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  1. WWII in East Timor – A Site and Travel Guide BAUCAU MUNICIPALITY Situated 129 kilometres East of Dili, the Baucau Municipality covers 1,600 square kilometres and serves as a gateway for the neighbouring municipalities of Lautem, Viqueque and Manatuto. The municipality is divided into six sub-districts: Baucau, Laga, and Vemasse on the northern coastal plain, while Venilale, Quelicai, and Baguia are located inland. Baucau is the second largest municipality in East Timor with a population of 123,203 inhabitants recorded in the 2015 census. [1] During the WWII period under the Portuguese colonial administration, the area now known as the Baucau Municipality is made up several northern districts of the civil circunscriçõe of Sao Domingos that extended from the north to the south coast. Map 1 shows the area and highlights the sites (numbered) where significant events occurred during WWII. SIGNIFICANCE During the WWII period under the Portuguese colonial administration, the area now known as the Baucau Municipality made up several northern districts of the civil circunscriçõe of Sao Domingos that extended from the north to the south coast. As a precaution against Japanese retaliation for their guerrilla activities, Sparrow Force created a small reconnaissance unit, codenamed H Force, to operate in the eastern end of the island. This detachment of ten men was commanded by Lieutenant Col Doig who led H Force to Viqueque. From Viqueque, members of H force explored the villages, roads and paths of the eastern provinces. They also gathered foodstuffs paid for with promissory notes to supplement the dwindling supplies held by Sparrow Force. An urgent call from Darwin led to them recruiting 1,000 locals to gather sisal to make rope, and shortly afterwards 100 pony loads of rope were despatched to headquarters, and thence to Australia. [3] One of H Force’s most famous exploits was the rescue of a downed and badly burned RAAF pilot, Flying Officer George Wadey, who had parachuted from his damaged Hudson bomber into an area between the Australians and Japanese. The Timorese had taken him to Baguia for treatment by the medic at the Portuguese infirmaria located there. In order to collect Wadey, Doig and a couple of his team undertook an epic journey, along near impassable tracks, battling uncooperative Portuguese administrators and disaffected Dutch troops. They survived an equally hazardous return trip; Wadey survived and was later evacuated to Australia. [4] The Japanese utilised tunnel warfare effectively during WWII. In the island battles of the Western Pacific, they maximised their capabilities by establishing strong point defences with this tactic. The same defensive approach was put into effect in New Guinea, New Britain, Bougainville and the islands in the Indonesian archipelago including Timor. In September 1943, Timor was included in what has been informally called the Absolute National Defence Zone ‘as the zone in the Pacific Ocean that absolutely had to be held to ensure Japan's survival’. [5] Consequently, Timor was strongly garrisoned by the Japanese until near the end of the war in anticipation of any allied attempt to retake it and tunnel construction was an aspect of their defensive posture. Their Venilale tunnel complex (locally known as Gua Tuju) is the most accessible in the Baucau Municipality but reputedly they also used Timorese forced labour to build “a vast system of caves and tunnels in the [Matebian Mountains] area for their camps and arsenals and killed many people”. [6] As the Japanese concentrated their defensive preparations at the eastern end of the island between 1943 and 1945, the region was under constant aerial attack particularly by RAAF Mitchell, Hudson, Liberator and Beaufighter squadrons. A focus of these attacks in the Baucau municipality were the Portuguese posto towns: Vemasse, Baucau, Laga, Baguia, Calicai and Venilale – that had been garrisoned by the Japanese. The coastal postos of Baucau and Laga that provided anchorages for transport barges and small ships were frequently bombed. Japanese vehicles on the roads and tracks in the area were subject to strafing and rocket attacks by the ‘whispering death’ Beaufighters of No. 31 Squadron. [7] The Japanese concentration of activity in the area also became of intelligence interest to Australian military planners. To this end, from July 1942 until the end of the war, clandestine operations in the eastern end of the island were conducted by the Inter-Allied Services Department (ISD) and the Services Reconnaissance Department (SRD) using Australian, Portuguese and Timorese personnel. These operations continued to be mounted despite the limited ‘safe space’ in the area being infiltrated, the hostile local population, and most importantly, their radio communications being compromised. Many of the ISD and SRD operatives were killed in action, taken prisoner by the Japanese and tortured and some were executed. SRD Operations PORTO LIZARD, PIGEON/SUNCOB, LAGARTO and COBRA all proceeded within what is now the Baucau Municipality. [8] SITES 1. VEMASSE 8° 31' 14” S., 126° 13' E Driving eastwards from Dili after transiting through Manatuto: “From Laleia it's 9 km to Vemasse, where the flat countryside is devoted to rice paddies. Another long Indonesian bridge, this one with a plaque noting that it was built in 1992, leads into the town. Vemasse has a quaint-looking church, in reds, blues and greens, close to the road. On the hillside overlooking the village are the imposing walls of a fortress-like Portuguese construction”. [9] Vemasse (see Map No. 26) is 20 miles (32 km.) at a bearing of 256° from Baucau. It is on the coastal plains about 2 miles (3 km.) from the sea and on the east bank of the Vemasse River. This locality is part of the dry region. The north coastal motor road fords the river and runs east through the town. Vemasse is a posto town. The posto is 200 yards (180 m.) east of the river and south of the coastal motor road. The houses of the town are along both sides of the coastal motor road in a row; this row begins north of the posto and runs for about 400 yards (350 m.) east, when it changes to the north side of the road and continues for another 400 yards (350 m.). [10] Eduardo da Costa Gamboa, the Portuguese administrative aspirante in Portuguese Timor from 1935 and Chefe de Posto at Vemasse was a ‘friend of the Australians’ and after evacuation to Australia, returned and was active with SRD Operation PORTO LIZARD that established contact in Vemasse and Laleia areas in May 1943. [11] To counter the influence of Gamboa [da Costa] and to undermine SRD operations in the area, the Japanese, using a typical tactic, attempted to switch the sympathies of the local population: “… on 24 March 1944, SRD was informed by 'Lagarto' that 'many chiefs and natives of [VEMASSE] and neighbouring villages held a fiesta in [VEMASSE]. Two truckloads Jap officers and soldiers attended and distributed sugar, cigarettes, sarongs, etc. They announced that they would soon attack Australia. Utter rot”. [12] Subsequently, Vemasse was targeted by the RAAF in late September 1944: “Australian Mitchell medium bombers bombed and strafed a small vessel off Manatuto and left it listing and smoking. They also scored direct hits on buildings at Vemasse. One aircraft crashed into the sea during a strafing run”. [13] Ruins of the Portuguese posto, Vemasse, 16 June 2010 Vemasse and vicinity [14] Satellite view of Vemasse, February 2020 [15] The coastline between Vemasse and Baucau was described by the Area study of Portuguese Timor as follows: Vemasse to Baucau: Eastwards from Vemasse for about 5 miles (8 km.) the coast is sandy with reefs inshore and coral outcrops on the sand. Landings could be affected through the whole length of this area in calm weather. The main north coastal road lies about 1 1/2 to 2 miles (2 1/2 to 3 km.) inland, and the vegetation is scattered clumps of casuarina along the creek beds, with low scrub and cactus interspersed with grassland. This patch of coast is also in the dry belt and water is scarce. [16] The road between Vemasse and Baucau was described by the Area study of Portuguese Timor as follows: Vemasse to Baucau: For the first 6 miles (9 1/2 km.) this road is flat and then climbs 4 miles (6 1/2 km.). The end of this stretch continues along a flat plateau for about another 10 miles (16 km.); throughout its length it is wide and capable of taking heavy traffic (A1). There is only one river crossing, about 4 miles (6 1/2 km.) east of Vemasse which might present difficulties. There is fair air cover along this road, particularly towards Baucau. Throughout its length the road is only from 1 to 5 miles (1 1/2 to 8 km.) inland from the coast. There is no water over considerable stretches of this section. [17] “Nine kilometres further there's a string of roadside refreshment stands where passing buses often stop to give passengers a break. The road from here to Baucau climbs inland from the coast, running through mostly flat, dry and lightly populated countryside as it gently circles up to the forested Baucau plateau. Here you'll find roadside fruit vendors selling carambola (star fruit)”. [18] 2. UAI CUAC - POINT BIGONO On 18 September 1943, the SRD LAGARTO party was located near the sea between Laleia and the Vemasse River. The party was under constant threat from the Japanese. On 25 September, it was certain that the Japanese knew LAGARTO's approximate whereabouts. Sergeant Jim Ellwood signalled SRD that the 'natives are too afraid [to] feed or hide us' and that they now had no place to go. The Japanese drive was a 'grimly earnest business of torture and killing' and within the previous fortnight chiefs in a number of districts that 'Lagarto' had passed through had been killed. Ellwood considered the only way LAGARTO could be saved from a 'sticky end' was by evacuation the following evening. GHQ, SWPA, however, would not provide aircraft for such a large party. On 29 September, near Uai Cuac, LAGARTO was surrounded by a superior force. LAGARTO surrendered but Patricio da Luz evaded capture. [19] The Japanese searched the Cape Bigono area and found Ellwood's diary, ciphers and signal plan. Ellwood was charged with espionage and his interrogation began on 2 October 1943. [20] Artist’s impression of a Japanese soldier finding Sergeant Ellwood's diary, ciphers and signal plan [21] 3. SALAZAR PLATEAU Salazar Plateau This plateau is located in limestone country with, many limestone outcrops. There is some light scrub and no grass. [Airfield] Sites can be obtained here, but a considerable amount of work would be involved in removing the limestone outcrops. A site which it is considered can be easily and quickly established exists 4 1/2 miles (7 km.) off the main road between Vemasse and Baucau and 10 1/2 miles (17 km.) from Baucau. Some outcrops of limestone would have to be removed. Dispersal can be found in adjacent jungle patches. [22] “On 22 November, while carrying out a recce preparatory to a road blow between Manatuto and Baucau, a sub-section of No.5 Section surprised a party of Japanese officers breezing along towards Manatuto in their utility. ‘Kit’ Carson sets the stage and Rob Whelan provides the details: Kit: ‘The Air Force boys had requested that we have a look at the Manatuto- Baucau road for a suitable spot for them to blow it - a bridge, cutting or whatever - with the idea of steadying traffic to and from Baucau and thus delaying construction of the aerodrome the Nips were building on the Salazar Plateau”. [23] “As you approach Baucau from Dili the big airport is 7 km before the town. Past the airport a statue marks where the road forks: turning left takes you directly to the colonial-era Old Town, while turning right will take you first to the New Town before dropping down to the Old Town. Down at the sea, you'll find the very attractive beach village of Osolata”. [24] Baucau's airport is a curious anomaly. It's much larger than the airport at Dili and capable of taking large jet aircraft. The Portuguese built it to be Portuguese Timor's international gateway, and at that time there were regular flights from Darwin, although never with large aircraft. During the Indonesian era it was used only for military flights, and it was used and fortified by the UN after 1999 during their peacekeeping operations. 3. BAUCAU 8° 56' S., 125° 22' 48" E. Baucau was the second town in East Timor to be settled by the Portuguese and gradually developed as an administrative centre and trade port. Like most Portuguese settlements, it was sited with defence in mind, sitting above the sea to repel a water attack, and backed by steep cliffs as a natural barrier to incursions from the interior. The Portuguese constructed many of the buildings in old town Baucau, of which the distinctive Mercado [market place] (1938) is the most notable. Baucau, Portuguese Timor. 1946-01-05. The Municipal Market Built In 1938. (Photographer Sgt K. B. Davis) Restored Baucau Mercado municipal (municipal market), 20 February 2014 “Baucau is a charming colonial town located 123km east of Dili. The Old Town boasts a Portuguese-era mercado municipal (municipal market) and a roadside town market where pyramid-shaped piles of potatoes, neat bunches of greens and mounds of maize form a colourful patchwork on the pavement. Head down through the market and take a left to spot the pink pousada. A clear natural spring runs from Old Town to the swimming pool … and down through the lush ravine to the delightful palm-fringed Osolata beach. The bland, Indonesian-built New Town (Kota Baru) is 2km from Old Town”. [25] Though written in 1977, the following summation of the reasons for Baucau’s importance are still relevant: “Baucau is undoubtedly the most important market place east of Dili. Its strategic position at the cross-roads of the entire transport system east of Dili is responsible for this. Included in this area are Lautem, Los Palos (centre of livestock keeping) , Tutuala, Baguia, Quelicai, Laga, Iliomar , Lore; as well as the important market centres of the south­east coast: Uato Carbau, Uato Lari, Viqueque , and the central upland, Ossu and Venilale. Because of this position it has become the second largest centre of settlement in Portuguese Timor after Dili, with roughly 5000 inhabitants”. [26] Baucau [Anchorage] (Vila Salazar) (8° 28' S., 126° 28' E.) - See Map No. 23: A place of some importance carrying on a brisk trade with the adjacent islands, is situated a short distance from the coast at a height of about 1,047 feet (320 m.). It is the residence of a Government official. The anchorage is in 22 fathoms (40 m.), coral. K.P.M. ships lie off about 500 yards (450 m.). Anchorage for boats of approximately 600 tons, about 200 yards (175 m.) offshore. Vessels lie well here in the west monsoon. In the east monsoon, with rough weather in the months of May and June, landings should be done in the morning. Anchorage is with the light structure on the coast bearing 212°. Easy to approach. Exports were principally rice, maize, horns and sandalwood. The shore, very steep, has no beach and a small coast reef; is suitable for landings. [27] Baucau (see Maps Nos. 22 and 23) is 60 miles (96 km.) at a bearing of 85° E from Dilli. It is the capital of Sao Domingos Province and about 1 mile (1 1/2 km.) inland from the north coast. It is an important area on the north coast because it is situated at the junction of the north coastal motor road and the motor road which crosses the island and leads to Beasso on the south coast. The town is in a narrow belt of low hills which border the northeast corner of Salazar Plain. It is a posto town of about 13 stone houses and many native huts. There are patches of good air cover in the vicinity of the town. As the town is in a limestone area there are many caves which can be used as air raid shelters. [28] RAAF Bombing of Baucau “The RAAF made several more attacks on Maubisse that month, but it also hit targets in the eastern centres of the island, where the Japanese had been extending their reach since early October. Baucau, the second largest centre on the island, came in for special treatment, as did Manatuto, the coastal centre between Dili and Baucau. …… Historic Baucau, which featured many impressive stone buildings dating back to the earliest settlement by the Portuguese, came in for special treatment in the November bombing. In one raid, the RAAF strafed the residence of the Portuguese governor, prompting an official complaint that made it all the way back to Australia. Major-General Stevens wrote a cable stating that the Portuguese governor was now living in a large residence in the eastern side of the town, and the doctor was at the hospital with a large red cross on the roof. These buildings were off limits, though ‘the remainder of the town was considered to be an open target’. Aside from these two buildings, Baucau was virtually flattened by the RAAF’s bombing and strafing to the point where only four colonial buildings were left standing by the end of the war”. [29] Baucau and anchorage [30] 4. SEICAL RIVER 8°29'7.79" S, 126°33'10.79" E The following narrative of the misfortunes of the SRD SUNCOB operation exemplifies the difficulties the organisation had in conducting any mission effectively in what was a very hostile environment. The two men involved did their best to avoid capture by the Japanese and in doing so covered a considerable amount of ground in the central and southern sectors of what is now the Baucau Municipality. SRD OPERATION SUNCOB The SUNCOB project was designed for the relief of COBRA personnel who had been in the field since January, 1944. The final composition of SUNCOB was Captain P.W. Wynne (leader and signaller), and Corporal J.B. Lawrence. [31] Selecting the Seical River Drop Zone A number of reconnaissance flights were made over the area and many photographs were taken of the valleys of the Seical, Vei Aca and Mau Vui rivers. The results of some of the early aerial reconnaissance were relayed to COBRA in order to confirm the suitability of certain prospective alighting areas. Although COBRA was not specifically informed of the intention to insert SUNCOB, sufficient warning of the general intention had been given. When this news was passed to COBRA the party had already been Japanese hands for some months, but although this position was suspected, it had not been confirmed. View over rice fields from Baucau towards Seical, with Mt Matebian in background, April 2013 [32] A sparsely populated area on the Seical River, about eight miles south of Bacau, was selected as the most suitable DZ [Drop Zone]. This area consisted of an old paddy field of boomerang shape, each arm of which was about half a mile long and a quarter of a mile wide. The plan provided for SUNCOB to enter the area 'blind' without the knowledge of COBRA, and to reconnoitre COBRA's HQ in the Guruda area. If COBRA were found to be free, SUNCOB was to join forces, otherwise it was to more away and act independently, if necessary being evacuated to Australia. The Drop The party parachuted from a Liberator of 200 flight over the assigned DZ at last light on 2 July 1945. The descent was made from about 1500 feet above terrain and as the light had not entirely failed, Wynne is certain that the descent was seen by many natives. This, however, was almost unavoidable due to the difficulties of piloting large aircraft over mountainous terrain at the comparatively low speed necessary for personnel dropping. Lawrence Captured Lawrence landed in a tree and hung in his rigging lines 25 to 30 feet above the ground, but released himself without great difficulty. For some time he searched unsuccessfully for Wynne, spending the rest of the night in the hut of a friendly native. On the following morning he located the storepedo containing the party's stores and, after impressing four native carriers, set out for a pre-arranged rendezvous near Guruda mountain, where he expected to meet Wynne. Travelling by day he reached the RV [Rendezvous] at about 3.40 pm on July 3rd and waited there overnight. As Wynne had not arrived, Lawrence set off for a second pre-arranged contact point at 7am on July 4th. Two hours later Lawrence ran into a Japanese patrol of about eight men. A skirmish resulted and Lawrence was captured. Wynne On The Loose Wynne had landed about 400 yards from the DZ, breaking through a tree and severely bruising his left leg. Due to the rough nature of the terrain he could not see Lawrence, and the noise of the wind in the trees prevented contact being made by calling to him. Wynne estimated, after a subsequent visit to the area, that he landed 800 yards from Lawrence. From some time after landing, Wynne heard much excited shouting, which he attributed to natives who had witnessed the descent. After an unsuccessful search for Lawrence, Wynne moved towards the rendezvous at Guruda travelling slowly on account of his bruised leg. On the following day, natives posing as friends led him to a Japanese camp which was fortunately deserted. Despite attempts by some 200 natives to detain him, Wynne made his escape, but lost all his gear except his clothing, arms, equipment, ciphers and W/T crystals. After hiding for four hours in a water channel, he moved away to the south. On July 4th, fearing that the Guruda area would be dangerous, he moved to the Fatu Macu area on the Baucau (Salazar) Plateau where he remained for two days. Avoiding Japanese patrols he moved by stages through Guruda, Ue Babo, Builo and the Be Vuji valley to Hill 565, eight miles south of Guruda, arriving there at dawn on July 15th. The natives he met en route were generally friendly and gave him food and shelter. They had heard a rumour that an Australian had been captured in the area. Wynne Captured Hill 565 was a pre-arranged contact point for air searches and Wynne laid out a ground signal made of sheets of paper and strips of maps, requesting extraction. Early on the morning of July ·15th, an aircraft crossed the area, but failed to see the signal. He remained at this point all day and the following night. At dawn the next morning, July 16th, he was awakened by a considerable volume of small-arms fire directed at his sleeping-place from a short range. Barefooted, he attempted to run through the encircling force of Japanese but was brought to the ground by a large stone thrown by one of the natives accompanying the patrol - so much for Japanese marksmanship! Lawrence Tortured And Interrogated Lawrence, after his capture, was taken to Baucau and Lautem, where he was interrogated with torture for 16 days. According to Wynne, the Japanese sergeant interpreter said later that he was full of admiration for Lawrence's fortitude under torture and what he called his 'strength of mind'. After interrogation, Lawrence was moved to Dili and placed in solitary confinement until released on 1 September, 1945. Wynne Tortured And Interrogated Meanwhile, Wynne was taken to Baucau where he was interrogated under torture, including the application of a plaited cane horse whip across the face and bare legs and kneeling on a narrow log, a simple but very painful torture. His interrogators seemed to have little knowledge of other SRD operations outside Timor but showed considerable curiosity concerning the base in Western Australia. This presumably stemmed from the capture in early 1945, of two members of