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Edward Willis

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    Vice President & Courier Editor

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    Bill Willis

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  1. INTRODUCTION One of the Doublereds most notable exploits during the Timor campaign was the rescue of a downed and badly burned RAAF pilot, Flying Officer S.G. Wadey, who had parachuted from his damaged Hudson bomber near Cribas, an area between the Australians and Japanese. The Timorese had taken Wadey to Manatuto where the Portuguese chefe de postocoerced him to accept internment as a prisoner of war in his custody before allowing his burns to be treated. Wadey was then moved on further east to receive better treatment at the hospital at Calicai. Word of the crash (though not of Wadey’s survival) reached B Platoon, and Lt Nisbet and Spr ‘Tex’ Richards were ordered to check the report. They found the wrecked plane at Cribas, buried the three dead crewmen and burnt the aircraft’s papers. Their inquiries revealed that one man had parachuted from the aircraft and was now in hospital at Calicai. Realising that the Japanese would also be after the airman, Nisbet and Richards pressed on to Calicai. When they found Wadey they realised they would need a vehicle to move him. They asked the chefe de postoif they could borrow his truck but the official understandably was reluctant to be seen helping the Australians. However, he eventually agreed to hand it over – but only if the Australians took it at gunpoint, in front of the servants. The charade was duly carried out with all the actors playing their parts to perfection. The two Australians made Wadey as comfortable as possible in the back of the truck and set off for Baguia, fifty kilometres to the east, where there also was a hospital. After the airman had been given a bed Nisbet left him in Richards’ care and returned to platoon headquarters to report what had happened. Word of the crash and of Wadey’s survival meanwhile had reached the Japanese, who were extremely anxious to get hold of the airman who had been dropping bombs on them. Soon afterwards Lt Doig of ‘H’ Force heard that a party of two hundred Japanese was on its way to Baguia to seize Wadey and take him back to Dili. Doig and Pte Rowan-Robinson commandeered an ancient car with a driver and set off for Baguia, hoping to grab Wadey before the Japanese arrived. The party arrived safely and made straight for the hospital where Wadey, who was still in shock, was not overly interested in leaving his bed for another overland journey. He eventually agreed to get into the car after Doig told him he had no intentions of leaving him for the Japanese, and that he would be moved forcibly if necessary. As soon as Wadey was settled in the back seat the party headed back towards platoon headquarters, only too well aware that if the Japanese were coming, they would more than likely meet them head-on along the mountain road. They did not meet them but were dismayed to find that the Dutch, who had also heard the Japanese were coming, had blown a bridge across a river near Ossu. Wadey was placed on a stretcher, carried across the river, and transferred to an even older car which was whistled up by the local Porto. It was now decided to take Wadey to a medical post in Ossu where he rested a few days before being carried to a smaller village where a crude hut was hastily constructed to accommodate him. He was later carried by armchair across Timor to Alas and then Betano under the care and supervision of Tex Richards and evacuated to Australia. Map showing Sid Wadey’s journey to safety, August-September 1942 RAAF OPERATIONS OVER TIMOR, AUGUST 1942 “In North-Western Area during August the two hard-worked Hudson squadrons - Nos. 2 and 13 - had continued their task of harassing the enemy's bases in the islands north of the Arafura and Timor Seas, and supporting the guerilla force on Timor. The need for support for Sparrow Force was now more urgent than ever because in August the Japanese opened a determined offensive aimed at enveloping and destroying the Australian-Dutch force. … During the remainder of August Hudsons were over Timor almost every day dropping supplies and attacking Japanese positions. Thus on 21st August five Hudsons of No. 2 set out to support the hard-pressed troops on Timor by attacking Maubisse. Bombs were dropped on the town and the Hudsons then reconnoitred the roads in the area. Two Zeros attacked and set on fire a Hudson captained by Flying Officer Wadey, [2] who was able to bail out before the machine crashed into the side of a hill. This Zero then made seven unsuccessful attacks on the Hudsons which all remained in close formation except for one captained by Flying Officer Badger, who flew towards thin cloud, pursued by the second Zero. Badger evaded the Zero by flying low along the valleys until he reached the sea. There the Zero attacked again but was shot down into the sea at 50-yards range. Wadey, badly burnt, was found by natives who carried him in a chair to men of Sparrow Force; later he was returned safely to Darwin”. [3] Timor Sea. c. 1943. Interior of a No. 2 Squadron RAAF Hudson light bomber flying on a sortie over the Timor Sea. SID WADEY’S ACCOUNT - SHOT DOWN OVER TIMOR “On 21 August [1942], Flight Lieutenant Simon Fraser (A16-178) led five Hudsons out again to support Sparrow Force by attacking Maubisse, near Dili, for the second successive day. Bombs were dropped on the town and the Hudsons reconnoitred the area for enemy activity. Two Zeros attacked, and the Hudson crews soon became aware of ‘the ability of the enemy pilots and their obvious knowledge of the Hudson defences’. [4] The Zeros set on fire the aircraft flown by Flying Officer Sid Wadey (A16-209). He was able to evacuate the aircraft, but his crew were unable to escape. [5] He described the engagement and his escape from his stricken Hudson: ‘When the Zero attacked from ahead, several bursts went through the instrument panel. These I observed, as in slow motion; individual holes appearing, and the panel disintegrating, with a splintered (star effect) look around the holes pointing towards me. Simultaneously, I was aware of my navigator passing me, and heading towards the body of the aircraft, when ‘whoosh’ - flames surrounded me as the incendiaries and cannon hit the inside fuel tank. Behind the pilot's seat there is armour plating, but the tank extended a couple of inches past the vertical side of the plating, and that was where some of the projectiles went. I saw some of the bullets hit Stan Faull, the navigator, in his back as he was passing through the entrance from the cockpit into the body of the aircraft, also he would have been directly alongside the exploding tank. The other members of the crew were similarly in impossible predicaments. In order to escape from the plane it was necessary for the crew to move forward in the body of the plane to one side or the other, grab the parachute, and clip it on the harness. For the crew it was literally impossible in the intense heat and flames to find their respective (or any) parachute pack, grab it, clip it on, dash to the exit door in the back of the cabin and jettison the door, before they could jump out. For the tail gunner, his position was even more desperate. He had to swivel the turret, align it with an opening into the body of the aircraft, his only means of escape, then leap into what was a fiery furnace in order to obtain his pack. I had been protected from the direct blast of the explosion of the petrol tank by the armour plating. The sound was (Whoosh) muffled, and not at all similar to the sound of a bomb; and the actual pressure wave did not subsequently affect my hearing abilities, so the body impact was not great. As we were flying in formation, my right hand was on the throttles, and I instinctively reacted very quickly, flicked the seat belt undone, and jumped at the correct angle, toward the escape hatch in the top of the aircraft. In the process, I knocked back the throttles, and as I jumped vertically head first through the escape hatch, I was aware of being hit in the lower back by the top of the fuselage, as the slipstream forced me backward. I fell clear of the aircraft on the right side, facing forward and could see A16-209 dropping back out of the formation with flames streaming back behind like a comet tail. I looked around hoping to see other parachutes but realised that there would not be any. Pre-enlistment studio portrait of 406716 Sergeant (Sgt) William Ross Edeson, 2 Squadron, RAAF, of West Leederville, WA. He was a salesman prior to enlistment from Perth, WA on 31 March 1941. Sgt Edeson died on operations over Timor in aircraft Hudson A16-209 on 21 August 1942; he was 27 years of age. Sgt Edeson is buried at the Ambon War Cemetery, Indonesia. The formation continued along a straight flight path away from me, and they were still in perfect formation. All the other aircraft were OK. I scanned the sky for Zeros - none in sight. Decided I was now at about 1000 feet above the mountain - so pulled the ripcord - felt a jerk—looked up and saw the parachute open fully. I watched A16-209 continue its rate one turn and disappear into the valley between the mountain for which I was aiming and the adjoining mountain. The aircraft still had its comet tail of flames streaming behind it. As I saw the plane disappear, simultaneously I observed a flight of 3 Zeros, in formation in the valley below, flying low above the trees, as they emerged from behind the opposite side of the mountain below. To my surprise I landed legs together in the middle of the clearing at which I had aimed, slipped, then slid on to my behind a few yards. Looking around I found myself in the clearing, which was a very small and a fairly steep rocky slope, the open space roughly circular and about fifteen yards in diameter, and to my amazement the trees surrounding me were, of all things, Gum Trees, growing densely amid dry grass which was 75 about three to five feet tall. I had expected jungle, not eucalypti’. [6] COL DOIG’S ACCOUNT - THE AIRMAN INCIDENT Flying Officer Wadey – Sole Survivor “About this time [21 August 1942] there happened an incident in which ‘H’ Force played a significant part. A Hudson (or it might have been a Beaufort) bomber was shot down in flames near Laclubar [actually Cribas]. [7] Apparently in this type of plane when it caught fire the only crew member with any chance of survival was the pilot who could eject himself from his seat. The Bomber and Tail Gunner had no chance whatever of ‘bailing out’. Sparrow Force war diary record of the Hudson crash In this instance the pilot was Flying Officer Wadey of Adelaide, and he successfully bailed out but not before he was badly burned. He was dressed in tropical shorts and shirt and flying boots and the exposed portions of the body, notably the legs and arms, were frightfully scorched. He had presence of mind enough to put his right arm over his eyes and this saved his eyes but this arm was very badly burned. Wadey Taken to Manatuto He was picked up by some natives and because of his dreadful condition, was taken to the Porto capital of the province Manatuto. The Administrator was one of the few Portos on the island who had not espoused our cause by active assistance and although not pro-Jap he was most definitely anti-us. He refused any form of assistance to Wadey until he signed a paper that he would take no further part in the war and would be treated as a prisoner of war or suchlike, similar to the treatment offered by Switzerland to escaping P.O.W.'s. Wadey in his weakened condition had no option but sign but as it was signed under duress he knew it had no standing under international law. He was made to hand over his pistol, the only armament he carried, and only then was he given medical attention by the infermicera, a sort of R.A.P. type common on Timor. Wadey Treated By the Portuguese Infermicera To digress a moment to account for these infermicera. Because of its remoteness from the homeland, Timor had difficulty attracting sufficient doctors to staff the island and to offset this weakness the resident doctor in Dili used to train the more intelligent type of Islanders, both Timorese and half caste, in some of the medical practices, such as giving injections, and some nursing practices. Their training appeared to be about on a par with a well-trained St. John Ambulance Brigade member and because of constant practice at the various Postos they were quite adept up to this standard and would be considered quite good at giving all types of injections, including the ‘boo gee’ which they would give at the drop of a hat. Back to Flying Officer Wadey. He had his burns dressed quite capably with the medicines available to the infermicerabut unfortunately these did not contain the newer type of Tannic Acid Jelly substances which were at that time the most modern thing for treatment of burns. His morale was not good as he was on tenterhooks all the time because of the attitude of the Administrator and he felt that it was only a matter of time before the Japs discovered his presence (remember he was shot down by a Zero who would have to some extent pinpointed his position) and he would be handed over to the tender mercies of the Sons of Heaven. Tom Nisbet and Tex Richards Investigate Word of the airman's presence at Manatuto had filtered through to ‘B’ Platoon and Lt. Tom Nisbet of 4 Section, and Spr. ‘Tex’ Richards who was attached to ‘B’ Platoon for demolition and other duties, set off to try to find him. Sparrow