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Edward Willis

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  1. COMMANDO CAMPAIGN SITES – EAST TIMOR AINARO DISTRICT AINARO GPS: 8°59′49″S 125°30′18″E Ermera’s location from map in Area Study of Portuguese Timor (1943) [1] The Area study of Portuguese Timor also describes the town. The street layout is still extant as are several of the buildings indicated on the following map: "Ainaro (see Map No, 15): Also stated to be known as Suro, but no confirmation as to whether this is correct. Ainaro is 20 miles (32 km.) south of Aileu at a bearing of 192°. A large town with posto and market, which is held weekly. It is situated on the southern slopes of Ramelau Range and built between two tributaries of the Sue River. The posto is well constructed and surrounded by the usual stone wall. Several stone buildings such as the Governor's palace, administrative block, Chinese shops, church with large spire, priest's residence and uncompleted schoolhouse, hospital and annex, etc. constitute the town. The streets are well constructed and an old road leads to Maubisse. This road was suitable for M.T. A concrete bridge was demolished by Australians as a roadblock in 1942 and approaches have been washed away. The road is now in general disrepair". [2] Map of Ainaro (1943) [3] Ken Piesse of the 2/4th described arriving in Ainaro in September 1942: "Next day, with Bob Palmer's Section, we trudged past the maize and coconut plantations, up and down the hills, before finally reaching Ainaro, a really charming, beautiful spot in the centre of a rich area. What a Garden of Eden! Strawberries, sugar cane, mangoes, paw-paws, tomatoes - all kinds of vegetables. Reaching there, we sat down almost immediately to a sumptuous meal, fit for a king. We wondered how many more we would enjoy like that one. Ainaro has a characteristic common to many Portuguese towns - its streets are paved with bricks. Harry and I would go up each morning to the top of the town where a little bridge, erected in 1936, allowed a rushing stream to pass underneath a roadway. There a quick wash refreshed us before breakfast. In the evening a large waterhole in the river some 500 yards below the 'palace' served our washing requirements well. The 'palace', where David Dexter's HQ was located, was the home of the King of Ainaro, prior to the Japanese infiltration south of the Ramelau. Mighty Ramelau towered 10,000 ft above Ainaro. Its sheer slopes were separated from the pretty little town, complete with a red-roofed church, by only a mile of irrigated rice fields. The rice cultivation outside Ainaro was the biggest I had seen. Their orderly terraces were a pleasure to see". [4] AINARO, PORTUGUESE TIMOR. 1946-01-24. THE AUSTRALIANS OF SPARROW FORCE USED THIS SMALL WATERFALL AS A WASHING PLACE DURING THEIR OCCUPATION OF THE TOWN IN 1942. Callinan also described the town around that time: "At Ainaro was established a base for the treatment of sick personnel. In addition to the company's sick there were many men from Koepang who were still ineffective for one reason or another. Ainaro was placed under the control of Captain Dunkley (Company medical officer) and was ideal for our purpose. The town itself was the oldest post in the island, having been one of the early missionary centres. It was well laid out and had some fine houses and a hospital which was taken over by us. In peace time it had been used as a summer residence by the Governor, and his residence became the officers' quarters. In addition, it was a rich area peopled by friendly Christian natives, and the Chefe de Posto was most helpful and could speak good English". [5] Later on he provides this additional description: "The town was laid out in neat cobbled streets with a small park in the centre, on to which opened the house and offices of the Chefe de Posta as well as the summer residence of the Governor". [6] SIGNIFICANCE The town of Ainaro was strategically important throughout the Commando Campaign being located on the main through route heading south from Dili through Aileu and Maubisse towards the southwest strongholds of Mape and Bobonaro. Once there, a track could also be followed through Hatu-Udo to the south coast landing place of Betano. By mid-May 1942 Sparrow Force Headquarters was at Mape, with the Independent Company Headquarters located at Bobonaro. A Platoon, then commanded by Lieutenant Dexter, was dispersed between Marobo and Cailaco while Laidlaw's B Platoon was still at Remexio, covering the environs of Dili. Boyland's C Platoon was at Maubisse. Another platoon, initially called K (Koepang) Platoon, but subsequently D Platoon, was being raised from troops from Dutch Timor who had completed training. This incomplete platoon was initially based at Memo. Recent aerial view of Ainaro – Bing Maps As part of the reorganisation of the Australian forces, the hospital under Captain Dunkley had been moved to Ainaro, an old missionary town which in peacetime had housed the governor's summer retreat. In addition to providing hospital care for the sick, troops from Koepang were placed in training squads. Under the guidance of non-commissioned officers and selected privates from Independent Company sections the Koepang troops received basic infantry training followed by a grounding in Independent Company work and then became members of the new D Platoon under the command of Lt Don Turton. Callinan recorded that: "Through Ainaro passed representatives of nineteen different units including all arms of the service and many specialist units, postal, dental and similar. Also men such as refrigerator specialists, bakers and butchers. Many of these had received no infantry training what- soever and some of them were aged over fifty. Ainaro did much to rehabilitate many of the men who had come to us, and afterwards they gave good service" [7] The newly formed D Platoon went into action for the first time on 15 June 1942. Dr Dunkley’s hospital was relocated from Ainaro to Same in mid-August – the latter town was deemed to be a more secure location at that time. Map of Dili, Aileu, Maubisse Region [8] VISITING AINARO TODAY Road Conditions in 1942 The Area study of Portuguese Timor (1943) describes the terrain traversed by the road between Ainaro to Maubisse via Aituto in a manner that is still relevant today: "AINARO TO AITUTO TO MAUBISSE: Distance 17 miles (27 km.). Time taken, 81/2 hours. This track, along which many actions have taken place, is really an old road too much in disrepair to be claimed as a road. It crosses some of the most rugged country on the island. There is very little cover throughout the route. From the thickly populated mission centre of Ainaro the track winds up to the saddle of the Suro Range from which the Maubisse Valley can be seen. The track then winds steeply down and crosses a rapid tributary of the Be-Lulic River. With the huge mountain spurs of the Ramelau Range to the northwest, and of the Cablac Range to the southeast, the track winds precipitously along the right side of the Be-Lulic gorge crossing many streams until Aituto at the junction of the Maubisse-Ainaro and Maubisse-Same tracks are reached. From Aituto the track winds round a big range up to the Maubisse Saddle and then descends steeply across the Carau-Ulo River into the posto of Maubisse. Because of its nature this track from Ainaro to Maubisse has been the scene of some our most successful Australian ambushes of the Timor campaign". [9] Callinan as so often, can be relied on to provide a description of the terrain in 1942 that can also be readily applied to today: "The Portuguese had constructed a number of roads throughout the colony. The north coast road was trafficable, as were portions of the other roads; but, as we knew the inland roads, they were hopelessly cut about by landslides and the ravages of torrents. All the roads were splendidly graded, and the mind retains a vivid picture of such roads as that between Ainaro and Maubisse in steep sidling country winding with a tantalizing regular grade for mile after mile, back into chasm-like gullies and out around precipitous spurs. Grade and windings alike seemed interminable". [10] Dili-Ainaro driving directions - MapQuest Road Conditions Today The road from Dili to Ainaro has been substantially upgraded over the last five years through a major infrastructure project funded by the World Bank and can be transited by car in comfort. Rehabilitation work to complete the final section of the Dili to Ainaro road corridor in Timor-Leste has started - the project will upgrade the 22.6 km Laulara-Solerema section of the 110km road corridor. [11] The completion of the project will be an important milestone in one of the most significant transport projects ever undertaken in Timor-Leste, and will help to ensure safer, faster and more reliable travel between the North and the South of the country -- connecting the districts of Dili, Aileu and Ainaro, which jointly account for a third of the country’s population. Timor-Leste is vulnerable to extreme weather with heavy rain and landslides damaging roads and bridges, and accelerating wear and tear on vital infrastructure. The Dili to Ainaro roadworks feature improved drainage, construction or reinforcement of slope stabilization, and pavement rehabilitation and were done with a focus on future resilience to the effects of weather and natural hazards. In addition to the road construction, the World Bank is working with the United Nations Development Program to equip local communities with the skills and knowledge to better manage the effects of natural disasters and weather events along the Dili-Ainaro Road Corridor. About 25 kilometres south of Maubisse, the road tops out over a ridge at Flecha with spectacular views of the Ramelau range to the west and forks with the left heading to Same in Manufahi district and the right, which leads to the district capital of Ainaro. There are fantastic views here, east down into the deep valley of the Belulie River, and across to the Cablaque Range. Recent Description of Ainaro The rural town of Ainaro is the administrative capital of Ainaro district and Ainaro