RIMAU party on Romang Island, after an epic voyage of escape from the Singapore area in a native sailing canoe. They had been trained in Western Australia and had embarked in a British submarine at Fremantle. Wynne was able to conceal his authenticator and identity checks and readily agreed to operate his W/T set if required, being confident that Darwin would thus detect the fact that he was under Japanese control. Wynne was then taken to the DZ in the Seical Valley and was told that he was to lead a Japanese patrol over the route he had followed, for the purpose of identifying natives who had befriended him. The Japanese were very concerned that one white man could live for so long in an area they closely controlled. On August 6th he was taken to Dili and lodged in solitary confinement until 1st September, when he and Lawrence were released and met the other SRD prisoners. Wynne’s Survival Techniques It is of interest that Wynne was able to avoid capture for two weeks after his insertion by parachute, making good use of his previous experience in Timor with the No. 4 Independent Company in 1942 and 1943. He had learned some of the native language and was able to grasp the meaning of the messages which the Timorese would yodel from hill to hill, their usual method of inter-village communication. He would approach a village at dusk, accept food, but however friendly they were he would movie away alone into the bush, travelling by night as the natives would not leave their fires after dark and could thus be avoided. Dogs, however, were the greatest danger. [33] 5. CALICAI 8°33'06.0"S, 126°36'06.0"E 3a. Road Baucau to Laga Turnoff to Calicai (Boa Vista): Approximately 11 miles (18 km.) from Baucau a branch off from the main road runs south for approximately 8 miles (13 km.) to the Posto of Calicai. The road runs up the fertile rice valley of the Mau-Fui River to the foothills at Calicai Palms and lightly grassed areas give little cover from the air. [34] Calicai is 12 miles (19 km.) at a bearing of 124° from Baucau. It is at the end of a spur road which branches south, from the north coast motor road. It looks west over the valley of the Mau-Fui River. It is a small posto town with a few stone houses and many small native villages. The district is fairly fertile; there is much grassland and forest. [35] To protect him from capture by the searching Japanese, Flying Officer George Wadey, the downed and badly burned Australian pilot, was moved by Lt. Pires, the supportive Portuguese District Administrator at Bacau, from Manatuto through Baucau to Calicai where he arrived in late September 1942. After a few days he was then moved further east by car to a safer location at Baguia. [36] Calicai, like all the other posto towns in the region was subsequently garrisoned by the Japanese and subjected to occasional bombing and strafing raids by the RAAF. 6. LAGA 8° 29' S., 126° 36' E Laga is 11 miles (18 1/2 km.) at a bearing of 94° from Baucau. It is on the right bank of the Laga River and near the river mouth. There is an important anchorage here. The fact that the north coastal motor road goes through the town, and that it is the junction of the inland road to Baguia, increases its military importance. Laga is a posto town and has two posto buildings; the new one is on the east of the old one which is used for a Government office. There are several Chinese houses, some in the main group of houses north of the posto, and some in a group on the East. The narrow coastal strip north of the town and the strip of western river flats comprise extensive paddy fields. There are three native villages across the Laga River west of the town. [37] Map of Laga [38] “On the coast highway, 19 km east of Baucau, is Laga, a peaceful little town with a small market from which a road leads down to a pleasant pebbly beach about 1km away. The land here is largely flat with virescent rice fields stretching to the horizon. The town’s crumbling old Portuguese fort tops a low hill just south of the main road. The square fort has round towers at two of its corners, and there are fine views from the battlements north over the town and church towards the coast, and south across the river and rice paddies to the central mountains. Salt is gathered from lakes near the town. The town’s pale blue church is fronted by a big ceramic panel illustrating smiling Timorese getting their introduction to Christianity from a Portuguese friar. Across the road there’s an interesting collection of bas-reliefs and brightly coloured statues with more religious messages. Look for a large orphanage run by the Silesian Sisters just east of town. The turn-off to Baguia is just past the church”. [39] Laga’s importance as an anchorage meant that from time-to-time it was attacked by the RAAF: “Buildings were demolished and large fires started when RAAF Hudsons and Beaufighters made a heavy attack on Laga village on the north-east coast of Japanese-occupied Timor on Saturday morning. …. It was the first time that Laga had been raided. [The] only enemy activity was light machine-gun fire from the ground. … the Hudsons attacked first. They were followed by a formation of Beaufighters, which strafed the target area, and pilots reported that the earlier attack had been successful. Another Beaufighter formation followed later. It attacked and riddled barges, stores and equipment near the shore. During the whole operation few enemy personnel were seen”. [40] “Our medium units [Mitchell or Hudson bombers] bombed and machine-gunned enemy positions at Laga". [41] 7. BAGUIA 8°37'40"S, 126°39'41"E Road Laga to Baguia: This is a second class road in fair condition and capable, with a little improving, of carrying M.T. in all weather. The distance is about 25 miles (40 km.) across very rugged country. There are three bridges, but they would not make an effective roadblock as they are very small. For the first 15 miles (24 km.) the road follows the valley of the Laga River. The country here is heavily timbered and the undergrowth fairly dense, but the remainder of the road over smaller hills is surrounded with sparsely timbered country. There is much rice grown along the route, particularly at the big village of Camalete, 8 miles (13 km.) from Baguia. [42] The Lonely Planet Guide provides an updated version of the same journey: “An interesting side trip can be made south of Laga to the small town of Baguia, 38 km up into the hills. Obscure and unique languages are spoken in this area, and can vary from one slope of a mountain to another. Indonesian and Tetum are widely spoken, but very little English is. At first the sealed road is in OK condition as it climbs steadily away from the coast. But as the road climbs and dips, the remaining 26 km are in the typically rural condition that history buffs will compare to 1916 Verdun. The dry northern hills are scattered with the occasional traditional village, and small cemeteries with white crosses dot the hills – not an uncommon sight in East Timor. About halfway along, the road crosses the northern mountain range and the countryside becomes much greener and lusher as you approach Mt Matebian, which towers over the area. Two kilometres before Baguia are the ruins of the Escola do Reino de Haudere. Only the walls remain of this impressive Portuguese school, which fell into disrepair and disuse after WWII”. [43] Escola do Reino de Haudere, December 19, 2006 [44] Baguia is 17 1/2 miles (28 km.) at a bearing of 129° from Baucau. It is situated on a hilltop on the east flank of the Mata-Bia Range (over 7,000 feet: 2,100 m.), which runs north/south across the back of Timor in the east part of Sao Domingos Province. Baguia, at an elevation of 1,400 feet (425 m.) overlooks the upper valleys of the Seli-Bere River. It is a posto and market town. The high posto wall includes the secretary's office and barracks. North of the posto there is a new Roman Catholic church (partly constructed) near the old one and a rest house nearby. South of the posto are market shed, stable, coolie barracks, hospital, storehouse and school. The posto is surrounded by a garden; there are coconut plantations to the North and South. [45] The Commander’s house, Baguia, 1935 [46] The Lonely Planet Guide provides an updated description of the town: “Baguia itself is a diminutive, relaxed hill town with a small Portuguese fort built in 1915. The walls are reasonably intact and inside is an old villa, occupied by the UN police force. You can walk along the walls and climb the corner turret that was once used as a prison. At the top end of town the baby-blue church features a Christ-and-child statue perched atop the church tower. The name Baguia is derived from the Portuguese for ‘under the cave’, and the large rock outcrop overlooking the town is said to contain caves. Other than checking out the sites, there’s little to keep you here”. [47] The Japanese established a comfort women station in Baguia and this is a good indication that a substantial number of its troops were stationed in the area. [48] “In Baguia in 2014, senior men recalled the harshness of Japanese occupation and working in construction gangs. They built roads from Baguia Villa to Hae Coni, Osso Huna and Afaloicai village, and Uatolari and Uatocarbau villages in neighbouring Viqueque District. During this time ... we did not use tractors and cars but only crowbar and machetes to make the roads. The width of the road we built was determined by the width of the car ... In the Japanese period, when people did not do the work they were ordered to do, the Japanese would hit them with a wooden stick until the Timorese people almost died ... During the Japanese period, Timorese people were still continuing with their culture as usual ... we as men were wearing a loincloth, as there were no shirts and pants to wear, we just used a loin-cloth and a piece of handwoven cloth ... Also women used female and man’s cloth as clothing until they rotted. The cotton used to make these tais was grown before the Japanese came. In addition to memories of hardship and scarcity under Japanese occupation, recollections of the introduction of weapons, predominantly machetes, remain in Baguia. One style of sword known as the samurai was, in 2014, a reminder of the Japanese occupation. The introduction of metal drinking flasks and aluminium cooking posts was also associated with this period. [49] The Portuguese infirmaria [hospital] at Baguia was the final eastern refuge of the downed Australian pilot Flying Officer S.G. Wadey. He was retrieved by car from there by a small party led by Lt. Col Doig and returned in a perilous road journey to Ossu and subsequently evacuated to Australia. [50] 8. VENILALE 8°35′S, 126°22′E Venilale looking northwest (17/11/42) [51] Road 5 - Baucau to Venilale: Distance 16 miles (26 km.). Suitable for M.T. in all weather. This constructed road is B1 (two streams, occasional passing, heavy traffic). Mainly flat, no steep grades. There is poor air cover in places; the surrounding country is open forest and cultivation and grassland. Approaching Venilale the air cover is better. The road itself traverses the eastern end of the Salazar Plateau. [52] Metzner describes the terrain conditions and the circumstances under which the road was built by the Portuguese in the 1920s and its similar strategic importance to the Japanese during the occupation period: “The wildness of the terrain and the high degree of erodibility of the soil which has been aggravated by human action, have rendered highway construction on Timor extremely difficult. This is particularly so in our area owing to the high percentage of heavy clay soil derived from Bobonaro Scaly Clay, which is very liable to slumping. It is therefore all the more astonishing that one of the few roads linking the north coast with the south coast was laid through the Area in the 1920s ... This road was built primarily for military purposes (with statute labour by local population) enabling the colonial administration to transfer troops quickly to the newly pacified interior when necessary. It links Baucau with Venilale , Ossu, Viqueque and Be Aco [Beaco]; the road was later extended to Uato Lari. Today it is still the main link between Baucau and the south coast. Small extensions were built under Japanese occupation, 1942-45; e.g. between Ossu and Uato Lari via the suco of Ossoroa. These roads were built under forced labour conditions by the Timorese. Their purpose was to enable the Japanese to gain better access to the south coast, from which they expected an invasion of the Allied Forces”. [53] The road today is in poor condition but is due to be upgraded during the period 2020-2022. [54] Venilale (see Photo No. 84 and Map No. 26) is 18 miles (29 km.) at a bearing of 205° from Baucau. It looks west over the valley of the River Vemasse, and the north/south motor road from Baucau passes through it. It is a small posto town with the usual administrative buildings and barracks standing back from the road. There are about 12 stone houses and many small native villages. A fair quantity of maize is grown in the area. The vegetation is often forest and grass. The surrounding country is very mountainous. [55] Venilale township map [56] JAPANESE CAVES (GUA TUJU), UMA-ANA-ULU VILLAGE, NORTH VENILALE S 08°37', E 126°23' An important WWII site just north of the Venilale township are the Japanese Caves, locally known as Gua Tuju near Uma-Ana-Ulu village. Locating a key defensive and storage base at Venilale, roughly mid-way on the strategically important island straddling road between Baucau and Viqueque makes sense. Personnel and stores were secure from aerial bombing until any threat was evident and then they could have been diverted in the required direction – north, south or further east. The tunnels would have become a strong defence point in the event the battle became localised. The tunnels extend 20 metres into the hill side and are all interconnected with cross tunnels, five meters in from the entrances. The cross tunnels may well have been for direct access to other entrances, but they also provided shelter from aerial attack. “[The caves were] used as storage space for various military equipment such as bombs, hand guns and pistols. [They were] carved and dug in 1942 and was used for the next 3 years (until the end of WWII) … through forced labour under the order of the Japanese military”. [57] Entrance to one of the Japanese caves, 16 June 2010 A darker extension to this narrative of how the tunnels were built has been provided by Adriano de Almeida Gominho, “ex-administrador de Aileu-Timor” in his historical novel O tesouro de Yamashita [The treasure of Yamashita]. This factually-based novel describes the construction of the tunnels as being largely completed during November 1942 using three different teams of 20-30 Timorese labourers recruited from Ossu and Ossualata under the false promise of being paid for their work. A Japanese Army engineer was in charge of the works and the labourers worked under the supervision of a Timorese foreman. The officer in charge was under heavy pressure to complete the project in a timely fashion. When the labourers became exhausted by the heavy work they were taken by truck to Taci-Tolu near Dili, summarily shot and their bodies buried there. A replacement team with a new foreman was then recruited. [58] The tunnels were not cleared of their deadly contents at the end of the war: “On 10 March 1954, the Australian Consul had visited Japanese war-time storage caves south of Venilale containing small arms ammunition and mortar bombs and reported that the Portuguese authorities were ‘indifferent to these stocks of ammunition’ that were being traded by ‘Arabs in Dili’ to visiting Indonesian copra boats”. [59] NOTE: This post is a draft chapter of a proposed publication: ‘WWII in East Timor – an Australian Army site and travel guide’ that is the subject of a current application for an Army History Research Grant. REFERENCES [1] Wall Chart : 2015 Timor-Leste Population and Housing Census – Data Sheet http://www.statistics.gov.tl/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Wall-Chart-Poster-Landscape-Final-English-rev.pdf. [2] Map derived from Area study of Portuguese Timor / Allied Geographical Section, South West Pacific Area. - [Brisbane] : The Section, 1943. – (Terrain study (Allied Forces. South West Pacific Area. Allied Geographical Section) ; no. 50.) : Map 33. [3] Brad Manera ‘"H" detachment Sparrow Force at Viqueque, 1942’ Wartime 17, Summer 2002: 56. [4] Ed Willis ‘The Sid Wadey Story – Rescued on Timor’ - https://doublereds.org.au/forums/topic/207-the-sid-wadey-story-–-rescued-on-timor/ [5] Hiroyuki Shindo ‘The Japanese Army's search for a new South Pacific strategy, 1943’ in Australia 1943: the liberation of New Guinea / edited by Peter J. Dean. – Melbourne: Cambridge University Press, 2014: 82. [6] https://visiteasttimor.com/matebian/; the Matebian Mountains area will be investigated and documented in a forthcoming site survey. Note that the SRD was also alert to potential military use of caves on Timor ‘The extensive limestone caves throughout islands of the Lesser Sundas were proposed as hideouts and storage sites – see NAA: A3269, R20 for maps of limestone caves in Timor. In Portuguese Timor, the principal area of caves was in the far southeast of the island – in the Mount Paixão region of Lautem. The map data also indicates limestone caves at Ossu, Quelicai, Matebian, Uatolari, from Baucau south to Venilale, around Viqueque town, and a few areas in Cova Lima and Bobonaro’. (Ernest Chamberlain. - Forgotten men: Timorese in Special Operations during World War II. – Port Lonsdale, Vic.: The Author, 2010: 14). [7] Mark Johnston. - Whispering death: Australian airmen in the Pacific war. – Crow’s Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin, 2011. [8] On SRD operations in Portuguese Timor, see for e.g. Chamberlain. - Forgotten men. [9] Timor-Leste (East Timor) / [written and researched by Rodney Cocks]. – 3rd ed. - Footscray, Vic. : Lonely Planet Publications, 2011: 60-61. [10] Area study of Portuguese Timor: 32. [11] Chamberlain. - Forgotten men: Annex A, 29. [12] Quoted in Lithgow, Shirley. - Special operations : the organisations of the Special Operations Executive in Australia and their operations against the Japanese during the Second World War. – Canberra : University of New South Wales, Australian Defence Force Academy, History, 1992. Master’s Thesis: 158; on Japanese counterinsurgency tactics, see Vivian Blaxell ‘Seized Hearts: “Soft” Japanese counterinsurgency before 1945 and its persistent legacies in Postwar Malaya, South Vietnam and beyond’ The Asia-Pacific Journal|Japan Focus 18 (6, 2) March 06, 2020: 1-19. [13] ‘Nothing left of town now’ Border Morning Mail (Albury, NSW: 1938 - 1946), Tuesday 26 September 1944: 6. Note, the Mitchell bomber crashed off Manatuto not Vemasse. [14] Area study of Portuguese Timor: Map 25. [15] https://satellites.pro/Vemasse_map.East_Timor [16] Area study of Portuguese Timor: 33. [17] Area study of Portuguese Timor: 38. [18] Lonely Planet Timor-Leste (East Timor): 61. [19] Pat J. da Luz ‘Letter’ Courier October 1981: 3. [20] Lithgow Special operations: 135-136. [21] John Laffin. – Special and secret. – Sydney: Time-Life Books Australia, 1990: 93-94. [22] Area study of Portuguese Timor: 2. [23] G.E. Lambert - Commando, from Tidal River to Tarakan : the story of the No. 4 Australian Independent Company AIF later known as 2/4th Australian Commando Squadron AIF, 1941-45. - Loftus, N.S.W. : Australian Military History Publications, 1997: 156. Note, this airfield was never completed by the Japanese, but the location was later used by the Portuguese for this purpose – see entry 11 following. [24] Lonely Planet Timor-Leste (East Timor): 61. [25] Lonely Planet Timor-Leste (East Timor): 62. [26] Joachim K. Metzner. - Man and environment in Eastern Timor: a geoecological analysis of the Baucau-Viqueque Area as a possible basis for regional planning. – Canberra: Australian National University, 1977. - (Australian National University. Development Studies Centre. Monograph Series; no. 8): 213. [27] Area study of Portuguese Timor: 11-12. [28] Area study of Portuguese Timor: 30-31. [29] Paul Cleary. - The men who came out of the ground : a gripping account of Australia's first commando campaign : Timor 1942. - Sydney : Hachette Australia, 2010: 248-249. [30] Area study of Portuguese Timor: maps 22 and 23. [31] Captain P.W. Wynne was a former member of the No. 4 Independent Company while Corporal J.B. (Barry, Blossom or Bloss) Lawrence was a former member of No. 2 Independent Company. [32] https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:View_over_ricefields_towards_Seical,_with_Mt_Matebian_in_background_13_Apr_2013.jpg [33] This section has been adapted from: Jack Hartley ‘SUNCOB’ Courier October 1994: 13-15 https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/1994/Courier%20October%201994.pdf. [34] Area study of Portuguese Timor: 39. [35] Area study of Portuguese Timor: 31. [36] Ed Willis ‘The Sid Wadey Story – Rescued on Timor’ - https://doublereds.org.au/forums/topic/207-the-sid-wadey-story-–-rescued-on-timor/ [37] Area study of Portuguese Timor: 31. [38] Area study of Portuguese Timor: maps 24. [39] Lonely Planet Timor-Leste (East Timor): 66. [40] ‘New target in NE Timor’ Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Qld.: 1933 - 1954), Tuesday 29 December 1942: 3. [41] ‘Widespread air attacks by Allies’ Mercury (Hobart, Tas.: 1860 - 1954), Saturday 16 January 1943: 2. [42] Area study of Portuguese Timor: 39. [43] Joanna Barrkman. - Return to Baguia: an ethnographic museum collection on the edge of living memory. - A thesis submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy of The Australian National University, September 2017: 57. [44] Lonely Planet Timor-Leste (East Timor): 66-67. [45] https://www.flickr.com/photos/pepitosousa/327073557 [46] Area study of Portuguese Timor: 31. [47] Barrkman. - Return to Baguia: 57. [47] Lonely Planet Timor-Leste (East Timor): 67. [48] Vera Mackie ‘Gender, geopolitics and gaps in the records: women glimpsed in the military archives’ in Sources and methods in histories of colonialism : approaching the imperial archive / edited by Kirsty Reid and Fiona Paisley. - London: Routledge, 2017: 135-159. [49] Barrkman. - Return to Baguia: 62. [50] Willis ‘The Sid Wadey Story – Rescued On Timor’ [51] Area study of Portuguese Timor: Photograph 84. [52] Area study of Portuguese Timor: 40. [53] Metzner, Man and environment in Eastern Timor: 38. [54] Timor-Leste: Baucau to Viqueque Highway Project https://www.adb.org/projects/51115-001/main [55] Area study of Portuguese Timor: 31. [56] Area study of Portuguese Timor: Map 26. [57] See http://fatinhistorico.org/?p=86 and https://vimeo.com/27761677. [58] Adriano de Almeida Gominho. - O tesouro de Yamashita. – Lisbon: Neolivros, 2006: 31-32. [59] Report quoted in Chamberlain, Ernest. - Faltering steps : independence movements in East Timor - 1940s to the early 1970s. - Point Lonsdale, Vic. : Ernest Chamberlain, 2007: 29. Prepared by Ed Willis Revised 4 July 2020
  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. 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
  4. ‘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
  5. 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
  6. 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.