Force war diary entry reporting Wadey believed to be at Baucau They found the wrecked plane, buried the two dead crewmen and burnt the aircraft’s papers. Their inquiries revealed that one man had parachuted from the aircraft and was now in hospital at Calicai. Realising that the Japanese would also be after the airman, Nisbet and Richards pressed on to Calicai. The journey took two days and left them exhausted. Sparrow Force war diary entry reporting Wadey now in hospital at Calicai Lt. Pires, the District Administrator at Bacau, while not actively espousing our cause, was to all intents and purposes in our bag, considered it would be safer if he were taken further afield to Baguia where there was quite a good hospital and an excellent infermicera. The move to Baguia was affected without incident and Nisbet left the aviator in ‘Tex’ Richard's care and headed back to his platoon, contacting Doig at Viqueque on his way back and putting him in the picture. [8] Doig and the Old Chev 6 Things were O.K. for a while at Baguia but word got through to Doig by Porto ‘Mulga Wire’ that it was the Jap's intention to go to Baguia in force and grab the airman. There was no time for elaborate plans so Doig and Rowan-Robinson set off for Ossu to discover the most rapid method of getting to Baguia and rescuing Wadey before the Nip moved in. At Ossu they were able to get an old Chev 6 (remember the first model brought out by Chev with a six cylinder engine about 1930) with a pretty good motor but the tyres were in crook condition. This car was run on a wood alcohol distillate and got in about one backfire for every firing motion and it sounded as if it were jet propelled. The driver was the usual Porto type (probably a desperado with a reckless disregard for his own or anybody else's life) as he hooted and back-fired his way to contact Pires who was to tell them where they could obtain some petrol. It was decided that the tyres on the car wouldn't be much good for the trip from Bacau to Bagia and another Chev 6 was found with good tyres but the engine of doubtful quality. The Journey to Baguia There was no time to make a change of wheels so it was the second car or nothing. Pires surreptitiously sneaked the party out of Baucau at nightfall to, of all places, the local cemetery. They ‘dug up’ two five gallon cans of petrol which had been ‘planted’ there. A most appropriate place to plant things if it can be so recorded. Doig and Rowan-Robinson, with the driver and a friend, then set off on the tortuous trip to Baguia. Robbie was in the front with the driver as he had a Tommy gun and Doig was in the rear seat with the other Porto. The road to Baguia had to be seen to be believed. It was more like a switch-back or a funicular railway than anything else as it wound its way up, down and around mountains. At times it appeared we would disappear up our own grummits on some of the hairpin bends. All the while the driver kept up a running conversation with his mate in the back seat, turning around every second or so to punctuate his remarks with appropriate hand actions. This soon proved to be too much for Doig, who could see that R.S.L. badge receding into the dim distance, and with a splurge of the best bullock driver Australian told the driver to keep his eyes, thoughts, mind and everything else on the unmentionable road. The idea apparently penetrated through the Porto's mind as from then on he did pay a bit more attention to the driving. In Baguia Baguia is situated in a fabulous rice growing area and whole mountain sides are terraced to provide paddies for the growing of rice and it was through this that the road wound - a truly magnificent sight with the water spilling from paddy to paddy as it came down the mountain side. Eventually we reached Baguia and had the first sight of our quarry. He looked frightful. Never a robust type, he looked absolutely bloodless and his burns were terrific. ‘Tex’ Richards and the Porto infermicerahad done an outstanding job of dressing his wounds and caring for him. Wadey, not unnaturally, was in a panic at being moved as he was in a highly shocked condition and his previous journeys had not inspired him with confidence. Doig bluntly gave him the alternative of coming with the party of his own free will or being brought out forcibly as it was not the party's intention of leaving him there to be an easy capture for the Japs. Back To Baucau The move next day was not all that difficult. The spare Porto was left behind and Wadey and ‘Tex’ given the back seat while Doig and ‘Robbie’ were with the driver in the front seat. Luckily the Chef de Postat Baguia spoke some English and Doig was able to get him to impress on the driver the necessity for care and haste in the task ahead. Remember this time the party was returning towards the direction from which the Jap was expected and no news had been heard of possible Jap moves since the party left Ossu. The telephone from Baucau to Baguia was still in operation and we knew that at least the Jap was not yet at Baucau. Robbie and Doig were on a constant alert for any signs along the road but the trip to Baucau was uneventful - if such a trip could ever be called uneventful. Wadey was in a daze as he peered over the side of the track and it could be seen that in his dazed condition the trip was doing him the power of ‘no good’. The Wonderful Pires Time off to dress the patient's seeping wounds at Bagia and to give him some nourishment in the way of chicken broth thoughtfully arranged by the wonderful Pires. Pires was a wonderful man, the very best type of Porto who had been on the island some 20 odd years and had married a Timorese woman and had a tribe of children. He was wise and understanding and had a gentle nature and was beloved by all the Timorese in his area. He was said to be the least strict of his contemporaries as a disciplinarian but achieved outstanding results without the use of excess ‘palmatory’, the Porto method of corporal punishment. Baucau to Ossu The trip from Baucau to Ossu should have been fairly easy. The road was more or less easy going after the Bagia-Baucau section, but the car was starting to show signs of wear and tear and was only running on about four cylinders as we left Baucau. None of this was assisting the patient who began to look like a frightened child and was complaining bitterly. As the party neared Ossu they were heaving sighs of relief that the job had been accomplished without undue incident when it was discovered that the ‘bloody Dutch’ had blown the bridge over the river just north of Ossu and therefore the car would not be able to ford the river. Apparently when the Porto rumour that the Japs were on the move got to the Dutch they panicked and blew up the bridge and set up a defensive position. VENILALE, PORTUGUESE TIMOR. 1946-01-08. MEMBERS OF THE MILITARY HISTORY FIELD TEAM STANDING ON A BRIDGE ON THE VENILALE TO OSSU ROAD. (PHOTOGRAPHER SGT K. B. DAVIS) The Blown Bridge North of Ossu Thank God Zylstra was in charge In no time flat he saw the predicament his O.C.’s precipitate action had placed the rescuing party in and he set about to rectify it. He got onto Olivera, the Chef de Postofor both Ossu and Viqueque and between them they got a car of type to go to the river on the Ossu side. As far as the writer remembers this was a big sedan, possibly a late model Chev, but the engine was hors de combat and it had to be pushed or pulled. Zylstra arranged for his men to act as stretcher bearers to carry Wadey over the fordable portion of the river and he was placed in the car, then all and sundry pushed and pulled it into Ossu. In Ossu By now it was dark and the patient required dressing and food. The infermiceraat Ossu although competent, was not the same gentle type as his counterpart at Bagia and this was not at all to the patient's liking and once again Doig had to take a firm stand for the patient’s own good. OSSU, PORTUGUESE TIMOR. 1946-01-07. THE DUTCH FORCES USED THIS HOUSE AS A HEADQUARTERS WHEN THE TOWN WAS OCCUPIED BY SPARROW FORCE IN 1942. AN INJURED AUSTRALIAN PILOT, PROBABLY 407068 FLIGHT LIEUTENANT S. G. WADEY OF 2 SQUADRON, WAS BROUGHT TO THIS HOUSE FOR TREATMENT AFTER EVADING THE JAPANESE. MOUNT LAURITAME IS IN THE BACKGROUND. (PHOTOGRAPHER SGT K. B. DAVIS) After a few days at Ossu it was decided that it was too prominent a position to have a stretcher case, as a quick swoop would have the Japs right on us before the patient could be moved, also our wireless contact might have been compromised. A move was made into the bush to a native village called Ossu Rua (Ossu Two) and huts were quickly erected by the natives so that the patient would not lack comfort. Tex Richards Cares For Wadey All this time patrols and recce groups were going on and the work of "H" Force was not sublimated to the necessity to look after the badly shocked and burnt airman. He was not the best patient in the world and poor old ‘Tex’ Richards had a hell of a time as his personal attendant. It was eventually necessary to tell him to act up mansize and point out to him that the Company had had some pretty bad casualties in the way of Allan Hollow, Keith Hayes, Eddie Craghill, Jerry Maley and others who had had tougher times than Wadey without requiring the full time assistance of a nursemaid. This proved to be the start of the road back for Wadey as his morale rose from that day and although his burns were still terrific he threw off his shocked condition and started to help himself. ….. Olivera got together quite a big line of stretcher bearers and ‘Tex’ Richards and (I think) Geo. Timms set off for Beco with the patient. Wadey was in good spirits at this time and thanked all in ‘H’ Force for what had been done for him. The carry to Beco was arduous but largely uneventful”. [9] …. SID WADEY’S EVACUATION FROM TIMOR Sparrow Force war diary entry showing ‘Airman Wadey being moved to Force HQ now at Barique’ It is certain that Wadey was not transported all the way to Beco because the Sparrow Force war diary entry for 22 September 1942 records that ‘Airman Wadey arrived Force HQ’ which at that time was in Alas. [10] Sparrow Force war diary entry showing Wadey’s arrival at Force HQ (Alas) The date of his arrival at Alas coincided with preparations to receive the destroyer ‘Voyager’ that was carrying the 2/4 Independent Company as reinforcements for Sparrow Force. The ‘Voyager’ unfortunately ran aground at Betano and had to be scuttled to prevent it falling into Japanese hands. “When news of the ‘Voyager’ disaster reached Darwin two corvettes, HMAS ‘Warrnambool’ and ‘Kalgoorlie’, were ordered to Betano to take off the officers and crew of ‘Voyager’ and the 2/2nd sick and wounded, including Wadey, the airman who had been rescued earlier. The two ships arrived about midnight on 25 September 1942, anchoring well out in the bay in seventeen fathoms of water. Their motorboats slipped ashore to meet the Voyager’s barges filled with seamen and soldiers and towed them back to the ships. In little more than an hour the transfers were complete and the two corvettes were heading back to Darwin”. [11] Sparrow Force war diary entry recording Wadey’s evacuation HMAS ‘Kalgoorlie’ Report of Proceedings recording the embarkation of ‘1 Air Force personnel’ (Wadey) SID WADEY’S JOURNEY TO SAFETY After Sid Wadey was back in Australia he told the story of his rescue to the press: Timor Jungle Journey “How an R.A.A.F. Pilot Escaped Flying-Officer Sid . Wadey, R.A.A.F., who recently returned to Australia, owes his life to the commandos in Timor, who made his escape possible after he had spent 35 days on the island. Corporal R.C. (‘Tex’) Richards, of South Hobart, organised the party of natives which carried the South Australian pilot in an armchair for the greater part of the 35 days' journey over mountains 2,000 feet high and through dense buffalo grass and bamboo jungle. The grass was so thick that it was impossible for the untrained eye to see the track followed by the natives. Flying-Officer Wadey was shot down by Zeros and bailed out. He landed on a mountain side in buffalo grass 12 feet high and was suffering so badly from burns that he had to tear his parachute with his teeth to bandage his arms and legs. He had visions of hiding by day and travelling by night till he could reach the coast, but the arrival of a native who gave him three cups of native ‘bomber’ - which looked like coconut milk - had disastrous results on Pilot-Officer Wadey's strained nerves. At the point of a knife the pilot was forced to stumble two miles to a native village, where he was well received and hidden. Natives Friendly Four days later, when his endurance was low and his temperature high, the commandos turned up to take charge of Wadey ‘And was I pleased to see these heavily-bearded sons of Australia’ he said yesterday. During the time he was hiding in the native village a male hospital attendant wearing the Red Cross had made an excellent lob of Wadey’s burns and he was in better condition to face the 31 day journey during which he was carried across the island always a lap or two ahead of the Japanese. As he was unable to move his arm to signal for anything he wanted during the first few days he was on the island Wadey had to learn the native language as best he could in order to obtain food. The natives were always friendly but afraid of being discovered by the Japanese. While learning native words to enable him to live, Wadey reciprocated by trying to teach the natives the words of Army songs - not all of them censored. In his journey across the Island, Flying-Officer Wadey travelled first by ambulance car next by arm chair carried by natives