sub- district. It is located within the administrative boundaries of the village (suku) of Ainaro. The village of Ainaro is composed of seven hamlets. Of these Hatumera, Lugatu and Teliga are considered to be 'mountain' (foho) or rural hamlets, while Ainaro, Sabago, Builco and Nugufu constitute the bulk of Ainaro town. An unidentified Australian soldier in the remains of Ainaro Hospital. Ainaro is a mountain town in the southwest of East Timor. The town was hit hard during the civil unrest that occurred throughout 1999 and 2000, when its health clinics, hospital and schools were all levelled by militia groups. Ainaro town was almost completely destroyed in 1999 by pro-autonomy militia and elements of the Indonesian military. Practically all public buildings including the district hospital were destroyed; the Catholic mission school, Canossian residence and almost 80 per cent of all private dwellings were also burnt and looted. Many of the inhabitants of Ainaro town fled or were forcibly displaced to West Timor; others sought shelter in the surrounding hills and mountains. While the majority of East Timorese former residents of Ainaro have now returned, or resettled in the capital Dili, some remain in West Timor or elsewhere in Indonesia and many non-East Timorese former residents, including Indonesian civil servants and business people, have not returned and are not expected to return. Portuguese era market, Ainaro – 27 April 2014 Although the rehabilitation and reconstruction of basic infrastructure in Ainaro town has been slow, a number of public services now are available. There are two public primary schools, a public pre-secondary and secondary school, an out-patient health clinic, a hospital, and a police station. In 2007, the town water supply and electricity were also rehabilitated. The town market and abattoir is in the process of being refurbished and housing for the local police is also being built. The district and sub-district administration continue to occupy buildings rehabilitated during the UN Transitional Administration. While a number of local residents are employed as public servants, the majority are engaged in various forms of subsistence farming. Households farm a variety of crops including maize, beans, potatoes and root crops in swidden gardens on land surrounding Ainaro town. Permanent and seasonal fruits and other market vegetables are often grown in house plots or uncultivated areas of land in and around Ainaro town. A number of households have access to rice fields to the south of the town, near the neighbouring village of Cassa, or to the east near Manutasi. Many households also cultivate coffee in small plantations in upland areas. It is common for households to keep pigs and chickens; only a limited number graze cattle in upland pastures. There are two markets in Ainaro town. The first is located close to the old town centre and was originally built during the Portuguese period. The second, larger market is temporarily located in the 'new' town close to the Indonesian-era district administrator's office, which is currently being rebuilt. Saturday is the main market day in Ainaro, and people travel from surrounding villages, sub-districts and districts to buy and sell their produce. There are also a number of shops in town selling a wide variety of manufactured goods. Many of these shops are owned and run by Chinese-Indonesian or Chinese-Timorese. The size and composition of Ainaro town has changed considerably over time. Today, Ainaro village has a population of 6,937 people, the majority of whom live in Ainaro town (Census 2010). This accounts for approximately 45 per cent of the total sub-district population. The population of Ainaro town rose rapidly in the aftermath of the Indonesian invasion as communities were displaced from remote areas and resettled closer to military installations and administrative centres such as Ainaro town. Since independence, the rate of return to remote areas has been relatively slow with larger numbers of people continuing to migrate from rural areas to urban areas. While a small proportion of the current population includes persons displaced from Dili in the aftermath of the political violence in 2006, the most common reasons for moving to urban areas since independence are access to education and employment opportunities (Census 2010). [12] There are a few significant remnants of the town as it is existed in 1942 that can be seen when visiting. Portuguese Memorial to Dom Aleixo Corte Real In the central part of town there is a substantial Portuguese war memorial, the provenance of which has been well described by Geoffrey Gunn: "Another surviving reminder of the Japanese occupation is the less elaborate but no less compelling – even elegant – monument in Ainaro to Dom Aleixo Corte Real, the quintessential loyal Timorese chief killed by the Japanese in May 1943) …. Taking the form of a simple stone arch offering a large open window space into which a wrought iron cross is placed, the monument is headed ‘Por Portugal’ and, at the base, inscribed ‘A Memoria do Regulo D. Aleixo Corte Real, Morreu em 1943’. Yet, from an Australian War Memorial photograph dated 24 January 1945 and taken by K.B. Davis of Sparrow Force [Negative no. 125289], this monument was preceded by a sepulchre of the royal family where the skulls of ‘King’ Aleixo and his three ‘sons’ or more likely companheiros, Alfonso, Francisco, and Alveira, were on public (?) display, albeit arranged behind a crucifix. As Pelissier comments, the uprising by Maubisse was not out of love for the Japanese, but out of decades-old memories of the Manufahi wars, especially the quest on the part of this disaffected people in seeking revenge against rival Suro (Aileu), and its loyalists, namely Dom Aleixo Corte Real, liurai of Suro, nephew of Nai-Cau, the ‘traitor’ liuraiof the 1912 rebellion who stood with the Portuguese. Posthumously awarded Portuguese state honours, Dom Aleixo, his sons and followers, mounted a heroic but doomed stand against Japanese-led forces in the mountains of Timor in May 1943". [13] Portuguese Memorial to Dom Aleixo Corte Real – 27 April 2014 Former Summer Residence of the Portuguese Governor This building is a fine example of the Portuguese architectural heritage and is now being used as Timor-Leste government offices. This could be the former summer residence of the governor that was used as officers’ quarters by the 2/2nd. Bernard Callinan reminisces again: "I've only been back once, with my wife in 1963. The Portuguese army commander made a jeep and an officer available to take me wherever I wanted to go. Fifteen years after the war, there were the postos [districts] and all the colonial officials again, the same as before. In Ainaro, a pretty town with the mountains up high behind, there's a summer residence for the Governor which had probably been there a hundred years before Melbourne had a single white person in it. There was European influence so long; the Portuguese were in Timor twice as long as the British were in India". [14] Harry Wray became familiar with this building when back in Ainaro after the August Push: "Well, as I have said the Japs gave up their drive as suddenly as they had commenced it and returned to Dili. Dex left the village we were in and marched down into Ainaro. That is where the Doctor had his Hospital at the time I went there to have a tooth extracted". Former Summer Residence of the Portuguese Governor, Ainaro – 27 April 2014 "We took up our quarters in the Governor’s summer residence, a nice house complete with bathroom and all mod cons. Steps led down from the house to a cobbled road, and across the road was a rectangle of grass closely planted with huge trees. Facing the end of the rectangle of grass and trees was the Administrator’s house. Ainaro, like Bobonaro, was the headquarters of an Administrator. The Governor of the Porto part of the island was the head of the local government. Under him came the Administrators who each governed a Province, and under the Administrators came the Comandantes who each governed a District in the respective Provinces. The Administrator of Ainaro was absent during the close proximity of the Japs as he was known to them as friendly to the Australians. After the Japs departed from the area he returned to his house with his wife, a very pretty woman, and his young daughter. The Administrator’s house was to the left of our house, but close by. On the other side of the park like area lay the Administrative offices and jail. One Section of Dex’s men were camped in this building. … We had several visits early in the morning from Jap planes, but beyond flying over the place they did not attempt to bomb or molest anyone in Ainaro. The Administrator and his family never failed to come racing out to shelter. The Administrator would be in the lead in his pyjamas, next a few yards behind his pretty wife in a silk nightgown with a white silk dressing gown streaming out behind as she raced for the trench, and in the rear would come the little girl legging it for shelter. The procession would shoot out the front door, down the front path out of the gate, across the cobbled street and then for about fifteen yards across the grass under the trees to the trench, which was almost directly in front of our house. We never bothered to go the shelter and used to watch the race to the slit trench with much enjoyment". [15] AWM 125284 - Ainaro, Portuguese Timor. 