  7. 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
  8. GPS: 8°53'38.0"S 125°42'16.0"E INTRODUCTION Mindelo is a village in the Turiscai district of the Manufahi Municipality. The district had a population of 7,718 at the time of the 2015 census. The village population was 593 at that time. [1] Confusingly, Mindelo is also known as Maubisse (or Mau-Bessi), the same name as the nearby large town that is in the Ainaro Municipality with which it shares a long and sometimes violent history. LOCATION AND DESCRIPTION 1943 MINDELO (Mau-Bessi - ... ) is 15 miles (24 km) southeast of Aileu at a bearing of 140°. Mau-Bessi is a small posto and market town and must not be confused with Maubisse in the same province. The buildings comprise posto and administrative block and barracks, also a church. The posto is surrounded by trees which give fair air cover. The town is connected to other districts by pony tracks only. There is a good water supply in the district. Australian troops occupied this town during October, 1942. [2] Location of Mindelo shown on map from the ‘Area Study of Portuguese Timor’ [3] The following oblique aerial photo from December 1942 gives an excellent idea of the terrain in which Mindelo is located and the directions to the nearest significant locations – Tutuloro and Turiscai/Maubisse. Central mountain country. Mindelo looking southwest – November 17 1942 [4] Visiting Mindelo Today Mindelo lies approximately 127 kilometres south of Dili by road via Same. If road conditions are good Same can be reached by vehicle from Dili in 3½ hours. Mindelo is located 13.7 kms north of Same and can be driven along a track suitable only for a four-wheel drive vehicle. [5] Driving conditions and the time required to reach Mindelo from Same will vary depending upon if there has been recent rain and how recently the track has been maintained – landslides, rock and tree falls, slippages and collapses are persistent problems on these types tracks in Timor-Leste. Map - Dili to Mindelo by road Trekking in, if you are fit and time is available, or using a motorbike are alternative modes of transport. If trekking you may wish to try and follow the track described in the Area Study of Portuguese Timor: 32a. Track Same to Junction Track 32 to Alas to Maubisse: Two hours' walking. A good track goes north from Same, crossing three or four creeks and climbing divides between. At a junction of tracks two miles (3 km.) north of Same, the track swings east, descends to the Carau-Ulo River, climbs the divide on the other side, and drops steeply to another branch of the Sue River, where one track leads north to Mindelo (Maubessi) and the other track continues east to Alas. Both rivers cause delay in the wet season. [6] Track from Same to Mindelo – GERTIL map Mindelo – satellite view – Google Maps HARRY WRAY’S RECOLLECTION OF MINDELO – October 1942 Corporal Harry Wray of the Signals Section, as is often the case, can be relied on to provide a good description of Mindelo: [7] Description Our journey ended at Mindelo where we arrived on the 15th October 1942. Mindelo was the site of a Posto and was in an area that consisted of hills and mountains as far as the eye could see. The Posto was located on the top of a long mountain ridge that rose upward from the end on which the Posto was located. The ground where the Posto stood had been levelled off for about three hundred yards and was about one hundred yards wide. As well as the Posto residence there were a number of other buildings, one a school. The inevitable cock fighting ring stood in the middle of the space used for the weekly markets close by the Posto. In order to make the level space I have described, stone retaining walls had been built along parts of the ridge, and these at one end near the Posto were covered with thick growths of passion fruit vines. As I have said the Posto was at the lower end of the ridge or spur, which rose upwards from the Posto for several hundred yards going upwards and away from the Posto. The ridge was razor backed and just wide enough for a bridle path. This widened out further up and there stood the ruins of a large stone building, gutted by fire, and a little further on the huts of a large village lay about in heaps of ashes. Local Situation This district had been ravaged by internecine war and villages and crops destroyed wholesale. The Posto and school were deserted, and very few natives to be seen. Those still remaining in the area were miserable frightened people who were rarely seen. Food was very scarce around Mindelo and as we were living on the land we fared badly, and for weeks our diet consisted of inferior sweet potatoes for the most part, and even these were hard to come by. Living Conditions George, the Platoon commander [8], chose a small hollow in the side of the ridge beyond Mindelo Posto, and roughly just below the burnt out village I have mentioned. There was a small U-shaped patch of ground like a shelf sheltered in the hillside, and well hidden from view. A spring seeping from the hillside made the ground rather boggy all the time. We built ourselves a small hut just large enough for us three Signallers to sleep in and to shelter the wireless set, but it was rather leaky when it rained. The other men were camped here and there round about in twos and threes in little huts. Role After the first few days there were only about seven or eight of us and the Captain (George) camped there. The others were camped here and there around Mindelo to keep and eye on the approaches. We were on the fringes of, if not actually in a pro-Jap area, and the Japs were occupying a Porto town [Maubisse] in force, not far away. Mindelo was in a district where heavy mists came down over the mountaintops during the afternoon and persisted all night until well after sun up in the morning. The result of this was that guarding a path or keeping a look out from a hilltop was not the easiest of jobs when the mist was about. Morale and Events Morale was bad among a number of the men in the Platoon at this time, and they were very nervy and jumpy, not without some cause, I must admit, and some of them had harrowing experiences at various times to add to their present frayed state. At night we used to have a guard posted on the ridge among the ruins of the village above us. I know that when I had my turn I would often find the guard had spent his hour or two just within sight and call of the camp instead of several hundred or more yards away on the ridge. It was lone and eerie walking up and down among the ruins of the village, one seemed utterly alone and miles away from anyone. I often used to speculate as to the fate of the villagers, and on some bright moonlight nights I used to scratch about in the ashes of the huts to see if I could find any bones of the inmates. I do not know whether the inhabitants were murdered, or just driven off. One thing in favour of the post on this ridge, it always seemed to be above the mist, and one had a good view for a reasonable distance about. In most parts of Timor the hillsides for miles around were bright with tiny dots of light from the village fires. These were often seen twinkling through the nightly mists, but at Mindelo there was not a fire to be seen in this desolated district. SIGNIFICANCE By the middle of October 1942 pressure was increasing in all areas as the Japanese spread disaffection among the Timorese. Maubisse was now well established by the Japanese who were using the town as a base for the training and collection of rebel natives, some of whom more shirts and shorts, living in the village with the Japanese. Whenever Australian patrols approached this area, the natives from the surrounding country withdrew back into the township and there sought the protection of the Japanese. Parties of fifty or sixty natives, urged on from the rear by two or three Japanese, carried out raids against the units at Mindelo and Turiscai. Almost daily, Australian patrols fought actions against these parties resulting in the deaths of ten, twenty or thirty natives but only one or two Japanese. The Japanese were not only using the natives as a weapon in their fight against the Australians but also as a means of destroying Portuguese authority on the island. [9] TWO MEN MISSING IN ACTION - PTES ANDY SMEATON AND GEORGE THOMAS It was during this period, on 11 November 1942, that the 2/2nd lost two men, Privates Andy Smeaton [10] and George Thomas. [11] They were members of C Platoon No. 8 Section. The Unit War Diary entry recorded what happened as follows: 11 November 1942 "C" P1 have had another clash with the Japanese and their natives. At 0845 hrs Lieut McKENZIE reported hearing rifle fire and also Brens from the direction of No VIII Secs position. His HQ OP saw movement on skylines in that direction also. Some creados came in from there and said many natives and Japanese were attacking No VIII and had burnt their shelters. At 1300 hrs he reported further the forward sub-sec had been attacked and the rear sub-sec had opened fire on another party of enemy. By 0930 hrs both sub-sections had been forced out of their positions by weight of numbers. They inflicted numerous casualties all of whom were carried out by other natives. Unfortunately one Bren gun was lost. Another party which was moving out to MINDELO was intercepted and attacked by No VII Sec. This party left their dead and wounded and scattered. Both sub-sections are safe but two men, Ptes SMEATON and THOMAS, are missing. [12] TWO EYE-WITNESS ACCOUNTS OF THE ACTION Stan Sadler’s Story Stan Sadler provided this personal account: 8 Section was then sent to man an observation post forward of Mindelo and this we did for about a week. We were camped in a hut in a small thicket of trees and the O.P. was up a 'steep, bare rise - about 500 yards away. There was some cover on top of the O.P., which was on a flat ridge and gave a good view of the countryside towards Turiscai. Two men would go up at first light in the morning and two would relieve them at lunch time and go on until dark. This lasted a week and we saw some movement of small parties of Japs and some natives at times. Chas and I were on O.P. the afternoon before the attack and we saw a lot of native movement and heard a big gathering of them in the distance. We reported it when we came off at night. In the morning, George Thomas and Andy Smeaton went up at 1st light. That morning also, some bombers from Darwin had come over us on their way to bomb Dili. We had been cheered by that. Chas, Tom Coyle and another had gone down to the creek about half a mile down the hill to have a wash and get water. Then we heard the sound of machine gun fire from the O.P. There were four or five of us in the hut and we soon packed up and retreated. Bullets were cutting off the leaves of trees above us as we slid down the steep slope. We managed to get down to a steep gully and after some trouble, made our way down this and back to a place called Fai Nain. We never saw George and Andy again, but the native boy who was with-them got away and he told us that George was hit. Andy had run away but had gone back to help George and that was the finish. It was a blow to us and we never really got over it. [13] Alan Adams Story Alan Adams was also present: We lost George Thomas and Andy Smeaton on the 11th November 1942, a day I remember only too well. We stood to at dawn, and then George and Andy went to our O.P., which was located fairly close to our camp. They did not report back so it was all clear, so we set about getting breakfast ready. There was a little spring nearby where we used to wash while breakfast was cooking. Another mate and I went to the spring to wash. Walking down a little ridge on the way down he went to relieve himself, at that stage the Japs opened fire on us from the O.P. He came flying over to me unhurt. The only way we could go was downhill to the valley. A cliff face blocked us. The only other way was open country so we were trapped. There was a small patch of scrub near the spring and we had to make a quick decision - open country or hide in the bushes which was hardly big enough for us and our creado to hide in. We chose the bushes, the Japs came down to the spring and were talking away not knowing we were a few yards away. After a while they went away. Then we had to decide what to do next. We decided to stay, as we didn't know if they were still in the area. It was a very long day and as it got dark we moved out. We didn't know what happened to the rest of the Section or where they went. We walked all night to where they might be and found them safe and all well, so ended a very traumatic and lucky escape. We never found out what happened to George and Andy as far as I know. [14] JIM SMAILES ON ANDY SMEATON AND GEORGE THOMAS Jim Smailes wrote about the personal backgrounds of Andy Smeaton and George Thomas: Towards the end of November No. 8 Section under Lt John Burridge, had a very bad time of it in the Maubisse area. There was trouble with natives, and much Japanese activity. They had developed a habit of sleeping in the bush rather than a hut in case of ambush during the night. This particular night it had rained so they slept inside except for guards. Just on daylight two men went out to man the observation post. Shots were heard which of course aroused the rest of the section and they made their escape in various directions. The other two men were never heard of again. Neither on the island, through natives or even after the war. It is certain that they were not taken prisoner, so must have been killed by those shots, but if that is so, it saved the lives of the others who were encircled by Japanese, and most likely would have killed more with their ambush. As it was all the others escaped and were able to regroup and re-establish again as a section. George Thomas The two lost were Andy Smeaton and George Thomas. George had been over and spent a few days with me only the week before. He had had malaria rather badly and become run down. When he left to rejoin the Section he gave his wallet and a few odds and ends to me to look after, as he thought it was very bad where they were, and would I do the right thing if anything happened to him. I did just that after we got home and visited his parents and brother who lived in Boulder. They had hopes of George returning when peace came, but I did not encourage this view. They were fine folks but had no idea about what George had been through, and what was involved in this class of warfare. George had been a storeman on the Great Boulder Mines and was highly regarded by management. Andy Smeaton Andy Smeaton was a real loner, did not appear to have any friends or relations, and was very inclined to get into trouble with officers and higher authority. He was a very, likable young chap, and I had always got on well with him. Once out on a patrol with him, he had confided to me that he had never known his father, and in fact nobody knew who he was. He said that back in Scotland his mother became involved with a young soldier from Australia who was in hospital with wounds from France in 1916. He evidently used a false name and after he had taken her out a few times, he returned to his unit, and was never heard of again. The girl later found herself pregnant, and nobody of this soldier’s name could be found. Thus he had his mother’s surname of Smeaton, and he grew up in one of Dr Bernado's homes in Britain. He made light of his origins and held no malice for his mother or her family. He was sent out to Australia at about six years of age to the Fairbridge Farm School at Pinjarra in Western Australia. At 14, in 1931, he was found a job with a wheat farmer, and moved about on labouring and farming work until enlisting in Wagin in 1941. His sole aim in defending this country was to do his bit to make sure the Hannan's Brewery was intact when he got back again. It was the best beer he had ever tasted, and I think he had been quite a good judge of lager in his short life. Just before the Japanese invasion, Andy was on guard duty one night at Three Spurs Camp and fired a shot at a noise of some sort. This was taboo with the situation so tense, and Andy was on the mat next day for disobeying orders. Each man had five rounds in his rifle, but we were not supposed to fire unless ordered to do so. Major Spence and Sgt. Major Craigie slept in a tent on their own, and they had some boxes between their beds upon which stood a bottle of whiskey. With the firing of the shot, both men came to the scene, and after conferring, decided to take disciplinary action next morning. When they returned to the tent the whiskey was gone. This of course made things worse, and Andy was fined 5 pounds, and this put as a deduction in his pay book. When he got outside the ‘court’ he picked up his rifle and let off the other four rounds for good measure. He was then arrested and had to come up again next day. I was one of his escort that morning, and I got chatted by Spence because my safety catch was off, which, he pointed out, was not required in guard duties. In his defence Andy mentioned being a Fairbridge boy, and Spence did not know what he meant, and being from W.A., asked me to explain. This I did, which revealed his start in life and hard time since, Spence then let him go with a caution and quashed the fine for yesterday’s misdemeanour also; Paddy Knight, Andy and the others said they enjoyed the whisky. [15] Smailes also provided this additional comment in the vale he prepared for William (Scotty) Taylor, the 8 Section Corporal: He was terribly upset over the deaths of Smeaton and Thomas almost at the end of a year without loss in the Section. He wrote me a note together with some private papers of George Thomas, to deliver to his parents in Boulder if I should get home and try to find somebody who new Smeaton. He felt that the lives of the Section had been saved by the sacrifice of these two mates. [16] REDEMPTION - DAMIEN PARER FILMS THE MINDELO RAID In November 1942 Damien Parer, the renowned war correspondent and film maker/photographer travelled to Portuguese Timor to film the No. 2 Independent Company in action. He was accompanied by William Marien, an Australian Broadcasting Commission journalist, and an English journalist Dickson Brown, who was reporting for English and American publications. [17] Parer and his companions arrived at No. 2 Independent Company HQ at Tutuloro, a few kilometres southeast of Mindelo on the afternoon of 13 November 1942 as recorded in the unit war diary: 13 November 1942 Ptes SMEATON A and THOMAS GE are still missing and so must be presumed captured. [18] …. Lieut Doig, who is reporting back to the Coy for duty, Lieut SNELL, of the RNEI Army, and DAMIEN PARER, the official cinematographer for the Department of Information, arrived at Coy HQ [TUTULORO], at approx. 1530 hrs. The scene was set for subsequent events at Mindelo by Lieutenant Gerry McKenzie’s report and recommendation of the previous day: 12 November 1942 Later the same morning more natives attacked No VII Sec’s position near MINDELO but these were driven off with losses. During the rest of the day No VII Sec sent out small patrols to shoot up a lot of stray natives who had been very friendly to the Japanese natives. Also a large patrol was sent out to locate the main force. Lieut McKENZIE states the native chief at TUTULORO is loyal and has a lot of natives who will fight with us if armed. The hostile natives from Maubisse probed towards Mindelo again on the 14 November: 14 November 1942 A quiet day the only activity being reported from “C” Pl who at 1245 hrs reported their forward OPs had seen approx. 200 natives approaching their positions from the direction of MAOBISSE. Forward sections were in position to oppose them. The C Platoon men actively opposed the intruders the following day: 15 November 1942 No V Sec of “B” Pl stationed at TURISCAI reported seeing fires burning and hearing shooting from the direction of MINDELO this morning. They were advised these activities were part of “C” Pls campaign against the hostile natives in that area. …. “C” Pl report early this morning the party of natives reported yesterday as moving towards MINDELO turned back and returned to MAOBISSE the same evening. It seems a plan of action was put together by the HQ staff of No. 2 IC and Lt McKenzie for C Pl to attack Mindelo next day with the assistance of local warriors provided by the sympathetic chief of Tutuloro. There was long standing animosity between the people of Tutuloro (‘good boongs’) and Mindelo (‘bad boongs’). [19] 16 November 1942 "C" Pl advise a detachment of our troops and 100 loyal natives under Lieut McKENZIE ATTACKED THE hostile area between MINDELO and MAOBISSE. The operation was very successful. Forty-six natives were killed and forty-one captured; approx. 110 huts were burnt down and many buffalos pigs etc captured. Our native friends acquired themselves a lot of native women who originally were the property of the men who were killed by our troops. Private Harry Sproxton carried a Tommy gun when they went into the village that day. The 9 Section men machine-gunned the huts and the Timorese followed through with spears and machetes, causing what Sproxton described as ‘a bit of carnage’. Sproxton saw more than 40 dead people being thrown into huts, which were then set alight. [20] Parer filmed the assault remotely and the vision includes a long distance shot of a burning village that is almost certainly Mindelo from the descriptions given above. [21] Mindelo ablaze – still from Damien Paper’s film ‘Australian guerrillas on Timor’ [22] He also witnessed the tragic aftermath of the events just described as the victorious warriors brought home their captives and booty. In a sequence that he called ‘native victory march’, Parer wrote in his ‘dope sheet’ for those later preparing the movie commentary: ‘They have just returned from doing up the bad boongs; in the fight they killed 46, captured women 28, captured boongs 3, children 7, pigs 3, horses 6. All our boongs returned safely and there were 8 Aussies with the boongs in the show. The three captured were later killed by the natives when our boys left them’. [23] Australian guerrillas In Timor. Natives in victory parade. Natives friendly to the Australians attacked a tribe which was in the pay of the Japanese. Picture shows natives captured in the raid. (Negative By Parer). [24] 17 November 1942 Having secured the Mindelo site: “C” Pl have commenced a drive against the hostile natives in the area. Five men of No. IX Sec with 40 natives attacked approx. 