Jump to content

All Activity

This stream auto-updates     

  1. Earlier
  2. Dear Gerard and Brad: Thank you both for your replies and providing additional interesting information and images. As I said in my earlier reply unfortunately little has been published in Australia detailing the Dutch contribution to the campaign against the Japanese on Portuguese Timor - ready access to Dutch sources on the campaign, especially in English translations, is a problem, so your offer to share some documents (Brad) is welcome. Regards Ed Willis
  3. Mr Willis, thanks for your detailed reply. On the picture MEN WHO EXCELLED IN TIMOR in The Australasian 4 left my father. From left to right: Th. de Winter (1Lieutenant Artillery), D.M.Ph de Jong (Captain Infantry), Ch.W. Schreuder (1Lt Intendance), my dad H.G.P van Haren (Sergeant-major instructor Inf), G.van der Kolk (Sergeant Art), N. Strik (Sergeant Engineers), H. de Man (Brigadier Eng), Hitahiron (Sergeant Inf), M. Vrijens (Sergeant Eng) Tahaparij (Sergeant Inf) W. Broekstra (Kanonnier Art). One not present at the ceremony. Later on 9 other soldiers where honored with the Bronze Cross for there actions in Portuguese Timor 1942. One of them was J.F. Dengah for his actions at the airport of Dilly. He was a light machine-gunner (karabijn-mitrailleur) In the Timor Dilly Expeditie Leger there where 3 heavy and 2 light Dutch machine-gun sections. Sergeant 1 kl Ben Brodie was a commander of light machine-gun section. My father of a heavy machine-gun section.
  4. Gerard, thank you for creating this post. I have also recently been contacted regarding the documentary, and am looking forward to contributing however possible. Mr Willis, thank you for linking the article by Ben Brodie, I had this provided to me many years ago by the Netherlands Ex-Servicemens and Women's Association in Sydney, but unfortunately lost my electronic copy. Finding this post is tremendous. The linked NLA articles I haven't seen before; I'm grateful for the additional history you've supplied. My grandfather, Jan Zijlstra, was Ben's CO, commander No. 3 Timor Company, and a Bronze Cross recipient for actions near Ossu. He played a small part in Syd Wadeys rescue, and after the war corresponded with, and at one point hosted Bernard Callinan while he was compiling his book, being mentioned by Callinan in his introduction to 'Independent Company'. With this exciting documentary project underway, I've this week brought Jan's wartime papers out for the first time in several years. There's a small number of documents from the campaign, and I'd be honoured to share any information I have on these forums in the near future. Regards, Bradley Zylstra
  5. Dear Gerard: Thank you for contacting the Association with the information about your father’s service as a member of Sparrow Force, his award of a decoration and uploading a photo of the award ceremony. I have located some newspaper reports of the award ceremony: Dutch V.C. For Man Who Led Guerrillas Against Japanese (1943, February 3). The Herald (Melbourne, Vic. : 1861 - 1954), p. 3. Retrieved June 18, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article245957574 HIGH AWARDS FOR NEI MEN FROM TIMOR (1943, February 4). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), p. 5. Retrieved June 18, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article11342733 AWARD OF THE DUTCH V.C. (1943, February 4). The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954), p. 2. Retrieved June 18, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article206844670 HEROISM IN TIMOR RECOGNISED AT IMPRESSIVE CEREMONY (1943, February 13). The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 - 1946), p. 4. Retrieved June 18, 2020, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article142146160 I don’t think the soldiers in the photo were members of the 2/2 or 2/4 – both units were elsewhere at the time. One of the newspaper reports states: ‘On the flank, within an enclosure, Australian generals and army nurses stood with sailors of the N.E.I. and American officers, as well as womenfolk of prisoners’ of war in Java, Sumatra, Borneo and the. Celebes, …’ It is interesting to know that your father was a member of the Dutch team that defended the Dili airfield – unfortunately little has been published in Australia detailing the Dutch contribution to the campaign against the Japanese on Portuguese Timor. However, I have attached one item from the Association’s archives: ‘Fighting in the jungle of Timor, 1941-1942’ by A.J. (Ben) Brodie, Retired Warrant Officer of KNIL. Brodie states ‘With my machine gun unit, I was sent to the southern edge of the airstrip to try to block the Japanese push towards Dili, but without success’. So he may have been a member of the same unit as your father. As far as we know there are now no surviving members of the 2/2 and 2/4. There is a wealth of other information on our Website about the Timor campaign that you are welcome to access and use. Please make contact again if you are seeking additional information. Good luck with your documentary production. Please keep us informed about your progress with this project. Kind regards Ed Willis - Vice President A.J. Brodie - Fighting in the jungle of Timor 1941-1942 - scan.pdf
