr Harold Thomas Brooker WX13748 No 5 Section, “B” Troop Tpr Hugh Brown NX57432 Killed In Action No 5 Section, “B” Troop Tpr Thomas Edward Cholerton NX69311 No 5 Section, “B” Troop Tpr Archibald George Claney VX84174 No 5 Section, “B” Troop Tpr Keith Craig NX130057 No 5 Section, “B” Troop Tpr James Richard McLaughlin WX29873 No 5 Section, “B” Troop Tpr Percy Robert Mitchell VX117978 Killed In Action No 5 Section, “B” Troop Tpr Murvin Llewellyn (Spud) Murphy QX35321 No 5 Section, “B” Troop Tpr Raymond (Ray) Norman Parry WX12415 No 5 Section, “B” Troop Tpr William Wallace Rogers-Davidson VX87043 No 5 Section, “B” Troop Tpr Edgar George Rowe NX96052 No 5 Section, “B” Troop Tpr Ross Martin Shenn WX31061 No 5 Section, “B” Troop Tpr Ross Smith NX123061 No 5 Section, “B” Troop Tpr James Relton Smith NX15613 No 5 Section, “B” Troop Sig John Henry Stafford VX18894 Signaller – not permanent member of No 5 Section Tpr Allan Samuel Stewart NX23857 No 5 Section, “B” Troop Sig Robert Andrew (Dusty) Studdy WX10110 Signaller – not permanent member of No 5 Section Tpr Alexander Thomson WX9508 No 5 Section, “B” Troop Tpr Herbert (Bert) Ernest Harold Tobin VX70645 No 5 Section, “B” Troop Tpr James Henry Wall VX85278 No 5 Section, “B” Troop Tpr Donald Claude Young WX13749 No 5 Section, “B” Troop REFERENCES [1] Unfortunately the men in the photo are not identified. From C.D. Doig. The history of the Second Independent Company. C. Doig [Perth, W.A.], 1986: following 189. [2] Doig: 203 -204. [3] Doig: following 189. [4] Thank you to Peter Epps for transcribing Doig’s report from an original copy in his possession. [5] The report must have been written sometime later because the date Doig gives for the beginning of the patrol, 17th November 1943, is incorrect. The correct date as stated by Dexter in the Official History was 23rd October 1943. This is confirmed by entries in both the 2/2 and Bena Force war diaries. It can be assumed given the detail in the report that Doig had prepared notes soon after the event on which the report is based but failed to record the actual date. [6] For movie footage of men from the 2/2 crossing the Ramu River using this method, see https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C190199 [7] Allied Land Forces in the South-West Pacific Area. – Notes for Platoon & Section leaders: XX Jungle warfare (Provisional). – Melbourne: F.J. Hilton & Co., 1943: 32. https://www.army.gov.au/sites/g/files/net1846/f/allied_land_forces_in_southwest_pacific_area-operations_1943_0.pdf [8] Doig also wrote two other versions of what happened on this patrol; see also C.D. Doig. The history of the Second Independent Company. C. Doig [Perth, W.A.], 1986: 207-208 and C.D. Doig. The ramblings of a ratbag. C. Doig [Perth, W.A.], 1989: 117-118. Tpr James Relton (Jim) Smith who was also a member of this patrol had different memories from Doig of some critical incidents over its course; see letter from Jim Smith to Jack Carey 19 July 2002 Ray Parry was also a member of this patrol and his recollection of what happened is recorded in ‘All the Bull’s Men’; see Cyril Ayris. All the Bull’s Men. Perth, W.A.: 2/2 Commando Association of Australia, 2006: 430-432. See also former 2/2 officer David Dexter’s account of the patrol based on Doig’s report in David Dexter. The New Guinea Offensives (Australia in the War of 1939 - 1945, Series One, Army, Vol VI). Canberra: Australian War Memorial, 1961: 592-593. [9] [Letter from Jim Smith] 2/2 Commando Courier vol. 11 no. 117 Christmas 1957: 11-12. https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/1957/1957-12%20-%20Courier%20Christmas%201957.pdf; to view the Commonwealth War Graves Commission records for the two men, see: https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/2801429/mitchell,-percy-robert/#&gid=null&pid=1; https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/2801236/brown,-hugh/#&gid=null&pid=1 [10] https://www.bgpa.wa.gov.au/honour-avenues-plaques/1437-pte-hugh-brown [11] https://www.bgpa.wa.gov.au/honour-avenues-plaques/1432-pte-percy-mitchell
  19. I propose that the Committee considers providing funding to support Compact Teacher Training (Professional Development) for Hatugau Primary School, Letefoho Sub District, Municipality of Ermera, Timor-Leste. This follows on the successful completion of similar training programs funded by the Association at Ailelo/Cosbouk and Samara Schools in the Hatolia Subdistrict in July 2017 and Calohan-Letefoho Villa Primary School, Letefoho Subdistrict, Municipality of Ermera, Timor-Leste in August-September 2018 [2]. [1] https://doublereds.org.au/news/compact-teacher-training-for-calohan-letefoho-villa-primary-school-successfully-completed-r49/ I invited Snr Francisco Jorge dos Santos, Program Manager, Learning Resource Development Center to submit a budget proposal for professional development training at another school and he has sent me the attached document for our consideration. The total cost is US$5,169.25. Ed Willis Draft PROPOSED BUDGET CTT_Hatugau Letefoho.pdf
  20. Peter Epps

    Arthur Brand