500 Japanese natives near the junction of the MINDELO-MAOBISSE-TURISCAI tracks and forced them to retire. They are now in a position to meet a counter attack. Parer used the less hazardous circumstances to recreate and film some of the previous day’s action during the attack on the village. Pan shot (staged). Good boongs dash through with blazing spear to set fire to huts. [25] Mindello [Mindelo], Portuguese Timor, 1942-11. Members of the 2/2nd Australian Independent Company, assisted by friendly natives, burn down pro-Japanese natives' huts. (Film Still) [26] NORFORCE apparently sent two Hudson bombers to reconnoitre the area probably after receiving Sparrow Force reports of these events. The planes presence was recorded in the No. 2 IC war diary: “C” Pl from MINDELO saw one large unidentified twin-fuselaged [sic] plane heading NORTH at 0615 hrs. They also saw two unidentified planes flying low up the bed of the SUE River at 0630 hrs. [27] Lts McKENZIE, BURRIDGE and COLE arrived at Coy HQ late this evening. Also DAMIEN PARER arrived here on his return to FORCE HQ [at Alas]; he has now almost completed his film on TIMOR. [28] A Hudson bomber reconnoitres the burning Mindelo, 17 November 1942 [29] The men of C Platoon enjoyed a bit of ‘down time’ and sustenance after the intense activity and action of the previous few days. A meal of water buffalo and rice is enjoyed by (L-R): Dave Richie, Eric Herd and Harry Sproxton (9 Section) after the burning of Mindelo. (Rear): Bill Curtis and Roy Wilson. [30] REFERENCES [1] http://www.statistics.gov.tl/category/publications/census-publications/2015-census-publications/volume-2-population-distribution-by-administrative/ [2] Allied Forces South West Pacific Area. Allied Geographical Section. - Area study of Portuguese Timor. – [Melbourne?]: Allied Geographical Section, South West Pacific Area: The Section [Brisbane], 1943: 50. https://repository.monash.edu/items/show/26455#?c=0&m=0&s=0&cv=0 [3] Area study of Portuguese Timor: Map 1. [4] Area study of Portuguese Timor: Map 30 [5] http://east-timor.places-in-the-world.com/1635225-place-Maubisse.html [6] Area study of Portuguese Timor: 49. [7] Corporal Arthur Henry Kilfield ‘Harry’ Wray (WX11485). - Recollections of the 2nd Independent Company Campaign on Timor, 1941-42: 220-222. Manuscript in the 2/2 Commando Association of Australia archives. [8] Captain George Boyland, WX6490, Officer Commanding, C Platoon. See Doublereds ‘Men of the 2/2’ entry https://doublereds.org.au/history/men-of-the-22/wx/george-boyland-r34/ [9] Christopher C.H. Wray. - Timor 1942 : Australian commandos at war with the Japanese. - Hawthorn, Vic. : Hutchinson Australia, 1987: 144. [10] Andrew Smeaton, WX5537 – See Doublereds ‘Men of the 2/2’ entry https://doublereds.org.au/history/men-of-the-22/wx/andrew-smeaton-r605/ [11] George Edgar Thomas, WX12592 – See Doublereds ‘Men of the 2/2’ entry https://doublereds.org.au/history/men-of-the-22/wx/george-edgar-thomas-r669/ [12] No.2 Independent Company War Diary, 11 November 1942 -https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C1363501 – all subsequent references to the War Diary use this source. [13] Stan Sadler. - War service 1941-1945: 12. Manuscript in the 2/2 Commando Association of Australia archives. [14] Alan Adams ‘A close shave’ 2/2 Commando Courier March 2002: 11-12 https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/2002/March/ [15] Jim Smailes The Memoirs of James Palliser Smailes Chapter 6 – The 1940s: 145-146. Manuscript in the 2/2 Commando Association of Australia archives. [16] Jim Smailes ‘Vale – William (Scotty) Taylor’ 2/2 Commando Courier February 1987: 8-9 https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/1987/Courier%20February%201987.pdf [17] Wray. - Timor 1942 : Australian commandos at war with the Japanese: 154. [18] The story persists to this day amongst the local population that both men were captured alive and tortured in Maubisse before being executed. [19] See Doublereds disclaimer on the use of such now inappropriate language – ‘Important Notice’ https://doublereds.org.au/archives/articles/ [20] Paul Cleary. - The men who came out of the ground : a gripping account of Australia's first commando campaign : Timor 1942. - Sydney : Hachette Australia, 2010.: 260; author interview with Harry Sproxton, 10 October 2007. [21] See ‘LOCATION AND DESCRIPTION’ and ‘HARRY WRAY’S RECOLLECTION OF MINDELO – October 1942’. [22] https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C189152 [23] Paul Cleary. - The men who came out of the ground: 255. [24] https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C33234. [25] Paul Cleary. - The men who came out of the ground: 255, quoting Parer’s ‘dope sheet’ for the filmed sequence. [26] https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C56377. [27] The Sparrow Force war diary entry for 17 November 1942 is illegible. [28] No. 2 IC war diary for 18 November 1942 records ‘DAMIEN PARER departed Coy HQ for Force HQ at 0900 hrs. [29] https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C48293. Note this photo is officially, and probably incorrectly, labelled ‘HUDSONS OF NO. 13 SQUADRON WITHDRAWING AFTER BOMBING A JAPANESE POST AT MINDELO, IN MOUNTAINOUS COUNTRY IN CENTRAL PORTUGUESE TIMOR, ON 1942-12-17. (RAAF)’. I think the photo was more likely taken on the reconnaissance mission one month earlier on 17 November 1942. [30] https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C33181. Prepared by Ed Willis Revised 3 April 2020
  9. GPS: 8°49'25.36" S 125°42'16.34" E TURISCAI is a town in the Turiscai district of the Manufahi Municipality. The district had a population of 7,718 at the time of the 2015 census. Turiscai lies 87.5 kilometres south of Dili by road via Maubisse. If road conditions are good it can be reached by vehicle from Dili in approximately 3 ½ hours. Map - Dili to Turiscai by road Turiscai was a significant campaign site particularly between July 1942 and January 1943, being frequently occupied as Section and Platoon headquarters by both the No. 2 and No. 4 Independent Companies. The indigenous population of Turiscai revolted, attacked, and robbed the government posto there in July as a result of Japanese propaganda. The rebellion was brutally suppressed in August 1942 by 700 moradores(Timorese troops serving the Portuguese) from Laleia, Laclo and Laclubar. From then on Turiscai was on the front line of the action as the Japanese controlled ‘black columns’ of hostile Timorese warriors frequently probed the area and created mayhem. LOCATION AND DESCRIPTION 1937 The 1937 report of the Allied Mining Corporation provided the following description of the Manufahi district that, to a large extent, is still apposite: MANUFAI DISTRICT The Manufai District is located on the southern slope of the Central Divide Area, in the C.C. de Suro and Manatuto. It embraces practically all the land drained by the Sue, South Laclo and Cler River systems, consisting of a roughly shaped trapezoid with the southern base at the Timor Sea, 24 kilometres (15 miles) long. Its northern boundary running along the Central Divide is approximately 16 kilometres (10 miles) in length, while the two sides are 40 kilometres (25 miles) long. The District is reached by motor road from Dilly [Dili] through Vila General Carmona [Aileu] to Maobisse [Maubisse], thence four hours by horse to Turiscai, which is on the northern extremity of the area. A new motor road is under construction between Maobisse [Maubisse] and Turiscai. [1] 1943 The Area Study of Portuguese Timor provides this description of the terrain: The Central Divide Area is the most elevated, and the watershed follows a NE/SW trend. The mountains are extremely steep and high, but the foothills are gentler and more fertile than in the northwestern region. Transport is extremely difficult, both roads and tracks having normally to follow the ridges when possible and to zigzag over the mountain passes and cross deep valleys. [2] 1973 The following notes were prepared for participants in the 2/4 Commando Squadron Association’s pilgrimage to Portuguese Timor in 1973: Maubisse to Turiscai and Fatu-Maqueric Turning off east a short way north of Maubisse the road to Turiscai generally follows the old Kuda Trail along which 6 Section advanced under Bob Fleming to raid Maubisse, passing the tortuous route followed by Steve Stevenson, John Dalton and another couple of 6 Section to make a close daylight recce of the town - finding the Japs had moved out the previous night. Some excellent examples of vertical "Dallan Timor" [track Timor] on the way which follows closely the top of the backbone ridge of the island, now through scattered stunted Eucalypt forest of the type to be found on the south coast plain north of Betano on the road to Same. The country is very precipitous and Tata-Mailau is often in view until the road dips into the Turiscai Valley. The beautiful old posto on the knoll on the Fatu-Maqueric side is now a burnt-out shell surrounded by a big coffee plantation. The new one is a mile or two away on another knoll bare of trees and not so attractive. [3] 2019 When visited in May 2019, it was noted that road conditions seemed to have recently been improved between Maubisse and Turiscai. The road ascends in gradual fashion, is wide, mostly graded gravel, bituminised in parts and seems to be well maintained. There is a new plant for the preparation of surfacing material by the roadside not far out of Maubisse. TURISCAI TOWNSHIP 1943 ‘Turiscai (see Photo No. 53) is 13 miles (21 km.) at a bearing of 126° from Aileu. It is at an elevation of about 3,500 feet (1,075 m.) in the central mountains and looks south down the valley of the Sue River. It is a small posto town with the typical posto on a high hill surrounded by wall and gardens. There are some Chinese shops and houses and a few native huts. The town was heavily bombed by the Japanese in August 1942 and several houses have been damaged. The surrounding country is fairly heavily timbered and good air cover is available’. [4] Location of Turiscai shown on map from the Area Study of Portuguese Timor [5] 2019 The town has grown since WWII but the main thoroughfare leading up to the ruined posto that can be viewed on the following aerial photo from December 1942 is still extant. The once elegant posto building is positioned centrally in a large elevated expanse that was terraced and landscaped in its heyday. [6] [7] Aerial view of Turiscai, June 2019 SIGNIFICANCE March 1942 Turiscai first came to the notice of No. 2 Independent Company in March 1942: In March a small patrol under Lieutenant H.J. Garnett had left Villa Maria to report on the countryside and towns of Suro Province. The patrol had travelled to Villa Maria, then through Ermera and south to Atsabe. From there it had moved to Ainaro, then on to Same carrying out a thorough reconnaissance of the country, noting the attitude of the local Timorese towards the Australians. Finally the patrol had moved north through Mindelo and Turiscai towards Dili. [8] In the following months Turiscai was a rear echelon position behind Laidlaw’s B Platoon that in the last weeks of April and the beginning of May had moved into the area around Remexio from which they could cover Dili. The following map of the Australian positions in July 1942 show the Japanese were pressing south and east from Dili but with Turiscai still not on the front line – that situation changed dramatically in July and remained so for the remainder of the campaign. July 1942 According to Joao da Cruz Caleres Junior, the administrator of Manatuto District, the indigenous population of Turiscai revolted, attacked, and robbed the government post in July as a result of Japanese propaganda. [61] In this incident, though, no ‘Dutch native’ or Japanese officer was found to be involved. The rebellion was suppressed in August 1942 by 700 moradores (Timorese troops serving the Portuguese) from Laleia, Laclo and Laclubar. It became the first war between two Timorese groups during the ‘foreign occupation’. [9] Alfredo Pires recalled these events: War allows a lot of evil. I was with my father in Laclubar late in 1942 when the people from Turiscai revolted. The Japanese let out all the prisoners who were in gaol in Dili who fled to Turiscai, as many were from there, and raised the area up, wanting vengeance on those who put them in prison. So all the other districts went against Turiscai to restore order. The Portuguese troops were mainly young Timorese with a gun between two or three, the rest with traditional weapons. The Turiscai people live high in the mountains and it is very hard to get there. No roads, only tracks around the mountains, but even the children are so used to it they never fall, and people make gardens in places flattened out up high. The authorities captured one of the leaders of the revolt and brought him in to question. He told a long story in Portuguese to the administrator who replied, 'I don't believe you, and if you don't tell the truth you will have your head cut off.' Two Timorese guards were on each side of the prisoner with their big swords. One guard didn't understand Portuguese very well, but he understood that phrase 'to chop off the head' and without a pause he just did it, quickly sliced through. For one moment the head and body still stood together. Then on one side fell the body and on the other side the head. Everyone stood amazed. I saw the people of Turiscai being brought through Laclubar. They were mainly women and children. They were not crying, they just looked very serious. Their cattle and horses would belong to the victors. This was the main reason Timorese had wars in the past, to steal those, but the Portuguese administration had stopped them until order broke down when the Japanese came. The Turiscai people had to go and be the slaves of those who won. To be a slave in Timor was at first like a servant; you work for that family but you are not paid, but after a while the slave usually marries into the family. That is something I admire about the Timorese: slavery is not like it was in Europe or America or is now in India. The slave, after a time, if they are a good person, is accepted as part of the family and they or their children can marry in or inherit property from their new family. [10] August 1942 The Japanese advance [at the beginning of the ‘August Push’] had forced Dexter and Turton's platoons back to positions covering the tracks from Atsabe across the terrible 3000-metre Ramelau Range to Hatu-Builco and thus to Ainaro. Enemy forces had moved around Boyland's platoon into Maubisse forcing it to fall back to the Maubisse-Ainaro saddle covering the approach to Same. In this position it would be able to slow any Japanese attack to enable Laidlaw's platoon and the Platoon Headquarters to fall back from Liltai to positions between Liltai and Turiscai, leaving a small party forward to watch the Japanese movements. [11] Japanese pressure was forcing the Australians inexorably eastwards but Callinan, conscious that an eastwards move would end in the Australians being bottled up with no room to manoeuvre, was determined to resist the pressure for as long as possible. The platoons were ordered to hold every ridge and spur until forced from it. [12] Another problem facing the Australians was the increasing hostility of the Timorese. Those in the frontier areas were decidedly pro-Japanese, or, perhaps more accurately, anti- European. As the Australians moved away from the frontier areas the Timorese were noticeably less hostile, but their morale had been badly shaken by the Japanese bombings of Same, Hatu-Udo, Maubisse and Turiscai. They were no longer as ready to support the Australians as they had been before when the 2/2 Independent Company had had the run of Portuguese Timor. [13] The ‘Black Columns’ The ‘black columns’ of 1942, the frightening columns of smoke and the dark- skinned Timorese warriors with their Japanese military support, were a critical part of the war in Timor during 1942. The fractured ethno-linguistic situation in Timor meant that the Australians were based with several different ethno-linguistic groups, some of whom harboured ill will towards the Portuguese administration who had subjected them to hardships or indignities, especially after the Boaventura Revolt in the 1910s, or against other Timorese ethnic groups who had been allied with the Portuguese. Turiscai was one such area, having been a central part of the 1911-12 revolt, and an early ally of the Japanese. The aforementioned Maubisse area, located across the provincial border in Suro Province, was an early anti-Portuguese, pro-Japanese area, and Portuguese observers describe this area as always having been bad. [14] Indeed, as many Australian authors have taken care to note, many Timorese may have initially supported Australians in the mistaken belief that they would assist them in removing the Portuguese. On the other hand, not every conflict can be explained by reference to the Portuguese, as traditional rivalries between Timorese groups may have had even deeper roots. The situation in Portuguese Timor was a rather complex one during 1942, with many native Timorese changing sides during the course of the year. As was acknowledged by Australian observers, this was in part due to the changing balance of power in the area. As a result, whole villages would switch sides, and suddenly cease to support the Australians, and even begin to aid the Japanese. Before that time, some Timorese were cooperating with both sides, withholding eggs from the Australians and kicking them out of the villages before Japanese troops would arrive in search of food. However, the revolt against the Portuguese illustrates well that certain ethnic groups were more than happy to attack their neighbours and the Portuguese. The relatively early participation of people from Maubisse and Turiscai in attacks on the Portuguese and on neighbouring areas like Fatu Maqueric provide a clear indication of this. Whether or not one attributes this to their prior 'victimization' by the divide-and-conquer strategies of the Portuguese who utilized natives from other areas to subdue anti-colonial revolts in the early 20th century, divisions did follow ethnic and traditional political divisions. [15] On the night of 18 August the Japanese ‘Push’ came to a sudden and surprising end. Australian fighting patrols pressed forward through the areas previously occupied by the Japanese. Villages had been destroyed and maize fields burnt. In many areas the Timorese were still frightened and confused, while some were actively hostile. On 23 August large parties of natives moved from Maubisse to Turiscai to loot the village. Lieutenant Mackintosh's section was in Turiscai and opened fire to disperse the thieves. The increasing restlessness of the natives was a worrying and potentially dangerous phenomenon. [16] September 1942 As September began Sparrow Force, having recovered from its experiences during August, reorganised so as to be ready for further offensive action against the Japanese. The Force Headquarters was now at Alas on the southern plains, while the Independent Company Headquarters was located at Tutuloro. Laidlaw's B Platoon covered the approaches from Dili and the north coast, with headquarters and 4 Section at Fatu-Maquerec, 5 Section at Liltai and 6 Section at Turiscai. In accordance with Callinan's policy of aggressive action patrols were pushed forward from the platoon and section bases. After carrying out tasks of reconnaissance or ambushing un- suspecting Japanese, the patrols would pull back to their secure bases. But the Japanese did not take the commandos' activity lying down. Enemy columns pushed out along the north coast and into the mountainous interior seeking contact with the ever-elusive Australians. [17] October 1942 In early October the Australians set about reorganising their forces. On the far right flank at the eastern end of the island was Doig's H Detachment and the Dutch group. Laidlaw's platoon and that of Captain E.D. O'Connor of the 2/4 were to their left in the area of Laclubar, north-east of Maubisse, where they could observe Dili and the coast road. To their south-west around the Mindelo-Turiscai area, Boyland's platoon covered the Independent Company's Headquarters [at Alas]. [18] By the middle of October pressure was increasing in all areas as the Japanese spread disaffection among the Timorese. Parties of fifty or sixty natives, urged on from the rear by two or three Japanese, carried out raids against the units at Mindelo and Turiscai. Almost daily, Australian patrols fought actions against these parties resulting in the deaths of ten, twenty or thirty natives but only one or two Japanese. The Japanese were not only using the natives as a weapon in their fight against the Australians but also as a means of destroying Portuguese authority on the island. [19] November 1942 This map from Callinan’s book ‘Independent Company’, shows Turiscai right on the frontline of the eastern front in the centre of the island opposite Maubisse in November 1942. The Japanese had established effective control of this central core from Dili in the north to Same and Ainaro in the south. Callinan described Lancer Force’s dispositions at the time: ‘C platoon of the 2/4 Company in the Ainaro area was a link with the platoon on the north coast. Dexter's platoon was held in Same, and between Ainaro and Same was Turton's platoon, overlooking Maubisse from the south-west. On the east of Maubisse in the Mindelo-Turiscai area was Boyland's platoon, and north of him were Laidlaw and O'Connor, of the 2/4, each with a platoon and working in conjunction to maintain a watch on the north coast road and on Dili, also to prevent a drive north-coastward from Maubisse. To watch activities at the east end of the island we maintained the detachment under Doig’. [20] 12 November … The Timorese who had been recruited by the Japanese in Dutch Timor were proving very troublesome to the Australians, particularly in the Mindelo-Maubisse-Turiscai area. The Australians’ food supplies had almost dried up and some of No. 9 Section’s creados were attacked by Dutch Timorese. Soon afterwards a patrol, led by L/Cpl Sep Wilson and including Harry Sproxton and Tom Crouch, met four of them at a fork in a track. [21] With platoons spread in a great semi-circle from Manatuto to Bazar-Tete, many opportunities for harassing the enemy were available. The traffic along the north coast was particularly vulnerable, and O'Connor's platoon did some excellent work inflicting heavy casualties on more than one occasion. It was a pity that we could not spare more troops to spread eastwards along the north coast, and so reap a greater harvest. But we had a cancer that was growing and extending. The Japanese were spreading disaffection amongst the natives from Aileu and Maubisse, and it required continuous activity by the platoons around this area to keep this growth down to a minimum. There were raids by Japanese and natives down towards Ainaro and Same, and to the east towards Mindelo and Turiscai. A vigorous patrol by Australians would turn them back, but only to erupt again. The Japanese were playing the game carefully; with each party of fifty or sixty natives there would be five or ten Japanese who kept well to the rear and urged the natives on. Almost daily, sections reported brushes with these bands, and invariably the report would state killed and wounded ten, twenty, or thirty natives and possibly one or two Japanese. [22] An Incident at Turiscai Sproxton: “They had some gear with them and they were plainly not pleased to see us. Our creados told us in Tetum that they were Japanese imports. When we searched their gear we found Australian equipment and some of the missing items from the attack on our creados a few days earlier. It was decided to take them back to Jack Denham as prisoners. Our creados were frightened of the four strange Timorese and were not happy with the idea. Nevertheless we took them along. We were crossing a fast-flowing stream just before dark when they made a break for it. We had no alternative but to shoot them.” Cpl Eric Thornander was leading a sub-section to Turiscai when news came through that a large mob of hostile Timorese was on its way to ransack the town. Thornander: “With instructions to save the town we took up positions from where we could meet the situation. The mob made straight for the store and was ready to break down the door when we opened fire. We killed ten of them. It was something we did not want to do but it was the only way. The rest of the gang made off and did not come back.” More and more Timorese were being moved over the Dutch border into Portuguese Timor to fight the local Timorese – and, of course, the Australians. [23] December 1942 Meanwhile there were discussions going on for the withdrawal of the Dutch forces, and various dates were mentioned. A Lieutenant Snell, who had escaped from Ambon to Australia, came over in advance of