  6. I have 2 pictures taken at the day my father was decorated with the Bronze Cross (a high Dutch military award) for his actions during the defense of the airport at Dilly (Dili) Timor, February 1942. My father fought with Sparrow Force in Timor for ten months. I have uploaded one picture on the Gallery-section. On this picture you see several Australian soldiers, probably from the 2/2 or 2/4 Independent Company and my father on the right side. Who knows these soldiers and women? The decoration ceremony took place on February 3, 1943 at Darley Camp, Bacchus Marsh nearby Melbourne. See also https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C12814 My father, Sergeant Major H.G.P. (Henri) van Haren, was commander of a section (10 men and 3) heavy machine-guns of the “Timor Dilly Expeditie leger”. Also the 2/2 Independent Company was part of this expedition army. For a documentary of the Slag om Timor (Battle of Timor) we are looking for Timor 1942 veterans (or family). For reactions please send a mail to: g.vanharen@chello.nl Gerard van Haren
  7. Thanks for posting that, Ed. Somehow I'd never seen it before. It's a remarkable record.
  8. ‘INDEPENDENT COMPANY’ DOCUMENTARY – A NEGLECTED VISUAL RECORD OF THE TIMOR CAMPAIGN The documentary film ‘Independent Company’ is a neglected visual record of the No. 2 Independent Company’s (No. 2 IC) campaign against the Japanese on Portuguese Timor during 1942. First shown on SBS in 1988 it has been rarely, if ever, broadcast subsequently. The film can be viewed through the Doublereds website: https://doublereds.org.au/archives/video-and-audio/independent-company-videorecording-the-australian-22-independent-company-timor-1941-42-produced-with-assistance-from-sbs-tv-and-film-victoria-r21/ The 53 minute film is made up of interviews with No. 2 IC men (Bernard Callinan, George ‘Happy’ Greenhalgh, Gerry McKenzie, Jim Smailes, Colin Doig, Tom Nisbet, Rolf Baldwin, David Dexter, Percy Hancock, Joe Poynton, Arch Campbell, Keith Hayes, Don Turton, Jerry Maley, Ray Aitken, Ray Parry and Harry Sproxton), ‘Mad Mike’ Calvert (trainer of the No. 2 IC) [1], Maria Louisa Sousa Santos (wife of António Policarpe de Sousa Santos, the Administrator of Fronteira Province) and 5 Japanese veterans (Koichi Nakajima, Haruka Nishiyama, Kuwakichi Arakawa, Masatsugu Kambe and Onuki Shigenobu) who served on Timor. There are also re-enactments using of some of the key incidents during the campaign – the most notable being the rejection of the Japanese surrender demand at Hatolia and the construction of ‘Winnie the war winner’. [2] The footage is rounded out with extracts from Damien Parer’s better known ‘Men of Timor’ (1943) film. The film was produced by Colin South of Melbourne-based Media World Pty Ltd [3] and the script was based on Bernard Callinan’s book ‘Independent Company’, archival research and interviews with participants in Australia, England, Portugal and Japan. The production team had hoped to film the re-enactment scenes in Timor but access to do this was not possible during that phase of the Indonesian occupation. Tom Nisbet was ‘technical adviser’ for the film. The old 2/2 Commando Association was consulted about the production and they gave it active support. The producers flew Bernard Callinan and Rolf Baldwin to Perth to participate in the 1987 Anzac Day parade and film interviews with some of the WA-based veterans. A ‘Meet the Visitors’ get-together was held in Mandurah on the following Sunday. [4] Sir Bernard Callinan and Rolf Baldwin lead out the 2/2 contingent at the 1987 Anzac Day parade in Perth Colin South kept the Association well informed by letter regarding progress with the production and this correspondence was printed in the ‘Courier’. One matter that Colin attempted to follow up was the sudden termination by the Japanese of their ‘August push’ that had the No. 2 IC ‘on the ropes’. The cessation of the Japanese assault was signalled by a green flare or ‘rocket’ on the night of 18 August 1942. [5] Colin reported. ‘My specific quest for the withdrawal of the Japanese in August 1942 unfortunately has not been answered fully, but two sources of fact are still being investigated; research into the diaries of Col. Doi the Japanese Commanding Officer in Dili, and the translation of two chapters of the 228 Regiment History, dealing specifically with ‘the Campaign against Australian Guerrilla force in East Timor’. The 228 