1946-01-24. The stone church at Ainaro whose towers were uses as air-raid observation posts. (Photographer Sgt K.B. Davis) The Church in Ainaro In Ainaro’s Catholic precinct a large church, nunnery, seminary and schools lie in close proximity. Callinan was a devout Catholic, known to some of his compatriots as “the Saint”. He recalled: "Entering into Ainaro my attention was drawn first to the church, a large white structure with a red roof, standing away from the town. This was the missionary centre of the colony, and it was fitting that it should possess a good church". [16] Another 2/2nd veteran, Paddy Kenneally recalled: "I went to Mass in Ainaro for Easter Sunday 1942. The beautiful Gregorian chant of the natives' singing was wonderful …". [17] The Catholic Church in Ainaro has been a significant building in the townscape since before WWII. Its presence is referred to in the recollections of Callinan, Lambert and Kenneally and it is referenced in the Area Study including being placed on the map of the town in its current location. Ainaro Church, 29 July 2008 The building has a large footprint, a lofty interior and distinctive twin towers embracing the south frontage. It is a building of national significance and is undergone an extensive internal and external refurbishment that was commenced in 2013 and is still incomplete at the time of writing. Comparison of photos from 1946, 2008 and 2014 shows that some details of the front aspect have changed over time. Earlier on the bells were not hung in the towers but positioned on rather temporary looking wooden supports on either side of the front piazza. The typically Portuguese balustrade enclosing the piazza has not been recreated in the current refurbishment that has an open fully stepped approach. As yet, the front window treatments are incomplete and don’t reflect the mix of Portuguese and Timorese traditional decoration that was featured in 2008. The final internal and external colour scheme is also not evident. AWM 125285 - Ainaro, Portuguese Timor. 1946-01-24. Sergeant G. Milsom, Military History Section Field Team and formerly of the 2/2nd Independent Company, stands beside the grave of three Portuguese priests. Fathers Piris, Alberto and Luiz were killed because of their anti-Japanese sympathies. (Photographer Sgt K.B. Davis) Harry Wray recalled: "Ainaro was remarkable for an enormous church. It would have been a very large church for even a big city, but for a place like Ainaro it was immense. This church was rather like the cathedral in Dili in general design, and nearly as large. The priests looked after the church, and also ran a big mission. The natives were taught, among other things, cultivation and agriculture. One of the priests was a small man with a bright ginger red beard and hair. He looked more like a Scot than a Portuguese. He spoke excellent English. The other and younger Father was a typical Portuguese of the plump variety, but like the senior priest, very well disposed to us. The priests had a wireless set and allowed a few of us to call each night to hear a broadcast of the news. I was the representative of those at the Governor’s house and would go up each night to hear the news, and when I returned I had to repeat it to the other men. I can recall hearing the news of the Jap attack at Milne Bay and the defeat they suffered there, the first major reversal they suffered in New Guinea". AWM 125286 - Ainaro, Portuguese Timor. 1946-01-24. Sergeant G. Milsom, Military History Section Field Team and Formerly of the 2/2nd Independent Company, re-enacts what was a regular occurrence during the Australian occupation of Ainaro. As Manuberi his creado or native helper points to the distance Sgt Milsom rings one of the church bells that were used to sound air raid alarms when the Japanese air force launched bombing raids on the town. (Photographer Sgt K.B. Davis) "Sometime later the Japs entered Ainaro after a day long battle with Dex and his Platoon. The two Bren gunners who were both wonderful shots silenced the crews of six Vickers’ guns time after time, and largely helped in keeping about five hundred Japs all day. Our sixty or so men walked off after dark in good order. It was out of the question to remain against the Japs at night, as with their superior numbers they would have surrounded our men in the dark and wiped them out at their leisure the next day. These Japs entered Ainaro and stayed a few days, but after they had gone our men had a look around and found that contrary to their usual habits the Japs had left the place undamaged, and clean. They had not molested any of the local inhabitants in any way. Not long after this, another large party of Japs gain visited Ainaro, after being well harassed as they passed along a narrow track on their way there. This party was just the opposite in their behaviour. A party of Dutch who were sent in to have a look around found many signs of wanton destruction, and the houses they had occupied in a filthy condition. They found and buried the remains of the two priests who had been literally hacked to pieces in their church. So it was that these two men paid the penalty for being friendly with us. They were indeed good friends to us, and we were all shocked to hear of their terrible fate". [18] Charles Bush - Captain Dunkley's hospital, Ainaro Timor. Showing the building in which Captain C R Dunkley, Australian Army Medical Corps, the Medical Officer of 2/2nd Australian Independent Company, established a base for the treatment of sick personnel of the Company, during the guerilla operations against the Japanese in 1942. Many men of "Sparrow Force" who had not surrendered at Koepang who were still ineffective for one reason or another, were also treated here. The Hospital in Ainaro The current Indonesian era building was constructed on the site of the former Portuguese hospital that was used by Dr Roger Dunkley and his medical team for lengthy periods during the Commando Campaign. Col Doig recalled travelling to Ainaro to be treated by the Doctor: "My health deteriorated rapidly at Bobanaro and pleurisy set in and my appetite deserted me completely. I was put into bed at Australia House and a Portuguese enfermeira became my kind of doctor … Ainaro Hospital, 1938. The photo can be viewed at the current hospital "I don't really know who decided that I had better get to see Capt. Dunkley at his hospital at Ainaro. A litter was made from poles and a blanket and a fair number of native carriers pressed into service to carry me from Bobanaro to Ainaro. It was to be a journey of at least five days. I am really not sure how long because I was in a stupor a lot of the time. The tracks in Timor are nothing short of terrible, and with natives carrying the litter over streams and gullies and up and down mountains, and I mean mountains, it was a bloody nightmare of the worst kind each day. A bit, of chicken soup was about all I could keep down. ….. It was a further three days before I was to reach Ainaro on this horror journey. I was but skin and bone on arrival. I remember somewhere along the journey one of our cooks, ‘Frying Pan Smith’ came up on a Timor pony and was horrified to see me and offered, me a smoke which was not on. Capt. Dunkley, who was no giant, lifted me off this litter and carried me like a baby into his hospital and gave up his mattress to me for my comfort. It was to be a fairly long grind before I got back onto the track again. Apparently in the period just before I got to Bobonaro the wonderful set 'Winnie the War Winner' had been successfully constructed by Joe Loveless and his assistants, especially Sig Keith Richards and Capt. Geo. Parker of 8th Div. Sigs, and communications had been re-established with Australia. A P.B.Y. Flying Boat had arrived and Brigadier Veale, Col. Van Straaten, badly wounded in the persons of Pte. Alan Hollow, Eddie Craighill, Gerry Maley and Clarrie Varian had been lifted back to Australia. The reason the Brigadier was at Bobanaro at the time of my outburst was to get final briefing prior to departure. By the time I reached Capt. Dunkley at Ainaro that crowd had gone to Aussie and this relieved Capt. Dunkley of these badly wounded and allowed him a bit more time for lesser fry like yours truly. So the Doctor set out to do his best for me and a big swag of sick people in his hospital". AWM 125287 - Ainaro, Portuguese Timor. 1946-01-24. This building was taken over as a hospital by Captain C.R. Dunkley, 2/2nd Independent Company, during the period in 1942 when Sparrow Force occupied the town. The verandah was used as a mess hall. (Photographer Sgt K.B. Davis) "It was estimated that I weighed less than six stone on arrival, and I learned many years later from Sgt. Cliff Paff that the Doc didn't give me much chance of survival, but that didn't deter him from getting on with the job. He used Friars Balsam all over the lung area as a counter irritant to reduce the fluid on the lung and get rid of the pleurisy. He said immediately that the quinine bark had been a disaster as it had brought on Black Water Fever, which was usually a fever that killed in 90% of cases. He fed me as best he could and gave me quinine to keep the malaria at bay, and fortunately I soon responded to his ministrations and started to show rapid improvement. It was a good job that the Japs had not moved to the south coast area in this time or I would have been in strife. Doctor Dunkley told me that to handle pleurisy properly he should have operated and drained the fluid from the lungs, but because of his precarious position with the hospital, he wasn't game to do an operation of this nature. While in hospital one of my No. 5 Section in Geo. Merritt came in with something wrong with him and it wasn't long before this hard case had things going for him. He purchased a great big bag of peanuts and then had a Timorese lad shelling them and roasting them in a big pan. I can assure you a diet of peanuts and paw-paw is such that you don't need No. 9s, cascara or any other opening medicine. Dudley Tapper came and saw me and brought me up to date on the old 5 Section. He wasn't all that happy with my replacement Lt. Geo Cardy and was hoping that I would return to the Section when I left hospital. Lt. John Burridge came in on crutches with a knife wound in his foot and we had some sing songs with John leading the way as he had a good voice. Capt. Rolf Baldwin came through and he and Dr. Dunkley kept me amused telling of the pranks of their University days. Dave Ross the Australian Consul in Dili at the start of the war came through after delivering the second surrender demand message from the Japs. He looked like a scarecrow, and he was not returning to the Japs in Dili but was going to get home to Aussie on the next contact. It was here that Staff Capt. Geo Arnold told me of the Brigadier scratching my name from his list of hopefuls. There