the sixty Dutch troops who were to replace the one hundred and fifty who would be withdrawn. I decided that they would be placed in the Mindelo-Turiscai area, which was compact, and flanked by well experienced platoons under Turton and O'Connor; in addition, McKenzie was there, and he had shown himself to be very successful in dealing with the Dutch. So Snell was sent to McKenzie to become acquainted with the area. With the drive through the Maubisse area pending, it was probable that Snell would get a good view of how things were done. [24] The position then was that the Dutch and some of the Portuguese were still at' Betano, but I was not unduly worried about their evacuation as I thought that these would be taken in the two further phases which were to take the Australians. The 2/2 Company was organizing its withdrawal to the beach head, and the 2/4 Company was preparing to settle into the areas selected, but still I had no advice of the loss of the Dutch replacement force. Just a few days before the date fixed for the first phase of the evacuation by the Company, I received a message telling me that this would be delayed for twenty-four hours. This was serious as all of our carefully worked out timings would have to be altered. Platoons which were about to leave areas had to be told to remain, and to send out vigorous patrols, as we could not afford to give the enemy twenty-four hours’ notice of our intentions. Then rather belatedly I was told by Australia of the loss of the Dutch force, and that no further replacements were available. This meant that I would have to reorganize the placing of the 2/4 Company, and it was my turn to ask for a delay. I asked for twenty-four hours delay in the carrying out of the next phase. Australia replied that they did not wish to hold the destroyer for that time unless there were an operational emergency. To this I replied that there was an emergency as far as I was concerned. As usual I received full co-operation from Darwin, and the second phase was delayed. Murphy's platoon was moved to take over the Mindelo-Turiscai area, which was to have been held by the Dutch, and the delay I had asked for was to permit McKenzie to hold it until Murphy could get there. The advance guard of Murphy's platoon, consisting of a sub-section, was in Mindelo the morning McKenzie moved out, and O'Connor moved a section down to cover Turiscai. [25] Any hopes we had entertained that after the departure of the 2/2 Company there would be a quiet period in which the new organization could be adjusted, were not fulfilled. It almost appeared that the enemy had been waiting for the slightest weakening in order to press in on us. In addition to the Japanese occupation of Same there was also a thrust down into the Ainaro area, and the Turiscai area became very difficult. [26] With the pressure on us increasing, the only thing to do was to push out, and so we organized drives, usually with as many natives as could be collected and a nucleus of Australians. Baldwin and I took a high-class raiding party out into the Turiscai area. It was, of course, a compliment to any chief to be asked to accompany the Tuan Boort (myself) and the Tuan Cataus (Baldwin). It was a strange thing that Baldwin's red hair and beard, and generally dilapidated appearance, had earned for him long before this the appellation of "old" from the natives. So this day we set out with the chief of Belulic and his underchiefs and their retinues. We pushed well up into the area, but unfortunately encountered no opposition. We were disappointed as we wanted to give a lift to morale, but the chiefs were quite happy; they took it for granted that we had frightened the enemy away, and that was just as effective as far as they were concerned. [27] The End Game - January 1943 Mac Walker touched on Turiscai’s ‘swan song’ as a significant site in the campaign before the No. 4 Independent Company’s evacuation from Timor in early January 1943: And so did Major Walker and his troops. In his summary of the events recorded in his Unit's War Diary during December 1942, which is the only record of those events - the original document having been destroyed in the course of the subsequent evacuation of the 2/4th Company to prevent it falling into enemy hands - he commented: "After the evacuation of the 2/2 Indep. Coy it was evident the enemy had realised some move had occurred and moved into the newly vacated areas - Daralau, Atsabe and Hatu Builico on the West, Hatu Udo and Same on the South and Laclo and adjacent villages on the East. …. By these actions, three sections of 'C' Pl were cut off whilst simultaneous attacks around Turiscai, Dili OP, Fatu Maquerec and the L of C between the last two places forced the Unit to again reconsider the position of sub-units and guard a basic area which we considered was vital for the continuance of the force on the island. This basic area, in our opinion, was the last portion where we could continue to live as a fighting force; but by further splitting into smaller units it was thought possible to live and fight as individuals. "The basic area was that part contained by Alas on the South, Fai Nia and Fatu Maquerec on the West, and around in more or less a circle Cribas, Lacluta, Barique. All offensive action was to take place outside these areas and Japs and their natives to be kept out at all costs. Numerous actions took place on the fringe of the circle: Turiscai, Fatu Maquerec, Mindelo. Offensive actions took place at Ainaro, Cablac Ridge and along the road Manatuto-Baucau. [29] [28] MEMORIES John Burridge and the ‘Scrap of Newspaper’ Like all those who spent time in Timor in 1942 John Burridge has many memories - one of which was an incident which was personal and very strange. Before recording the incident itself I must go back a very long way. Early in the 20th century my father, Stanley, and his friend Eric Warren were both working in the firm of Paterson & Co. Ltd. In Perth. My dad was "office boy" and Eric was stock book keeper. They later joined in forming a private company which lasted 75 years. Now, back to Timor. 8 Section at this time was based in a little village next to Turiscai. One morning I found it necessary to exercise a normal bodily function. At the conclusion I looked around to get something to take the place of toilet paper and seized upon two large leaves from a nearby bush. The result of the use of these leaves is not the reason for this report - other than to say I had a red hot bottom for weeks every time I took a shower from the abundant little streams. (Sometime later Ray Aitken told me the name of the bush but I forget it!). The purpose of this story is to highlight that while searching for a suitable leaf I noticed a scrap, a very small scrap of newspaper on the ground. Idly I picked it up and saw it was from a newspaper in English. This in itself was very odd - what was an English newspaper doing a few thousand feet up in the bush in Portuguese Timor? I read the words which were quite legible. It read – ‘The death is announced in Perth, Western Australia, of Duncan Paterson, a very well-known and respected business man who founded the company which bears his name’. I posted this scrap of paper to my father who carried it around in his wallet as a sort of lucky charm until the day he died. I hope this incident may be of some interest to readers. Perhaps it shows how we never know what lies around the corner. John Burridge [30] Article from ‘The West Australian’ reporting Duncan Ferguson’s death [31] John Burridge’s Return to Turiscai The road to Turiscai was unbelievable. There is only room for one vehicle, so heaven knows what would have happened if we had met someone on the way. It was by far the worst road we travelled and George Vasco Solas, the Second Lieutenant who was with me, told me that if it rained we would probably have to remain in Turiscai. It started to rain halfway there, and I was prepared for a long wait in Turiscai. However, most unexpectedly, the rain petered out. I particularly wished to visit Turiscai to get news of my old creado, Cookie. He was a well-known character in Turiscai and was a sort of minor chief. He died 14 years ago but was well remembered by the present Chief - and many others. It was market day in Turiscai, but it was only a small affair. I thought that it was about time I sampled tuaca. Upon asking for it there was a good deal of shuffling and uneasy looks and it appears that it is illegal to sell tuaca. However, when George, who was resplendent in a cavalry uniform, assured the locals that there would be no repercussions, a bottle was obtained. Unfortunately, it was not tuaca but tua-sabe the fermented brew. (Later on, with much difficulty I got the genuine tuaca in Dili and as I had remembered, it is certainly a very pleasant drink). The Chief in Turiscai was most co-operative and arranged a cock fight for my benefit. Although a non-smoker these days I asked for tabac, bata cuiic and doodook (perhaps better known as wampum). The tabac and bata culic were of course available, but no doodook. The standard of living has apparently improved and all the Timori use matches nowadays. I tried in many places for doodook but without success. Undoubtedly it would be available in the little villages, but we kept to the main roads As I am in no condition for long marches nowadays, I had to finish that wretched cigarette otherwise I may have offended someone, but I cannot really claim to have enjoyed it. The road back from Turiscai to Maubisse had become worse during the previous three hours due to the rain and it was greasy as well as rough. Both George and I were very happy when we reached home. Several months ago, a truck with 21 Chinese went over the side and they were all killed. [32] JACK HANSON’S CREADO Jack Hanson’s, the ‘last man standing’ of the Doublereds, creado was named Mau Asu and he came from Turiscai. Post WWII several commando veterans returned to Timor to seek out the men who were their creados as well as visit the sites where they campaigned. The account of the 2/4 Commando Squadron Association’s pilgrimage to Portuguese Timor in 1973 reveals: "D" Group, comprising veterans of "C" Platoon, had focussed their tour around their old area of responsibility - Ainaro, Same, Hatu Builico, Nunamogue and Bobonaro - reliving memories and endeavouring to locate old friends, with little success. The explanation for this was provided by a group of Timorese, of whom Ken Piesse enquired what had happened to the criados and other Timorese people who had accompanied the Australian soldiers to Quicras, for the evacuation in January 1943. Joseph, the Timorese driver translated their answer: "When you left, the Japanese, who were at Turiscai, Fata Maquerec and Same all closed in. The Japanese shot many people who had helped the Australians and burnt their houses, at Same, Alas and a Jot of other places. "A lot of the criados were killed by the Japanese. Some were lucky. They hid in the bush, or in holes in the ground and came out only at night." [33] Mau Asu survived the Japanese recriminations but not the equivalent suppression during the Indonesian occupation. A qualitatively new phase of the Indonesian campaign began in September 1977. Troop numbers were increased and draconian controls imposed upon the population, isolating the territory from the outside world. In an operation named "Encirclement and Annihilation", mountain areas in which people had taken refuge were bombed. Saturation bombing was accompanied by defoliation of ground cover. Famine aggravated the effects of injury, disease, and displacement. ….. Following the bombing campaigns, the population was placed in newly created resettlement camps. Inhabitants were prevented from traveling beyond the confines of these camps, and were restricted in their cultivation and harvesting. Dependent on the military for basic medical supplies and foodstuffs, they received little, and starvation became widespread. A letter received from Dili in June 1979 told of people "slowly dying in the villages of Remexio, Turiscai, Maubara, Betano and Suro". [34] Mau Asu and several other members of his family were victims of this atrocity. In May 2019 Martin Morris, Jack Hanson’s nephew, visited Turiscai and met with one of Mau Asu’s daughters, Marta das Dores, now 71 years of age. Martin passed on a message of gratitude from Jack for the friendship and support provided by Mau Asu and his compatriots to himself and the commandos. Marta sadly, but proudly, showed Martin the family tomb where Mau Asu’s name is listed first on the tomb stone. Mau Asu’s daughter, Marta das Dores, indicates her father’s name on the family tombstone REFERENCES [1] Exploration of Portuguese Timor / report of Allied Mining Corporation to Asia Investment Company, limited. - [Dilly, Portuguese Timor? : Allied Mining Corporation, 1937: 31 - National Library of Australia digitised item at http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-51222414] [2] Allied Forces South West Pacific Area. Allied Geographical Section. - Area study of Portuguese Timor. – [Melbourne?]: Allied Geographical Section, South West Pacific Area: The Section [Brisbane], 1943: 58. https://repository.monash.edu/items/show/26455#?c=0&m=0&s=0&cv=0 [3] ‘Return to Timor 1973 - Notes on some places and points of interest’ 2/4 Commando Squadron Association Circular – copy in 2/2 Commando Association archives. [4] Area study of Portuguese Timor: 29. [5] Area study of Portuguese Timor: Map 1. [6] The town was visited by 2/2 Commando Association Committee members Ed Willis, John Denman and Martin Morris on 7 May 2019. [7] Area study of Portuguese Timor: Photograph 53. [8] Christopher C.H. Wray. - Timor 1942 : Australian commandos at war with the Japanese. - Hawthorn, Vic. : Hutchinson Australia, 1987: 97. [9] Kisho Tsuchiya ‘Indigenization of the Pacific War in Timor Island: a multi-language study of its contexts and Impact’ War & Society 38 (1) February 2018, 1–22 [12]. [10] Alfredo Pires ‘The boy with the red lepa’ in Telling East Timor: personal testimonies 1942-1992 / [compiled by] Michele Turner. – Sydney: N.S.W. University Press, 1992.: 38-39. [11] Wray: 123. [12] Wray: 123. [13] Wray: 124. [14] Antonio de Sousa Santos ‘Fragments of a tempestuous life or Fragments of six years of struggles’ (Unpublished manuscript, March 1944). AWM PR 00684. [15] William Bradley Horton ‘Ethnic cleavage in Timorese society: the Black Columns in occupied Portuguese Timor (1942)’ Journal of International Development 6 (2): 35-50 https://www.academia.edu/1425518/Ethnic_Cleavage_in_Timorese_Society_The_Black_Columns_in_Occupied_Portuguese_Timor_1942_. [16] Wray: 126. [17] Wray: 134. [18] Wray: 143-144. [19] Wray: 144. [20] Bernard Callinan - Independent Company : the Australian Army in Portuguese Timor 1941-43. - Richmond, Vic. : Heinemann, 1984.: 171. [21] Callinan: 169 [22] Callinan: 171-172. [23] Cyril Ayris. - All the Bull's men : No. 2 Australian Independent Company (2/2nd Commando Squadron). - [Perth, W.A.] : 2/2nd Commando Association, 2006.: 356. [24] Callinan: 193. [25] Callinan: 199. [26] Callinan: 203. [27] Callinan: 207. [28] Callinan: 213. [29] Lambert: 173. [30] John Burridge ‘Memories’ 2/2 Commando Courier September 2007: 17. https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/2007/Courier%20September%202007.pdf [31] ‘Mr Duncan Paterson - death in London’ West Australian June 27 1936/ 35 https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/page/3691699. [32] John Burridge ‘A report on a trip to Portuguese Timor, June 15 to June 22, 1966’ 2/2 Commando CourierJuly 1966: 9. https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/1966-07%20-%20Courier%20July%201966.pdf [33] G.E. Lambert. - Commando, from Tidal River to Tarakan : the story of the No. 4 Australian Independent Company AIF later known as 2/4th Australian Commando Squadron AIF, 1941-45. - Loftus, N.S.W. : Australian Military History Publications, 1997: 434. [34] John G. Taylor ‘”Encirclement and Annihilation'': the Indonesian occupation of East Timor’ in The spectre of genocide: mass murder in historical perspective / edited by Robert Gellately [and] Ben Kiernan. – Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003: 167. Prepared by Ed Willis Revised 24 March 2020
  10. JAMES STANLEY (JIM) DUNN (1928 – 2020) Members and supporters of the Doublereds will be saddened to learn of the passing of James Dunn who became best known during the 1970s and ‘80s when he stood up against Australia’s foreign policy establishment over its endorsement of Indonesia’s invasion and annexation of East Timor. The evidence presented in Dunn’s published reports and books was endorsed and appreciated by the men of the old 2/2 Commando Association of Australia who used it their representations and advocacy to government in support of the Timorese fight for independence from Indonesia. A copy of Dunn’s influential report ‘The Timor story’ (1976) is held in the old Association’s archives. An informative and respectful obituary for Jim Dunn was prepared by Dr Peter Job for Jim Dunn’s memorial service that was held in Canberra on Saturday 15 February 2020 appears below. An abridged version of this obituary was published in Friday’s “Sydney Morning Herald”: https://www.smh.com.au/national/campaigner-for-east-timor-during-indonesian-occupation-20200214-p540t8.html OTHER MATERIAL Expression of Grief for the Death of James Stanley Dunn http://timor-leste.gov.tl/?p=23534&lang=en JAMES DUNN Death Notice https://tributes.canberratimes.com.au/obituaries/canberratimes-au/obituary.aspx?n=james-jim-stanley-dunn&pid=195320640&fhid=15599 Canberra Conversations: James Dunn AM https://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2011/03/30/3177728.htm OBITUARY Diplomat, writer and researcher who campaigned relentlessly for the people of East Timor during the Indonesian occupation. James Dunn, who died on 31 January at the age of 92, was a diplomat, intelligence officer, soldier, researcher for the Parliamentary Library, writer and human rights activist. Over a long and versatile career, his most significant achievement is the crucial role he played in campaigning for the rights of the Timorese people under Indonesian occupation and bringing their plight to the attention of the world. Born into a family of six children in Bundaberg, Queensland, Dunn’s humanitarian outlook was strongly influenced by the two years he spent as an Australian soldier in occupied Japan, particularly the six months on the outskirts of the devastated city of Hiroshima. He later described witnessing ‘children, hundreds of them, dying from atomic radiation’, an experience which “thrust me in the direction of focusing on the lot of ordinary people rather than on governments’. He returned to Australia to complete an Honours degree in Political Science and Russian at Melbourne University, followed by studies in Indonesian politics and history at the Australian National University. In a lengthy career in government service he worked first as a defence analyst specialising on Indonesia, then as a diplomat, serving in Paris and Moscow and visiting and working in Yugoslavia, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland and other Eastern European countries. The posting which would prove most significant, however, was his first, as consul to what was then Portuguese Timor from 1962 to 1964, an experience which led to a lifetime of empathy and engagement with the people of East Timor. During the years 1970 to 1986 he was Director of the Foreign Affairs Group of the Legislative Research Service of the Federal Parliamentary Library, making him the most senior foreign affairs advisor to the Australian parliament. When the Carnation Revolution in Portugal put the decolonisation of its colonial possession in Timor on the agenda, Dunn was chosen as one of a two-person Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) research team sent to the territory in June 1974. To the annoyance of many in the department his report broke with DFA orthodoxy by arguing that independence was viable, disparaging those who thought integration with Indonesian inevitable and advocating “a more positive course’; for Australia to encourage Indonesian cooperation in the birth of a new state, if it became clear that was what the Timorese wanted. He advocated the reopening of the Australian consulate to monitor developments and recommended a joint Australian/Indonesian mission to make recommendations regarding the territory's economic and social development. Dunn later wrote that these recommendations fell, “on unresponsive ears as far as the government was concerned. Dunn forged a life-long friendship and alliance with East Timorese independence campaigner and later Nobel laureate José Ramos-Horta, who he first met as a teenager during his posting as consul. Soon after Dunn’s death Horta described him as “a mentor, fatherly figure to me’. When a twenty-five-year-old Horta visited Australia in July 1974 as representative of the independence movement that was later to become Fretilin, he made the first of a series of many stays with James and his wife Wendy in their home in Canberra. Dunn assisted his cause by introducing him to sympathetic Australian politicians, including Ken Fry, Gordon McIntosh, Tom Uren, Arthur Gietzelt, and others who would prove vital contacts for Horta and who would later take up the Timorese cause during the Indonesian occupation. In late 1975, after an Indonesian inspired coup and a brief but brutal civil war left Fretilin as the somewhat reluctant de facto governing body of the territory, Dunn returned as head of an Australian Council for Overseas Aid (ACFOA) delegation in October to determine the humanitarian situation and aid needs of the Timorese people. He reported Fretilin to be “a sensitive and responsible organization” that enjoyed widespread support and was prepared to be flexible in negotiating a return to an orderly decolonisation process under Portuguese auspices. This position, supported by a number of others who visited the territory during this period, would later provide a foil for those in the Australian government and elsewhere who claimed the Indonesian invasion had come about in response to a situation of intransigence and instability caused by Timorese irresponsibility. It was during the early years of occupation that Dunn arguably made his strongest contribution by breaking the embargo on information coming from East Timor to make known to the wider world the catastrophe that was occurring there. A year after the full-scale Indonesian invasion, information was trickling out, via elements of the Catholic church, smuggled letters and a clandestine radio link established by solidarity activists near Darwin, reporting an ongoing conflict, serious human rights abuses and severe food shortages. In this context Dunn, under the auspices of Community Aid Abroad, visited and interviewed Timorese refugees in Portugal who had escaped the territory and could report on the situation. The Dunn Report on East Timor, published in February 1977, detailed accounts, largely since verified, of severe human rights abuses, including massacres, sexual violence, deliberately induced famine and other abuses. The report concluded that claims from Catholic sources of 100,000 deaths were credible due to widespread killings in the mountains. In early 1977 Dunn took his message to the international community, visiting Britain, France, Sweden, Portugal, the Netherlands and the United States, where he gained media coverage and met with government officials, activists and concerned politicians. The Fraser government, which viewed good relations with the Suharto regime as vital and sought to protect it from criticism, greeted the report with consternation. It cabled its missions in the