Regiment was based in Timor from the invasion till 6th September, 1942, when they were sent to Guadalcanal. They reached Timor after serving in Manchuria, Hong Kong and Ambon. The 1st and 3rd Battalions were based in the West, the 2nd in Dili. Of the 2nd only a handful survived Guadalcanal. Those who became P.O.W.'s still refuse, despite genuine encouragement, to join the 228 Regiment Association. The general consensus was the troops were withdrawn under orders to be sent to Guadalcanal with the other troops, which came from West Timor and the South coast mobilized to replace the 228 from Dili. Once each force made physical contact with one another, time had run out and the entire force moved back to Dili’. [6] The documentation related to the production of ‘Independent Company’ was deposited in the Research Collection at the Australian War Memorial. [7] ACKNOWLEDGEMENT I belatedly thank Colin South and his colleagues for the considerable effort they put into the production of ‘Independent Company’ that resulted in this unique and valuable visual record of the Timor Campaign. I also thank Colin for providing additional information about the production in our telephone conversation on 23 April 2020. REFERENCES [1] ‘Brigadier Michael Calvert (1913–1998) – Trainer and Long-Term Friend of the Doublereds’ https://doublereds.org.au/forums/topic/85-brigadier-michael-calvert-1913–1998-–-trainer-and-long-term-friend-of-the-doublereds/?tab=comments#comment-133 [2] ‘The story of how 300 Australians held of the Japanese In Timor: Winnie The War Winner’s Tale’ Canberra Times Monday September 28, 1987: 1, 6 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page12979370 [3] https://www.mediaworld.com.au [4] ‘Anzac Day – Dawn Service – The March – The Get-Together – Meet the Visitors’ 2/2 Commando Courier June 1987: 3-4 https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/1987/Courier%20June%201987.pdf [5] No. 2 Independent Company war diary entry, 18 August 1942 https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C1363501 [6] ‘Independent Company Timor Documentary’ 2/2 Commando Courier December 1987: 8-9. https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/1987/Courier%20December%201987.pdf [7] ‘Correspondence, scripts, research notes and other source material used in the production of two videos by Media World Pty Ltd ‘Flowers of Rethymnom’ (Crete 1942) and ‘Independent Company’ (2/2nd Independent Company on Timor 1942 to 1943). Language English, Portuguese, Tetum and Dutch.’ AWM PR91/136. https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C242361
  9. Peter Epps

    ANZAC Day 2020.jpg

    ANZAC Day 2020. A wreath was laid in Kings Park today to honour our Fathers / Grandfathers / Great Grandfathers. Normally it would have been laid at the State War Memorial but due to the lockdown it was placed on our Memorial in Lovekin Dr. Lest we Forget
  10. THE Australian Defence Cooperation Program (DCP): Timor-Leste team in Dili in cooperation with their New Zealand colleagues prepared this special video as a substitute for the usual live dawn ceremony. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tbw_N3jOqXI&feature=youtu.be
  11. Beau, I think 'Bloss' is John Barrasford Lawrence (see link) - can't identify 'Flea' as yet. Also see the attached photo - writing on the back identifies as being taken at the 1946 or 1947 reunion.
  12. Thanks for the info, not surprised there was 2 separate pages...
  13. I see that the autographs have a category for "respectable types" and "border line cases", with only a few placing themselves in the former category and most squeezing in on the latter. The last of the translations at the top of each of those pages seems to be Pidgin. Gutpela is "good fella", so the first category is for good fella men. In the second category, "liklik" is little. Therefore, "Gutpela liklik" is for blokes who are only a little bit good...
  14. Me too, must have been red cordial
  15. And I enjoyed the reference to "Liquid refreshment". Who would have thought these chaps would have such a thing?
  16. I thought it was good to see the autographs too, rereading 'The Men Who Came Out Of The Ground', and interesting to see names mentioned in the book as autographs on my grandfathers placecard. The menu still reflects the time period too, sauteed pigeon in particular catch my eye. Kind Regards to all. Beau As you can see most signatures are peoples name except 2. Flea and Bloss, does anyone know their names, in particular Bloss who has written 'Rusty you beaut' (Rusty being my grandfather) Thanks Beau
  17. Thanks, Beau. That's wonderful. Great to see the autographs, too. Cheers Rob Crossing
  18. After going through some old stuff I had in storage I found my grandfather's, (Albert Edward Friend), table place card from the 2/2 first reunionin 1946, see pics.