and then by motor car, with no headlights progress was difficult at night in the mist and once when petrol gave out in the middle of a bridge on either side of which was a drop of 1,000 feet, 60 natives pushed the car uphill for the next few miles. For 11 days Wadey was carried shoulder high by natives through the buffalo grass, following Corporal Richards whose head and shoulders only could be seen although he was riding a horse. Married On Return Mountains 2,000 feet high had to be traversed before Wadey reached the place where arrangements were made to enable him to return to Australia. He enlisted in May 1940 and Is now awaiting the doctor's permission to meet the Japanese in the air again. During his leave, Flying-Officer Wadey married a South Australian girl, and he said yesterday that he had heard that Corporal Richards was also on his way home to be married. Flying-Officer Wadey paid a tribute to the work of the commandos in Timor. ‘The first one I saw was Tom Nisbet, who weighed 17 stone, and never looked fitter’ he said 'I had expected some half-emaciated creatures to crawl in from the jungle. The natives are giving magnificent assistance to the commandos, and they seek out an A.I.F. man asking him to be 'tuan'. The natives who carried me across the island couldn't have been more gentle, and they didn't drop me once”. [12] POSTCRIPT Doig concluded his account of Sid Wadey’s story as follows: “He did regain his health and his strength and it is understood that he returned to flying duties and thanks to the wonderful nursing attention by ‘Tex’ Richards and two or three excellent Porto infermiceras, he has little bodily to show for his terrific ordeal. He featured in a movie made during the war to publicise a Loan Campaign and for this he looked extra well and gave our show quite a rap up with an extra special mention for ‘Tex’ Richards. Which is how it should be”. [13] Many years later, Keith Dignum of Seaton, South Australia, contributed this interesting and perceptive story about Sid Wadey to the ‘Courier’ in 1995: “Sid Wadey: On the 7th November the widow of Sid passed away and that caused me to think of Sid. He used to come here to meet the boys and relive his experiences of Timor and talk. He was good at that. He always appeared to have an unlit cigarette in his fingers and that gave him the opportunity to approach someone for a light and start up a conversation. The cigarette would smoulder away until the ash was about 1 1/2" long. Gravity would take over and it would finish up on the floor. Sid was the bane of Betty's life, sweeping up the ashes. Sid was forever quizzing the chaps on Timor. Bob Williamson was the only one who could help him. Unbeknown to us Sid had dementia. He wanted all the information for a book he was going to write. In due course he gave me a draft to read. I read a couple of pages, that was all, later he rang me up and asked me what I thought of it. I said it was B.S. which didn't make him very happy. After that 'Big Charlie' smote me with his dirty left. About 4 years later I was cleaning up and lo and behold, I had Sid's story in diary form. I read it and it is one of the best accounts I have read. At no time did he big time himself. He thought Tex Richards was wonderful, a veritable 'oracle,' a mister fix it and thought the 2/2 were great. He got down to the beach, the ‘Voyager’ was aground and had to come off on the ‘Kalgoorlie’ on 27 [25]/9/47 [42]. …. I have more respect for Sid after reading his story. He had three psychological barriers to cross. 1. Pain - he was badly burnt. 2. Remorse - his crew were all incinerated. 3. He was completely out of his element. He probably had never been camping with half a dozen rabbit traps and a .22 rifle and then to meet up with the 2/2nd in Timor would probably throw him for a loop”. [14] REFERENCES [1] ‘Private advices’ Advertiser(Adelaide, SA : 1931 - 1954), Friday 28 August 1942, page 8. [2] F-Lt S. G. Wadey, 407068. 6, 14 and 2 Sqns. Accountant; of Adelaide; b. Adelaide, 2 Apr 1918. [3] Douglas Gillison. - Royal Australian Air Force 1939-42(Australia in the War of 1939-1945, series 3 Air, v.1): 643-644. https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C1417627 [4] Air Reconnaissance Report No 83, of 22 Aug 1942. [5] Crew: Plt Off S.W. Faull (401779), Sgts W.R. Edeson (406716), F.M. O'Reilly (406730), W.H. Gould (414224). [6] Extract from Sid Wadey, The Operation Order for the Day Read, unpublished manuscript, courtesy of his widow Mrs M. Wadey, RAAF Hudson Squadrons Association, Adelaide reprinted in John Bennett. -Highest traditions: the history of No 2 Squadron, RAAF. – Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service, 1995: 195, 204. [7] Doig’s recollection of events is slightly awry here. The Hudson bomber actually crashed north east of Laclubar at Cribas. Ron Birch visited the site in September-October 2015 and provided the following description: “South of Manatuto is the village of Cribas where I asked, always my questions were via an interpreter, if anyone had any knowledge of a plane crash in the area. I was directed to an elderly local who remembered the crash. The local agreed to accompany me to the site where, without prompting, he said that he remembers the big aircraft being shot down by another plane. He pointed out where some of the wreckage landed on two sides of a narrow ravine and other wreckage on an easterly ravine side. He remembers the parachute, he indicated what it was but did not know what to call it, landing slightly to the north of where we were. The three bodies were near the wreckage on the easterly slope. The badly burnt Wadey he remembers well and asked after him. The three dead crewmen he helped bury and pointed out the site. I asked if any Australians had visited the site and he could not remember if any had. The three dead crewmen have in fact been re buried in Ambon. Three is no visible wreckage now after 73 years of monsoonal rains washing down the ravines and yearly flooding. This local, Manuel Luis age unknown, is the last one alive who witnessed the shooting down and loss of this aircraft. GPS location of crash site 8°41.587'S125°58.899'E”. [8] Callinan notes that ‘To obtain close control of the whole operation I moved Force Headquarters over to Company Headquarters at Ailalec the day before the major moves were commenced. When I entered Ailalec there awaited me two priests whom I had not met previously. One of them introduced himself as Father Goulart, the Administrator of the Diocese of Dili. It was in his car that Wadey had been taken by Nisbet from the hospital at Calicai [and transported to Baguia] to avoid capture by the Japanese. He [Goulart] had been threatened and beaten by the Japanese for this assistance he had given on this and other occasions; this did not deter him, but now he had been warned by loyal chiefs that arms and bribes were being offered to natives to kill all the whites. The visit to me was to seek evacuation to Australia for eleven nuns, one of whom was over eighty years of age, and for ten priests’. See Callinan Independent Company: 197. [9] Doig History of the 2/2 Independent Company …: 144-146; see also Doig Ramblings of a Ratbag: 96-98. [10] See also Sid Wadey’s recollection that ‘I was told when leaving Cailicai, plans had changed and I was on my way to Alas’; ‘A Hudson pilot over Timor - Sid Wadey's Remarkable Experience’ 2/2 Commando Courier, February 1985, pp. 6–7. [11] Ayris All the Bull’s men: 334-335. [12] ‘Timor Jungle Journey’ Sydney Morning Herald(NSW : 1842 – 1954), Thursday 14 January 1943, page 6; see also ‘By Armchair Over Timor's Mountains’ Courier-Mail(Brisbane, Qld. : 1933 - 1954), Thursday 14 January 1943, page 1. [13] Doig History of the 2/2 Independent Company …: 146. [14] O.K. (Keith) Dignum, [Letter] 2/2 Commando CourierDecember 1995: 6-7. ADDITIONAL READING Callinan Independent Company: 160-161, 167. Cleary The men who came out of the ground : 202. Wray Timor 1942: 128-131.
  2. Members of the Doublereds fraternity will be saddened to learn of the passing of Alexander ‘Ian’ Hampel of the 2/4 Commando Squadron. The following profile of Ian was prepared for the 2012 Mission to Timor-Leste to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the Timor campaign: “Ian Hampel enlisted for service at the Melbourne Town Hall in July 1941. In September 1942, he embarked for service in Timor with the 2/4th Commando Squadron as a Private on the ‘HMAS Voyager’ and served in Timor as a Bren gunner until the Squadron withdrew in January 1943. During his time in Tim or he was struck most by the loyalty of his fellow servicemen. Ian believes that it was the sense of deep cooperation and spirit of sharing that made the squadron such an effective guerilla group. It was this closeness that made losing a friend in action all the more difficult. Ian found it particularly hard to bury his friend Snowy Hourigan, who was killed during an aborted ambush. Snowy, who had recently lost his mother and brother, died in what appeared to Ian to be a suicidal last attempt to kill as many of the approaching enemy as he could. Ian and a few others created a makeshift grave for Snowy with the dirt on the track where he died. Ian also saw overseas service in Milne Bay between August 1943 and March 1944. Discharged from the Army in June 1944, he joined the Royal Australian Air Force the next day as an aircrew trainee and spent the remainder of the war with the RAAF. Following discharge in October 1945, Ian trained as an Aeronautical Engineer through the Commonwealth Reconstruction Scheme. It was while working on a shipyard in Sweden in 1951 that he met his wife, and they had three children together. In his recreation time, Ian enjoys cross-country skiing, and still skis up to 10 kilometres at a time. As with many who served in Timor, Ian developed close relationships not only with the men of his squadron, but also with the local people. His greatest hope in returning to Timor is that he may meet up with some of the Timorese people who ensured the survival of the Australians who fought there”. A fuller eulogy for Ian was delivered by Mick Stone of Timor Awakening on the occasion of his funeral at Wahroonga, Sydney on May 20 and can be found at https://www.facebook.com/mickjstone/posts/10161718841855564
  3. Association President John Denman and Vice-President Ed Willis were interviewed for an ABC Radio presentation about their fathers’ wartime experiences on Timor on the afternoon of 17 April by Producer Amber Cunningham. The presentation was aired on Jessica Strutt’s Afternoon Focus program on 24 April, the day before Anzac Day. A recording of the 45 minute interview can be listened to and downloaded by following this link: ABC Afternoon Focus Program on Timor during WWII
  4. The funeral of former WA Senator Gordon McIntosh was held at Karrakatta Cemetery at 2:30pm on Friday 23 March 2019. Gordon McIntosh was a Labor Party Senator in the Australian Parliament from 1974-1987. During those years he played a major role in keeping the Timor issue alive in the Parliament, despite the actions and policies of successive Australian Governments (Labor and Liberal) to oppose East Timorese self-determination and independence. In addition to the many parliamentary questions asked by Senator McIntosh, he is best known as Chair of the 1982-83 Senate Inquiry about East Timor and his membership of the Australian parliamentary delegation to Indonesia and East Timor in 1983. His dissent from the formal report of the delegation was widely reported in Australia and welcomed by the Resistance in Timor. Outside the parliament he addressed public meetings in Australia, New Zealand and New York. He petitioned the United Nations Decolonisation Committee in 1982 and joined others on the ‘Lusitania Express’ peace ship mission to Timor in 1992. In 2014, Gordon McIntosh was awarded the Order of Timor-Leste for his contribution to the East Timorese struggle for independence. In 2016 he visited Timor-Leste as a guest of the State. During this visit he met for the first time the resistance veterans who had applauded his support in the 1980s. His actions and activities in support of the people of East Timor were very much aligned with the members of the old 2/2 Commando Association of Australia. The December 1983 ‘Courier’ recorded that: ‘Senator Gordon D. Mcintosh of WA went with the last fact finding mission to Timor and undertook the task of taking a wreath, in the form of a floral cross, to lay on our memorial. Here is a letter from the Senator, followed by two photographs showing "Mission Accomplished"’. Eulogies were delivered at the funeral service by John Waddingham, former senior staff member of Gordon’s when he was a Senator and HE Abel Guterres, Ambassador for Timor-Leste who delivered personal messages of condolence from HE Francisco Guterres, President of Timor-Leste and HE Xanana Gusmão, former President of Timor-Leste. Almost 30 years after it was written, a letter from then resistance leader Xanana Gusmão to Senator Gordon McIntosh has come to light. The correspondence provides a detailed insight into 1980s resistance thinking. It also indicates the particularly high regard in which McIntosh was held for his support for East Timorese self-determination. The final speaker was HE Kim Beazley, Governor of WA, a former colleague of Gordon’s in government and opposition, who opened his remarks by saying that the personal messages from the two Timorese were the ‘finest tributes’ he had ever heard made by foreign leaders about an Australian politician. Ed Willis, Vice-President, represented the 2/2 Commando Association of Australia at the funeral.