countries Dunn visited as to how to discredit his claims, contending the scale of the atrocities to be “highly exaggerated” the death rate greatly overstated and, despite the fact that Dunn’s information came from direct eye witnesses who he stressed were willing to speak to government officials, his allegations based upon “hearsay and second-hand evidence”. When the Dutch government considered supporting an international investigation, Australian government officials worked successfully to dissuade it. In the wake of his report Dunn was invited to speak at the US Congressional House Committee on International Relations on 23 March 1977. In the leadup to the hearings DFA worked with Indonesian and US officials to background against him, contending that his allegations were ‘hearsay’ and claiming, based on little more than briefings from Indonesian officials, that a “thorough study” of all the information available to them had failed to corroborate his claims. Nevertheless, Dunn’s testimony proved influential, galvanising a US Timor solidarity movement, drawing attention to the issue by a number of prominent US politicians and leading to a series of further congressional investigations in subsequent years. In the broader public arena in Australia and elsewhere the Dunn Report was crucial, energising the Australian Timor solidarity movement and providing an evidence-based tool for long term international campaigns. Dunn continued to lobby on the issue in subsequent years. In October 1978 he produced “Notes on the present situation in Timor”, a report which belied the narrative propagated by the Fraser government to document the nature of Indonesian offensives, the targeting of food supplies, the extent of human rights abuses, the misuse of Australian aid and the extent of the death toll. Respected for his academic integrity by all sides in the Australian parliament, his efforts were supported by a cross parliamentary Timor lobby, including tom Uren, Ken Fry, Gordon McIntosh, Arthur Gietzelt in the ALP and Alan Missen, Michael Hogmann and Neville Bonner in the Liberal Party, who used the evidence Dunn provided to raise the issue in parliament on a regular basis. Dunn testified on the Timor issue at the UN Fourth (decolonisation) Committee in October 1980, and at the Permanent Peoples Tribunal, an international Rome based human rights organisation that held hearings into the Timor issue in Lisbon in June 1981. In 1983 he published a book, “East Timor: a people betrayed”, a thoroughly researched academic work that produced a detailed and evidence-based exposé of the situation in East Timor and role Australia played in covering it up. Dunn’s advocacy was not without personal consequences. Officials of the Suharto regime demanded action against him, asking why an employee of a Federal government agency was able to act in contradiction to the expressions of “understanding” it was receiving regarding the Timor issue from the Fraser government. In 1977 the Australian Ambassador to Indonesia Richard Woolcott warned that Dunn’ activities had the potential to “undo much of the good work’ achieved by a recent visit by Fraser to Jakarta and create hostility towards Australia within the Suharto regime. Government lobbying efforts had a certain impact, with the “Melbourne Herald” in October 1979 accusing Dunn of “reckless use of dubious information” and working to damage the Australian/Indonesian relationship. Other journalists and academics supporting the government position attacked Dunn in a similar way on a regular basis, as did parliamentary supporters of the Fraser governments Timor policy. In 1982 former Prime Minister Gough Whitlam, by then a confirmed lobbyist for the Suharto regime, accused Dunn of “waving a flag” for Fretilin and spreading disinformation. Under pressure from the Suharto regime and with complaints from senior echelons of the Fraser government concerning Dunn's “lack of objectivity”, there was an attempt in April 1980 to transfer him from his research position in the Parliamentary Library. In parliament Dunn was defended by MPs from both major parties. A letter from him was tabled in which he revealed that in the new position he would not be able to write on East Timor, would not have access to DFA material and would not have contact with MPs. Opposition leader Bill Hayden, amongst others, defended Dunn, speaking of the “high regard” accorded to him by members from both sides of the house. In recent years Dunn recounted to the author how the matter came to a head when he was met on his arrival at work by a group of cross-party parliamentarians and their staffers who in a show of support escorted him to his office. The attempted transfer was abandoned. After leaving his Parliamentary Library position in 1986 Dunn worked and lobbied on international human rights, amongst other things participating in missions in West Africa and Latin America. He was co-president of the Second World Congress on Human Rights in Dakar, Senegal in 1986. He was president for a time of the Human Rights Council of Australia, an organisation he helped found in 1978. Dunn continued advocating on the Timor issue throughout the occupation. He testified regularly at UN bodies and addressed a variety of international forums, including seminars at Yale, Oxford and McGill University in Canada. In 1995 he was Coventry Peace Lecturer and a key- note speaker at a conference on East Timor in Dublin. He contributed to a number of academic publications during this period, including a paper on East Timor in the 1995 collection “Genocide in the Twentieth Century” (Garland Press NY). Dunn returned to East Timor during the independence vote in 1999, remaining during the militia violence until evacuation in September. He returned shortly after the INTERFET intervention to work as an advisor to the UNTAET mission. He was commissioned as an expert on crimes against humanity in East Timor by the UN in 2001. In the years leading to independence in 2003 he conducted a course on diplomacy for the new nations diplomatic corps. He wrote extensively on foreign policy as a columnist for a number of publications, including “The Bulletin”, “The Age”, “The Sydney Morning Herald” and the “Illawarra Mercury”. In 1999 Dunn was awarded the ACFOA human rights award. In 2001 he was invested as member of the Order of Australia. In 2002 he was awarded the Grande Official of the Order of Prince Henry by Portugal. In 2009 President José Ramos-Horta conferred on Dunn the Medal of the Order of Timor-Leste. Coming from a background of Australian public service and diplomacy, Dunn’s involvement on the Timor issue set him on a course of dissidence and political non-conformity, of truth telling and activism in support of human rights in the face of his own governments policies to the contrary. It was a course which consumed much of his life, and a course for which he paid a price. In a conversation with the author in recent years Dunn discussed how if circumstances had been different he would likely have earned an ambassadorship or higher. My response was what it only could have been. Whatever else he may have been able to achieve, none of it would have been more significant than his role in bringing to the world’s attention the truth about the situation in East Timor and contributing to the birth of a new nation. Whatever its cost, that pathway of integrity and truth telling made a far greater contribution than any other course he could have taken. DUNN IS SURVIVED BY HIS WIFE WENDY AND HIS SONS, IAN, MURRAY AND CHRIS. THE COUPLE’S SON BRIAN PASSED AWAY IN 2011. Written by Dr Peter Job JD service program.pdf A disturbing journey - James Dunn.pdf J.S._Dunn_-_The_Timor_story_-_1976.pdf
  11. COMMANDO CAMPAIGN SITES – EAST TIMOR BOBONARO DISTRICT MAROBO GPS: 8°58'48”S, 125°21'14"E Location of Marobo shown on map from the Area Study of Portuguese Timor [1] “Marobo is 3 miles (5 km.) from Bobonaro at a bearing of 359°. It is situated in a deep re-entrant at the foot of Mt. Uso Lau. The town is a resort on account of its sulphur springs. It is connected to Bobonaro by M.T. road. There are about 12 stone houses and the town is concealed from the air”. [2] Marobo viewed in 1927 [3] SIGNALLER HARRY WRAY’S MAROBO RECOLLECTIONS Signaller Corporal Harry Wray [4] described Marobo as it was in July-August 1942: Leaving Rita Bau “We left the house in Rita Bau …. The country from the house sloped more steeply as one progressed from the house, to a very deep gully with a small swift stream running along the bottom. After crossing the stream, we came to a village after a climb, and obtained some sour mandarins, then the path ran along the sides of the mountains for some distance then turned to the right and downwards. The path sloped downwards very steeply, so much so that in places it almost made one dizzy to look downward to the rocky river bed far below. Just as we commenced this descent I was seized with the most agonising cramp all over the body, but chiefly in my legs. Once or twice I nearly took a header downwards as my legs stiffened with a spasm of cramp. I made the long steep descent suffering acutely most of the way. Approaching Marobo Once on the riverbed, which was a mass of huge granite boulders and about twenty yards wide, we had not far to go. After reaching the other side of the river, a path led up a cliff for about a hundred feet or perhaps a little more, and there on what can be likened to a flat shelf, lay Maroubra [Marobo]. As the path into Maroubra [Marobo] was provided with steps to make the ascent easier, I had to take a more difficult path, but easier for me, as when I lifted my foot to climb a step I would be seized with cramp, but by climbing the slope alongside the steps I was able to escape the cramp to some extent. Marobo Described I went to the house in which Archie [Campbell] was staying to see him, and collapsed on the veranda doubled up with cramp again. I had to be very careful to keep still and make no sudden movement or I would get another attack. We arrived not long before the evening meal, and after finding out which cottage we could stay, several of us went off to take a hot sulphur bath, as Maroubra [Marobo] was the watering place for the island. Along the edge of the cliff overlooking the river I have mentioned, were about a dozen neat little cottages, all well-built bungalows with tiled roofs. All well finished too. The drains simply shot over the side of the cliff down the cliff side, so the Portos easily disposed of all drainage and sewage problems. Archie and his Section were quartered in some of these cottages, and the Porto and his daughters I have mentioned earlier had one cottage, and a few of our unit passing through, or at Maroubra [Marobo] for a few days were in other cottages. About quarter of a mile from the cottages a large stream of almost boiling water issued from the earth. This water was heavily sulphur laden, and the smell of sulphur was very much in evidence. A concrete erection marked the place where the water issued out of the ground, and the hot water ran along an open concrete ditch for a short distance to the bathhouses. One bathhouse was apparently for the natives, and us, the other a fine looking building for the Portos. There were no shops at Maroubra [Marobo], just the row of cottages, and the bathhouses, as apparently it was simply a rest place and health resort for the Portos. The Bathhouse The bathhouse we used was along low building with a thatched roof. The interior was divided up into a number of small rooms. Each room had a sunken bath in it like a miniature swimming pool. The bath extended the width of the building, and each was about four feet wide. On the right hand side of each bath was the wall dividing off the next bath, and on the left hand side was a concrete floor about three feet wide. Along the back of the bathhouse ran a concrete drain open at the top. The hot sulphur water raced along this drain, which was about six feet from the back of the bathhouse. Between this drain and the back wall of the bathhouse was a deep drain into which the baths could be emptied. To fill the bath, it was necessary to manipulate a large bamboo pipe into the drain of fresh sulphur water and so conduct the water across the six foot gap to the bath selected. The water was so hot that if the bath were filled it would be unbearably hot, but if one entered the bath immediately the water began to run in, and remained in the bath as it was filled, it was possible to endure the heat of the water without too much discomfort. I had a hot bath the evening I arrived at Maroubra [Marobo] suffering so acutely with cramp, and found that it worked wonders so far as the cramp was concerned. The heat of the bath left one feeling somewhat weak for a time afterwards. The constantly running drain of fresh water discharged into a large concrete pit below and beyond the two bathhouses. This pit would be about ten yards by fifteen yards at a guess. The cavalry from Bobonaro made a practice of riding their Timor ponies over once a week and swimming them in this hot sulphur pool as it kept their ponies skins in good condition. The overflow from the pool ran down into the river below. There were other hot sulphur springs not far out of Maroubra [Marobo]. I came across them later as you will hear. Healing Qualities of the Waters The Porto and his family of daughters were still at Maroubra [Marobo] while I was there, and the old man used to take a daily visit to the sulphur baths, as did one of his daughters. I saw her sitting at the edge of the drain bathing her legs with the water. Her legs were in a bad state with tropical ulcers. I do not know if the treatment did any good or not. One of our men had to go the Doctor with a severe form of dermatitis all over his body, and the condition took a long time to cure. It was caused through taking too many of the hot baths. I believe the Doctor told him that by having too many too hot baths he had mildly scalded himself all over. … a Jar of Vegemite The next morning, I wrote out a report on Rita Bau and sent it off to Bobonaro as Dex was there. I was talking to one of the unit cooks who told me that he was going with Dex to Rita Bau or wherever he was going as cook. That afternoon a message came that the cook was to proceed to Bobonaro at once. He had wind, unofficially but correctly, that he was required there, as he was to be sent back to Australia. He was in a jubilant mood, and presented me with a jar of Vegemite, and with a tin of cheese, and a tin of meat”. [5] SIGNIFICANCE Marobo first came to notice and significance in late March-early April 1942 when Sparrow Force reconstituted itself in the more secure environs of south-west Portuguese Timor. Christopher Wray described the circumstances at this time: “Before long [Brigadier] Veale decided it was necessary for him to move closer to the Independent Company Headquarters then located at Bobonaro, and accordingly moved his headquarters to Mape. Soon after his arrival, Veale berated some of Lieutenant David Dexter's men for not shaving. Dexter's prompt reply was, 'We lost our razors not our rifles' - an obvious dig at the unarmed state of the Brigadier's party on its arrival in Portuguese Timor. Mape was taken over as Force Headquarters, and Dexter's section was relocated at Marobo. Major Spence, realising that the way from Dutch Timor was unprotected, decided to station a party at Maliana to cover the Nunura Plains. These plains were covered with head-high grass and extended from Balibo on the Dutch border through Maliana to the hills below Cailaco. Spence wanted a small force at Maliana to patrol towards Balibo, Memo and other frontier postos to watch out for any Japanese approach from that direction”. [6] The veracity of these dispositions became apparent later on during the ‘August push’ by the Japanese against Sparrow Force; the ‘Official history’ records: “On 9th August the Japanese methodically bombed Beco and Mape. Next day the bombers were over Mape again and also attacked Bobonaro, where Callinan had his headquarters, and the near-by Marobo, thus ushering in a series of raids on the villages which the Australians had been using as their key points. It quickly became clear that the Japanese were launched on a widespread and well-organised move to envelop and destroy the Australians and the Dutch”. One column “… crossed the border at Memo and drove at Bobonaro through Maliana”. [7] After the fierce fighting in the area, in which the No. 2 Independent Company lost two men killed in action, Marobo remained more within the Japanese controlled sphere of influence and was not as frequently occupied by our men. Following the departure of Lancer Force from Portuguese Timor in February 1943 the colony settled into a harsh regime of Japanese occupation and the spa at Marobo was used as a ‘Rest and Recreation’ site by the garrison forces. MAROBO “COMFORT WOMEN” SITE A less well known aspect of the Japanese occupation of Portuguese Timor was the sexual exploitation of Timorese females known as “comfort women”. Military Sexual Slavery during WWII The so-called “Comfort Women” system, i.e., military sexual slavery under the former Japanese military regime before 1945, is a typical case of rape as a form of torture in which the State was directly involved. During the Second World War, the Japanese Imperial military set up the “comfort stations” all over the occupied and colonized areas in Asia and the Pacific, where women and girls were forced to sexually serve the rank and soldiers. Many of these women, most of whom were minors, were tricked by fake job recruitment or taken by force and then confined in small rooms where they were raped by more than twenty men a day. When the Japanese military were defeated, most of these “comfort women” were abandoned or even killed. Although this crime against humanity has been addressed at some of the international human rights organizations, the Japanese State has continuously failed to meet its obligations to investigate, prosecute those responsible, bring just and adequate redress and remedy for the victims, and to educate the public about the issue. [8] The “Comfort Women” System in Portuguese Timor Cleary describes the introduction of the “comfort women” system to Portuguese Timor as follows: “Shortly after arriving in the colony the Japanese rounded up young girls, many of them only about 12, and forced them to work in as many as 15 comfort stations around the country. This policy was often aided by village chiefs, who were acting under duress and frequently found their palatial huts turned into comfort stations. The Portuguese governor, de Carvalho, who feared that Portuguese women would be targeted by the Japanese, also supplied Timorese women to the Japanese. De Carvalho ordered prostitutes who had fled Dili to be brought back so they could serve the Japanese. He called this the ‘lesser of two evils’”. [9] The Struggle of Avo Marta [10] Along with Ms. Esmeralda Boe, who passed away in February last year, Avo Marta was a forerunner of the activities to investigate the harms of sexual violations by the Japanese Army. She also served as a bridge to connect Japan and East Timor. At the Women's International War Crimes Tribunal on Japan's Military Sexual Slavery, Avo Marta and Esmeralda publicly announced for the first time as Timorese women the fact that they were turned into “comfort women.” Asked by the court clerk to speak the full truth upon making testimony, the two women replied, “We did not come to Japan for sightseeing. We came to speak the truth. What is there for us to do but to speak the truth?” and received huge applause from the audience. Documentary Japan later interviewed the two, interviews which were meant to be broadcast via NHK (National Broadcasting Corporation of Japan). [11] In August 2001, Avo Marta cooperated and gave testimony for the filming of the onsite investigation at the Marobo “Comfort Women” site, where she once faced cruel violence. Marobo “Comfort Women” site, photo taken 28 April 2018 …. When Avo Marta faced cruel violation, she was still little, and it was before her menstruation began or her breasts grew. “When I had to deal with 10 people, it was so painful that I couldn’t even move. It felt as if my vagina and anus became one,” she said. “Dealing with soldiers at night, and constructing roads in the day... The kind of labour I had to tolerate was worse than an animal. Why? Animals can sleep at night.” She expressed her anger and said, “Japanese men were also born from mothers... How could they have done something so cruel?” VISITING MAROBO TODAY Marobo Springs (Bobonaro District) “Location (spring M I): 754465 E, 9005792 N, elevation 459 m. A second spring (MII) lies 20 m to the west. MI is a non-flowing pool with temperature of 47°C and strong gas ebullience. M II discharges clear 46°C water with a flow of 10 kg/s. It forms a sludgy deposit of calcite and possibly some gypsum and sulphur. There was a minor odour of sulphur. The geology of the area consists of Pliocene Ainaro Gravel with limestone outcropping on ridges above the springs. An off-set in this formation suggests the springs are located on a fault contact”. [12] Getting There The Marobo hot springs are justifiably recognised as one of the premier rural tourist attractions in Timor-Leste. The site can be reached in a long days drive from Dili most directly via Gleno, Lete Foho and Atsabe, though road conditions are poor beyond the first way point; the final last few kilometres steep, winding descent into Marobo are the worst. The site was extensively and expensively redeveloped around 2016-2017 with the bathing pools and water channels resurfaced and properly retained, toilets and change rooms installed, and timber walkways, viewing platforms and picnic spaces put in place. [13] The sign at the turnoff to Marobo from the road between Maliana and Zumalai, taken 7 May 2019 All these facilities (except the toilets) were in good condition and being well-used by local people during a weekend visit in late April 2018. Unfortunately, when visited a year later in 2019, the whole site had degraded significantly in the harsh weather conditions, with the toilets unusable, the timber structures requiring urgent maintenance and the main bathing pool essentially empty. Cultural Tourism Potential The following report provides an assessment of Marobo as a cultural tourism site: “The Marobo Complex The area surrounding and including Bee Manis has been identified by leaders in Bobonaro as a potential tourist precinct. This area includes many aspects of culture attractive to tourists. There is living evidence of traditional cultural beliefs that the Kemak people are happy to share with tourists. The local leaders are actively pursuing ways to reinvigorate their traditional ceremonies and see tourism as a way to help achieve this goal. The Kemak people have been fortunate to have had their history recorded by the Ethnographer Brigitte Clamagirand whose written and pictorial records provide an invaluable starting point for cultural tourism; Timor Aid and the Fundasaun Alola have created a high quality exhibition based on this work. In addition, there are people who are able to articulate the history of the area from Portuguese, WW2 to Indonesian times. Through the support of NGO’s such as OHM and the Fundasaun Alola there are women’s groups active in the area who have the capacity to showcase Timorese culture through production of high quality weaving as well as local products and traditional farming techniques and crops. Additionally, these groups are eager to work together to learn more about providing hospitality for tourists. OHM has been exploring the possibility of conducting farm stays for tourists interested in learning more about traditional