  19. Louis Crossing

    April 2020 Courier

    The latest edition of Courier is available for download here. Courier is edited by @Edward Willis.
  20. Great work dad. Any idea why he used a different name....
  21. LOCATION Coordinates: 8°39'24.9"S 125°24'31.9"E INTRODUCTION The ‘Battle’ of Grade Lau was a signature ambush conducted by A Platoon of the No. 2 Independent Company on 3 March 1942 in the early part of the Timor campaign. It’s recollection has perhaps been overshadowed by the Japanese attack at Bazar-Tete that took place a couple of days before when two B Platoon men were killed in action and three were wounded. [1] The Japanese were aware other elements of No. 2 Independent Company were in close proximity further south and pressed on aggressively with columns advancing from Bazar Tete and Railaco towards the A Platoon positions at Grade Lau. Cyril Ayris in Chapter 14 of ‘All the Bull’s men’ titled ‘The unit strikes back’ gives an account of this action conducted under the astute leadership of Captain Rolf Baldwin of A Platoon who had anticipated the direction of the Japanese advance, set his Sections well in prepared positions, timed the ambush in order to inflict maximum casualties on the enemy and planned an organised withdrawal that enabled all the men under his command to escape unharmed. An estimated 30 or more Japanese soldiers were killed in the ambush. Fortunately, detailed first hand accounts of the ambush were recorded by Rolf Baldwin, 2 Section soldier Jack Hartley and some other participants. The information they provided enables the site to be fairly accurately located, which is often not the case with other actions during the campaign. THE OFFICIAL RECORD Unit War Diary Entry The unit war diary recorded the action as follows: 3 Mar At approx. 1000 hours approx. 150 Japanese moved to A Platoon position to attack it. They were ambushed by No. 2 Section (now rested after the aerodrome action) under Lieutenant MCKENZIE and a few of Platoon HQ, the whole operation directed by Captain BALDWIN. The Japanese lost two officers and 30 ORs but there were no casualties to our troops. The enemy withdrew after that action and A Platoon commenced to move to HATOLIA. [2] Rolf Baldwin’s Report Lieutenants Rolf Baldwin and Bernard Callinan, Wilsons Promontory, early 1941 [3] A few months later Rolf Baldwin submitted his report on the action to Bernard Callinan: MAPE 1 AUG 42 Dear Bern, Below are my reminiscences of the great battle of GRADE LAU, which I think is the name given to the locality by the natives. You can modify its sensational tone if desired. For some days before the night of 3/4 MAR 42 A Pl[atoon] was dispersed in section positions over approximately 1 ½ miles of the big ridge SOUTH of RAILACO. On the morning of 3 MAR it was reported to Capt BALDWIN that a large party of Japs was at BOIBAO. Cpl PALMER was despatched with a party of 5 men to O.P. this body of the enemy. Soon after the departure of Cpl PALMER it was reported. that the Japs attacked Lieut NISBET'S section on KOOT LAU, near BAZAR TETE. Almost at the same time Japs were reported in RAILACO. In the early evening of 3 MAR a conference of section leaders was held in which L/Sgt DENMAN took the place of Lieut DEXTER who was absent on recce duty behind DILLI. The following dispositions were then made: 2 section, under Lieut McKENZIE, to guard the approach from KOOT LAU at the WEST end of the ridge; 3 section, under Lieut TURNER to guard the approach from RAILACO at the EAST end of the ridge; 1 section under L/Sgt DENMAN and Pl H.Q., under Capt BALDWIN in the centre to be in reserve. Soon after daylight on 4 MAR Aft many heavy explosions were heard from the general direction of TOCOLULLI. Then followed reports from 1 section that enemy could be seen advancing up [the] ridge from RAILACO, and from 2 section that approx. 60 enemy were advancing from the WEST end of the ridges. Orders were sent to 3 section warning them of the approach of the RAILACO party and to 1 section to be ready to move to support 3 section if necessary. After the despatch of these orders Capt BALDWIN moved Pl H.Q. to the support of 2 section. When he arrived at 3 section's area Japs could be plainly seen advancing along a track about 800 yards away. Our troops were rapidly put into positions on the hilltop above the track along which the Japs were moving, with 2 section flanking and PI H.Q. enfilading at a range of 150 - 200 yards. Almost as soon as these dispositions were complete, came the first burst of concentrated fire against the Japs. As far as our troops could see half a dozen Japs were killed immediately, and a similar number in the half hour sniping duel which followed. Native reports however put the enemy's casualties as 31. Our own were nil. No contact being possible between 2 section and H.Q. during the firing, the skirmish was broken off at discretion some half hour after the commencement. 