Alexandre da Silva Tilman was a man whose actions during WWII were of tremendous value to the 2/2 and other Australian forces.
He also contributed bravely and selflessly in Timor-Leste's campaign against the Indonesian occupation.
He passed away on 19 February 2017.
The following bio was provided by his nephew, Manuel Viegas.
Alexandre da Silva Tilman
Born: 10 October 1921
Native of Dili, East Timor and most recently residing at 6A Melville Avenue, Cabramatta NSW 2166, Australia.
He suffered a stroke in December 1985 when he was, then, aged 64 which resulted from horrendous psychological and physical torture such as unrelenting beatings, electric shocks and barbaric & inhumane abuses under the hands of the Indonesian military during the occupation. Alexandre da Silva Tilman was incarcerated and imprisoned four times between 1976 until 1985.
Alexandre da Silva Tilman contributed in two historical theatres of war; WWII and Indonesia’s invasion and consequent occupation of East Timor. Quite possibly, he was the last of the East Timorese combatants who were also veterans of WWII.
During WWII, he was an unofficially recruited civilian who was issued with an Australian military uniform by the Australian forces to navigate the maritime passages from Timor to Australia as well as carry out intelligence operative work (with Groper Party Z Special Unit of the 2/2nd AIF Commando Company). Their operation required that they cross backwards and forwards, in three separate perilous missions across an ocean controlled by fierce Japanese forces. One time while attending to some mechanical incident during one of their naval operations in high seas he lost his left index finger.
During the Indonesian occupation, Alexandre da Silva Tilman sent intelligence back to the guerrillas in Timor’s interior; as well as much needed supplies and medicines. Throughout this time of his activities as well as during his regular days he remained suspected by the Indonesian forces and their spies, was under constant surveillance, finally was denounced, accused, detained and tortured with electric shocks, sustaining contusions throughout his entire body, was kicked constantly with steel capped boots, beaten countless times until his ribs were fractured and he eventually became psychologically affected. He was placed in an isolated cell at the Comarca Prison in Balide, Dili, without contact with his family and limited interaction with other people. The cell had a hole which couldn’t even be called a latrine; it had minimal lighting; given minimal water, minimal food; and ventilation that was restricted.
Alexandre da Silva Tilman was captured and imprisoned at a local shop building called Sang Tai Ho in Colmera, Dili on 25 February 1976 until 10 June 1978. Two days later (12 June 1978) he was again apprehended and reimprisoned at Comarca Prison in Balide, Dili until 17 August 1979. Again, he was captured and imprisoned at Comarca Prison in Balide, Dili on 10 June 1980 until 24 December 1982. Finally, he was recaptured and imprisoned at Comarca Prison in Balide, Dili on 27 December 1982 until 5 December 1982. Every time, after release from prison, he was required to personally appear before Indonesian military authorities on a regular basis - this continued for three to four years (requiring a minimum appearance before the Indonesians at least three times a week or at the Indonesians convenience, whether day or night or whenever they chose to torment him).
As a result of the torture endured, Alexandre da Silva Tilman's health deteriorated, he had difficulties in walking; suffered hypertension; respiratory problems; sleeping difficulties; became more introverted; had a very short temperament (no patience), suspicious, little appetite, in the end he suffered a stroke that almost ended his life.
Mention is also made of Alexandre da Silva Tilman in the August 1993 edition of Courier. See pages 12 to 14.
Lest we forget.
Edited by Rob Crossing