    After training at 1st Australian Commando Training Battalion, Arthur joined the unit at Canungra, Qld as a Trooper on 15 May 1943, but before the unit left for New Guinea, he fell ill and was transferred to hospital on 20 May 1943 and was discharged from hospital on 6 Jun 1943. He then spent some time recuperating and embarked aboard "KATOOMBA" for New Guinea, disembarking at LAE on 19 Feb 1944 and re-joined the unit on 29 Mar 1944. Arthur transferred to 2/3rd Australia Composite Anti Aircraft Regiment on 24 Apr 1944. He embarked from LAE aboard "ORMISTON" for TOWNSVILLE on 27 Apr 1944. Arthur embarked from aboard "SEA RAY" on 10 Apr 1945 and disembarked at MOROTAI on 22 Apr 1945, he then embarked aboard LST 697 for LUBUAN, British North Borneo on 2 Jun 1945. He returned to Australia on 20 Dec 1945 and was discharged on 8 Jan 1946.
  21. The previous post gave an overview of the 2/2’s campaign in the Ramu Valley during 1943 as part of Bena Force. [1] Theodore (Theo) Francis Adams (VX121180) was a Signaller reinforcement to the unit who joined the Signals Section in mid-June 1943. [2] “He joined the Unit at a place called Faita, eight days walk from Goroka. He was involved with patrols into territory which was occupied by the invading forces in the Ramu and later towards Shaggy Ridge, the scene of heavy action and losses of men and equipment. Theo volunteered to take part in these patrols. He was always cheerful and did his job as a signalman with great skill under awful conditions”. [3] Theo’s wartime experience in New Guinea must have made a lasting impression on him because “After the war Theo became a traffic officer with Ansett Airways at Madang and Goroka for a number of years. Latterly he was the Manager of Minogere Hostel at Goroka, operated by the Goroka Council as a middle range hostel and conference centre. He was an expert at organising functions, whether for Anzac Day or the Melbourne Cup. Theo had over 30 years in Papua New Guinea”. [4] In February 1986 Theo organised a helicopter survey of the 2/2’s area of operations in the Ramu Valley and took a number of aerial photographs of significant sites including Bena, Dumpu, Faita and Goroka that give an interesting insight into the terrain over which the campaign was fought. This album of photos is in the Association’s archival collection and has been scanned and made available to view and is linked to this post. One interesting sequence of photos in the collection is of the wreckage of an American Liberator bomber on the site of the Faita airstrip. During an armed reconnaissance over Wewak on 23 December 1943, it was attacked by two Japanese fighters; with the hydraulics shot-out and two of the crew injured, it was unable to return to base and instead force-landed at Faita Airfield. [5] There are contemporary photos in the Australian War Memorial collection showing men from the 2/2 inspecting the wreck. It was still substantially intact 43 years later when Theo took his photographs. FAITA, NEW GUINEA. 1944-01-07. MEMBERS OF THE 2/2ND COMMANDO SQUADRON LOOKING OVER A LIBERATOR (B-24) WHICH CRASHED ON THE AIRSTRIP RETURNING FROM A RAID ON WEWAK. IDENTIFIED PERSONNEL ARE: TROOPER G. P. ROWLEY OF PALGARUP, WA(1); CORPORAL L. E. COKER OF CHATSWOOD, NSW (2); SX25427 LIEUTENANT J. FOX OF EAST BRIGHTON, VIC (3); SERGEANT A. DIXON OF SUMMER HILL, NSW (5). AWM Photo 063276 Theo maintained his interest and connection with the 2/2 Commando Association and the January 1966 ‘Courier’ published photos that he had taken of Doctor John McInerney’s [the successor to Doctor Roger Dunkley as the unit Senior Medical Officer] grave at Wewak War Cemetery and local people at Geroka [sic] with their well-fed pigs labelled ‘They have wealth’. [4] Theo and his daughters, Lisa and Thea, received a “tremendous welcome” at the Busselton Safari in April 1994. In what was headlined “A SAFARI HIGHLIGHT”: When Theo Adams was asked to say a few words at the men's meeting he delighted everyone and drew sustained applause for his response in 'pidgin' as follows: Mi hamamas long kam daun long hia long lukim yupela, wantaim tupela pikinini bilong me. Mipela kam daun long tripela balus long long wei hap. Taim mi go bek long pies mi ken tok tok bulsit long ol lain bilong me. Freely translated: I am happy to come down here to see you with my two daughters. We came in a very big aircraft from a long distance. When we go back to Goroka we can talk a little story to my friends. [7] Theo Adams passed away in Brisbane on 17 September 1998, aged 74. [8] REFERENCES [1] ‘Bena Force – The 2/2 Independent Company In The Ramu River Valley, New Guinea, 1943’ https://doublereds.org.au/forums/topic/169-bena-force-–-the-22-independent-company-in-the-ramu-river-valley-new-guinea-1943/?tab=comments#comment-281 [2] ‘Theodore Francis Adams, Regimental Number: VX121180’ https://doublereds.org.au/history/men-of-the-22/vx/theodore-francis-adams-r321/ [3] ‘Vale Theodore Francis ADAMS (17 September 1998, aged 74)’ https://pngaa.org/site/blog/1998/12/20/vale-december-1998/ [4] Ibid. [5] ‘B-24D-130-CO "Bunny Hop/Flying Wolf" Serial Number 42-41091’ https://www.pacificwrecks.com/aircraft/b-24/42-41091.html [6] ‘Personalities’ 2/2 Commando CourierJanuary 1966: 3-4 https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/1966-01%20-%20Courier%20January%201966.pdf [7] ‘A Safari highlight’ 2/2 Commando CourierJune 1994: 8 https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/1994/Courier%20June%201994.pdf [8] ‘Vale Theo Adams’ 2/2 Commando CourierDecember 1998: 3 https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/1998/Courier%20December%201998.pdf Ramu_Valley,_Goroka,_etc._from_Theo_Adams.pdf