  5. Title: TIMOR REVISITED Production Date: c. 1973 Produced as: Documentary Media: Film Summary: Narrative featuring an ex-Australian soldier revisiting 'Portuguese Timor', reflecting on surviving 13 months of guerilla warfare thanks to the assistance of the local inhabitants. Places and locations filmed include Dili, street markets, Hotel Turismo, Fatu-Bessi, Maubisse, cock fighting, WW2 relics, yarn spinning, art and craft making, palm tree climbing, Baucau and a military parade. Country of Origin: Australia Language: English Credits Camera Operator: Peter Goodall Director: Charles Eadon-Clarke Editor (Film): Alan Cox Producer: Charles Eadon-Clarke Production company: Brian Williams Productions Scriptwriter: Charles Eadon-Clarke Sponsor: MacRobertson Miller Airlines
  6. Hi John, I am preparing at least one other post on the 2/2's NG campaign about their base at Faita and I'll use this photo in that story. Regards Ed
  7. An earlier post provided an overview of the 2/2’s involvement in the Australian campaign against the Japanese in the Ramu Valley during 1943 as a member of Bena Force. In Portuguese Timor the 2/2 had been the aggressors, using cover and deception to ambush the enemy and disappear. The war in New Guinea was different in that the Australians were just as vulnerable to ambush as were the Japanese. This was largely because of the density of the jungle which provided perfect cover, deadening sound and limiting visibility often to a few metres. [1] Aggressive patrolling was a core part of the 2/2’s role in the campaign and this post is centred on a report written by Lt. Col Doig (CO no. 5 Section, B Troop) on a patrol he led from Bundi-Kri across the Ramu River into the Finisterre Ranges towards the village of Orguruna ‘to have a crack’ at Japanese troops who had been observed in the area. Doig’s patrol approached a well defended Japanese defensive position, were fired upon with heavy and light machine guns, and in the subsequent fire fight two 2/2 men killed in action. The Australian’s fought back well after the initial surprise and inflicted several casualties on the Japanese before withdrawing. This action provides an illustrative example of the 2/2’s different war in New Guinea. BACKGROUND TO THE PATROL Doig recalled: To carry out our role of denying the Bismarcks to the Japs it was essential to carry out constant patrols in depth to know just what the Jap was doing and where they were going to do it from; the answer was patrol, patrol and patrol. Now patrolling in New Guinea is a difficult business. The war we were having there was very different to that of Timor. The terrain was even more frightful; we had the Finisterres which were jungle clad and the nearly impassable Ramu River and its tributaries. In the early stages the Japs had lined the far side of this river with small patrols which made it most difficult to get over and do anything effective. Initially the lads had to swim to get to the other side and then scout round the enemy - not a nice way to do business. It was different to Timor in that we were walking into their ambushes and not the other way around. Furthermore, the natives on the other side of the river were on the Jap's corner and very much against us. The only intelligence we could rely on was what we gleaned ourselves from patrols. A lot of these patrols proved to be negative in that no Japs would be encountered; this was also important as it showed where the Jap was not. When we ran in with a Jap position the only way we could decide the strength of it was to draw fire and estimate the strength from the response. This was a hazardous way of gaining information as we did not want to lose men and our main role was the gathering of information and intelligence. .... Eventually 6 Section did a patrol, having come forward and took up a position on the edge of the Ramu. This patrol went to a place called Usini where Capt. Nisbet had taken a patrol of 4 Section much earlier when it was found deserted. But 6 Section patrol discovered that Usini was most definitely occupied. They looked it over at nightfall and then had another look before the Japs had breakfast in the morning, when they saw the Nips cleaning their teeth and having ablutions in a stream near the camp. Lt. Mackintosh brought 6 Section home without having a go at them. At this Coy. H.Q. were on the move and Major Laidlaw had come ahead and was at Capt. Nisbet's H.Q. at Bundi. Lt. Mackintosh reported to Capt. Nisbet that they did not have a go because they lacked sufficient firepower to attack and then get away. "The Bull" was not very happy about this report , but more of this anon. …. It was the next day that 6 Section's message regarding the Usini patrol arrived. On receipt of this message Major Laidlaw ("The Bull") took great umbrage and before Doig and his section could settle down and have more than one feed Laidlaw called Doig up. "Get the whole of your mob", he said, then grabbed a map. "Here you are.... cross the river and head up here to Mataloi III". Nearly all these villages in New Guinea had offshoots with the same name and were numbered on the maps one, two and three etc. Mataloi III was the furthest of these villages away. It was thought that the area could or could not be enemy occupied; it was a case of go out and find out. [2] [3] DOIG’S PATROL REPORT Doig submitted a formal report on the patrol sometime later that has been transcribed and reproduced here. [4] PATROL REPORT BY Lt C. D. DOIG. 2/2 COMMANDO SQN., NO. 5 SECTION B. TROOP Object:- To patrol by section to Mateloi No. 3 and attempt to discover enemy strength in this area and to inflict casualties upon the enemy by harassing tactics. Strength of Patrol:- 1 officer, 17 O.R.s. Armament 1 Bren Gun, 6 Owen Sub Machine Guns, 1 Grenade Discharger, 9 Rifles. Patrol departed from Bundi-Kri approximately 17th November 1943 and proceeded to a position West of the Ramu River occupied by No. 6 section, “B” Troop under Lt Mackintosh. [5] Here supplies of tinned meat and biscuits were obtained from a cache which had been made from a previous aerial drop. Five native carriers were also procured to assist with carriage of supplies. On 18th November, patrol proceeded to Ramu River and crossed same by use of native dugout and by swimming. The stream was in full flood and flowing at about 10 knots per hour. The method of crossing used was to pole the dugout up the bank side of stream, which was more or less dead water, for about a mile, switch over into stream and paddle madly across current until the opposite bank was reached. This process occupied most of the mile which had previously been made up stream. The swimmers adopted similar tactics to this and allowed themselves to be carried forward by the current at the same time striking across the current and eventually gaining sanctuary on the opposite bank this usually took about one mile of river. The crossing occupied approximately 2 to 3 hours. [6] Next stage was to move in a North-Easterly direction and cross a tributary of the Ramu about two miles away. This crossing was affected in a dugout canoe which was pulled over the river hand over hand on an overhead “Cunda” Rope. This stage was affected quite rapidly although only five men at a time could be carried in the canoe. The crossing of these two streams occupied most of the day. The following day patrol struck off in a North-easterly Direction meeting the foot hills of the Finisterres about midday. Tracks up to the foot hills were mostly slushy mud and at times men sunk up to their knees in mud holes especially in Pandanus areas. From the foot hills tracks were up and down razor back spurs as it was just a case of climb up one ridge drop down the other side cross a stream and climb the next spur on and on ad nauseum. This went on for approximately 1½ days and no sign of enemy occupation of area was made. No natives had been sighted to this point. Late on the evening of 20th November a small party of natives were sighted, and they attempted to make off into the jungle. One man was captured and told us that a small party of Japs were encamped at Orguruna a place about two miles distant. The native estimated the strength of enemy to be only 4 or 5 (a very rough estimate!). As the hour was late it was decided to camp on the ridge for the night and investigate Orguruna the following morning. It rained steadily all night and much native activity was noted in the way of yelling and yodelling. Before dawn on 21st, patrol set out along track for Orguruna. This small native hutment was sighted about 0900 hrs. At this point the Sigs. Were dropped off with Sig. J Stafford to operate with Sig. Studdy. The patrol then moved off with L/Cpl. Harrison in charge of small scout group comprising Tprs, Peattie, Smith and McLaughlan. Then Lt Doig at the head of main body. On approaching the camp proper, it was noticed that it bore a most deserted look with high rank grass and rotting coconut logs which appeared to be fronting deserted slit trenches, no footprints could be seen in front of the position and it appeared as if the enemy had decamped from the area. Diagrammatic representation of Section patrol formation along a jungle trail [7] L/Cpl. Harrison noting a small barbed wire fence around the area called Lt. Doig forward and suggested shedding the haversacks to get through the wire. This suggestion was promptly vetoed as our only food was in the haversacks. Harrison and Smith moved forward cautiously to investigate the wire and attempt to get through it. Meantime the main body of the patrol had gone to ground and took up covering positions for the scout party. As the two scouts attempted to get through the wire all hell broke loose. Bullets and mortars whizzed madly in all directions indicating at least a platoon strength of enemy entrenchments and possibly two platoons. With the scout group and Lt. Doig irrevocably compromised and forced to withdraw rapidly (and how!). As Orgoruna was on a crest of a ridge it was a simple matter for scout group and the Commander to drop out of sight under the ridge and thus become defilade to the enemy fire. During this rapid movement one of the patrol was heard to remark that the kitchen sink and piano had just flown over his head. Meanwhile the main body of the patrol under Sgt. Tapper and Cpl. Lewis opened fire on the enemy position. Tpr. Keith Craig who had been able to establish an excellent sniping position along the enemy position and as the enemy exposed themselves over the parapet in their evident desire to pump more lead into the patrol, Craig picked off at least six with his sniper rifle. Tpr. Merrett with his Owen gun accounted for at least two as did Tpr. Thomson. Tpr. Hugh Brown with the Bren Gun got off at least three magazines. The enemy fire was mostly high, and it appeared that their machine guns were all sighted too high. During the engagement Tpr. Merrett who was lying in a slight depression in the ground had a deep creasing wound inflicted in his head and promptly got away from the spot. Tpr. Percy Mitchell moved into the position vacated by Merrett and was shot through the head obviously from a sniper who had a position in a look-out up a tree. Sgt. Tapper gave the order to withdraw and the whole patrol moved off except Tpr. Brown who continued to slog it out with the enemy with his Bren gun. Tapper called to Brown to withdraw but at the moment his Bren ceased to fire but Brown did not come out. The obvious conclusion being that he was killed at the moment his gun ceased firing. The patrol withdrew in orderly fashion to where the Sigs. were stationed and then continued the withdrawal in the direction of the Ramu. The whole action had taken about half an hour. The scout group during this action had got completely out of touch with the main patrol and had covered two re-entrants before getting away from enemy fire. This small group followed down a creek for a considerable distance and then struck back in the general direction of the track which they had followed in the morning. This track was found late in the evening and it was noted that the main body had already passed by. The patrol made its way back to camp in two parties. The main body reached Lt. Mackintosh’s camp on the 24th November and scout group on 25th November. Sgt. Tapper had previously reported the action by wireless to Troop H.Q. Estimated casualties – Enemy – 12 killed and others wounded. Own Casualties – 2 killed and 1 wounded. Conclusions drawn:- Orguruna which was astride the Mateloi track was occupied in strength by the enemy possibly 2 platoons certainly one platoon. Position on the razor back ridge a very strong one which gave the enemy a great view of any attacking force from any direction. Would require at least a Company attack to dislodge the enemy from this position. (Signed)C.D. DOIG. [8] HUGH BROWN’S AND PERCY MITCHELL’S BODIES NOT RECOVERED Hugh Brown’s and Percy Mitchell’s bodies were not recovered. Fellow B Troop member Jim Smith reported that he visited Lae War Cemetery in late 1956 and took photos of the graves of the 2/2 men buried there. He noted that the following names are shown on a plaque at the Cemetery ‘as their bodies were not