were quite a few cases of V.D., which displeased Dr. Dunkley no end. He used to really rave when these types came in and would blast them and say, ‘You are bludging on your mates. We don't get any reinforcements, and you being here only make more patrols and guards for your mates. I'm ashamed of you’. One bloke came with the Jack, whistling. The Doc. soon took the whistle out of him. Doc Dunkley was a bit paranoid about Dutchies, he hated to see them come and hunted them as soon as he could. I have nothing but the highest praise for Capt. Dunkley; he was the real hero of the 2nd Ind. Coy, both as a doctor and as a heroic soldier. I'm afraid his services were badly overlooked when the gongs went around, and it was sad to think lesser types got good decorations for being useless". [19] Harry Wray was also a patient at the hospital: "After reaching the bottom of this cliff we climbed for a time and then passed over undulating country, then into low lying country and then up a cliff, but by a fairly easy path, and this took us to the top of a fairly flat tableland cover in long grass. A few miles across the tableland and we were in Ainaro, the summer residence of the Portuguese Governor of Timor. I reported to the Doctor who told me to find space in one of the wards, and he would see me in the morning. The Hospital was actually the Portuguese Hospital, a fine building with a tile roof, two large wards, and a number of small rooms, with a spacious veranda all around the building. I spent the night on the floor of one of the wards, and next morning went into the small room that the Doctor used as a dispensary, and as a room for doing dressings. By then he had a fair collection of drugs and dressings, but far from sufficient, so great care had to be used to avoid waste. The Doctor told me that he had pulled his first tooth only a few days before, when he drew four for a Portuguese, he said that the Porto had complemented him on his skill as a dentist. I just hoped for the best. The Doctor called for his dental kit, this was produced, and consisted of a syringe for the injections and a set of forceps. I was sat down on a basket containing medical stores, and the Doctor gave me the injections, and pulled out the tooth as if he had been a dentist for years". Pip (son of Dr Roger Dunkley) and Barb Dunkley in front of the current Ainaro Hospital that stands on the site of the old Portuguese era hospital – 27 April 2014 He told me that I could have that day and the next for a spell before setting off back to the Section. I was also told to shift to a house down in the town proper, which was used as a sort of convalescent depot, for the remainder of my stay. I went off to this house and found Do-Dah established there. After my two days rest the Doctor told me I could return to my Section and said he would send a native along next morning to carry my pack for me as far as Mape. Ainaro was full of sick, and convalescents. There were a large number of men who had escaped from Koepang there also. A training camp had been established to teach the men from Koepang some of the rudiments of guerrilla warfare. As it happened a good many of them were anything but trained soldiers. As a good many of them were batmen, orderlies, drivers and so on they had but little training and experience in drill and arms. This lack of knowledge was remedied in Ainaro, and when they had gone through a course there some were sent out as reinforcements to Sections of our own unit, and a couple of Sections formed from the remainder, and placed under the command of our officers. There were a few officers, from Majors downwards at Ainaro all from the Koepang end. Nearly all these officers were sent back to Australia as opportunity occurred, as they were more likely to be useful there, or in units being formed there, as most of them were well up in their own special branches of the service. Beyond an occasional Jap plane passing overhead life at that time was very peaceful in Ainaro. [20] REFERENCES [1] From ASPT Map 1. [2] ASPT: 28. [3] From ASPT Map 15. [4] Lambert, Commando: from Tidal River to Tarakan: 92. [5] Callinan, Independent Company: 109. [6] Callinan, Independent Company: 126. [7] Callinan, Independent Company: 110. [8] ASPT Map 3. [9] ] ASPT: 47. [10] Callinan, Independent Company: 35. [11] https://www.roadtraffic-technology.com/news/rehabilitation-dili-ainaro-road-corridor/ [12] Daniel Fitzpatrick, Andrew McWilliam and Susana Barnes. - Property and social resilience in times of conflict: land, custom and law in East Timor. – Oxford: Routledge, 2016: 210-2012. [13] Geoffrey C. Gunn ‘From Salazar to Suharto: toponomy, public architecture, and memory in the making of Timor memory’ in Gunn. - New World Hegemony in the Malay World. - Lawrenceville, N.J.: The Red Sea Press, 2000: 241 – 242. [14] Bernard Callinan ‘The best the Timorese gave us was their loyalty’ in Michelle Turner. - Telling: East Timor: personal testimonies 1942-1992. – Kensington, N.S.W.: New South Wales University Press, 1992: 62. [15] Wray, Recollections: 182, 185-186. [16] Callinan, Independent company: 126. [17] John (Paddy) Kenneally “Whitewashed walls and gum trees” in Telling: East Timor … : 15. [18] Wray, Recollections: 187-188. [19] Doig, Ramblings of a ratbag, 91-92. [20] Wray, Recollections: 118-120. Prepared by Ed Willis Revised: 9 October 2019
  2. ESCAPE FROM TIMOR – HOW FOUR MEN MADE IT BACK TO DARWIN AFTER THE JAPANESE INVASION OF PORTUGUESE TIMOR – ARNOLD WEBB’S AND DES LILYA’S STORIES Col Doig has provided a summary of this amazing adventure story that usefully serves as an introduction to this post: ‘A party comprising certain members of the reinforcements who came on the ‘Koolama’ and who were at a loose end and not at the time attached to any of the Sections, decided to try and get to Australia by boat and advise that the 2nd Independent Coy was still intact and fighting on. This party comprised Ptes Larney, A. Webb, D. Lilya and ‘Curly’ Freeman. They had wandered firstly to the west but were frustrated and had many adventures before heading to the east of Timor. They started their movement late in February; they ran in with a patrol of 2nd Coy who questioned them but as these boys were reo's [reinforcements] they did not know them. Arriving at Lautem on the east end they obtained a boat going to Kisa and they made a landfall on this island and finally arrived at Leti. After many efforts they left Leti and got to the island of Moa and from there to Sermata. Here Webb got sick of the bickering and tried to drown himself and was dragged back by Freeman. They ran in with a large vessel that was probably some sort of smuggler, which took them to Teepa where they broke up. Freeman and Lilya went on their own and Webb and Larney went on their way and were eventually picked up by an Australian lugger that took them to Darwin. There they met Alan Hollow and Keith Hayes. This was the last week in May. Their journey was in vain as contact had been made by Timor with Australia. Their treatment by Australian authorities was terrible and they were put in the worst type of boob and got it real tough. Eventually Lilya and Freeman arrived. The first two were interrogated by Intelligence who did not believe their story. After a lot of crook treatment Webb and Larney boarded the ‘Voyager’ and were returned to Timor and Lilya and Freeman who had been sent south on leave were also brought back and went with the others to Timor where they all rejoined Sections. This was an epic journey and the lads deserved a better fate at the hands of the Australian Administration in Darwin’. [1] There is more to Lilya and Freeman’s travails after they separated from Webb and Larney than was recounted by Doig and what happened to them will be revealed below. DES LILYA’S AND ARNOLD WEBB’S RECOLLECTIONS OF THE ESCAPE Two of the men who escaped, Des Lilya and Arnold Webb, have left their recollections of this remarkable adventure. Lilya’s account was first published in the April 1991 issue of the ‘Courier’. [2] David Dexter had asked Lilya to prepare it when they were both serving as members of Z Force in late 1944 or early 1945. Arnold Webb’s account was sympathetically recorded by Paddy Kenneally probably sometime in the early 1990s and has not been published before. [3] This post includes both men’s stories displayed side by side so that their recollection of particular events can be compared up until the time they parted company during their journey back to Australia. When it became known by the senior officers of No. 2 Independent Company what the four men had done the initial reaction was that they should all be treated as deserters when they made it back to Australia. Webb and Larney were taken into custody and treated very harshly. Freeman and Lilya who had made it home separately and had demonstrated their soldierly qualities along the way were not incarcerated. All four avoided court martial by agreeing to return to Timor with the No. 4 Independent Company on the ill-fated ‘Voyager’ in August 1942 and served out the remainder of the campaign with the No. 2 Independent Company. It is apparent from what follows that no long term ‘hard feelings’ were harboured against the four men who were well-regarded by their fellow soldiers, both officers and other ranks. INTRODUCTION BY PADDY KENNEALLY This is an account given to me by Arnold Webb [4] of the journey undertaken by himself and Bob Larney [5] when they left the 2/2nd Independent Company, with the object of reaching Australia and reporting the 2/2nd still operating as a force in the mountains of Timor. It is important that conditions in Timor at this time be known and appreciated, to understand why these two men would leave their unit to attempt such a hazardous undertaking. [6] Briefly, the 2/2nd Independent Company had been sent into neutral Portuguese Timor in December 1941 to forestall an intended Japanese base being formed there in the guise of establishing a civil aerodrome at Dili. This company was to be withdrawn to Dutch Timor when Portuguese troops from Mozambique arrived to reinforce the small garrison of Portuguese troops already in Timor. Nothing went according to plan. The Japanese advance down through Malaya and the subsequent surrender of Singapore and the speed with which they accomplished the conquest of all the East Indies, changed all previous plans for the 2/2nd in Timor. The Portuguese prudently turned back. The Japanese quickly arrived on 19th February 1942. A section of 2/2nd men held the air strip through the night. At dawn they blew up the runway and made their escape out of Dili. The Dutch and their H.Q. had already left. The main body of the 2/2nd dispersed in the mountains, did not even know the Japanese had landed until late next morning. Then the fun and games began. Rumours, rumours and more rumours, men being sent everywhere on patrols and coming back with more rumours, ammunition being moved to various dumps, other stores such as food was no worry - we didn't have any. The Company had landed with one month's supply of rations. There were Dutchmen and Javanese wandering everywhere, mainly west for Dutch Timor until they found out that was gone too. Stragglers coming through from Dutch Timor, were bringing further rumours and little else. The 2/2nd H.Q. was desperately trying to establish the true position. 