  22. Thanks for this piece. More kudos to the 2/2, and context to this part of the Pacific War. Cheers and regards, Ben
  23. This post provides an overview of the 2/2 Independent Company’s involvement in the Australian campaign against the Japanese in the Ramu Valley during 1943 as a member of Bena Force. The primary source of this account is a PhD thesis written by historian Peter M. Munster that conveys much new material including records of interviews with 2/2 soldiers that do not feature in Dexter’s official war history or the unit histories (Doig and Ayris). Munster’s focus was the impact the presence of the Australian and Japanese had on the local population and he does not record much about the fighting. However, considerable detail is provided about the sequence of key events, the dispositions of the unit and how the 2/2 veterans of the Timor campaign sustained amicable and productive relationships with the highland people in contrast to other Australians serving with Bena Force. [1] Subsequent posts will convey more about the combat history of the unit during this period of service in New Guinea. INTRODUCTION In June 1943, the 2/2nd sailed from Townsville to Port Moresby and was subsequently flown to Bena Bena, in the Bismarck Ranges in New Guinea. Here, the 2/2nd supported the 2/7th Independent Company in patrolling the Ramu River area as a component of Bena Force. In mid-July, the 2/2nd moved into positions around Bena Bena and by the end of the month their patrols were skirmishing with the Japanese. They continued to conduct operations in New Guinea until October 1944 when, after being away from Australia for more than a year, the 2/2nd were withdrawn from the fighting for a period of leave in Australia. The Markham and Ramu River Valleys [2] BACKGROUND TO THE ESTABLISHMENT OF BENA FORCE Prior to the arrival of the 2/2 in the New Guinea Highlands the fierce conflict between Allied and Japanese troops had been fought further east at Milne Bay (August 1942), Kokoda Trail, Gona and Buna (August - December 1942) and Wau-Bulolo (January - February 1943). In each of these battles the Japanese had been thwarted in their attempt to capture Port Moresby. There remained one final plan in their strategy to defeat the Allies - to occupy the Highlands and use them as a base to launch a massive attack on Moresby by way of the Gulf of Papua. Impractical as such an invasion may have been, the occupation of the Highlands was a real possibility. [2] For the Allies the presence of a Japanese army on the plateau would be extremely dangerous and make the ultimate defeat of the enemy very difficult indeed. A problem for the Allies in January 1943 was that they could not spare a large force to guard the Highlands from a Japanese attack. The costly battle for Wau and the consequent follow-up involved many thousands of troops during January and February. Bena Force operations as part of the Markham-Ramu River Valley campaign [3] BENA FORCE ESTABLISHED THEN REINFORCED Only a tiny force was available for despatch to the Highlands. Thus, on 22 January the 6th Australian Division was ordered to detach 57 men under Lieutenant A.N. Rooke to occupy the Bena Bena airstrip. Known as 'Bena Force', this group was instructed "to secure Bena Bena drome against enemy attack: to deny the enemy freedom of movement in the Bena Bena Valley and to harass and delay any enemy movement in the area between Bena Bena and Ramu River." [4] When the small Bena Force arrived on 23 January 1943, Lieutenant Rooke set up his headquarters at Hapatoka, in the old ‘haus kiap’ which had been abandoned in October 1941. Defence positions were dug around the 'drome, which had been cleared on an exposed 'hogs-back' formation by the Leahy brothers in 1932. It was now about 1200 yards long and was at that time the only landing ground in the Valley capable of receiving heavily-loaded DC3 (C47) transports. The gutters which defined its position were filled in and grass was burnt in patches to give the impression from the air that it was part of burnt-off garden land. Four observation posts were set up to guard the tracks into the valley, each one in telephone communication with Hapatoka. The Australian military planners recognised the vulnerability of Lieutenant Rooke's tiny group in the Highlands and had decided to reinforce it. They sent in one of the Independent companies, the 2/7, which had been fighting in the Wau campaign for seven months and was due for leave. It may have been reasoned that the Bena Force assignment would be as good as a holiday and compared with the Wau-Mubo-Markham engagements it probably was, although by the time the men of the 2/7 were finally given leave in late 1943 they were tired, and