2 section then retreated to the EAST along the ridge, H.Q. to the NORTH, into places of concealment. During the day of 4 MAR there was much movement of Japs on the ridge and our own men lay in successful hiding, save for a few chance meetings between individuals and the enemy. From these encounters our men all escaped. During the night of 4 MAR the movement of our sections to the SOUTH began, independently, according to prearranged plan. No casualties were incurred. R.R. Baldwin, Capt [4] JACK HARTLEY’S STORY Jack Hartley, 11 December 1941, just before he joined the No. 2 Independent Company in Dili John Frederick (Jack) Hartley (NX78025) was a member of the First Reinforcements for the No. 2 Independent Company that arrived in Dili aboard M.V. Koolama on 22 Jan 1942. [5] Jack recorded a very full and informative memoir of his Timor campaign experiences that was heavily relied upon by Cyril Ayris in Chapter 14 of ‘All the Bull’s men’ that begins with an account of the ‘battle’. [6] Relevant extracts from Jack’s memoir follow here: To Railaco [After arriving in Dili] We had a meal at the drome, after which we were given a lecture by Captain Bernard Callinan, the 2 I/C of the Company. Then humping our gear again we set out on a twelve mile trek up into the hills. The first stop was at Three Spurs camp where we had lunch and then pushed on up to Railaco. The camp at Railaco was only in its infancy and very little had been done to make it comfortable, so we had to pitch in next morning to get things shipshape. One long grass hut was sufficient to quarter most of us, plus the "Q" store and kitchen. New huts had to be built for Headquarters, the hospital, sigs wireless hut and the ammunition dump. Slit trenches had to be dug for defences and protection from air raids. Latrines ten feet deep were one of the more urgent tasks. Water was pretty scarce and we were obliged to carry it in buckets and bamboos from a small spring a couple of hundred yards down the slope from the camp. There was a large pineapple plantation nearby which was given quite a caning by the troops, with obvious results. Too much tropical fruit is not to be recommended as a suitable diet when one is not used to it. The days passed quickly enough and after the work was done and the camp completed we settled down to serious training in weaponry. ….. Sent to No.2 Section Meanwhile the men at Railaco had been allotted to go to different Sections and I was fortunate enough to be sent to No.2 Section, the first Section to go into action. The camp was broken up and everyone left there carrying as much food and ammunition as he was capable of humping. I personally had a change of clothing, a blanket and battle jacket, some tins of food and a Thompson submachine gun with about six hundred rounds of ammunition and three hand grenades. The weight of the ammunition was terrific, but I had no idea when we would be able to replenish our supply and I had no intention of running out, so I chose to carry as much as I possibly could pack. I later acquired a drum magazine which added to the load. Water Pipe Camp Tom Mildren, Keith Brown, Harry Cole and George Miller had been drafted to No.2 Section with Lt. Gerry McKenzie and only had to move a couple of miles to join them. Most of "A" Platoon were at Water Pipe Camp and it was to here that the men from the drome made their way. The camp derived its name from the bamboo pipe line built to carry water from a small spring about half a mile from the camp around the side of a mountain. In charge of the camp was Captain Rolf Baldwin as O/C "A" Platoon. Lieutenant David Dexter was in charge of No. 1 Section, and Lieutenant Clarrie Turner was in charge of No. 3 Section. Among the first of 2 Section to come in were Joe Poynton and Neil Hooper. The others straggled in over the next couple of days until all were present with the exception of the 3 men who were lost on the drome. Lt. McKenzie took charge of his Section again and with the five reinforcements to bring it up to full strength, the Section was soon ready for action again. By this time the Company C.O. Major Spence had moved with his headquarters to Hatolia and for the present there was no definite plan of action. "B" Platoon under Captain Geoff Laidlaw had its headquarters at Liquiça on the north coast and would stay there until it was pushed out. "A" Platoon were about ten miles inland from "B" Platoon, and "c" Platoon were at Hatolia. ‘… moved a couple of miles north’ As soon as "A" Platoon were properly organised, we left Water Pipe camp and moved a couple of miles north along the range we were on and set up three sectional camps at the most strategic points we could find. The ridge ran roughly north and south and on either side of it was a deep river gorge. A fairly good track ran along the top of the ridge and it was the most logical