recovered’: NX57432, Hugh Brown, Tpr, died 25/10/43, aged 29 VX117978 Percy Robert Mitchell, Tpr, died 27/10/43, aged 20 [9] Hugh Brown’s memorial plaque, Lovekin Drive, Kings Park [10] Percy Mitchell’s memorial plaque, Lovekin Drive, Kings Park [11] 2/2 COMMANDO SQUADRON MEN INVOLVED IN THIS STORY Major Geoffrey Gosford (The Bull) Laidlaw NX70537 Officer Commanding, 2/2 Commando Squadron Lt Kenneth Granville Mackintosh WX9169 Officer Commanding, No 6 Section, “B” Troop Lt Colin (Col) Douglas Doig WX11054 Officer Commanding, No 5 Section, “B” Troop Sgt Dudley Lawrence Tapper WX10512 No 5 Section, “B” Troop Cpl George Roy Lewis WX11482 No 5 Section, “B” Troop L/Cpl Percy John (Kiwi) Harrison NX53272 No 5 Section, “B” Troop L/Cpl Godfrey Merritt WX11604 No 5 Section, “B” Troop L/Cpl John (Jack) Campbell Peattie NX97345 No 5 Section, “B” Troop Tpr Harold Thomas Brooker WX13748 No 5 Section, “B” Troop Tpr Hugh Brown NX57432 Killed In Action No 5 Section, “B” Troop Tpr Thomas Edward Cholerton NX69311 No 5 Section, “B” Troop Tpr Archibald George Claney VX84174 No 5 Section, “B” Troop Tpr Keith Craig NX130057 No 5 Section, “B” Troop Tpr James Richard McLaughlin WX29873 No 5 Section, “B” Troop Tpr Percy Robert Mitchell VX117978 Killed In Action No 5 Section, “B” Troop Tpr Murvin Llewellyn (Spud) Murphy QX35321 No 5 Section, “B” Troop Tpr Raymond (Ray) Norman Parry WX12415 No 5 Section, “B” Troop Tpr William Wallace Rogers-Davidson VX87043 No 5 Section, “B” Troop Tpr Edgar George Rowe NX96052 No 5 Section, “B” Troop Tpr Ross Martin Shenn WX31061 No 5 Section, “B” Troop Tpr Ross Smith NX123061 No 5 Section, “B” Troop Tpr James Relton Smith NX15613 No 5 Section, “B” Troop Sig John Henry Stafford VX18894 Signaller – not permanent member of No 5 Section Tpr Allan Samuel Stewart NX23857 No 5 Section, “B” Troop Sig Robert Andrew (Dusty) Studdy WX10110 Signaller – not permanent member of No 5 Section Tpr Alexander Thomson WX9508 No 5 Section, “B” Troop Tpr Herbert (Bert) Ernest Harold Tobin VX70645 No 5 Section, “B” Troop Tpr James Henry Wall VX85278 No 5 Section, “B” Troop Tpr Donald Claude Young WX13749 No 5 Section, “B” Troop REFERENCES [1] Unfortunately the men in the photo are not identified. From C.D. Doig. The history of the Second Independent Company. C. Doig [Perth, W.A.], 1986: following 189. [2] Doig: 203 -204. [3] Doig: following 189. [4] Thank you to Peter Epps for transcribing Doig’s report from an original copy in his possession. [5] The report must have been written sometime later because the date Doig gives for the beginning of the patrol, 17th November 1943, is incorrect. The correct date as stated by Dexter in the Official History was 23rd October 1943. This is confirmed by entries in both the 2/2 and Bena Force war diaries. It can be assumed given the detail in the report that Doig had prepared notes soon after the event on which the report is based but failed to record the actual date. [6] For movie footage of men from the 2/2 crossing the Ramu River using this method, see https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C190199 [7] Allied Land Forces in the South-West Pacific Area. – Notes for Platoon & Section leaders: XX Jungle warfare (Provisional). – Melbourne: F.J. Hilton & Co., 1943: 32. https://www.army.gov.au/sites/g/files/net1846/f/allied_land_forces_in_southwest_pacific_area-operations_1943_0.pdf [8] Doig also wrote two other versions of what happened on this patrol; see also C.D. Doig. The history of the Second Independent Company. C. Doig [Perth, W.A.], 1986: 207-208 and C.D. Doig. The ramblings of a ratbag. C. Doig [Perth, W.A.], 1989: 117-118. Tpr James Relton (Jim) Smith who was also a member of this patrol had different memories from Doig of some critical incidents over its course; see letter from Jim Smith to Jack Carey 19 July 2002 Ray Parry was also a member of this patrol and his recollection of what happened is recorded in ‘All the Bull’s Men’; see Cyril Ayris. All the Bull’s Men. Perth, W.A.: 2/2 Commando Association of Australia, 2006: 430-432. See also former 2/2 officer David Dexter’s account of the patrol based on Doig’s report in David Dexter. The New Guinea Offensives (Australia in the War of 1939 - 1945, Series One, Army, Vol VI). Canberra: Australian War Memorial, 1961: 592-593. [9] [Letter from Jim Smith] 2/2 Commando Courier vol. 11 no. 117 Christmas 1957: 11-12. https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/1957/1957-12%20-%20Courier%20Christmas%201957.pdf; to view the Commonwealth War Graves Commission records for the two men, see: https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/2801429/mitchell,-percy-robert/#&gid=null&pid=1; https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/2801236/brown,-hugh/#&gid=null&pid=1 [10] https://www.bgpa.wa.gov.au/honour-avenues-plaques/1437-pte-hugh-brown [11] https://www.bgpa.wa.gov.au/honour-avenues-plaques/1432-pte-percy-mitchell
  8. I propose that the Committee considers providing funding to support Compact Teacher Training (Professional Development) for Hatugau Primary School, Letefoho Sub District, Municipality of Ermera, Timor-Leste. This follows on the successful completion of similar training programs funded by the Association at Ailelo/Cosbouk and Samara Schools in the Hatolia Subdistrict in July 2017 and Calohan-Letefoho Villa Primary School, Letefoho Subdistrict, Municipality of Ermera, Timor-Leste in August-September 2018 [2]. [1] https://doublereds.org.au/news/compact-teacher-training-for-calohan-letefoho-villa-primary-school-successfully-completed-r49/ I invited Snr Francisco Jorge dos Santos, Program Manager, Learning Resource Development Center to submit a budget proposal for professional development training at another school and he has sent me the attached document for our consideration. The total cost is US$5,169.25. Ed Willis Draft PROPOSED BUDGET CTT_Hatugau Letefoho.pdf
  9. The previous post gave an overview of the 2/2’s campaign in the Ramu Valley during 1943 as part of Bena Force. [1] Theodore (Theo) Francis Adams (VX121180) was a Signaller reinforcement to the unit who joined the Signals Section in mid-June 1943. [2] “He joined the Unit at a place called Faita, eight days walk from Goroka. He was involved with patrols into territory which was occupied by the invading forces in the Ramu and later towards Shaggy Ridge, the scene of heavy action and losses of men and equipment. Theo volunteered to take part in these patrols. He was always cheerful and did his job as a signalman with great skill under awful conditions”. [3] Theo’s wartime experience in New Guinea must have made a lasting impression on him because “After the war Theo became a traffic officer with Ansett Airways at Madang and Goroka for a number of years. Latterly he was the Manager of Minogere Hostel at Goroka, operated by the Goroka Council as a middle range hostel and conference centre. He was an expert at organising functions, whether for Anzac Day or the Melbourne Cup. Theo had over 30 years in Papua New Guinea”. [4] In February 1986 Theo organised a helicopter survey of the 2/2’s area of operations in the Ramu Valley and took a number of aerial photographs of significant sites including Bena, Dumpu, Faita and Goroka that give an interesting insight into the terrain over which the campaign was fought. This album of photos is in the Association’s archival collection and has been scanned and made available to view and is linked to this post. One interesting sequence of photos in the collection is of the wreckage of an American Liberator bomber on the site of the Faita airstrip. During an armed reconnaissance over Wewak on 23 December 1943, it was attacked by two Japanese fighters; with the hydraulics shot-out and two of the crew injured, it was unable to return to base and instead force-landed at Faita Airfield. [5] There are contemporary photos in the Australian War Memorial collection showing men from the 2/2 inspecting the wreck. It was still substantially intact 43 years later when Theo took his photographs. FAITA, NEW GUINEA. 1944-01-07. MEMBERS OF THE 2/2ND COMMANDO SQUADRON LOOKING OVER A LIBERATOR (B-24) WHICH CRASHED ON THE AIRSTRIP RETURNING FROM A RAID ON WEWAK. IDENTIFIED PERSONNEL ARE: TROOPER G. P. ROWLEY OF PALGARUP, WA(1); CORPORAL L. E. COKER OF CHATSWOOD, NSW (2); SX25427 LIEUTENANT J. FOX OF EAST BRIGHTON, VIC (3); SERGEANT A. DIXON OF SUMMER HILL, NSW (5). AWM Photo 063276 Theo maintained his interest and connection with the 2/2 Commando Association and the January 1966 ‘Courier’ published photos that he had taken of Doctor John McInerney’s [the successor to Doctor Roger Dunkley as the unit Senior Medical Officer] grave at Wewak War Cemetery and local people at Geroka [sic] with their well-fed pigs labelled ‘They have wealth’. [4] Theo and his daughters, Lisa and Thea, received a “tremendous welcome” at the Busselton Safari in April 1994. In what was headlined “A SAFARI HIGHLIGHT”: When Theo Adams was asked to say a few words at the men's meeting he delighted everyone and drew sustained applause for his response in 'pidgin' as follows: Mi hamamas long kam daun long hia long lukim yupela, wantaim tupela pikinini bilong me. Mipela kam daun long tripela balus long long wei hap. Taim mi go bek long pies mi ken tok tok bulsit long ol lain bilong me. Freely translated: I am happy to come down here to see you with my two daughters. We came in a very big aircraft from a long distance. When we go back to Goroka we can talk a little story to my friends. [7] Theo Adams passed away in Brisbane on 17 September 1998, aged 74. [8] REFERENCES [1] ‘Bena Force – The 2/2 Independent Company In The Ramu River Valley, New Guinea, 1943’ https://doublereds.org.au/forums/topic/169-bena-force-–-the-22-independent-company-in-the-ramu-river-valley-new-guinea-1943/?tab=comments#comment-281 [2] ‘Theodore Francis Adams, Regimental Number: VX121180’ https://doublereds.org.au/history/men-of-the-22/vx/theodore-francis-adams-r321/ [3] ‘Vale Theodore Francis ADAMS (17 September 1998, aged 74)’ https://pngaa.org/site/blog/1998/12/20/vale-december-1998/ [4] Ibid. [5] ‘B-24D-130-CO "Bunny Hop/Flying Wolf" Serial Number 42-41091’ https://www.pacificwrecks.com/aircraft/b-24/42-41091.html [6] ‘Personalities’ 2/2 Commando CourierJanuary 1966: 3-4 https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/1966-01%20-%20Courier%20January%201966.pdf [7] ‘A Safari highlight’ 2/2 Commando CourierJune 1994: 8 https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/1994/Courier%20June%201994.pdf [8] ‘Vale Theo Adams’ 2/2 Commando CourierDecember 1998: 3 https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/1998/Courier%20December%201998.pdf Ramu_Valley,_Goroka,_etc._from_Theo_Adams.pdf
  10. This post provides an overview of the 2/2 Independent Company’s involvement in the Australian campaign against the Japanese in the Ramu Valley during 1943 as a member of Bena Force. The primary source of this account is a PhD thesis written by historian Peter M. Munster that conveys much new material including records of interviews with 2/2 soldiers that do not feature in Dexter’s official war history or the unit histories (Doig and Ayris). Munster’s focus was the impact the presence of the Australian and Japanese had on the local population and he does not record much about the fighting. However, considerable detail is provided about the sequence of key events, the dispositions of the unit and how the 2/2 veterans of the Timor campaign sustained amicable and productive relationships with the highland people in contrast to other Australians serving with Bena Force. [1] Subsequent posts will convey more about the combat history of the unit during this period of service in New Guinea. INTRODUCTION In June 1943, the 2/2nd sailed from Townsville to Port Moresby and was subsequently flown to Bena Bena, in the Bismarck Ranges in New Guinea. Here, the 2/2nd supported the 2/7th Independent Company in patrolling the Ramu River area as a component of Bena Force. In mid-July, the 2/2nd moved into positions around Bena Bena and by the end of the month their patrols were skirmishing with the Japanese. They continued to conduct operations in New Guinea until October 1944 when, after being away from Australia for more than a year, the 2/2nd were withdrawn from the fighting for a period of leave in Australia. The Markham and Ramu River Valleys [2] BACKGROUND TO THE ESTABLISHMENT OF BENA FORCE Prior to the arrival of the 2/2 in the New Guinea Highlands the fierce conflict between Allied and Japanese troops had been fought further east at Milne Bay (August 1942), Kokoda Trail, Gona and Buna (August - December 1942) and Wau-Bulolo (January - February 1943). In each of these battles the Japanese had been thwarted in their attempt to capture Port Moresby. There remained one final plan in their strategy to defeat the Allies - to occupy the Highlands and use them as a base to launch a massive attack on Moresby by way of the Gulf of Papua. Impractical as such an invasion may have been, the occupation of the Highlands was a real possibility. [2] For the Allies the presence of a Japanese army on the plateau would be extremely dangerous and make the ultimate defeat of the enemy very difficult