morale was low. [5] THE INDEPENDENT COMPANIES The Independent Companies were an elite group of fighting soldiers, with special training in commando tactics, sabotage and intelligence. Each man was selected for his sharp mind, physical fitness, resourcefulness. [6] Up to the end of 1943, eight Independent Companies were formed, each comprising from 300 to 400 men. The two companies involved in Bena Force were the 2/7 and the 2/2. The 2/2 had distinguished itself in Portuguese Timor between 1941 and 1943, fighting a lonely but successful guerilla campaign against the Japanese occupying forces. If an enemy invasion of the Highlands did take place these men of the 2/2 and 2/7 Independent Companies were by temperament, training and experience, best fitted to resist such an attack, even though their combined numbers were fewer than 700. ANGAU AND THE LOCAL LABOUR FORCE The 2/7 was commanded by Major (later Lieutenant-Colonel) T.F.B. McAdie and comprised about 400 soldiers. [7] Fergus McAdie was given the same instructions as Rooke, with the addition that "Comd. Bena Force will not, except when attack is imminent or in progress, interfere with the general tasks of ANGAU [Australian New Guinea Administrative Unit] and special detachments." [8] Some friction between Rooke's men and ANGAU had already developed, and this clause was designed to keep the two groups on reasonable terms. The regular soldiers depended on ANGAU to supply native labour and food, and it was therefore in McAdie's interest to achieve a good working relationship. The ANGAU men were mostly pre-war Territorians, with wide experience of the country and its people, and some of the Bena Force troops were given the impression that their presence was not appreciated by the old hands. For their part the soldiers, particularly those in the 2/2 Independent company who had been in Timor and in many cases owed their lives to the Timorese, resented what they regarded as the harsh and overbearing attitude of some ANGAU men to the New Guinea people. S.V. (Mick) Mannix recalls how he "frowned on the way these ANGAU men carried on, shouting and roaring at the natives." He and other Bena Force men relate stories of unfair and condescending treatment meted out by ANGAU personnel to the local people [9] but they also recognised that the ANGAU men had an unenviable task in having to conscript an unwilling and often frightened labour force, whose work was essential if Bena Force was to achieve its objectives. C Platoon, Ramu Valley, November 1943 [10] MICK MANNIX’S STORIES Mick Mannix [11] tells the following two stories which illustrate Bena Force soldiers' reactions to ANGAU officers' attitudes to New Guineans: (i) "We were down the creek at Asaloka washing ourselves and an ANGAU patrol came up with 4 police boys, a couple of carriers and an officer - he had 3 pips on him, and he was shouting and roaring and they carried him across the creek. I thought what a degrading blooming thing that a black man should have to do so much for a white man. Anyway, he got across and saw us and said, 'What's all this going on?' There were five of us down there with our native boys, doing our washing and having a bit of a bath. We were naked and soaping ourselves and he said, 'How dare you take your clothes off in front of the natives". We replied, 'Who do you bloody well think you are?' He blew up and ordered our boys off and went raging up to the house, where our officer 'Bull' told us later, 'If anything like this happens again, just get in the scrub, will you.'" (ii) "I got left behind on the trail somewhere with ulcers on my leg and I was walking along the track with a carrier and up came this ANGAU bloke with 3 natives. 'Oh, how are you going, old chap', he greeted me. He was carrying a cane. As he spoke he went to sit down and immediately a police boy had put a chair under him. Bang! The chair was there. The officer hadn't looked around, or said anything, because once he had addressed me he just sat down. And then he put his hand out saying, "How's the track down there?' and as he spoke a cigarette was placed in his fingers. His story was that he had been in Wewak when the Japs came, and his police boys had deserted him. Now he was waiting to be first back into Wewak so he could hang the three police who had deserted him, before jurisdiction caught up with him. He was determined to make an example, in the old colonial tradition." ('Mick" Mannix, interviewed 18 February 1976.) MCADIE'S STRATEGY The airlift of the 2/7 into Lena Lena on 29 May was carried out by a 'flight' of 12 Douglas transports (DC3s) and the men "went straight into patrol activity and observation post work on the Ramu side of the mountains." [12] McAdie's strategy was to keep a constant watch on Japanese movements in the Ramu Valley and develop defensive positions on the four tracks by which the Japanese could gain access into the Highlands. These routes were, taken in order from east to west, through Kaiapit, Aiyura and Kainantu, through Lihona and the Upper Dunantina, through Kesawai, Wesan and Matahausa to Bena, and through Glaligool, Bundi, Upper Chimbu and Asaroka to Goroka. The