place for the Japs to come from the north coast when they wanted to move inland. Most of us had by now learned a smattering of Tetum, the native language, and we were able to buy fruit and eggs, vegetables and rice to supplement our own meagre rations. Also we had acquired some young criados who were willing to stick with us and carry our packs. For a couple of days things were quiet enough, but this happy state of affairs was not to last long. Contacting "B" Platoon One evening Cyril Doyle, Bruce Smith and I were assigned the task of contacting "B" Platoon with the idea of finding out what their positions were and what plans of action they had. We had to go down into a valley and then up a steep range to reach Liquiça where we expected to find their headquarters. We reached the top of the range and were only a short distance from their headquarters when we met Cpl Norm Thornton and from him we heard some bad news. "B" Platoon had been attacked the night before by a strong party of Japs and had been forced to withdraw into the hills. The problem was at this period we had no radio contact between platoons and runners were the only means of communication. Norm had been given the job of getting clear with a load of ammunition and had no idea of how the rest of the platoon were faring. ….. ‘… moved back up onto the top of the ridge’ As soon as it was light to see we moved back up onto the top of the ridge and took up a position covering the main track. We had a scratch breakfast of fruit and then sent our native boys off with our packs containing the odds and ends of gear we didn't need. That was the last we saw of those boys and our packs for as soon as the shooting started they just went bush. About nine o'clock the Japs made an appearance at a village about a mile away and we took up our positions. There were twenty of us lined up along the ridge running parallel with and above the track about fifty yards away. About a hundred yards away further up the track headquarters took up a position in an old stone fort to fire down the track. 1 Section and 3 Section were too far away to get to the scene in time to join in the fun. Being a tommy gunner I thought I could do more damage by being a bit forward of the Section, so I moved about another ten yards down the slope and took cover behind a tree. There was a small side track only a few yards below me and I thought if they came along this I could play merry hell with them. The Japanese Ambushed However, the Japs came along the lower track with an officer leading them on horseback and the rest in close single file. There were about fifty in the first group and we allowed the leaders to get slightly past us before we opened fire. The officer on the horse and a lot more went down under the first burst of fire, but the others dived for cover and in what seemed only a few seconds were firing back with machine guns and mortars. One mortar bomb exploded in the trees above me and another landed in the stone fort, but no one was hurt. Most of the mortars went over the ridge and exploded behind us. One Jap ran straight towards us and dropped behind a log about twenty yards below me. I put a few rounds into the log to keep him down and then Tom Mildren who was firing over my head with a snipers rifle got him through the thigh and put him out of action. Withdrawal The warning came from our rear scout that another big party of Japs were coming around the hill behind us so Gerry McKenzie gave the order to withdraw. I was too occupied and didn't hear the order and carried on firing. Tom Mildren looked around when the Section had gone about fifty yards and saw I wasn't coming, so he stopped and yelled out to me. By the time I'd scrambled back up the ridge the others were out of sight. Just then the first of the second bunch of Japs put in an appearance about thirty yards away so I took off down the hill after the Section. I could hear a submachine gun blazing away behind me and expected to cop it any second, but the Jap must have been a poor shot and I managed to outrun him. About a quarter of a mile down the hill I caught up with Pte Lou Marchant who was on the point of exhaustion from malaria. I urged him on and we finally caught up with the others who were waiting for us. We moved on immediately as the Japs had seen us and were firing down the hill with what sounded like Bren guns. They were getting too close for comfort, so we kept on going around the mountain and finally ended up down in the river gorge on the wrong side to where we wanted to be. The Japs kept firing for a couple of hours after we were out of sight, but we didn't see any more of them. ESCAPE Corporal Kevin Curran later recalled how some of the men escaped from the ambush site: After the mortaring the Australians fell back to a position, but it was found here that they had been outflanked by a second Japanese party. In