indeed. A problem for the Allies in January 1943 was that they could not spare a large force to guard the Highlands from a Japanese attack. The costly battle for Wau and the consequent follow-up involved many thousands of troops during January and February. Bena Force operations as part of the Markham-Ramu River Valley campaign [3] BENA FORCE ESTABLISHED THEN REINFORCED Only a tiny force was available for despatch to the Highlands. Thus, on 22 January the 6th Australian Division was ordered to detach 57 men under Lieutenant A.N. Rooke to occupy the Bena Bena airstrip. Known as 'Bena Force', this group was instructed "to secure Bena Bena drome against enemy attack: to deny the enemy freedom of movement in the Bena Bena Valley and to harass and delay any enemy movement in the area between Bena Bena and Ramu River." [4] When the small Bena Force arrived on 23 January 1943, Lieutenant Rooke set up his headquarters at Hapatoka, in the old ‘haus kiap’ which had been abandoned in October 1941. Defence positions were dug around the 'drome, which had been cleared on an exposed 'hogs-back' formation by the Leahy brothers in 1932. It was now about 1200 yards long and was at that time the only landing ground in the Valley capable of receiving heavily-loaded DC3 (C47) transports. The gutters which defined its position were filled in and grass was burnt in patches to give the impression from the air that it was part of burnt-off garden land. Four observation posts were set up to guard the tracks into the valley, each one in telephone communication with Hapatoka. The Australian military planners recognised the vulnerability of Lieutenant Rooke's tiny group in the Highlands and had decided to reinforce it. They sent in one of the Independent companies, the 2/7, which had been fighting in the Wau campaign for seven months and was due for leave. It may have been reasoned that the Bena Force assignment would be as good as a holiday and compared with the Wau-Mubo-Markham engagements it probably was, although by the time the men of the 2/7 were finally given leave in late 1943 they were tired, and morale was low. [5] THE INDEPENDENT COMPANIES The Independent Companies were an elite group of fighting soldiers, with special training in commando tactics, sabotage and intelligence. Each man was selected for his sharp mind, physical fitness, resourcefulness. [6] Up to the end of 1943, eight Independent Companies were formed, each comprising from 300 to 400 men. The two companies involved in Bena Force were the 2/7 and the 2/2. The 2/2 had distinguished itself in Portuguese Timor between 1941 and 1943, fighting a lonely but successful guerilla campaign against the Japanese occupying forces. If an enemy invasion of the Highlands did take place these men of the 2/2 and 2/7 Independent Companies were by temperament, training and experience, best fitted to resist such an attack, even though their combined numbers were fewer than 700. ANGAU AND THE LOCAL LABOUR FORCE The 2/7 was commanded by Major (later Lieutenant-Colonel) T.F.B. McAdie and comprised about 400 soldiers. [7] Fergus McAdie was given the same instructions as Rooke, with the addition that "Comd. Bena Force will not, except when attack is imminent or in progress, interfere with the general tasks of ANGAU [Australian New Guinea Administrative Unit] and special detachments." [8] Some friction between Rooke's men and ANGAU had already developed, and this clause was designed to keep the two groups on reasonable terms. The regular soldiers depended on ANGAU to supply native labour and food, and it was therefore in McAdie's interest to achieve a good working relationship. The ANGAU men were mostly pre-war Territorians, with wide experience of the country and its people, and some of the Bena Force troops were given the impression that their presence was not appreciated by the old hands. For their part the soldiers, particularly those in the 2/2 Independent company who had been in Timor and in many cases owed their lives to the Timorese, resented what they regarded as the harsh and overbearing attitude of some ANGAU men to the New Guinea people. S.V. (Mick) Mannix recalls how he "frowned on the way these ANGAU men carried on, shouting and roaring at the natives." He and other Bena Force men relate stories of unfair and condescending treatment meted out by ANGAU personnel to the local people [9] but they also recognised that the ANGAU men had an unenviable task in having to conscript an unwilling and often frightened labour force, whose work was essential if Bena Force was to achieve its objectives. C Platoon, Ramu Valley, November 1943 [10] MICK MANNIX’S STORIES Mick Mannix [11] tells the following two stories which illustrate Bena Force soldiers' reactions to ANGAU officers' attitudes to New Guineans: (i) "We were down the creek at Asaloka washing ourselves and an ANGAU patrol came up with 4 police boys, a couple of carriers and an officer - he had 3 pips on him, and he was shouting and roaring and they carried him across the creek. I thought what a degrading blooming thing that a black man should have to do so much for a white man. Anyway, he got across and saw us and said, 'What's all this going on?' There were five of us down there with our native boys, doing our washing and having a bit of a bath. We were naked and soaping ourselves and he said, 'How dare you take your clothes off in front of the natives". We replied, 'Who do you bloody well think you are?' He blew up and ordered our boys off and went raging up to the house, where our officer 'Bull' told us later, 'If anything like this happens again, just get in the scrub, will you.'" (ii) "I got left behind on the trail somewhere with ulcers on my leg and I was walking along the track with a carrier and up came this ANGAU bloke with 3 natives. 'Oh, how are you going, old chap', he greeted me. He was carrying a cane. As he spoke he went to sit down and immediately a police boy had put a chair under him. Bang! The chair was there. The officer hadn't looked around, or said anything, because once he had addressed me he just sat down. And then he put his hand out saying, "How's the track down there?' and as he spoke a cigarette was placed in his fingers. His story was that he had been in Wewak when the Japs came, and his police boys had deserted him. Now he was waiting to be first back into Wewak so he could hang the three police who had deserted him, before jurisdiction caught up with him. He was determined to make an example, in the old colonial tradition." ('Mick" Mannix, interviewed 18 February 1976.) MCADIE'S STRATEGY The airlift of the 2/7 into Lena Lena on 29 May was carried out by a 'flight' of 12 Douglas transports (DC3s) and the men "went straight into patrol activity and observation post work on the Ramu side of the mountains." [12] McAdie's strategy was to keep a constant watch on Japanese movements in the Ramu Valley and develop defensive positions on the four tracks by which the Japanese could gain access into the Highlands. These routes were, taken in order from east to west, through Kaiapit, Aiyura and Kainantu, through Lihona and the Upper Dunantina, through Kesawai, Wesan and Matahausa to Bena, and through Glaligool, Bundi, Upper Chimbu and Asaroka to Goroka. The fifth track, from Wesan through the Asaro Gap into the Upper Asaro, although used as a trade route by the Goroka Valley people, was more difficult than the others, and was considered less likely to be used by an invading force. [13] A panoramic sketch of the Ramu Valley from Captain David Dexter’s patrol diary dated 25-26 July 1943. Sketches were necessary parts of the reconnaissance work carried out by commando squadrons. PR00249 [14] ROAD BUILDING To be able to meet a possible attack through any of these mountain passes McAdie needed a motor road linking Kainantu, Bena Bena, Goroka and Asaroka, by which troops and supplies could be moved quickly to the places where the main Japanese thrust was concentrated. Thus, road construction became an important part of Bena Force's activities, and in June the first section was constructed between Bena and Goroka, while the longer stretch between Bena and Kainantu was reconnoitred. Road building, as well as airfield construction, observation post siting, the clearing of tracks, laying of telephone lines, the supply of native foods, digging of trenches and store tunnels, all required the cooperation of ANGAU and the native labour force. Hence McAdie's concern that Bena Force and ANGAU work together harmoniously. By and large this objective was met, and all these tasks were completed on schedule. NX70537 Major G.G. Laidlaw, DSO. Faita, Ramu Valley, New Guinea, 1944-01-07 THE 2/2, ‘THE BULL’ AND 'SPIN' MCADIE Two days before work began on the Goroka airstrip the vanguard of another Independent Company, the 2/2, arrived to reinforce the 2/7. The 2/2 had had six months to recover from their guerilla warfare experience in Timor and were in good shape to fight the Japanese. They saw their role as offensive rather than defensive, and to some of the men this holding operation in the Highlands was rather tedious. The opportunity to 'have a go' at the enemy would come in a few weeks, but for the moment they had to be content with guarding the Goroka and Asaroka airstrips and patrolling the country from Goroka west to Chimbu. Their commander was Major Geoff Laidlaw, whose aggressive leadership in Timor had earned from his men the nick name of 'The Bull'. His men had immense admiration for him, and by all accounts he led a very closely-knit, campaign-seasoned team of commandos. Don Latimer of the 2/7 commented jestingly that "he [Laidlaw] had the nature of a bull and looked like one too! And he had to be like a bloody bull to control the 2/2!" Harry Botterill [15] of the 2/2 was a strong admirer: "Geoff Laidlaw was very impressive, the sort of chap that looks every inch a soldier. I'd been with his troop right through from Timor and you felt safe as a house with him. He was a big man and a very solid man, a thinker. He never panicked, he quietly sorted thing's out. He was offered the job of a colonel, to go and look after a battalion, but this was the job he liked, and he just stuck around." [16] The men of the 2/7 held their commanding officer, McAdie, in somewhat less affection, and the best nick name they could bestow on him was ‘Spin’, their name for a five pound note. As Don Latimer recalls, "A fiver was the least he would bloody well fine you. If you did anything wrong it was, 'Fined a Fiver - march out!'" [17] NEW FORCE DISPOSITIONS 'Spin' McAdie for the most part had other things on his mind than fining recalcitrant soldiers, and his immediate task on receiving word of the 2/2 reinforcement was reorganise the dispersal of his troops. As commanding officer of Bena Force, he moved Force Headquarters from Hapatoka (the site of the old government patrol post beside the Bena Bena airstrip) to the SDA mission station at Sigoiya. The bush materials house built by Stan Gander and his island helpers in 1937 was still intact, and provided McAdie with a comfortable, if exposed, hilltop base. 2/7 Company Headquarters remained at Uapatoka, under command of Captain F. Lomas. [18] Three weeks before the arrival of the 2/2, McAdie had despatched sections of the 2/7 to occupy posts at Goroka and Asaroka, with the task of guarding the small airstrips in each place. With the construction of the new Goroka aerodrome, the defence of the area gained a high priority and it was decided to put the 2/2 in charge of all territory west of Sigoiya. 