fifth track, from Wesan through the Asaro Gap into the Upper Asaro, although used as a trade route by the Goroka Valley people, was more difficult than the others, and was considered less likely to be used by an invading force. [13] A panoramic sketch of the Ramu Valley from Captain David Dexter’s patrol diary dated 25-26 July 1943. Sketches were necessary parts of the reconnaissance work carried out by commando squadrons. PR00249 [14] ROAD BUILDING To be able to meet a possible attack through any of these mountain passes McAdie needed a motor road linking Kainantu, Bena Bena, Goroka and Asaroka, by which troops and supplies could be moved quickly to the places where the main Japanese thrust was concentrated. Thus, road construction became an important part of Bena Force's activities, and in June the first section was constructed between Bena and Goroka, while the longer stretch between Bena and Kainantu was reconnoitred. Road building, as well as airfield construction, observation post siting, the clearing of tracks, laying of telephone lines, the supply of native foods, digging of trenches and store tunnels, all required the cooperation of ANGAU and the native labour force. Hence McAdie's concern that Bena Force and ANGAU work together harmoniously. By and large this objective was met, and all these tasks were completed on schedule. NX70537 Major G.G. Laidlaw, DSO. Faita, Ramu Valley, New Guinea, 1944-01-07 THE 2/2, ‘THE BULL’ AND 'SPIN' MCADIE Two days before work began on the Goroka airstrip the vanguard of another Independent Company, the 2/2, arrived to reinforce the 2/7. The 2/2 had had six months to recover from their guerilla warfare experience in Timor and were in good shape to fight the Japanese. They saw their role as offensive rather than defensive, and to some of the men this holding operation in the Highlands was rather tedious. The opportunity to 'have a go' at the enemy would come in a few weeks, but for the moment they had to be content with guarding the Goroka and Asaroka airstrips and patrolling the country from Goroka west to Chimbu. Their commander was Major Geoff Laidlaw, whose aggressive leadership in Timor had earned from his men the nick name of 'The Bull'. His men had immense admiration for him, and by all accounts he led a very closely-knit, campaign-seasoned team of commandos. Don Latimer of the 2/7 commented jestingly that "he [Laidlaw] had the nature of a bull and looked like one too! And he had to be like a bloody bull to control the 2/2!" Harry Botterill [15] of the 2/2 was a strong admirer: "Geoff Laidlaw was very impressive, the sort of chap that looks every inch a soldier. I'd been with his troop right through from Timor and you felt safe as a house with him. He was a big man and a very solid man, a thinker. He never panicked, he quietly sorted thing's out. He was offered the job of a colonel, to go and look after a battalion, but this was the job he liked, and he just stuck around." [16] The men of the 2/7 held their commanding officer, McAdie, in somewhat less affection, and the best nick name they could bestow on him was ‘Spin’, their name for a five pound note. As Don Latimer recalls, "A fiver was the least he would bloody well fine you. If you did anything wrong it was, 'Fined a Fiver - march out!'" [17] NEW FORCE DISPOSITIONS 'Spin' McAdie for the most part had other things on his mind than fining recalcitrant soldiers, and his immediate task on receiving word of the 2/2 reinforcement was reorganise the dispersal of his troops. As commanding officer of Bena Force, he moved Force Headquarters from Hapatoka (the site of the old government patrol post beside the Bena Bena airstrip) to the SDA mission station at Sigoiya. The bush materials house built by Stan Gander and his island helpers in 1937 was still intact, and provided McAdie with a comfortable, if exposed, hilltop base. 2/7 Company Headquarters remained at Uapatoka, under command of Captain F. Lomas. [18] Three weeks before the arrival of the 2/2, McAdie had despatched sections of the 2/7 to occupy posts at Goroka and Asaroka, with the task of guarding the small airstrips in each place. With the construction of the new Goroka aerodrome, the defence of the area gained a high priority and it was decided to put the 2/2 in charge of all territory west of Sigoiya. 2/2 LOCATIONS Laidlaw established his Company Headquarters at Humilaveka, and placed troops around the new 'drome and at Asaroka. Goroka had suddenly resumed its pre-war significance as a centre of administration, and from 30 June 1943, the day on which 2/2 Company Headquarters were set up, it continued to increase in importance, until in 1946 it became the civilian administrative headquarters for the whole of the Highlands. The establishment of the new aerodrome was, of course, the key this development. The Americans had given Goroka a landing ground superior to any other throughout the highlands, a facility not to be matched until the new drome at Mount Hagen was opened over two decades later. The first contingent of 10 plane loads of 2/2 troops landed at Bena Bena on 27 June. On 8 July, with the new Goroka aerodrome complete, a second