crops and agricultural techniques. In terms of destination, the hot springs are an excellent example of Portuguese times and of themselves provide a reason for tourists to visit the area. The surrounding environment is pristine and affords tourists with abundant opportunities to engage with nature. The missing elements are amenities and access. There are plans in place to address the issue of amenities. Local leaders have a clear understanding of how to go about filling this gap in an environmentally sustainable way, but they need resources and leadership. Of more concern is the road access to the Marobo complex, without significant investment in improving the road the area will remain accessible to only the most intrepid travellers. The ILO and The Secretariat of State for Employment and Training (SEFOPE) plan to complete this work in 2013. Given the access issues to the Hot Springs an interim compromise strategy could be to support improvements to amenities in Bobonaro Vila and or Maliana. The fort area in Bobonaro Vila while quite degraded could provide an ambient back drop for a guesthouse and café complex. [14] The redeveloped Marobo site viewed April 2018 REFERENCES [1] Allied Geographical Section, “Portuguese Timor,” Monash Collections Online, accessed January 11, 2020, http://repository.monash.edu/items/show/31869 [2] Allied Geographical Section Area study of Portuguese Timor (ASPT): 27, Monash Collections Online, accessed January 11, 2020, http://repository.monash.edu/items/show/26455 [3] Timor Português : nos banhos termais de Marobo. - Timor: Missão de Timor, [ca 1927]. - 1 postal: castanho; 9x14 cm http://purl.pt/23917/1/index.html#/1/html [4] Arthur Henry Kilfield Wray, WX11485 https://doublereds.org.au/history/men-of-the-22/wx/arthur-henry-kilfield-wray-r727/ [5] Corporal Arthur Henry Kilfield ‘Harry’ Wray (WX11485) Recollections of the 2nd Independent Company Campaign on Timor, 1941-42, manuscript in 2/2 Commando Association archives.: 138-141. [6] Wray, Christopher C. H. Timor 1942: Australian commandos at war with the Japanese Hawthorn, Vic. : Hutchinson Australia, 1987: 89; the location map for Marobo reproduced from the ASPT clearly demonstrates the tactical significance of the site in relation the villages referred to. [7] Dudley McCarthy South-west Pacific area - first year : Kokoda to Wau Canberra: Australian War Memorial, 1959. (Australia in the war of 1939-1945. Series 1, Army ; v. 5): 607-608. [8] The truth of the Japanese military "Comfort Women" compiled by Northeast Asian History Foundation. Seoul: Northeast Asian History Foundation, 2014: 15. http://www.sfcomfortwomen.org/img/comfort-women.pdf [9] Paul Cleary. - The men who came out of the ground : a gripping account of Australia's first commando campaign : Timor 1942. - Sydney : Hachette Australia, 2010: 122. https://www.hachette.com.au/paul-cleary/the-men-who-came-out-of-the-ground-a-gripping-account-of-australias-first-commando-campaign-timor-1942 [10] ‘Remembering two “Comfort Women”’ Women‛s Asia 21, Voices from Japan No. 19 Summer 2007: 19-20 http://www.ajwrc.org/english/sub/voice/19-2-2.pdf and The truth of the Japanese military "Comfort Women" compiled by Northeast Asian History Foundation. Seoul: Northeast Asian History Foundation, 2014: 15. http://www.sfcomfortwomen.org/img/comfort-women.pdf [11] The interview was not broadcast. In Japan, the effort for media coverage of the Tribunal encountered a number of obstacles. One such obstacle was the right wing pressure exerted to change the content of the NHK programs aired in January 2001. The second episode of this series, which was going to focus on the Tribunal, was mostly edited and replaced with new scenes by the NHK staff just a few days before broadcasting. For more information, please see http://www1.jca.apc.org/vaww-net-japan/english/backlash/mediasabotage.html [12] James V. Lawless, Brian G. Lovelock, and Greg N. Ussher ‘Geothermal potential of East Timor’ Proceedings World Geothermal Congress 2005 Antalya, Turkey, 24-29 April 2005: 4. https://www.geothermal-energy.org/pdf/IGAstandard/WGC/2005/2604.pdf [13] US$500,000 was spent on the renovations; see https://www.lonelyplanet.com/timor-leste/attractions/be-manis/a/poi-sig/1582353/356190 [14] Jose Ximenes and Shirley Carlos The potential for cultural tourism Bobonaro, Ainaro & Lautem DistrictsDili: Timor Adventures, 2013. http://www.timoradventures.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Cultural-Tourism-Report-2013.pdf Prepared by Ed Willis Revised: 11 January 2020
  12. THE TIMOR PONY STORY INTRODUCTION Its readily evident that the motorbike rules as the dominant form of personal transport for Timorese now, both in Dili and rural areas. Motorbikes have become increasingly affordable for many families and are used for work, shopping and social interaction. As the motorbike and vehicle based public and goods transport has become dominant, the Timor Pony is rarely seen in Dili now but out in the districts it still has an important role to play, particularly in transporting heavier loads from remote hamlets to market days in the villages and towns. Timor ponies tethered at the cemetery – market day, Maubisse, 27 April 2014 Today’s circumstances are vastly different from those prevailing during the commando campaign on Timor during 1942 where the Timor ponies played an essential logistical support role. Sapper Paddy Wilby, an experienced bush horseman, is credited with getting the Timor pony trains into effective operation early in the campaign by using them to relocate ammunition and other stores from their vulnerable situation in Hatu-Lia to Atsabe and other platoon HQ locations further south. Once communication was re-established with Australia and regular supplies were provided by ship, Timor pony trains were used to transport weapons, ammunition, food, clothing, currency and other goods inland from the southern landing places at Suai, Beco and Betano to where the fighting men were located. The signallers were particularly reliant on the ponies to carry their heavy radio equipment and became very adept at loading them up in a timely fashion when having to move at short notice. THE TIMOR PONY DESCRIBED The ‘Area Study of Portuguese Timor’ (1943) provides the following description of this unique and interesting animal: PORTUGUESE TIMOR. 1942. HORSES (TIMOR PONIES) BEING LOADED WITH GEAR, PART OF A PACK TRAIN USED BY MEMBERS OF THE 2/2ND INDEPENDENT COMPANY The Timor pony will take a load of 100lbs., and it should not be overloaded. It has a speed of about 2 ½ miles an hour on an average, and it can maintain this for long periods. Normally, only males are used for transport, and these are always stallions, the mares being kept for breeding. Mares were used by our troops for transport. The loading of a Timor pony, which stands from 8-10 hands high, is either by pannier or packed on to a wooden saddle. Saddle sores are a constant source of trouble. There are no statistics as to the number of the animals, but it is known to be very considerable. In many districts it is estimated that there would be more than one pony for each family in the area. Timor ponies are extremely hardy and live off the country. They are tethered for grazing when not turned out to run in the hills. If grass is not plentiful, they are fed with maize or grain. This is particularly necessary when engaged in heavy work. Note: The Japanese brought to Timor some Australian type horses which they had taken out of Singapore. Some of these horses died shortly after being put to work in the hills. They were probably mismanaged and not fed, but even so this illustrates the well-known fact that the local ponies will stand up to the arduous conditions and non-nutritious pasture much better than imported animals. Mules also have been tried on several occasions, but reports on the results are conflicting. [1] DOIG’S ASSESSMENT OF THE TIMOR PONY Col Doig also wrote perceptively about the Timor pony: Magnificent Little Animals …. Everything else seemed to grow small and be in miniature. We will deal with the Timor pony first. These were magnificent little animals, real thoroughbreds in miniature - beautiful hoofs and lovely carriage and came in every equine colour imaginable. The best were real beauties. They did not go in for castration on the Island - everything was an entire either stallion or a mare. The stallions were the riding stock and the mares used for carrying things. As they broke down, they were turned out and these were the ones most likely to breed and the breed was inclined to go backwards because the worst stock was doing most of the breeding. Luckily the Portos and others had gone to the trouble to establish studs to upgrade the stock. It is said that normal horses taken to Timor will pygmyise in passing generations, the reason being given the lack of iodine in the mountainous areas. Much the same as happens in the Alps in Europe. Mural on wall outside the old Portuguese stables, Bobonaro – 30 April 2019 Sousa Santos’s Stable at Bobonaro As said the best had to be seen to be believed; there was one establishment at Bobanaro where the native cavalry was ensconced. This was a huge circular stable with all the mounts graded for colour. The piebalds together, and then skewbalds, blacks, greys, bays, chestnuts, roans and what have you. They were well looked after as Sousa Santos the Administrator was a very keen disciplinarian and kept everyone upon the collar. As an old cockie from way back I don't remember a sight in my life to quite outdo his contingent of at least 100 horses. They used to be fed on the local grass and it was a great sight to see a string of young boys come in daily with a sheaf of grass on their heads and carriers all dressed in the "Bari Pole". Old Portuguese stables, Bobonaro Sousa Santos' personal mount was a magnificent piebald stallion as frisky as they come and named "Whisky" after the famous brand of Scotch. The horse would come out of his stable with his ostler practically walking on his hind legs and as soon as Sousa mounted him would prance about and take off at a solid canter. Generally speaking their gait was an amble meaning that the legs on the off side moved together as did the other side in the same manner as a modern pacer. Loading and Riding the Ponies Unfortunately, the saddles both riding and pack were abominable, made of raffia and cane tied on with rope or "tarley" and these didn't take long to give a horse a sore back and some of them were a hideous sight after a short while. The ability of these ponies to carry loads over terrible tracks was truly amazing. Your author had quite a bit to do with packing horses in the Kimberly in WA and these little beauties would out carry Australian packhorses any day. It was not uncommon for these ponies to be loaded with a 90 to 100 lb. box of ammunition on either side of the saddle or a peco of rice or tobacco on either side - a peco is 62 lbs. An Aussie horse would be lucky to carry 25 lbs either side. I really think these animals were grossly overworked, especially on this impossible terrain. The riding saddles were much the same except a primitive bridle of rope. The horses were not mouthed in any way and of course with the narrow tracks this was not really needed. [2] PADDY WILBY AND THE TIMOR PONY TRAINS Paul Cleary has told the story of Paddy Wilby and the Timor pony trains in his book ‘The men who came out of the ground’ [3]: Beginnings The ammunition left near Hatu-Lia was still within striking distance of the enemy, and had not been safely hidden, so Callinan told a small party of men to pay the Timorese to help move the stores to a safer place. One of the men whom Callinan relied on to carry out this crucial task was not a senior officer or even an NCO; it was a lowly ranked sapper, or private, in the engineers corps. Vincent Wilby, 20, from Bendigo, Victoria, had met Callinan years before when he worked for a short time as an assistant in Callinan’s drafting office, and Wilby had joined Callinan on his journey into Dutch Timor. While returning to Portuguese Timor, Wilby had acquired a team of Timor ponies that he had stolen along the way. Callinan later admonished Wilby for taking the ponies, insisting that he should pay or at least promise to pay for any property that he acquired. These first few ponies proved to be very useful, forming the nucleus of the transport corps used by the 2/2 Company. [4] Vincent Patrick (Paddy) Wilby, VX60836 Wilby’s Background Wilby was one of the more worldly men in the 2/2 Company whose horizons in his teenage years had been unlimited. After the death of his father when Wilby was four, he was raised in a strict Christian Brothers’ orphanage in Melbourne until the age of 14. Wilby then travelled around Australia with his swag, hitching rides on freight trains, before working his way to the United States as a merchant seaman. By the time he enlisted in the army, Wilby had been to every state in Australia, working odd jobs during the tough Depression years, relying on the charity of people in the bush. During those bleak years, Wilby avoided cities because he found them full of despair, whereas people in rural Australia would give him a meal and other help when he needed it. Wilby found that all he had to do was ask for help. Bere Mau Again, in Timor Wilby found himself in a desperate situation with no money, but the resourceful sapper knew instinctively how to get help. After two months in Timor, Wilby possessed a good ability in Tetum and an exemplary rapport with the Timorese people. He had settled into life in the mountains of Timor better than most, and he was enthralled with the place. He had gone on patrols up into the mountains and seen forests populated by monkeys and postos on the hilltops ringed by terraces, flowers, and creepers. He had seen rainbows straddling the island after the afternoon dump of rain. For Wilby it was a fascinating place of endless ‘hills and hollows’. He was one of the first to gain the support of a Timorese offsider, whom the men came to call criados, meaning servant. Just after the Japanese invasion, Wilby met a Timorese boy who was fleeing Dili and heading back to his village at Atsabe. The boy was hungry and when he met Wilby he said makan, the Malay world for food. Wilby thought the boy, Bere Mau, had a commanding presence and might be a useful aide, so the two teamed up. The Timor Pony When Wilby got his assignment from Callinan, he and Bere Mau went off in search of more of the Timor ponies, a hardy animal that is believed to have been bred in the colony from ponies brought from Flores Island and India. The Timor pony had a strong connection with Australia, as the horse ridden in Banjo Paterson’s ‘Man from Snowy River’ had a ‘touch of Timor pony’. The Timor ponies formed the backbone of the transportation system on the island; as many as 100,000 were believed to be hauling goods and produce up and down the mountains. Standing at 1–1.2 metres tall, the ponies could carry as much as 60 kg. Wilby and Bere Mau garnered as many as 39 ponies, together with 59 Timorese who handled the ponies or carried goods themselves, with the aim of moving all the supplies left at Hatu-Lia to Atsabe. Each pony was capable of moving 500 rounds of ammunition, which Wilby thought was ‘a bit too much’, but they got through. The extra load meant that the pony train could move about 30,000 rounds of ammunition on each round trip. While the Timor ponies held up, an old man keeled over and died during one journey. The Timorese rushed him back to his village for burial, and then returned to the pony train. [5] To Atsabe Wilby personally took part in six return trips to Atsabe, each leg taking about a day, traversing the rugged terrain on narrow walking tracks, until they reached a hiding place just outside Bere Mau’s home village. Some of the journeys started early in the morning and took until late in the evening; others went through the night. The hiding place was located about 200 metres from the town in a cave. The cave could only be entered by going through a ravine, and then up a steep slope. Over the course of six weeks, the pony train hauled a steady stream of ammunition - over 100,000 rounds of .303 bullets for rifles and Bren guns, 45,000 .45 inch bullets for the Tommy guns, and 2,000 grenades. [6] Frank ‘Grandpa’ Browne As the ammunition was being put into safe hiding, the soldiers realised that some of it had become wet after being stored outside at Three Spurs. It had to be dried quickly before the brass casing corroded and made the bullets unserviceable. One of the older men in the unit, Frank Browne, knew of a practice of using pig fat to grease ammunition and suggested it to his senior officer. Before working in the outback mining town of Big Bell, WA, Bristol-born Browne had served with the British army in Afghanistan after the First World War, among other places, where animal fat had been used on ammunition. Browne was officially 39 when he enlisted, but he was undoubtedly much older; the men in the company called him Grandpa Browne. [7] The men asked the Timorese to find as much pig fat as they could obtain. Fortuitously, the 2/2’s hospital had been set up in Atsabe, so able-bodied patients were sent down to the cave to grease the ammunition day and night. Surats Wilby succeeded in pulling off this Herculean logistical effort without actually having any money. Callinan had told him that the Timorese should be paid to move the stores, but given that the company had no money of any value, he could only write a promissory note—known in Malay as a surat - in order to get the job done. Wilby wrote out numerous surats in the local currency; a rate of 1 pataca per day for a handler and pony, and half a pataca for porters. The pataca converted into 1 shilling and 8 pence, about a third of the daily salary for an Australian soldier. The Timorese accepted these surats even though Wilby’s company had no conceivable way of honouring them, given that it had no radio contact with Australia. Still, the Timorese accepted Wilby’s word that one day they would be repaid. The ‘Hide-Out’ Principle Put into Effect Over time, the Australians spread out their reserves of ammunition and weapons in bases held by each of the four platoons. They put into place the ‘hide-out’ principle conceived of by Callinan and Baldwin a week after the invasion - bases for operation that contained reserves of ammunition, weapons and food. But they quickly realised that they could hide nothing from the Timorese. They were entirely dependent on their ‘goodwill’ as it was impossible to conceal anything whatsoever from their ‘ever-watching eyes’. Instead of hiding their reserves, they placed them in the hut of the village chief, ‘and we lost nothing’, wrote Callinan. In mid-March, just days after Wilby had hauled the last remaining cases of ammunition from Hatu-Lia, the Japanese arrived in force. Callinan later wrote of Wilby’s incredible effort: ‘The situation is fabled to produce the man, and Sapper Wilby certainly came into prominence’. [8] The pony train demonstrated that the Australians were innovative and adaptable and had established a very good relationship with the Timorese people. NOT THE END OF THE ROAD FOR THE TIMOR PONY’S MILITARY ROLE? Taking on the point made in the last comment by Cleary, Captain James Barrett has made some interesting observations about Timor ponies in an article in the ‘Australian Army Journal’ primarily devoted to the Army’s experience with camels in recent desert environment peacekeeping operations [9]: Since then, conflicts have continued to demand resourcefulness from the Australian soldier, and there is a need for a non-motorised support platform. Despite the effects of mechanisation, the precarious early battles of the World War II in New Guinea may not have ended in our favour if we did not have the support of both local human porterage and our own pack animals along the Kokoda Track. At the same time, our commandos in Portuguese Timor had guidance from their faithful ‘criados’, food and shelter from the local population and the trusted Timor pony to do the heavy lifting in the mountains and valleys. Over 50 years later, when Australian forces returned to East Timor with INTERFET, it was again the Timor pony that offered occasional support, along the high border tracks beyond vehicle range, taking vital supplies to observation posts and re-trans sites. [10] Barrett concludes by making the following recommendation: Regional Engagement Options Animal transportation could be seen as an alternative engagement opportunity. Regionally, our important military association with Timor Leste, as documented, goes back to World War I. The Timor pony helped our commandos at a critical time in our national history. If the ADF wished to further engage with the Timor Leste Defence Force (F-FDTL), a combined animal transportation activity could provide a practical opportunity. This would allow ADF members to formally understand the use of small ponies in mountainous environments and share with the Timorese our knowledge of camels in the desert. The activity could help to maintain our valued historical links to the Timorese people and nation, allow the Timorese to display their own military heritage with the pony, and further develop our professional relationship as defence forces. Beyond our engagement, there would be opportunity for the United States, New Zealand and Timor Leste to share common learning in common terrain: joint participation at respective military exercises employing animal transportation. REFERENCES [1] Allied Geographical Section, South West Pacific Area. - Area study of Portuguese Timor [cartographic material] / Allied Geographical Section, South West Pacific Area. - [Brisbane] : The Section, 1943: 56. https://repository.monash.edu/items/show/26455#?c=0&m=0&s=0&cv=0 [2] A history of the 2nd Independent Company and 2/2 Commando Squadron / compiled by C.D. Doig. - Carlisle, W.A. : Hesperian Press, 2009: 100-101. [3] Paul Cleary. - The men who came out of the ground : a gripping account of Australia's first commando campaign : Timor 1942. - Sydney : Hachette Australia, 2010: Ch. 9 ‘People and Pony Power’, esp. pp.116-119. https://www.hachette.com.au/paul-cleary/the-men-who-came-out-of-the-ground-a-gripping-account-of-australias-first-commando-campaign-timor-1942 [4] Vincent Patrick (Paddy) Wilby, VX60836 https://doublereds.org.au/history/men-of-the-22/vx/vincent-patrick-wilby-r737/ [5] Paul Cleary interview with Vincent ‘Paddy’ Wilby. [6] Wilby interview with Paul Cleary; B. Callinan, Independent Company: 50. [7] Francis (Frank) Ernest Browne, WX8263 https://doublereds.org.au/history/men-of-the-22/wx/francis-ernest-browne-r35/ [8] Bernard Callinan. - Independent Company : the Australian Army in Portuguese Timor 1941-43. - Richmond, Vic. : Heinemann, 1984: 50. See also (a) ‘Vale - Paddy Wilby - VX60836’ Courier September 2010: 7-11 https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/2010-09%20-%20Courier%20September%202010.pdf. Paddy’s vale includes the reprint of one of his reminiscences of working with the pony train ‘Shades of Caruso’ and (b) Paddy Wilby ‘Timor Memories - Series 10 “Dutch Courage”’ Courier June 2001: 19-21. https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/2001-06%20-%20Courier%20June%202001/ [9] James Barrett ‘In their steps: the ADF and camels’ Australian Army Journal Autumn 2019, Volume XV, No 1: 117-132. https://www.army.gov.au/sites/default/files/publications/australian_army_journal_-_autumn_edition_2019_volume_xv_number_1.pdf [10] See Robert Garran ‘Timor pony patrols restock spirit of Sparrow Force’ The Australian, 1999 Dec 31, p.7. and Doug Macdonald ‘East Timor RAAF Caribou operations - Wallaby Airlines reborn’ National Emergency Response, Vol. 15, No. 1, 2000 Mar: 26-7.