2/2 LOCATIONS Laidlaw established his Company Headquarters at Humilaveka, and placed troops around the new 'drome and at Asaroka. Goroka had suddenly resumed its pre-war significance as a centre of administration, and from 30 June 1943, the day on which 2/2 Company Headquarters were set up, it continued to increase in importance, until in 1946 it became the civilian administrative headquarters for the whole of the Highlands. The establishment of the new aerodrome was, of course, the key this development. The Americans had given Goroka a landing ground superior to any other throughout the highlands, a facility not to be matched until the new drome at Mount Hagen was opened over two decades later. The first contingent of 10 plane loads of 2/2 troops landed at Bena Bena on 27 June. On 8 July, with the new Goroka aerodrome complete, a second flight of DC3s, escorted by Lightnings, brought 6 officers, 92 other ranks and their stores direct to Goroka. This would have been the occasion of the official opening of the big landing ground, and there must have been considerable satisfaction that a large body of men and supplies could be delivered right to their field of operation. The next day there were no air-raids, although enemy aircraft were heard, and stores were feverishly "scattered to dumps in the area, mainly natives being used as porters." On the 11th it was noted: "Two years ago today, this Coy was brought into being at FOSTER, VICTORIA." The diarist commented dolefully that "owing to the lack of civilization in this area, the occasion was not celebrated in the customary manner." Further detachments of 2/2 Company troops arrived on 24 and 25 July and the last group came in on 1 August. The Diarist reported on that day "The movement of this COY is now complete, except for hospital patients at Moresby. The COY strength in this area is now 20-OFFRS (OFFICERS) 277 0/RS (other Ranks). Dispositions are:- HQ at GAROKA. A PL.H.Q. and No 2 SEC at MATAHAUSA (MADANG 0.4846); No 1 SEC AT HALF-WAY CAMP (MADANG 0.5454). NO 3 SEC AT WESA STATION (MADANG 0.60537). The Signal. Section is split up amongst HQ's and Sections. Engineer Section is on road building activities around BENA BENA area B.1.1 positions are unchanged. C. PL still at GAROKA." B Platoon's headquarters were at Bundi-Crai, on the Ramu side of the high central range north of Mount. Wilhelm and the upper Chimbu. No 4 Section was at Bundi itself - lower down towards the Ramu Valley, No 5 at Gueiba (Gulebi) - north-west of Bundi - and No 6 at Dengaragu (Denglagu), a Catholic mission station at the foot of Mt Wilhelm on the Chimbu (southern) slopes of the main range. The 'Half Way' camp mentioned by the Diarist was half way between Matahausa in the mountain rain forest, north of Bena Bena - and Wesan, on the Ramu fall above the middle Ramu Valley. This was later known as the Maley Camp after the corporal who established it. A site with a better command of the Ramu Valley was chosen on a spur which ran towards the Ramu between Mounts Helmig and Otto, and was called Maululi camp, after Laidlaw's Timorese servant/assistant in Timor. [19] [20] THE DUEL FOR AIR SUPREMACY The opening of the new Goroka airfield and the deployment of 2/2 troops in ever increasing numbers during July was bound to invite increased Japanese aerial attacks on the Goroka Valley. The Diarist records bombing raids on either Goroka, Asaroka or Bena Bena on 3, 8, 13, 20, 24 and 30 July. The most serious of these were the attack on the new Goroka airfield on 3 July, when one native was killed and two injured (although their identity is not given, Goroka informants recall that they were Chimbu labourers, not local villagers) on the 20th, when a majority of the huts at Bena Bena were burned out, on the 24th, when the old Goroka airstrip was hit by 2 H.E. (high explosive) and 4 A.P. (antipersonnel) bombs and on the 30th, when 6 bombers and 19 fighters bombed and strafed the Goroka area dropping five 500 lb bombs and 13 A.P bombs. Four of the H.E. bombs scored direct hits on the new airstrip, but the Diarist was able to record that "no damage or casualties resulted, and the drome was still serviceable." At the same time as these enemy raids were being endured the Diarist was noting-with increased frequency the presence in the skies of large numbers of Allied aircraft, presumably on their way north to bomb Japanese positions around Madang and Wewak. By the end of July, the Allies had aerial supremacy over the Highlands, and the Japanese bombing raid on Goroka on the 30th was in fact the last they were able to undertake. [21] The climax of the Allied aerial offensive came on 17 August, when no' less than 275 enemy planes were destroyed in the vicinity of Wewak. The 2/2 Company Diarist recorded: "The enemy had been gathering this force of planes for a major land and air push in N.G. as we are in the immediate neighbourhood, the result was especially gratifying to this Coy." From left: the 2/2ndCavalry (Commando) Squadron’s Trooper Francis Thorpe, Corporal John ‘Jack’ or ‘Chook’ Fowler (rear) and Troopers Jack Prior (front) and Roy ‘Duck’ Watson, 7 October 1943. These men had just returned to Dumpu after a 12-day patrol in the Ramu Valley. AWM058781 [22] FROM DEFENSE TO OFFENSE This devastating blow to Japanese air power meant that Bena Force's task of defending the Highland airstrips from aerial, attack or invasion, was virtually complete, and the 2/7 and 2/2 Independent Companies could now concentrate all their efforts on fighting the enemy on the ground. This required engaging the Japanese along the middle Ramu River Valley, in all that country north of the forward patrol positions perched on the ridges of the Ramu Fall. These engagements are covered in detail by David Dexter in his ‘The New Guinea Offensives’, and are somewhat outside the scope of this study, except insofar as the troops were supplied from Goroka and Bena Bena throughout the period July to November 1943, and Force Headquarters remained at Sigoya until it was closed down on 10 November. The decision to disband Bena Force was implemented in November, but as early as 29 September General Vasey, commander of the Australian 7 Division, had decided to move the 2/2 and 2/7 down into the Ramu Valley and virtually withdraw the troops from the Highlands plateau. [23] Vasey recognised that the 38 specialist troops still working, in the Highlands, plus 40 ANGAU men and 120 Americans keeping the new Goroka airfield open and operating the two radar stations nearby required some local protection. [24] He recommended that one militia company be stationed in the Goroka area to provide this support. This was confirmed on 4 October, when General Herring informed Vasey that "adequate troops would remain on the Bena Bena-Garoka plateau to guard the American air installations and radar equipment." [25] NEW 2/2 HEADQUARTERS AT FAITA This task fell to a contingent of 2/2 Independent Company soldiers, while the bulk of the Company moved down to new headquarters at Faita, in the western sector of the middle Ramu Valley, directly below Bundi. [26] Dexter indicates (p 680) that by early November two troops of the 2/2 were operating around the new airstrip at Faita, while the third troop rested and guarded Goroka. Each troop consisted of about 100 soldiers. On 1 December "B" troop was flown to Goroka and "A" troop, which had been resting there, took up combat duty at Faita. So even though Bena Force as such was closed down on 10 November and McAdie left his headquarters at. Sigoiya on the same day, the 2/2 still maintained a presence in, the Goroka Valley into 1944. [27] However, their role was now a passive one, and apart from minimal interaction with the Goroka people who were their immediate neighbours around the rest camp and the big aerodrome they ceased to have a significant impact on the inhabitants of the Goroka Valley. ACHIEVEMENTS OF BENA FORCE From a military standpoint the achievements of Bena Force over the 10 month period from 23 January to 10 November were considerable. McAdie in his final report was able to claim with justifiable pride that not only did the two companies, by resisting Japanese probes along a frontage of 140 miles, prevent an enemy invasion of the Highlands, but their presence, by threatening the enemy's line of communication from Lae to Madang "must have contributed largely to his decision to withdraw from the Markham and Upper Ramu Valleys . [28] Dexter too gives an impressive list of achievements (he was himself a member of the 2/2 Independent Company, so his material on Bena Force bears the mark of a man who was there): "For the loss of 12 men killed, 16 wounded and 5 missing it had killed about 230 of the enemy. It had built the Garoka airfield for fighters, and bombers; it had constructed 78 miles of motor transport road between Bena and Garoka, Sigoiya, Asaloka and Kainantu, and it had produced maps of a vast and hitherto unknown area." [29] MAJOR DAVID DEXTER Text reads: 'Confident, aggressive and convincing' was how one officer described Major David Dexter. By this time a captain, Dexter had just returned from an eight day patrol in the Faita area of the Ramu Valley on 7 January 1944, a day before his 28th birthday. One of five sons of the Great War veteran Chaplain Walter Dexter, David Dexter was an original officer of the 2/2nd Independent Company and had served on Timor in 1942. He had been wounded in action in New Guinea in September 1943 when his patrol ambushed a large group of Japanese deep in enemy-controlled jungle. After the ambush one Australian was listed as missing, but 45 Japanese were killed. In 1945 Dexter was the second-in-command of the 2/2nd Commando Squadron on New Britain before assuming command of the 2/4th Commando Squadron on Tarakan. AWM063287 [30] REFERENCES [1] Peter M. Munster. History of contact and change in the Goroka Valley, Central Highlands of New Guinea, 1934-1949. Deakin University. School of Social Sciences. Thesis (Ph.D.)--Deakin University, Victoria, 1986. http://dro.deakin.edu.au/view/DU:30023415; esp. Ch. 7. Most of the text in this post is derived from Peter Munster's thesis. I have added some text, headings, maps, references and photos to improve the relevance and clarity of the text for this readership. The depth and quality of Dr. Munster's research is excellent and the 2/2 get a very sympathetic and well-informed account of their involvement in this campaign. [2] Mark Johnston and Australia, Department of Veterans' Affairs. The Markham and Ramu Valleys 1943-1944: Australians in the Pacific War. - Dept. of Veteran's Affairs Canberra 2005: iv. [3] Lachlan Grant ‘Operations in the Markham and Ramu Valleys’ in Australia 1943: the liberation of New Guinea / edited by Peter J. Dean Cambridge University Press Cambridge ; Port Melbourne, Vic 2014: 243. [4] A document found in a crashed Japanese plane at Tsili Tsili on 13 December 1942 revealed plans for a Japanese attack on the Kainantu, Bena Bena and Chimbu areas to be carried out in September - October 1943. Three infantry battalions were to be involved, with air support and the possible use of paratroops. (Undated secret communication to 2/2 Australian Independent Company, c.August 1943, filed with 2/2 Indep. Co. War Diary, Bena Force File 1/5/42, Aug - Nov 1943, Australian War Memorial Archives, Canberra). [5] David Dexter. 1961. The New Guinea Offensives (Australia in the War of 1939 - 1945, Series One, Army, Vol VI). Canberra: Australian War Memorial, pp 234-5. It is not clear if these operational instructions were drawn up as early as January, 1943. They may have been developed as a result of Rooke's own experiences between January and May. They first appear in Bena Force and ANGAU documents in late May, when the 2/7 Australian Independent Company arrived in strength under the command of Major (later Lieut-Colonel) T.F.B. McAdie. [6] Bernard C. Callinan. 1953. Independent Company - The 2/2 and 2/4 Australian Independent Companies in Portuguese Timor, 1941 - 1943. Melbourne: Heinemann, pp xiii - xv. [7] Dexter gives an approximate figure of "about 400 strong" in ‘The New Guinea Offensives’, p 238. The ANGAU Secret Administrative Instruction 28 May 1943, advised: "The 2/7th Independent Coy, strength all ranks 289, together with AASC Det (Signals ) strength all ranks 4, move by air to Bena Bena on 29 May." It is possible Dexter added Rooke's group to this number, giving a total of 351. (Administrative Instruction filed with ANGAU War Diary, loc. cit. [8] ANGAU War Diary, 28 May 1943. [9] 'Mick" Mannix, interviewed 18 February 1976. [10]https://doublereds.org.au/gallery/image/680-58fc404ec8b89_ramuvalleyngnov1943tojun1944cplatoonjpg/ [11]https://doublereds.org.au/history/men-of-the-22/nx/simon-victor-austin-mannix-r443/ [12] Don Latimer, former member of 2/7 Australian Independent Company, interviewed at Sydney, 17 February 1976. [13] Dexter loc. cit. [14] Karl James and Australian War Memorial, issuing body. Double diamonds: Australian commandos in the Pacific war 1941-45. NewSouth Publishing Sydney, NSW, 2016: 105. [15]https://doublereds.org.au/history/men-of-the-22/vx/harold-botterill-r107/ [16] Harry Botterill, interviewed at Highett, Victoria, 13.1.76. [17] Don Latimer op. cit. [18] Dexter loc. cit. [19] Dexter: 245. [20] C.D. Doig. The history of the Second Independent Company. C. Doig [Perth, W.A.] 1986: 188. [21] Other raids did occur, such as the fighter attack on 10 November, when Bena, Sigoiya and Goroka were strafed (Dexter: 599). However, there is no record of further bombing attacks. [22] James: 139. [23] Dexter, op cit.: 436. [24] This figure does seem somewhat excessive, considering the tasks the Americans had to perform. A few engineers would have remained at Goroka, plus a small detachment in charge of the anti-aircraft positions. The two radar stations close to Goroka and Bena Bena may have required larger units, and there may have been Americans at other centres, such as Kainantu, Chimbu and Mount Hagen. There was a US Air Force Rest Centre at Mount Hagen in 1944-45. [25] Dexter op. cit. p 361 [26] ibid. p 575 [27] ibid. pp 687 footnote and 739 [28] Closing Report, War Diary, 9 Nov 1943. Bena Force File 1/5/42, August - November 1943. Australian War Memorial) Canberra. McAdie's reference -to 'the upper Ramu' valley is confusing, as Upper Ramu was the pre-war name for Kainantu, and is still used to denote the Highlands section of the river above the Yonki Dam and Power Station. What McAdie refers toss the upper Ramu is more correctly described as the middle Ramu Valley. [29] Dexter, op cit., p 600. [30] Confidential report, LHQ tactical school, David St Alban Dexter service record, National Archives of Australia B883, VX38890. 2/2nd Independent Company war diary, 29 September 1943, AWM: AWM52 25/3/2/11) 063287. Source: James Double Diamonds p.103.