flight of DC3s, escorted by Lightnings, brought 6 officers, 92 other ranks and their stores direct to Goroka. This would have been the occasion of the official opening of the big landing ground, and there must have been considerable satisfaction that a large body of men and supplies could be delivered right to their field of operation. The next day there were no air-raids, although enemy aircraft were heard, and stores were feverishly "scattered to dumps in the area, mainly natives being used as porters." On the 11th it was noted: "Two years ago today, this Coy was brought into being at FOSTER, VICTORIA." The diarist commented dolefully that "owing to the lack of civilization in this area, the occasion was not celebrated in the customary manner." Further detachments of 2/2 Company troops arrived on 24 and 25 July and the last group came in on 1 August. The Diarist reported on that day "The movement of this COY is now complete, except for hospital patients at Moresby. The COY strength in this area is now 20-OFFRS (OFFICERS) 277 0/RS (other Ranks). Dispositions are:- HQ at GAROKA. A PL.H.Q. and No 2 SEC at MATAHAUSA (MADANG 0.4846); No 1 SEC AT HALF-WAY CAMP (MADANG 0.5454). NO 3 SEC AT WESA STATION (MADANG 0.60537). The Signal. Section is split up amongst HQ's and Sections. Engineer Section is on road building activities around BENA BENA area B.1.1 positions are unchanged. C. PL still at GAROKA." B Platoon's headquarters were at Bundi-Crai, on the Ramu side of the high central range north of Mount. Wilhelm and the upper Chimbu. No 4 Section was at Bundi itself - lower down towards the Ramu Valley, No 5 at Gueiba (Gulebi) - north-west of Bundi - and No 6 at Dengaragu (Denglagu), a Catholic mission station at the foot of Mt Wilhelm on the Chimbu (southern) slopes of the main range. The 'Half Way' camp mentioned by the Diarist was half way between Matahausa in the mountain rain forest, north of Bena Bena - and Wesan, on the Ramu fall above the middle Ramu Valley. This was later known as the Maley Camp after the corporal who established it. A site with a better command of the Ramu Valley was chosen on a spur which ran towards the Ramu between Mounts Helmig and Otto, and was called Maululi camp, after Laidlaw's Timorese servant/assistant in Timor. [19] [20] THE DUEL FOR AIR SUPREMACY The opening of the new Goroka airfield and the deployment of 2/2 troops in ever increasing numbers during July was bound to invite increased Japanese aerial attacks on the Goroka Valley. The Diarist records bombing raids on either Goroka, Asaroka or Bena Bena on 3, 8, 13, 20, 24 and 30 July. The most serious of these were the attack on the new Goroka airfield on 3 July, when one native was killed and two injured (although their identity is not given, Goroka informants recall that they were Chimbu labourers, not local villagers) on the 20th, when a majority of the huts at Bena Bena were burned out, on the 24th, when the old Goroka airstrip was hit by 2 H.E. (high explosive) and 4 A.P. (antipersonnel) bombs and on the 30th, when 6 bombers and 19 fighters bombed and strafed the Goroka area dropping five 500 lb bombs and 13 A.P bombs. Four of the H.E. bombs scored direct hits on the new airstrip, but the Diarist was able to record that "no damage or casualties resulted, and the drome was still serviceable." At the same time as these enemy raids were being endured the Diarist was noting-with increased frequency the presence in the skies of large numbers of Allied aircraft, presumably on their way north to bomb Japanese positions around Madang and Wewak. By the end of July, the Allies had aerial supremacy over the Highlands, and the Japanese bombing raid on Goroka on the 30th was in fact the last they were able to undertake. [21] The climax of the Allied aerial offensive came on 17 August, when no' less than 275 enemy planes were destroyed in the vicinity of Wewak. The 2/2 Company Diarist recorded: "The enemy had been gathering this force of planes for a major land and air push in N.G. as we are in the immediate neighbourhood, the result was especially gratifying to this Coy." From left: the 2/2ndCavalry (Commando) Squadron’s Trooper Francis Thorpe, Corporal John ‘Jack’ or ‘Chook’ Fowler (rear) and Troopers Jack Prior (front) and Roy ‘Duck’ Watson, 7 October 1943. These men had just returned to Dumpu after a 12-day patrol in the Ramu Valley. AWM058781 [22] FROM DEFENSE TO OFFENSE This devastating blow to Japanese air power meant that Bena Force's task of defending the Highland airstrips from aerial, attack or invasion, was virtually complete, and the 2/7 and 2/2 Independent Companies could now concentrate all their efforts on fighting the enemy on the ground. This required engaging the Japanese along the middle Ramu River Valley, in all that country north of the forward patrol positions perched on the ridges of the Ramu Fall. These engagements are covered in detail by David Dexter in his ‘The New Guinea Offensives’, and are somewhat outside the scope of this study, except insofar as the troops were supplied from Goroka and Bena Bena throughout the period July to November 1943, and Force Headquarters remained at Sigoya until