  13. With Christmas rapidly approaching those of us living in WA and old enough will fondly recall the Christmas Parties the old Association held for the children of members between 1952 and 1963. Col Doig recounted the history of the Christmas Parties in Chapter 4 his book ‘A Great Fraternity: the story of the 2/2 Commando Association, 1946-1992’. Col’s account is redolent of earlier, simpler times with free kegs of ginger beer sourced from the Swan Brewery and tubs of ice cream from Peters, while the bonds of friendship that impelled the men and their wives to organise and conduct these parties shines through. Col Doig’s ‘President’s Christmas Message’ and an account of the ‘Christmas Party’ are shown in the attached images from the December 1954 ‘Courier’. BEST WISHES TO ALL MEMBERS AND SUPPORTERS FOR CHRISTMAS AND THE NEW YEAR!! CHAPTER 4 CHILDRENS PARTIES & OUTINGS When the Association was formed only a few of our Members were married so we had to wait quite a few years for the 'Stork Stakes' to provide enough offspring to indulge in children’s’ parties but, of course, the inevitable had to happen sooner or later. The huge task of collating the names, sex and ages of the children took up considerable space in many Couriers. Having decided on a Christmas Party, the matter of appropriate presents had to be looked into, as well as catering, cool drinks, ice cream etc. Also, it was necessary to have a good venue and adequate entertainment. Many were the meetings until everything fell into some sort of order. There were special working bees to packet lollies, wrap and label the parcels for the children. What order out of chaos used to occur at Col Doig's office. Sticky fingers from lollies, cut fingers from string and all the foibles that such preparations could bring. In those days it was possible to get kegs of free ginger beer from the Swan Brewery. Someone would scrounge cheap cool drinks and we would try Peters for at least one free churn of ice cream, and the hall had to be decorated. We had some sort of priority with the 16th Battalion Drill Hall through Tom Nisbet who was the then C.O. of the 16th Bn. (Cameron Highlanders). The first of these great days was held in December 1952 and what a day of bedlam! We engaged Frank Fenn to act as clown and handle, proceedings. We had Alvero the Magician pulling white rabbits, pigeons and guinea pigs out of the hat and allowing the kids to cuddle them. He also ran a good Punch & Judy show. Clem Booth, a mate of Jack Carey, showed some good cartoons. Ken (Curly) Bowden made an enormous top hat which was strategically placed over a tunnel and the presents were pulled from this by our clown. The sweat and tears of the poor buggers in the tunnel handing out the presents had to be endured to be understood. It was a marvellous day, enjoyed by everyone except a few harassed mums. There were over 100 children present and gifts were sent to the known children who did not attend, especially those in the country. The usual small raffle was conducted to defray expenses. As a result of this successful function a lot more names of children started to come forward so, by the time the second party was held in December 1953, numbers had increased quite considerably. The same panic in the purchase of presents occurred and the working bees and the hassles were probably even greater. In a moment of aberration Frank Freestone offered to make toffee apples and either Bernie Langridge or Bill Rowan-Robinson supplied the apples - that was the easy part! Nobody was game to speak to Frank, going by the look on his face. According to 'Murphy's Law' everything that could go wrong did go wrong. The toffee got all over their kitten and stuck to everything but the apples and had to be boiled again. Frank had a big laugh about it all a few days later but didn't see anything funny on that Sunday. We still had Frank Fenn and the magician to provide fun and the cartoons had the kids enthralled. The number had grown to 120 in 1953 and we forwarded heaps of presents to the country. This pattern continued until 1959. As the children grew older the purchase of appropriate gifts became more difficult and eventually it was decided that books were a better proposition. At one function a 'horse suit' was hired and George Strickland and Spriggy McDonald provided the front and rear portions of the steed. The kids had great fun - afraid the same couldn't be said for the innards of the horse. Curly Bowden manufactured a reasonable sleigh in which Father Christmas was pulled around the hall by some stalwart adults and heaps of kids. As Fred Napier or Arthur Smith donned the suit it was quite a weight to handle. A lot of people worked really hard for these functions. In 1957 Gerry & Lal Green worked like tigers to get the show going and Spriggy McDonald, Curly Bowden, Bill Epps, Mick Calcutt to name but a few, gave of their time and abilities to make these shows a success. We were lucky to have the services of Frank Fenn who was a minor genius at keeping children amused. In 1959 an innovation was a fairy floss machine which was really appreciated by the children. The blokes operating the machine didn't have it all that easy, as the sticky, sugary substance clung to their aprons. Because the children were growing up it was decided that the Zoo would be the best venue for future shows. This was commenced in 1960 and proved to be an immense success. A good roll up, plenty of fun with rides on the train, thanks to Harold Brooker who controlled this function as well as looking after the elephants. Races of all natures and the fairy floss managed to keep everyone happy and the wide open spaces of the Zoo gave plenty of scope for exuberance. Frank Fenn was still Master of Ceremonies. This venue was used until 1963, when functions ceased as the children were really growing up. In the period 1952-1963, many children, and adults, had a good day out. During this time there was no grog available as it was felt that, for one day of the year we should not indulge and get off centre with the ladies and children. [1] [1] Col Doig. - A Great Fraternity: the story of the 2/2 Commando Association, 1946-1992. – Perth: C.D. Doig, 1993: 23-26. The book is unfortunately out of print.
  14. COMMANDO CAMPAIGN SITES – EAST TIMOR DILI DILI HELIPORT – JAPANESE BUILT WWII AIRFIELD EXTENSION LOCATION Coordinates: 8°33'22"S 125°33'45"E The Dili Heliport occupies the site of an airfield built by the Japanese occupation force between March-July 1942. It lies just south of the Av. Pres. Nicolau Lobato, Dili, bounded on the eastern side by the Presidential Palace and on the western side by the Ministry of Defence. The Australian Embassy and Sparrow Force House reside on the opposite side of the Av. Pres. Nicolau Lobato to the north. Map showing the location of the Dili Heliport Though never carried forward, at various times during late 1942 and early 1943 consideration was given to re-taking Timor. Horner states that ‘In December [1942] the Advisory War Council had instructed the Chiefs of Staff to prepare to capture the island. The Chiefs had refrained, claiming that they had insufficient information’. [1] This was the context in which the 'Area Study of Portuguese Timor' [ASPT] was prepared by former No. 2 Independent Company Section Commander, Captain David Dexter. The ‘Terrain study’, as it is subtitled, was released on 27 February 1943 and provides the following detailed description of the airfield in Dili that was such a critical focus of the Commando Campaign. It will be noticed in the text that particular attention is given to landing places and how to approach it in order to mount an effective attack. [2] 3. Airdromes: This airdrome is located on a level stretch of land on the north coast of Portuguese Timor, 11/2 miles (2 km.) west of the town of Dilli, and now consists of two prepared strips, one N/S [North/South], 1,290 yards (1,180 m.) and the other E/W [East/West], 1,250 yards (1,140 m.). This latter runway and the southern portion of the former are situated on ground to the south of the main coast road which formed the south boundary of the old Portuguese airdrome area and constitute an extension by the enemy. Further extension of the N/S runway to the South appears possible. Dili ‘aerodrome’ plan (1943) from ASPT map of Dili, Portuguese Timor [3] It may also be possible to extend the E/W runway to the East by removing trees and houses. Extension to the West appears impracticable, as this would run out into the paddy fields, which are periodically flooded by the Comoro River. Coral and limestone surfacing material are available and have been used for repairing the runways. The airdrome is between one and two miles (11/2 km. and 3 km.) to the north of the foothills of a mountain range which rises to 6,000 feet (1,840 m.) approx. 5 miles (8 km.) from the site. There is open sea to the North and northeast. On all other sides the only obstructions are trees and native houses near the boundaries of the landing area. The topography of the foothills is such that a rather sharp turn is necessary in approaching from the southeast. In the wet season, December to March, clouds with a base of 1,000 feet are common on the foothills of the mountain range. Dispersal facilities are limited. The enemy appears to make use of a clump of trees along the eastern edge of the N/S runway and just south of the E/W runway and in the coconut plantations to the west of the old airdrome area. This latter area was used to disperse fighter aircraft seen on the field in March and April, 1942. The prevailing wind in the dry season (April to November) is from the northeast, and in the wet season (December to March) is from the northwest. Communication with Dilli town is by the main coast highway and by the old Dilli-Aileu road, each of which, in this area, is a good M.T. road. Beach landings can be made about 3/4 mile (1 km.) to the west of the airdrome, which is then approached through coconut and banana plantations between the coast and the main road. A.F.V.'s [Armoured Fighting Vehicles] may approach through this area with fair cover. Both Australian and Japanese troops have already landed on the beach and made the above approach to the airdrome. In view of this, there might be certain advantages in landing further to the West between the Comoro River and Tibar. The approach from here by A.F.V.'s must be made along the coast road until the Comoro River is reached or tropical undergrowth and cactus make the area most difficult for A.F.V.’s. This area is enclosed by the mountains to the South and spurs running to the coast at Tibar and to the west of the Comoro River. The Dilli coastal area from Hera to the west of the Comoro River is also enclosed by a ridge of mountains running parallel to the coast south of Dilli, with spurs running to the coast at Cape Fatu Cama and to the west of Comoro River. A good foot and pony track runs along the top of the range from Remexio to Lau-Lora and overlooks the whole of the Dilli area. Spurs of the range run as close as 1,000 yards to the airdrome, O.P.'s were established by Australian troops in these spurs. Lau-Lora is reached by a good track leading up the mountain from the Comoro Valley just south of Comoro village. [4] SIGNIFICANCE Control of the Dili airfield by the Allies and the denial of its use by the Japanese was the main justification for the landing of the No. 2 Independent Company and Dutch troops in Dili on 17-20 December 1941 without the approval of the neutral Portuguese colonial administration. The airfield was in flying range of north-western Australia and enemy aircraft based there would also threaten vital shipping routes serving that region. [5] If deterrence by the Australian-Dutch presence did not dissuade the Japanese from attacking the airfield, then it was decided to defend it for as long as was practicable against what were anticipated to be overwhelming odds and then blow up the runways with pre-laid demolition charges. This was what actually happened when the Japanese landed in Dili on 20-21 February 1942. [6] The destruction of the runways was a temporary inconvenience for the Japanese who through pre-invasion reconnaissance and intelligence reports we well aware of the airfield’s deficiencies – it was a low-lying, boggy and subject to flooding. Soon after taking control of Dili they put into effect plans to extend the airfield on dryer land further to the south on the other side of the Dili-Tibar road as described in the ASPT. [7] For the remainder of the Timor campaign Japanese activity and operations at the airfield were recorded and reported on by No. 2 and No. 4 Independent Company soldiers from observation posts located on the eastern and western outskirts of Dili. These reports often resulted in Australian or American bombing raids on the airfield. CALLINAN AND TURTON’S AIRFIELD RECONNAISSANCE – MARCH 1942 When Mr David Ross, the Australian Consul at Dili who had been held captive there by the Japanese, was sent to seek out the guerrillas with demands for their surrender, he was amazed to find them in good heart. The senior officers of the Company had gathered at Hatu-Lia to meet him on 16th March. He gave to each of them a note saying that any orders for food or other commodities signed by that officer would later be honoured by the British and Australian Governments. He also gave them detailed information regarding the defences of Dili and the near-by aerodrome to aid them in raids they were planning. He took back with him to Dili their scornful refusal to surrender. After Ross set off on his return to Dili, having given the Independent Company officers details of the Japanese defences at the aerodrome and around Dili, Captain Callinan's thoughts turned to a raid on the Japanese positions around the aerodrome. Callinan, who was a bold leader as well as an excellent tactician, decided the best way to concoct a plan was by personally going to Dili to carry out observations of the Japanese positions and movements. Accompanied by the company's engineer officer, Lieutenant D.K. Turton, Callinan set off from Hatu-Lia a few days after Ross. After stopping overnight at Railaco, where they salvaged some explosives left behind in the company withdrawal, they arrived late the next day at a small village [Beduku] on a ridge above the Comoro River, a short distance from the aerodrome. Looking towards the hill village of Beduku from the heliport – May 5 2019 Moving the following day to a nearby village Callinan and Turton were fed and assisted by friendly Timorese who were caring for a Dutch native soldier who had escaped from Dili. This soldier and a friendly Chinese trader were questioned at length by Callinan. Neither was able to speak English, but with his slight knowledge of Malay and frequent recourse to an English-Malay dictionary, Callinan was able to obtain, by painstaking questioning and use of a sketch map, detailed information of the Japanese dispositions around Dili and at the aerodrome. Callinan and Turton then moved to a carefully selected observation post from which they could watch the aerodrome. For several days they noted the Japanese defences and made plans for a raid on the airfield, awaiting the arrival of Lieutenant Dexter whose section was to carry out the attack which had been fixed for the last night of March. After Dexter's arrival Turton returned to Railaco to collect his sappers in order to rehearse the attack. However, before the arrangements could be completed orders arrived from Company Headquarters that the raid had been called off. Callinan's disappointment was intense. At first he contemplated turning a Nelsonian blind eye to the orders and carrying out a small raid at once, but then decided that it would be better to pull out as ordered and to return later to carry out a properly planned, large-scale raid. However, the opportunity was lost, and no raid on the aerodrome ever eventuated. [8] Airfield plan prepared for Callinan and Turton’s report on their reconnaissance POST WWII Post WWII the airfield continued in use by the Portuguese administration until it was replaced by the new airfield, now named after President Nicolau Lobato, a little further west and closer to the sea front at Comoro. The old airfield was not suitable to receive international flights that instead landed at the longer airfield at Baucau. Incoming passengers were then transhipped to Dili on smaller aircraft. This was the route followed by the 2/2 contingent that attended the opening of the Dare Memorial Pool and Resting Place in September 1969. [9] 1960s view of the airfield hangar and control tower Heliport - hangar and control tower – 5 May 2019 After the opening of the Nicolau Lobato airfield during the Indonesian era, the section of the old airfield closest to the terminal and control tower were utilised as a military heliport. The Australian connection with site was re-established at the beginning of the INTERFET peacekeeping operation: On 21 September [1999] HMAS Jervis Bay delivered the Third Battalion the Royal Australian Regiment (3RAR) to Dili port and HMAS Tobruk landed twenty-two ASLAV 8 x 8 armoured vehicles of C Squadron 2nd Cavalry Regiment (C Sqn 2 Cav). On the same day twelve Black Hawk helicopters self-deployed into Dili heliport to provide tactical mobility, and A Company Second Battalion, Royal Gurkha Regiment, secured the UNAMET compound. The atmosphere of that early deployment can only be described as tense. Coalition troops fanned out to secure positions in the smoky haze that covered the city and were shocked by the devastation that they encountered. [10] During this period the Response Force was established at the Dili heliport with 5th Aviation Regiment elements and primarily conducted reconnaissance missions, not in the classical long-term surveillance/reconnaissance mission sense, but more overt, vehicle-mounted operations. Once forces were lodged and established, the command element of the Response Force was co-located and established with Major General Cosgrove's headquarters in the Dili Public Library. The main tasking undertaken by the Response Force throughout the INTERFET operation was as follows. Special Forces provided the INTERFET Ready Reaction Force (RRF) with 5th Aviation Regiment helicopters and crew based at the heliport at Dili on thirty minutes notice to move. This tasking was maintained throughout the duration of the INTERFET campaign and fortunately was required to be deployed on only a handful of occasions. [11] Heliport entrance control post – 5 May 2019 REFERENCES [1] David Horner. – Blamey: The Commander in Chief. – Sydney: Allen & Unwin, 1998: 386-387. [2] Allied Forces. South West Pacific Area. Allied Geographical Section. Area study of Portuguese Timor / Allied Geographical Section, South West Pacific Area: The Section [Brisbane], 1943. https://repository.monash.edu/items/show/26455#?c=0&m=0&s=0&cv=0 [3] http://arrow.monash.edu.au/hdl/1959.1/1202293. Note, as portrayed in the previous map, the current Dili Heliport occupies the same area and has the same alignment as the Japanese built extension to the old Portuguese airfield portrayed here. [4] ASPT: 1-2. [5] ‘75 years on: The Australian and Dutch Landings at Dili 17-20 December 1941’ https://doublereds.org.au/forums/topic/89-75-years-on-the-australian-and-dutch-landings-at-dili-17-20-december-1941/ [6] ‘Enemy occupation Of Dili: report on events 20-21 Feb. by Lt. McKenzie’ 2nd Independent Company AWM52 25/3/2/5 - Reports, statements and maps - [August to November] 1942 https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/RCDIG1026118/ [7] The Australians were also aware of the airfield’s deficiencies but a different solution to them was recommended in a report by Johnston, Bradfield and Ross who stated ‘The aerodrome is quite satisfactory for use in dry weather for Lockheed 10 or D.H. 86 aircraft, though certain improvements at relatively small cost should be made. It is too small for Lockheed 14 aircraft. During the wet season, December to March, however, the ground would be soft and boggy, and to make it available for wet weather use an expenditure of £7,000 on the provision of a gravel runway would be necessary’. ‘Report on a visit to Portuguese Timor by Captain Johnston, Dr. Bradfield and Mr. Ross’ NAA: A816, 19/301/778 https://recordsearch.naa.gov.au/SearchNRetrieve/Interface/DetailsReports/ItemDetail.aspx?Barcode=170182&isAv=N [8] Christopher C.H. Wray. - Timor 1942: Australian commandos at war with the Japanese. – Hawthorn, Vic.: Hutchison Australia, 1987: 90-91. Fuller accounts of Callinan and Turton’s airfield reconnaissance can be found in: Bernard Callinan. - Independent Company: the Australian Army in Portuguese Timor 1941-43. – Melbourne: Heinemann, 1953 (repr. 1994): 74-83. Cyril Ayris. - All the Bull's men: no. 2 Australian Independent Company (2/2nd Commando Squadron). – Perth: 2/2nd Commando Association, c2006: 203-208. C.D. Doig. The history of the Second Independent Company. C. Doig [Perth, W.A.] 1986: 76-83. [9] See https://doublereds.org.au/forums/topic/114-opening-of-the-dare-memorial-pool-and-resting-place-13-april-1969/?tab=comments#comment-180. [10] Alan Ryan - ‘Primary responsibilities and primary risks’: Australian Defence Force Participation in the International Force East Timor. - Land Warfare Studies Centre - Study Paper No. 304: 84. [11] East Timor intervention: a retrospective on INTERFET / edited by John Blaxland. – Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2015: 116. PREPARED BY: Ed Willis 29 November 2019
  15. Thanks for your reply Sky and your impressive Google Earth presentation
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