  11. Hi Craig; Thank you for you post about the 'Area study of Portuguese Timor'. I have found this publication an invaluable resource in planning the 'Timor 1942 Commando Campaign' tour to Timor-Leste that I led in March-April 2018 and my previous tours. The gazetteer, text descriptions of locations, maps, photos and illustrations provide precious background information. The tour is being run again around the same time time this year and I'm following it up, along with a couple of other 2/2 Commando Association Committee members, with a research trip to visit some of the key campaign sites at Vila Maria, Fatu Bessi, Lete Foho, Cailaco and Mape, Turiscai, etc that are not part of the tour route to locate, photograph and document them - again use of the Area Study is essential for this exercise. Regards Ed Willis, Vice-President
  12. The 2/2 Commando Association of Australia has provided a grant of USD$5,000 (A$7,254) to St Anthony’s International School in Dili to fund the construction of a new classroom. The grant is in line with the Association’s objectives, which are: • to fund the improvement of communities in a sustainable way for the benefit of the peoples of Timor Leste, New Guinea and/or New Britain; • to promote education about the achievements of the men who were, at any time between 1941 and 1946, enlisted in the No. 2 Australian Independent Company of the Australian Infantry Forces, also known as the 2/2 Commando Squadron (“the unit”); and • to honour the memory of the unit and its members and to help people to recognise and appreciate those achievements. To acknowledge receipt of the grant, the Association requested that the School name the classroom after the former esteemed member of the old Association, the recently deceased Keith Hayes, OAM. This was done with the approval of Keith’s family. The School responded by naming not just an individual classroom, but the whole building consisting of three classrooms after Keith. The Association greatly appreciates this gesture. Former Association President Peter Epps has noted that: 'Keith spent many years helping to raise and send goods, school equipment, seeds and money to Timor and that is the main reason for his Life Membership of the Association. He did not like the lime light especially about his war service and injuries - he was one of the last gentlemen of that era’. The classroom building is nearing completion and it is anticipated it will be in use by the end of January. The Association is working with the School to organise an official dedicatory opening of the classroom building to take place on or around Anzac Day (25 April) this year at which a plaque honouring Keith will be unveiled. Association President John Denman and Vice President Ed Willis, who will be touring Timor-Leste at the time, will participate in the opening. It is hoped that the Hayes family will also be represented at the ceremony. St Anthony’s International School is located in Rua De St Antonio in the Farol district of Dili. Keith Hayes survived the notorious ‘Ration truck massacre’ that took place not far from the school on the day the Japanese invaded on 20 February 1942. Keith was protected and cared for by a local Timorese woman Berta Donnabella Martins and assisted by her family members in rejoining the unit in the hills outside Dili. For more information about the School see https://www.aisnt.asn.au/projects/st-anthonys-international-school-dili
  13. On 7 February, the 2/2 Committee approved funding of US$5,315 (AUD$6,432) to support Compact Teacher Training (Professional Development) for Calohan-Letefoho Villa Primary School, Letefoho Subdistrict, Municipality of Ermera, Timor-Leste. [1]. This amount included a $3,800 donation from the Melville Friends of Hatolia which comprised the balance of their funds when that group would up at the end of 2017. The Committee is pleased to announce that the training has been successfully completed and reports and photos of the training sessions are now available . The photos and the teacher profiles indicate that the teachers and students involved were engaged and appreciated the experience. The teacher profiles provide a nice human touch to the reports that will enhance their interest to 2/2 Association members and supporters. [1] https://doublereds.org.au/news/22-commando-association-funds-compact-teacher-training-for-calohan-letefoho-villa-primary-school-r33/ 2/2 CONNECTION WITH LETE-FOHO The No. 2 Independent Company (2/2) campaigned actively in the Lete-Foho area in 1942 and frequently used the township as a base and enjoyed great support from the Portuguese chefe de posto and the local Timorese people. Bernard Callinan, one-time commanding officer of the 2/2, held great affection for the place and named his house in Melbourne “Lete Foho”. Map showing the location of Lete-Foho from the 'Area study of Portuguese Timor' (1943) The 1943 ‘Area study of Portuguese Timor’ included the following description of the town: “Lete-Foho (Nova Obidos-see Map No. 18) is 12 miles (19 km.) from Aileu at a bearing of 234°, situated on a high ridge halfway between Ermera and Atsabe. Open to aircraft excepting in a small coffee plantation on the south of the posto. Its buildings are of stone with galvanized iron roofs, and constitute the posto which overlooks 7 Chinese shops, and market square, also the school and teacher's residence (stone and tiled roofs). A good M.T. road branches from the main Dilli road about 3 miles (5 km.) south of Ermera and leads to the town through the valley north and below Lete-Foho. This town was used as Platoon H.Q. for Australian troops from May to August, 1942. It has a small water supply by pipeline from springs”. Lete-Foho today THE TRAINING A three member team led by Snr Francisco Jorge dos Santos, Program Manager of Dili-based Learning Resource Development Center (SDRA) successfully completed the training over the five week period 27 August – 28 September 2018. Some of the teachers at a pre-training meeting 12 teachers (5 male, 8 female) completed the assessment and received attendance certificates. 557 students from grades I to VI were involved during the training. Snr dos Santos report included week by week evaluations of the training sessions by the teachers that were all very positive; one final concluding comment was: ‘We Just want SDRA team to keep continue delivering this training to all primary teacher in our territory because this is a very good and relevant strategy that we need in the teaching and learning process to be a professional teacher in the future’. Also included in the reports are profiles of all the teachers who completed the training. The reports and photos from the training are attached to this story. 1. CTT report summary.pdf 2. Teachers Profiles.pdf 3. Weekly evaluations.pdf 4. Teachers Assessment profile.pdf
  14. Hi Chantal: There is a problem with opening that issue; it will be fixed. In the meantime please see the issue attached. Regards Ed Courier_December_1976.pdf
  15. Safaris were recurring events conducted by the old 2/2 Commando Association. Over the lifetime of the Association 19 enjoyable and well-attended Safaris were completed between 1956 and 2003 at various locations around Australia. Jack Carey provided the following brief history of the Safaris just before the last one got underway: The Last Hurrah! Our 19th and last Safari is now less than 8 weeks away and although we acknowledge that all good things must come to an end, the final night on the 18th November will surely be a nostalgic occasion. More than a few tears will be shed especially by those who have enjoyed participating in our Safaris. Bert Tobin is accredited with coming up with the idea that members from all states should get together every now and then to renew wartime friendships. As a result of Bert's proposal, the first reunion or Safari as Doigy preferred to call them, was held in Melbourne in 1956 when the Olympic Games were on. The second Safari was held in Perth to coincide with the Commonwealth Games. Both were successful, and the Safaris really took off. Sydney was the 1968 venue, then followed Perth in 1971, Tassie/Melbourne 1973, Sydney 1976, Adelaide 1978, the Gold Coast, Qld 1981, Perth 1983, Canberra 1986, Phillip Island 1988, The Barossa Valley 1990, Port Macquarie 1992, Busselton 1994, Maroochydore, 1996, Canberra 1998, Hobart 2000, Mildura 2002 and yet to come Perth 2003. Each had its highlights. The 44 Sandgropers had a memorable Safari in 1968. Led by Colin Doig and travelling by train spending time at Kalgoorlie, Adelaide, Melbourne, Canberra including a trip over the Snowies, finally arriving at Sydney. We were treated like lords at all stops; the hospitality was overwhelming. It culminated with our grandest Anzac Day march ever. Led by 'the Bull' with Sandy Eggleton and Tony Bowers proudly carrying our Double Diamond banner followed by 112 members on their very best behaviour, we did the old Unit and Association proud. We remember with gratitude all those members, families and friends, many who are no longer with us, who worked so hard to ensure the 18 Safaris were such great and happy events. Your WA committee will do all it can to ensure our last Safari will also be one to remember. See you in Perth on the 12th November. God bless. .. J. Carey. A listing of all the Safaris including references to the Courier issues where they were reported follows. The list also indicates whether a photo album or other material related to a particular Safari is held in the Association archives. Also attached is a copy of the chapter from Col Doig’s history of the Association to 1992 covering the Safaris. YEAR LOCATION COURIER REPORT PHOTO ALBUM OTHER MATERIAL * 1956 21 November – December 2 Melbourne Courier March 1957: 7-10 https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/1957-03%20-%20Courier%20March%201957.pdf Olympic Games Safari 1962 22 November – December 2 Perth Courier January 1963: 1-5 https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/1963/Courier%20January%201963.pdf Commonwealth Games Safari Yes 1968 April 6 - 22 Perth-Adelaide-Melbourne-Canberra- Sydney Courier June 1968: 5-14 https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/1968-06%20-%20Courier%20June%201968.pdf The Great Safari Yes 1971 September 2 - 11 Perth Courier September 1971: 2-8 https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/1971/Courier%20September%201971.pdf Jubilee Safari Yes 1974 22 February – 16 March Melbourne-Tasmania Courier May 1974: 10-14 https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/1974/Courier%20May%201974.pdf Tasmanian Safari 1976 30 August – 11 September Sydney Courier December 1976: 2-4 https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/1976/Courier%20December%201976.pdf Yes Yes 1978 7 – 16 October Adelaide Courier December 1978: 11-13 https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/1978/Courier%20December%201978.pdf South Australian Safari Yes Yes 1981 5 – 18 October Gold Coast-Brisbane Courier December 1981: 2-5 https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/1981/Courier%20December%201981.pdf Gold Coast Safari Yes Yes 1983 3 – 16 October Perth Courier December 1983: 2-8 https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/1983/Courier%20December%201983.pdf Sandgroper Safari Yes 1986 8 – 16 March Canberra Courier June 1986: 1-8 https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/1986/Courier%20June%201986.pdf Canberra Safari Yes 1988 18 – 27 March Cowes - Phillip Island Courier June 1988: 2-4 https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/1988/Courier June 1988.pdf 1990 16 – 25 March Adelaide-Barossa Valley Courier June 1990: 2-4 https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/1990/Courier%20June%201990.pdf Barossa Valley Safari Yes Yes 1992 13 – 23 March Port Macquarie Courier April 1992: 4-7 https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/1992/Courier%20April%201992.pdf Port Macquarie Safari Yes Yes 1994 7 – 14 April Busselton Courier June 1994: 3-8 https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/1994/Courier%20June%201994.pdf Busselton Safari Yes 1996 20 – 30 April Maroochydore, Sunshine Coast Courier August 1996: 12-13 https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/1996/Courier%20August%201996.pdf Maroochydore Safari Yes Yes 1998 10 – 18 March Canberra Courier June 1998: 2-4 https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/1998/Courier%20June%201998.pdf Canberra Safari Yes Yes 2000 8 – 15 March Hobart Courier June 2000: 6-11 https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/2000/Courier%20June%202000.pdf Hobart Safari Yes Yes 2002 1 – 8 May Mildura Courier June 2002: 14-17 https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/2002/Courier%20June%202002.pdf Mildura Safari Yes Yes 2003 12 – 18 November Perth Courier March 2004: 9-10 https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/2004/Courier%20March%202004.pdf Perth Safari – The ‘Last Hurrah!' * Note: other material includes itineraries, dinner menus and commemorative service programmes, etc. REFERENCES C.D. Doig. – A great fraternity: the story of the 2/2 Commando Association 1946-1992. – Perth: C.D. Doig, 1993: Chapter 15 – Interstate Safaris (pp.96-111). J. Carey ‘The last hurrah!’ CourierSeptember 2003: 1. INTERSTATE_SAFARIS_-Great_fraternity_complete_copy.pdf
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