2i/c, Captain Callinan, was on the go day and night all the way down into Dutch Timor attempting to get a true picture of the position and trying to sift fact from fiction. It is easy to follow the ordinary Private's reaction; in Army parlance, 'Who's up who and who is paying?' With this background, many of the men were doing a bit of planning on their own. (Sgd) PADDY KENNEALLY DES LILYA’S STORY ARNOLD WEBB’S STORY Reinforcement On January 16th, 1941, I sailed from Darwin as a reinforcement to the 2/2 Independent Company which was stationed somewhere in the NEI [Netherlands East Indies]. After three days at sea, we arrived at Koepang, the capital of Dutch Timor. Our party for the 2/2 AIC [Australian Independent Company] consisted of 50 ORs [Other Ranks] and 3 officers. We were immediately transferred to a Dutch gunboat, and after half a day wandering through the dusty, yet somehow picturesque street of the small capital, we sailed for Dili the capital of Portuguese Timor. Three Spurs – Railaco – Vila Maria On arriving the following day, we moved straight out to the Dili drome and I was taken on by truck to Three Spurs camp. There we were made into "D" platoon, and after about a week we moved on to occupy Railaco. Here we stayed about 3 weeks digging AA [Anti-Aircraft] defences and building Water Pipe Camp. Then a subsection of us with Mr Laffy in charge, moved on to make the first ·staging camp at Villa Maria. Here, our fine leader became deeply infatuated with a Portuguese by the name of Brendalina de Silva. [7] But on the night of February 19-20th, news came through that the Japs had landed at Dili in force, and our movements were much faster from then on. Major Spence came through and detailed us all our jobs and patrols. ‘The subject came up about the possibility of making an attempt to reach Australia …’ We left Railaco with Company H.Q. Some days after the Japanese landing in Dili, we crossed the Glano River and headed for Vila Maria. H.Q. was established here. Patrols were coming and going, and ammunition dumps were being established over a wide area of mountains. The wet season was in. Up in the mountains we were shivering from cold or malaria or both. Food was extremely short. At this time, I, with some other men including Bob Larney were assigned to H.Q. We knew little of what the position was. All kinds of stories were circulating as to what was happening elsewhere as we were constantly patrolling. We certainly knew the position in our own area. We talked about prospects amongst ourselves. We knew we had no contact with Australia and were cut off. Any news we gleaned came from the Portuguese who had wireless receiving sets, or just plain rumours. The subject came up about the possibility of making an attempt to reach Australia. Bob Larney was all for it as were some of the H.Q. originals, but no one wanted to be the one to attempt it. Bob Larney was willing but finding a partner to 'give it a go' was a different matter. Bob finally convinced me it was worth a try. We left that night. Some, if not all of those H.Q. men, knew we were going. However, little did we know what we were letting ourselves in for over the next three months. It would have been at the end of February or very early in March when we left the Company somewhere in-the Ermera, Vila Maria area. West to Memo Once again with Laffy in command we set out but this time we kept to the hills and after two days hard going we came to Atsabe. Here we procured horses and moved to Bobonaro and were given excellent treatment by the Controller, Sousa Santos and his pretty wife. Here Mr Laffy told us of his plan of going to Suai and procuring a boat and heading for Australia. But he changed his mind and we left for Memo and on arriving at Memo he said that he was not going on with it. It was then that Sgt. Freeman, Pte. J. Keenahan, Pte. Coles and I decided that we would go to Atapopoe and take a native prahu to Koepang in the hope that we could tell the whole location of our present area, as we had no communications at that time. From Memo we travelled a day and came to Rusa. It was about 3 hours out of there when we met a Javanese, Sgt. van Ligton [Van Linken], who informed us that Atamboea had been taken by the Nips, and we returned, accompanied by him, to Memo. First Move to the West – Linking Up With Des Lilya and Curly Freeman We moved west for a few days depending on the natives in the various villages for food and shelter. We stopped travelling for about three days to rest up and think over our own position. We built a rough shelter. The local Timorese suppled the food. We knew no Tetum so we could not get any information. We moved on but progress was very slow. We were wet, cold and hungry and our shoes were wearing thin. It was about this time we met Des Lilya [8] and Curly Freeman. [9] They were heading back east after being to the Dutch border. They told us they were heading east to keep a rendezvous with a Dutch Sergeant van Linken whom they had met down on the Dutch border. This sergeant seemed to have a good knowledge of the eastern end of the island, Freeman told us. Van Linken had gone ahead to arrange for a boat. We decided to combine our forces and attempt to reach Australia together. Next afternoon we ran into a small Australian patrol heading towards the Dutch border. The leader of the patrol was both curious and suspicious of us. He wanted to know where we had been, what we knew, where we were heading for and whose command we were under. Freeman did all the talking saying he was acting under the orders of Lieutenant Laffy, he was in charge of the patrol and he was heading back to report to Laffy. [10] He must have convinced the patrol leader. [11] They continued west in their efforts to find out what the position was there. East to Com From then on, I will more or less skip through my journey on Timor. We went to Tilomar, then to Maucatar, Bobonaro and at Bobonaro there were only two of us left, Sgt. Freeman and me. Our next stop was Mape and then to Alas. On that trip we met Pte. Larney and Pte. Webb. At Alas. Sgt. van Ligton joined our band again and we then proceeded through Fatu Berliu, Beaco [Beasso], Viqueque, Vatahudo [?], Baguia to Laga. Here we stayed a few days and learnt that a prahu from Kisar was at Com, a small bay at the end of Timor. We obtained a car and boarded the prahu at night, and at dawn we landed on Kisar. Sgt. van Ligton stayed behind on Kisar when we left. To the Eastern End of the Island We continued east. That patrol was the last Australian troops we met before leaving Timor. Who they were I cannot recall. They were 2/2nd men and as we were reinforcements, they didn't recognise us. Quite obviously they were from a section whose members had only heard of us and hadn't met us prior to then. We eventually met up with Sgt. Eddie van Linken. He and Freeman talked about the extra men. The Sgt. was quite friendly, told us we would meet up with this man Hoffman and he had arranged a car and driver to take us to where we could get passage on a boat to Kisa.· He told us he would not be coming with us. He was remaining on Timor. Whether he changed his mind because of Bob Larney and myself adding to the party and causing overcrowding on the boat, I do not know. Next day we met Hoffman somewhere on the Baucau-Beaco Road and stayed that night with him. He had a big receiving set and had all the latest outside world news. He said nothing about Timor or what was happening there. Next day his driver drove north through Viqueque. On passing through that posto we had to crouch down in the car. For some reason the Chinese driver did not wish us to be seen in the car. On reaching the north coast, we turned east and followed the north coast. Arriving at a point near the end of the road quite close to what I now believe was Lautem, we boarded a small boat which was preparing to sail for Kisa. By dark we were well on our way and arrived at Wonreli, Kisar before noon next day. Kisar Kisar was a small but pretty island and the people treated us very well. After three weeks there we were able to obtain a boat of about 25ft to take us to Saumlaki. Our first attempt to leave the island failed, as we were driven back by a storm. When we first landed at Kisar we immediately sent a message to Australia to Melbourne, in fact it was worded as follows: 2/40 BTN SURRENDERED (.) 