it was closed down on 10 November. The decision to disband Bena Force was implemented in November, but as early as 29 September General Vasey, commander of the Australian 7 Division, had decided to move the 2/2 and 2/7 down into the Ramu Valley and virtually withdraw the troops from the Highlands plateau. [23] Vasey recognised that the 38 specialist troops still working, in the Highlands, plus 40 ANGAU men and 120 Americans keeping the new Goroka airfield open and operating the two radar stations nearby required some local protection. [24] He recommended that one militia company be stationed in the Goroka area to provide this support. This was confirmed on 4 October, when General Herring informed Vasey that "adequate troops would remain on the Bena Bena-Garoka plateau to guard the American air installations and radar equipment." [25] NEW 2/2 HEADQUARTERS AT FAITA This task fell to a contingent of 2/2 Independent Company soldiers, while the bulk of the Company moved down to new headquarters at Faita, in the western sector of the middle Ramu Valley, directly below Bundi. [26] Dexter indicates (p 680) that by early November two troops of the 2/2 were operating around the new airstrip at Faita, while the third troop rested and guarded Goroka. Each troop consisted of about 100 soldiers. On 1 December "B" troop was flown to Goroka and "A" troop, which had been resting there, took up combat duty at Faita. So even though Bena Force as such was closed down on 10 November and McAdie left his headquarters at. Sigoiya on the same day, the 2/2 still maintained a presence in, the Goroka Valley into 1944. [27] However, their role was now a passive one, and apart from minimal interaction with the Goroka people who were their immediate neighbours around the rest camp and the big aerodrome they ceased to have a significant impact on the inhabitants of the Goroka Valley. ACHIEVEMENTS OF BENA FORCE From a military standpoint the achievements of Bena Force over the 10 month period from 23 January to 10 November were considerable. McAdie in his final report was able to claim with justifiable pride that not only did the two companies, by resisting Japanese probes along a frontage of 140 miles, prevent an enemy invasion of the Highlands, but their presence, by threatening the enemy's line of communication from Lae to Madang "must have contributed largely to his decision to withdraw from the Markham and Upper Ramu Valleys . [28] Dexter too gives an impressive list of achievements (he was himself a member of the 2/2 Independent Company, so his material on Bena Force bears the mark of a man who was there): "For the loss of 12 men killed, 16 wounded and 5 missing it had killed about 230 of the enemy. It had built the Garoka airfield for fighters, and bombers; it had constructed 78 miles of motor transport road between Bena and Garoka, Sigoiya, Asaloka and Kainantu, and it had produced maps of a vast and hitherto unknown area." [29] MAJOR DAVID DEXTER Text reads: 'Confident, aggressive and convincing' was how one officer described Major David Dexter. By this time a captain, Dexter had just returned from an eight day patrol in the Faita area of the Ramu Valley on 7 January 1944, a day before his 28th birthday. One of five sons of the Great War veteran Chaplain Walter Dexter, David Dexter was an original officer of the 2/2nd Independent Company and had served on Timor in 1942. He had been wounded in action in New Guinea in September 1943 when his patrol ambushed a large group of Japanese deep in enemy-controlled jungle. After the ambush one Australian was listed as missing, but 45 Japanese were killed. In 1945 Dexter was the second-in-command of the 2/2nd Commando Squadron on New Britain before assuming command of the 2/4th Commando Squadron on Tarakan. AWM063287 [30] REFERENCES [1] Peter M. Munster. History of contact and change in the Goroka Valley, Central Highlands of New Guinea, 1934-1949. Deakin University. School of Social Sciences. Thesis (Ph.D.)--Deakin University, Victoria, 1986. http://dro.deakin.edu.au/view/DU:30023415; esp. Ch. 7. Most of the text in this post is derived from Peter Munster's thesis. I have added some text, headings, maps, references and photos to improve the relevance and clarity of the text for this readership. The depth and quality of Dr. Munster's research is excellent and the 2/2 get a very sympathetic and well-informed account of their involvement in this campaign. [2] Mark Johnston and Australia, Department of Veterans' Affairs. The Markham and Ramu Valleys 1943-1944: Australians in the Pacific War. - Dept. of Veteran's Affairs Canberra 2005: iv. [3] Lachlan Grant ‘Operations in the Markham and Ramu Valleys’ in Australia 1943: the liberation of New Guinea / edited by Peter J. Dean Cambridge University Press Cambridge ; Port Melbourne, Vic 2014: 243. [4] A document found in a crashed Japanese plane at Tsili Tsili on 13 December 1942 revealed plans for a Japanese attack on the Kainantu, Bena Bena and Chimbu areas to be carried out in September - October 1943. Three infantry battalions were to be involved, with air support and the possible use of paratroops. (Undated secret communication to 2/2 Australian Independent Company, c.August 1943, filed with 2/2 Indep. Co. War Diary, Bena Force File 1/5/42, Aug - Nov 1943, Australian War Memorial Archives, Canberra). [5] David Dexter. 