the movement which followed, Two Section and Pl HQ became separated, the section going to one side of the track and the troops to the other. They were forced then to take cover in the bushes, lying low all day. Cpl Curran and fourteen privates on one side of the track stayed in hiding until four thirty, watching the Japanese walking about, at times so close that they could have reached out and touched them. When the night fog came down the whole of the forces left their hiding places and trekked onto the main Dilli to Ermera Road. The Section men were the first to leave and they, shortly followed by Platoon HQ set off for Hatu-Lia, the pre-arranged rendezvous. [7] LOCATING THE BATTLEFIELD TODAY Railaco can be reached comfortably by vehicle from Dili – the 30 kilometre drive will take approximately 50 minutes. A walk into the nearby hills will then be required to reach the ‘Battle’ of Grade Lau site. Drive route from Dili to the ‘Battle’ of Grade Lau site The site of the ‘Battle of Grade Lau’ can be approximated using relevant location information derived from the available first-hand accounts in the unit war diary, Baldwin’s report and Jack Hartley’s reminiscences. The following map based on a current Google Maps satellite view of the area attempts to illustrate where the A Platoon sections were situated, the directions from which the Japanese approached. The map also indicates the direction in which the A Platoon men left after the battle. I emphasise that if the indicated location is correct, the landscape would have to have been more heavily vegetated and less closely settled in March 1942 than it is now, otherwise they would not have been able to conceal themselves as effectively as they did prior to the ambush and afterwards when making their escape. ‘Battle’ of Grade Lau site The efficacy of nominating this location for the battlefield can be best tested by visiting Railaco, assessing the terrain and speaking to local residents who could be asked questions such as: · Are you aware of a battle nearby during WWII where the Australians fought the Japanese? · Is there a place nearby called Grade Lau? · Is there a track that runs from Bazar-Tete to Railaco? · Is there an old stone fort on the high ground nearby? · Do you know where the Australians camped in Railaco and nearby The answers given to these questions should determine whether the nominated battlefield site is correct or the ambush occurred in another place that can then be visited, surveyed and documented. It is hoped that visiting and surveying this location and other commando campaign sites can be accomplished as soon as practicable after the current health crisis is over and travel restrictions are lifted. This post will be updated once more definitive information is available. Those visiting the location beforehand may wish to ask the aforementioned questions of local residents before attempting the walk – employing a guide before proceeding is also recommended. REFERENCES [1] https://doublereds.org.au/forums/topic/214-commando-campaign-sites-–-east-timor-liquica-district-bazar-tete/ [2] No. 2 Independent Company war diary, Item number 25/3/2/5 https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C1367000. [3] https://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-136262775/view [4] Baldwin’s report is included in No. 2 Independent Company war diary, Item number 25/3/2/5 https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C1367000. [5] https://doublereds.org.au/history/men-of-the-22/nx/john-frederick-hartley-r181/ [6] Jack Hartley ‘… glossary of personal experiences during the time I spent with the 2/2 Commando Squadron in Timor’, copy of printed notes held in 2/2 Commando Association of Australia archives. [7] S.A. Robinson, [Timor (1941-1942) - Sparrow Force and Lancer Force - Operations]: The Campaign in Portuguese Timor, A narrative of No 2 Independent Company. Story prepared by Corporal S.A. Robinson, No. 5 Military History Field Team: 30-32. – Australian War Memorial file AWM54 571/4/53. ADDITIONAL READING Ayris, Cyril. - All the Bull's men : No. 2 Australian Independent Company (2/2nd Commando Squadron) / Cyril Ayris. - [Perth, W.A.] : 2/2nd Commando Association, 2006: Ch. 14 ‘The unit strikes back’, esp. 162-166. Cleary, Paul. - The men who came out of the ground : a gripping account of Australia's first commando campaign : Timor 1942. - Sydney : Hachette Australia, 2010: 109-110. Wigmore, Lionel. - The Japanese thrust. - Canberra : Australian War Memorial, 1957. Ch. 21 ‘Resistance in Timor’: 466-495 (Australia in the war of 1939-1945. Series 1, Army ; v. 4): 481. Wray, Christopher C. H. - Timor 1942 : Australian commandos at war with the Japanese. - Hawthorn, Vic. : Hutchinson Australia, 1987: 76. Prepared by Ed Willis Revised: 13 April 2020
  22. Safari Reunion during the1970's?
  1. Load more activity
×
×
  • Create New...