2/2 AIC STILL FIGHTING ON (.) MEDICAL SUPPLIES FINISHED(.) FOOD FINISHED (.) NEED HELP NOW (.) URGENTLY (.) Sgt. FREEMAN." And we were rewarded on the second night following the message by hearing over the radio that news was received through a small radio station in the NEI that the Australian troops in Timor were still fighting on. Our object achieved, we decided on reaching Australia and bringing help back as soon as possible. On to the Island of Kisar We reported to the Dutch Administrator. He allowed us to stay and live in spare quarters attached to the administrative offices in the building. He also ordered that daily rations be supplied to us while we were there and the kitchen staff to attend to the cooking. We in turn volunteered to man an observation on high ground overlooking the town and the adjacent coastal waters. Spotting for aircraft and shipping was to be our main activity whilst we were on Kisar. I added to our rations by building an oven from a drum, rocks and dirt and baking bread for all the staff and ourselves. There was a transmitting set and wireless operator in Wonreli. We arranged through the Administrator for a message to be sent in the hope that some service station on the Australian coast would pick it up. This message was to the effect that Australian troops were still fighting in the mountains of Portuguese Timor. Whether this message was received or not I do not know as it was never acknowledged. Everybody knew we were looking for a boat to continue our voyage. The wireless operator suggested his uncle may be able to help us. We accepted the offer with thanks and great relief that this problem could soon be solved. He sent a message by boat to his uncle on the island of Leti. Keep Going or Return to Timor? A boat finally arrived from Leti. The weather by now was most unfavourable. The two crewmen were not very keen on attempting the voyage back to Leti under the present conditions. We now had a boat but could not utilise it. We were keyed up and the least little thing made us irritable. The waiting was becoming unbearable and we constantly squabbled and argued amongst ourselves. I wanted to return to Timor, but Bob Larney said 'no' pointing out that if 'we can't leave here for Leti, it is equally impossible to leave for Timor.' It was frustrating. Our store of dried fish, coconuts, sweet corn, dried buffalo meat and some rice was all stored. These stores were standard fare. Our water consisted of about five full stoneware jars holding about fifty gallons in all. These stores and water supply we intended to replenish at all our stops on the trip. We had no intention of dying of thirst or starvation. We talked to the Administrator once more about the trip. He gave Freeman a letter to each Administrator at each of the islands we were to call at on the way. They advised that we were transporting rice to the garrison at Soumlankin on Yamdena Island and to render us all help possible on our voyage. Twice more at the least abatement in the weather, we tried to leave but had to return. Everybody was advising to wait; wait until later in the season. We couldn't wait. The longer we stayed, the greater the risk of the Japanese turning up. We had no wish to be prisoners or killed in a hopeless fight, or worse still, being executed. Leti – Moa We made another attempt on the following day, and more by the cleverness of our crew, which consisted of four natives, than by good luck, in three days we landed on Leti. This island was even smaller than Kisar and had a small population whose main occupation was fishing and roaming from one island to another. If you look on the map you will find it is one of a small group of three islands, separated from one another by about a mile of water. We stayed on Leti a day and then with the tide we lifted anchor and were on our way again. It took us half a day to get on to the shallow reef surrounding Moa and here we had our first shot of bad luck. On striking a hidden rock below the surface, we saw our rudder torn away, and we were forced to aid our crew by diving down and trying to tie our rudder back on with strips of bamboo. We succeeded just before sunset and so we downed sail and propelled the boat along the reef with the aid of long bamboos. It was a fairly hard job and I was relieved when we came to a house on a small beach. So we dropped anchor and slept in a soft bed given to us by the Island Headman. On to Leti, Moa then Lakor At our third attempt we succeeded. We were on our way to the Island of Leti. This was quite a long trip. Weather conditions were extremely bad, high winds and high seas. We were fearful of being swamped. All were happy to reach our destination. The usual formalities with the Administrator at Serwaroe and presenting our letter of introduction. This was to be the procedure up to and including our arrival in Soumlankin. After attending to loading stores and water we set sail for Siota on the Island of Moa. This was a far shorter trip and not too far from land at any time. The weather treated us more kindly. Here we were fortunate. We picked up two natives at Siota who wished to return to their homes on the Island of Sermata. They were expert seamen. We sailed for Werwaroe on the Island of Lakor. The weather was getting worse by the time we arrived off the north-east tip of Moa our sail and jib were torn to ribbons and we were drifting south in Lakor Straight. We finally ran aground off the northern tip of Lakor. Lakor On the following morning we shoved off again, but we did not make much headway as owing to squally rain our backsail became too heavy and ripped down the centre. We then pulled into shore and repaired it. Next day the weather was again favourable, and we cleared the island and made a short run into the island of Lakor. This island was a coral island and also very small. We were able to procure some good meat and we shot a few sea birds which helped us greatly on our next jump, as we had been living on corn and coconuts. Here also we were forced to beach our boat and scrape all the barnacles and seaweed, etc. off the keel and rudder. Our first attempt to leave the island was a failure and our backsail was torn completely in half about 6 miles offshore. So by coming back with the aid of the jib and the strong waves and current, we hit a reef and were forced to wade ashore, getting natives in their canoes to tow our boat back to the bay. We again patched up both boat and sail and using the bamboo poles we were able to get clear of Lakor. Boat Troubles and a Marriage Offer We had to take turns in diving and doing what repairs we could to the rudder. We then poled the boat to deeper water and closer to the island. We anchored the boat and left it in charge of the natives. We waded ashore and set out for the settlement of Werwaroe. We were barefooted and as it was a trip of twelve or so miles across rocks and coral, my feet were badly torn. The rock face was sheer to the sea and the whole area honeycombed with blowholes and water gushing up all over the place. On arrival at the settlement we told the head man of our plight and he soon organised a working party. The main difficulty was getting the Chinese traders to supply another sail and jib to replace our lost ones. We finally had to convince them by cocking and pointing our rifles in their direction. This was the only time we had to resort to this tactic. Elsewhere, help had been generously and cheerfully given. My feet were too badly torn to return to the boat. I stayed with the headman who spent most of his time trying to convince me I should stay on Lakor, marry the local chief's daughter and inherit the clan. I came in for a lot of ribbing from the other three when they returned with our boat. The natives sent to do the job had under the directions of the crew, speedily repaired the damage. The new sail and jib were set, and they sailed her to Werwaroe. Lu Ang – Babar The wind was favourable and after 4 days we were sailing over the huge reef that surrounded Lu Ang. We awaited the incoming tide and landed that night. Lu Ang was formed in the shape of a large mountain with hardly any flat ground on it whatsoever. The population was small, and their main occupation was fishing and pearl shell diving, but the latter had ceased since the Japanese schooners had left the area. They are a tall race and excellent seamen. The Controller was a native from Amboina and he treated us with the utmost courtesy and was very sorry to see us leave. He gave us a guide to sail us through the reef and with a strong wind our small craft travelled at a fair pace. We had no intentions of putting in at Sermata, a long narrow high strip of land which at the time was very badly off for food, but on having sailed half the length of it, bad weather once again drove us into the shore. As soon as the weather cleared up we made another start for Babar, a long heart shaped island. After sailing for approximately four days we struck an early morning calm, and while idling lazily in the deep water a school of sharks started to play around the boat. We had an old chicken leg and fixing it on to a bamboo our crew caught two of them, and although the situation seemed far from pleasant, it provided us with some fresh meat. On to Metatra then Sermata Island Here our departure was again delayed by bad weather. A couple of attempts were made to leave but it was hopeless and after our experience in Lakor Straight, we were reluctant to push our luck. A few days more and we were able to depart. The weather was now much better with a fair wind which was unfortunately not behind us. We were sailing directly into it. Consequently, progress was slow as we were tacking back and forth. However, it was a relief to get a spell from the continuous bailing which we had to do from the moment we sailed from the island of Kisar. Metatra hove in sight. Whether that was the name of the anchorage of the island I can't recall. The inhabitants gave us a great reception, produced an old gramophone and a few records. The only one we recognised was "when the Moon Comes Over the Mountain". We rested up here for a couple of nights before sailing for Le 'Ang Bay in Sermata Island. All seemed to go well with us now. The wind was favourable, and we made good time to Le 'Ang Bay. We sailed up the bay to the settlement bearing the same name. Here we saw a big Chinese lugger anchored close in shore and not far from the Administrator's house and offices. We anchored close by ourselves and went ashore in an out-rigger canoe. Here we said goodbye to our two passengers from the Island of Moa. They had given the crew and us enormous help in our difficulties. It was a sad parting for us. However, we were pleased they had reached their home island safely and hoped it was a good omen for us. Becalmed … ‘Boredom was our worst enemy now’ As always, our first duty was to report to the local Administrator and present our letter of introduction. A brief glance and he asked us how best he could assist us. We explained the sail and jib on our boat had to be returned to the Chinese in Werwaroe on Lakor Island and our stores and water needed replenishing. He quickly organised the sails to be procured from the Chinese lugger. We gave our borrowed ones to him to be returned to Lakor. The stores were put aboard, and we rested for a couple of nights in a safe anchorage. Our morale was now much better. The wind held fair for a few hours and then deserted us altogether. We were totally becalmed. This was far worse than the bad weather. Then at least we kept busy bailing and working for our lives. Here we just sat, absolutely nothing to do. Boredom was our worst enemy now. After a day of doing nothing, bickering and arguments broke out once more and the situation became very intense. I could stand it no longer and jumped overboard hoping I'd drown. My wish would have been granted had it not been for Freeman. I could not swim and was sinking. An oath and a roar from Freeman (I was told later) and Bob Larney and Des Lilya were overboard and grabbed me. I remember little of this. They got me back aboard and revived me. Freeman was furious. "You mad bastard, why die now after all you've been through? We are all well on the way to making it". Then to the three of us. "That's the finish of these stupid arguments. We bite our tongues from now on''. Encounter with the ‘Somoa’ In the afternoon of that same day on nearing Babar I noticed a rather large sailing boat leaving the island and approaching us. It was using motors and a jib. Previous to this, we had heard that there were some Fifth Columnists running away on the best boat from Saumlaki. So we decided to board their boat on the high seas. When it was fairly close to us, I gave the order to turn about and we raced after it. It was a boat of 60 ft, so our small boat gained swiftly, and when only 100 ft from it, a man sitting on a chair on the deck with a tommy gun levelled at us, commanded us to come aboard one at a time. So the position was reversed and on boarding we found that he was a Dutch Intelligence Officer who had come straight from Darwin on board the ‘Somoa’, which was the name of the boat. He gave us 50 guilders and a packet of Australian tobacco and told us that if we stayed on Babar at the village of Tepa which was the capital of the Island, he would send the ‘Somoa’ back to pick us up. [12] Intercepted by a Mysterious Patrol Boat That night the wind came in gently and to our favour. We made our way slowly, but we were progressing in the right direction. Towards next day, we were surprised to see a fairly large boat heading towards us at high speed. We thought "What's this and more importantly who is it, one of ours or one of theirs". I felt and I'm sure the others did do 'is it to be captured or saved'. As it turned out it was neither. She quickly closed the gap between us and hove to. A big blond man, standing at the stern, told us to lower our main sail and jib. He threw us a tow line and invited us aboard. We were amazed at what we saw. Big brown men wearing bangles and rings on their fingers which appeared to be gold and smart looking wristlet watches. More amazing still was the armament. About six belt-fed machine guns, mounted on tripods which were bolted to the deck. These guns could be used for ack-ack or horizontally. They had a 360 degree swivel. After all these years he is still a mystery to me. Was he German, Dutch, English, a disguised patrol boat, a Yank or just a straight out pirate. He gave us a meal and changed his course to one that we had been on, towing us towards our objective, Babar Island. He gave each of us two two-ounce tins of Log Cabin tobacco and two packets of papers. He told us if we stayed on Babar Island, he would return in 40 day’s time and send the boat's motor boat to pick us up. He told us he would not go to Saumlakin which was to be our final destination for delivery of the rice. He also gave us 40 guilden to pay for our keep in Teepa. While we were waiting for his return, after a couple of hours towing he let the tow ropes go and reversed course, heading west. We were relieved to see the last of him. One thing we were not going to do and that was wait forty days in Teepa for his return. Parting Company at Tepa That same night we pulled into Tepa and woke the police up who looked after our needs and brought the Controller before us. Larney and Webb ran amok on some wine and so we sent them on to Saumlaki with the agreement that if they were able to obtain a boat there they were to come back for us and if we got one, we were to take it on to them. After they left, Freeman and I made a tour of the island and at Tutuwawang, a village at the back of the island, we found that the Controller had been robbing the churches and taxing the people for his own foolish ideas, whenever he felt fit. So on our return to Tepa we had it out with him, and he offered to put us in jail. He sent four policemen to get us, but we turned tables on him and nearly put him and his harmless police in jail. The Arab boat that had taken Larney and Webb to Saumlaki had returned and the skipper told us that they had both gone to Darwin by an Australian lugger that came in the day they arrived. Then we left everything and ordered him to take us straight back. He at first declined but we had a way of persuading him. So we said goodbye to the isle of Babar and its notorious controller and sailed for Marsela where we took on water and headed for the open seas again. Once again we struck heavy seas, but the Arab boat was strong, although small. We had a native woman and child on board and the woman with the crew, asked me to lodge a complaint to the Controller about their overlord. A Party at Teepa We made Teepa before daylight next day. As soon as it was daylight Freeman and I approached the Administration offices to pay our respects and present our safe passage letter. The guard told us to wait. We certainly waited, about three or four hours outside a massive steel gate which however was not closed. The Administrator eventually arrived, a short tubby man in immaculately clean whites from head to foot. Freeman handed him our letter of introduction. He glanced at it and told us to bring the other two up. He showed us where our quarters were and ordered the kitchen staff to prepare a meal for us and to attend to our needs while we were there. Once more I went down with malaria. It had been recurring regularly after I had contacted it in Timor. Strangely, none of my three companions had been afflicted with it. I was very ill for a couple of days. It ran its usual cycle leaving me weak and lethargic. The garrison threw a party for us. There was lashings of food, buffalo, pork, goat, sweet potatoes, banana fritters, coffee, Java beer, wine and brandy. A feast we had never sat down to at any time previously in our lives. There were two guitarists from Ambon, good music and good companionship. I gave a couple of tunes on a violin they had. A great night. No one abused the hospitality and there was no trouble. Webb and Larney Split Ways with Freeman and Lilya Unfortunately, that was not to last. Bob Larney wandered down to the Arab quarters and got on the arrack. He started to break out in large red blotches. He sat on the steps leading to our quarters and started to shoot coconuts off the trees. His aim was erratic. The Arabs headed for the hills. The garrison guard discreetly stayed out of sight. Curley Freeman showed up and dressed Larney down and told him he was on his own and to get to hell out of there next morning. Des Lilya stayed with Curley Freeman at Teepa. I decided to go with Bob Larney. Two more natives joined our crew. Unknown to Bob Larney and myself we were sailing into trouble. DES LILYA’S STORY CONTINUED Saumlaki In about four days we stood off Selaru. The natives of this island were hostile, and we were forced to put a few holes in their canoes before we headed for Tanimbar of which Saumlaki was the capital. We were now sailing down between small coral and mangrove islands and we were greatly relieved when, after a rough voyage, we landed on the pier at Saumlaki. There was a small Dutch force of Javanese soldiers, 13 all told, with an Ambonese, Sgt. Tahia in charge of them. A Dutch radio officer, and a Dutch Chief of Police also were there. They all treated us well and we were told that an Australian boat would be in in about a week. Japanese Assault This news was something to rejoice over, but it was far too good to be true for on our fourth day at 4.30am we were awakened by a native who was banging violently on the door. He said that two Australian cruisers were lying off the pier. I walked down and saw two cruisers, but I told them they were Japs. As we watched 6 boats were lowered and all we could hear was the dip, dip of their oars as they came towards the pier. Sgt. Tahia had his men in dug-in positions covering the 500 yard pier. Saumlaki town plan at the time of the Japanese attack [13] The Japs came down the pier after having landed at the end of it four abreast with their rifles· slung over their shoulder. When the column was about 150 yards from Sgt. Tahia he ordered them to stop in many languages and then opened up with his twelve tommy guns and while the tommy guns reloaded, the Lewis gunner opened up. Freeman and I were back a little from this trying to get a tommy gun each. The cruisers then were using their searchlights and six inch guns plus point five machine guns, and the situation was rather sticky. The radio officer raced up to Freeman and I and said we had to go with him to try and get a message through. We then had the job of forcing our way through about 1¼ miles of screaming Chinese and natives. The searchlights picked us a few times and were followed by shells. On reaching the wireless station we managed to get out SOS once before the wires were cut. RV (Rendezvous) The firing at Saumlaki had then ceased and so we wrecked the set and carried the magnetos away and