1961. The New Guinea Offensives (Australia in the War of 1939 - 1945, Series One, Army, Vol VI). Canberra: Australian War Memorial, pp 234-5. It is not clear if these operational instructions were drawn up as early as January, 1943. They may have been developed as a result of Rooke's own experiences between January and May. They first appear in Bena Force and ANGAU documents in late May, when the 2/7 Australian Independent Company arrived in strength under the command of Major (later Lieut-Colonel) T.F.B. McAdie. [6] Bernard C. Callinan. 1953. Independent Company - The 2/2 and 2/4 Australian Independent Companies in Portuguese Timor, 1941 - 1943. Melbourne: Heinemann, pp xiii - xv. [7] Dexter gives an approximate figure of "about 400 strong" in ‘The New Guinea Offensives’, p 238. The ANGAU Secret Administrative Instruction 28 May 1943, advised: "The 2/7th Independent Coy, strength all ranks 289, together with AASC Det (Signals ) strength all ranks 4, move by air to Bena Bena on 29 May." It is possible Dexter added Rooke's group to this number, giving a total of 351. (Administrative Instruction filed with ANGAU War Diary, loc. cit. [8] ANGAU War Diary, 28 May 1943. [9] 'Mick" Mannix, interviewed 18 February 1976. [10]https://doublereds.org.au/gallery/image/680-58fc404ec8b89_ramuvalleyngnov1943tojun1944cplatoonjpg/ [11]https://doublereds.org.au/history/men-of-the-22/nx/simon-victor-austin-mannix-r443/ [12] Don Latimer, former member of 2/7 Australian Independent Company, interviewed at Sydney, 17 February 1976. [13] Dexter loc. cit. [14] Karl James and Australian War Memorial, issuing body. Double diamonds: Australian commandos in the Pacific war 1941-45. NewSouth Publishing Sydney, NSW, 2016: 105. [15]https://doublereds.org.au/history/men-of-the-22/vx/harold-botterill-r107/ [16] Harry Botterill, interviewed at Highett, Victoria, 13.1.76. [17] Don Latimer op. cit. [18] Dexter loc. cit. [19] Dexter: 245. [20] C.D. Doig. The history of the Second Independent Company. C. Doig [Perth, W.A.] 1986: 188. [21] Other raids did occur, such as the fighter attack on 10 November, when Bena, Sigoiya and Goroka were strafed (Dexter: 599). However, there is no record of further bombing attacks. [22] James: 139. [23] Dexter, op cit.: 436. [24] This figure does seem somewhat excessive, considering the tasks the Americans had to perform. A few engineers would have remained at Goroka, plus a small detachment in charge of the anti-aircraft positions. The two radar stations close to Goroka and Bena Bena may have required larger units, and there may have been Americans at other centres, such as Kainantu, Chimbu and Mount Hagen. There was a US Air Force Rest Centre at Mount Hagen in 1944-45. [25] Dexter op. cit. p 361 [26] ibid. p 575 [27] ibid. pp 687 footnote and 739 [28] Closing Report, War Diary, 9 Nov 1943. Bena Force File 1/5/42, August - November 1943. Australian War Memorial) Canberra. McAdie's reference -to 'the upper Ramu' valley is confusing, as Upper Ramu was the pre-war name for Kainantu, and is still used to denote the Highlands section of the river above the Yonki Dam and Power Station. What McAdie refers toss the upper Ramu is more correctly described as the middle Ramu Valley. [29] Dexter, op cit., p 600. [30] Confidential report, LHQ tactical school, David St Alban Dexter service record, National Archives of Australia B883, VX38890. 2/2nd Independent Company war diary, 29 September 1943, AWM: AWM52 25/3/2/11) 063287. Source: James Double Diamonds p.103.
  24. Hi Christy The plaque looks like a Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) plaque, that is supplied for ex service personnel, who have been deemed to have died as a result of their war service after discharge. My dad was cremated and he has a plaque exactly like your dads on the W.A. War Graves Cemetery wall at Karrakatta. The plaques are located as far as I know in the state of their last residency. I would suggest you contact the DVA in your state and ask for info on Norman and the plaque. Hoping I have answered your query sufficiently. Cheers Peter Epps
  25. Hi Craig; Thank you for you post about the 'Area study of Portuguese Timor'. I have found this publication an invaluable resource in planning the 'Timor 1942 Commando Campaign' tour to Timor-Leste that I led in March-April 2018 and my previous tours. The gazetteer, text descriptions of locations, maps, photos and illustrations provide precious background information. The tour is being run again around the same time time this year and I'm following it up, along with a couple of other 2/2 Commando Association Committee members, with a research trip to visit some of the key campaign sites at Vila Maria, Fatu Bessi, Lete Foho, Cailaco and Mape, Turiscai, etc that are not part of the tour route to locate, photograph and document them - again use of the Area Study is essential for this exercise. Regards Ed Willis, Vice-President
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