took them into the swamps. We headed for our RV (Rendezvous) which was quite a fair distance away. After trudging through swampy jungle for half a day we came to the RV. Here we waited until Sgt Tahia and his men joined us. Our party now consisted of Freeman, Sgt Tahia, the Dutch Controller, the Dutch Chief of Police, the Controller's manservant and seven soldiers plus me. At the RV we stopped long enough to eat a fine handful of red rice and then pushed on as fast as possible. One of the Javanese soldiers had a piece of shrapnel in his back, so travel was slow. Continuing on after dark we had to light torches of half wet wood. We then reached the village of Makatiandol at 10.30 pm tired and owing to lack of boots my feet were sore. This village was at the end of the track across the island. Next night, we left by a large canoe and sailed up to the next villages. Our only danger now was from the sea and air. Every day, two Nip single-seater planes flew up and down the coast. I had one of my many attacks of malaria here. Here Sgt Tahia left us to go to the island of Larat on a reconnaissance. Meanwhile the rest of the party sailed to a small island called Teinman, on which lived an old German who had served time with the Darwin mounted police. His island was only about a mile square and he used it for a copra plantation. He knew nothing much of what was going on outside. Sgt Tahia returned to us then accompanied by about 12 Javanese soldiers from the Kei Island who were stationed at Tuai. The Japs had attacked them the same night they had attacked us, but with eight cruisers instead of two. Larat - Vordata We planned an attack on Larat which we still believed had a few Japs on it. This time we had a two-masted boat of about 30 feet. We planned to land at dawn, but fate was against us. We hit a reef about midnight and leaking badly we had to wait for the tide. We landed on Larat at 10 am and stormed the town. Not a Jap was in sight, so we proceeded to haul the lugger off the beach. The job took us two days. When we left, we took the controller and his wife and son with us because two spies had already left to inform the Japs at Saumlaki of our stay there. Our new boat was much faster, and for the first time we seemed to be really sailing. It was a boat of about 45 feet and 10 ft beam with two masts. We dropped anchor off the island of Vordata. Here we had to wait for one Javanese soldier who had been left behind on Tanimbar. He turned up after 2 days and we fixed all our water casks and that was our main worry as we had plenty of food brought from the Kei Island. We Set Sail for Australia The people of little Vordata wished us well and we set sail for Australia. Our first mishap was off the west point of the island where a huge wave nearly overturned our heavily laden boat which now had 33 persons on it. We circled the island, and with half our water knocked overboard by the seas, we headed down the east coast of Tanimbar and hoped for the best. Luck was with us and as we watched Tanimbar fade away, all of us saw a convoy of ships going towards Saumlaki. The seas were kind and we made fair headway. We were very cramped, but that was the least of our worries. The Dutch radio officer and Sgt Tahia took charge of the navigation, using an oil compass and a school atlas. Melville Island It took us eight days to sight the coast of what we guessed was Melville Island and we sailed along the coast heading west for two days until we struck Anstey Strait which divides Melville Island from Bathurst Island. As we turned into the mouth of the strait, a Hudson bomber flew over us. We waved and shouted like mad and it circled us twice, gave us a wave and then headed in the direction of Darwin. At this spot we had run aground on a sandbar and an Australian waved to us from the shore and in an old dugout canoe brought us a sugar bag of turtles eggs which were most welcome. He offered to guide us through the channel to Fort Dundas. We lifted off the sandbar with the tide and at sunset we landed at Fort Dundas, where there was a missionary. He gave us a real Australian welcome and sent a native runner to the radio station at Bathurst. The next day we set sail down the Strait and after grounding a number of times we reached the radio station. A Moth plane came in and took the Dutch radio officer straight to Darwin. The next morning they sent an old trawler manned by the Navy, which we all boarded, and it towed our lugger to Darwin. We were met by Intelligence Officers and all sent to Darwin Hospital. [14] Conclusion Freeman and I had made notes of everything important on the different islands and it proved quite useful. We offered to lead troops back to Timor, but it was of no avail. The Javanese and their native friends left us, and we remained in hospital until we returned to our Company. Larney and Webb [were] less fortunate, had been taken to jail for causing a disturbance on Babar. And so ends my storey of a trip which taught me many things. L/Cpl D.L. Lilya. ARNOLD WEBB’S STORY CONTINUED In Australian Hands at Saumlankin HMAS ‘Chinampa’ HMAS ‘Chinampa’One of these new natives had a letter to the Commander at Saumlankin. We had good wind behind us and made good time. We made Saumlankin in the middle of the afternoon about the third day out. There was an Australian lugger tied up at the wharf. It was skippered by an Australian naval officer and had a navy crew. We reported to the garrison commander, gave him our letter of introduction, and delivered our cargo. Unfortunately, the native delivered his letter too. What it contained I can only guess but it was most certainly connected with what happened at Teepa. The commander passed the information on to the naval officer. Next afternoon we boarded the lugger. The Commander soon started on Larney who wasn't slow in answering back. He was detailed to cook for the crew. This he did but did not relent his feud with the skipper. He couldn't win of course but he handed out all he could, piling up more trouble for himself later. [15] Back in Darwin Next afternoon we arrived in Darwin. We were immediately taken to hospital. There we met Alan Hollows and Keith Hayes who had been evacuated from Timor. It was then we found out that contact had been made with Australia sometime towards the end of April. Our journey was in vain and more than likely more trouble was coming our way. It was either the last week in May or the first week in June when we arrived. I know this through one of my friends whom Alan Hollow told he had landed in Darwin exactly twelve weeks after he was wounded and had stayed there for two weeks before being sent south to hospital. If this is correct, Alan landed in Darwin on May 25 and left on June 8 so somewhere between these two dates, Bob Larney and I landed in Darwin. Interrogated by Intelligence Next day Intelligence commenced questioning us concerning the places we had been to and what we had seen. Timor was not even mentioned. We told them we had only seen odd Japanese planes and then only in singles. They were, we told them, quite obviously on reconnaissance patrol. However, on one occasion one had strafed Wonreli in Kisar. We informed them that we saw no Japanese troops whatsoever during our voyage. We told them of the Chinese lugger in Le' Ang in Sermata. We also told them of the strange heavily armed boat with the blond skipper and unusual crew and what he had told us concerning waiting for him at Teepa and finally delivering the cargo and boat to Saumlankin and our voyage thence to Darwin with the Navy. The men from Intelligence returned next day and told us they had no records of the boat, skipper or crew which we had seen between Sermata and Barar. At the hospital we were given a medical check and remained there for some days. In Detention – ‘The guards were sadistic bastards’ A Provost arrived to take us away. He said, "I don't know what you've done boys, but they are putting you in a crook boob". He certainly was right. The guards were sadistic bastards. On some occasions they marched the prisoners all night, taunting them with "We can get relief, you bastards can't". On one occasion a guard named Masters fired shots from a pistol over our heads. On another occasion some Yankee soldiers came up to the compound and threatened to come back and shoot 'every goddam son of a bitch of guards'. [16] Bob Larney was back in the cook house. I was serving in the staff mess. I collapsed and was taken to hospital and was placed in a section of the ward that was completely mosquito proof. I was its first patient and underwent the full malarial treatment course there. Some days later the second patient arrived. He was a crew member from the lugger that had brought us from Saumlankin to Darwin. I enquired about the Skipper. "Dead" he said. I asked how. "We returned to Saumlankin and the Japs had captured the place. They opened up and the Skipper was killed. We got the boat out and back to Darwin" he told me. [17] On hearing this news, I wondered how Des Lilya and Curley Freeman were faring. I had finished my malaria course. No effort was made to discharge me or return me to the detention camp. Reunited with Des Lilya and Curley Freeman Up at the canteen I bumped into Des Lilya and Curley. They told me their story. As far as I recall, here it is. They remained in Teepa awaiting another boat to Saumlankin. One at last set out and they were on it. How long they were there I do not know how long they were in Saumlankin before the Japanese arrived I cannot recall. It's enough to say that when they did arrive, Curley and Des were with the Dutch garrison. The Dutch guns engaged the Japanese gunboat. Whether it was a destroyer or cruiser I do not know. The Japanese fire was far heavier, so the Dutch withdrew, Curley and Des with them. They headed north up the island, blowing up a transmitting station on the way. On reaching the north-east tip of Yamdena they rafted across to the island of Larat. There they found a Japanese boat. It was two masted and all its sails and lanyards were in good running order. The Dutch soon had sails hoisted and they were heading for Darwin. An Australian patrol boat took them in tow at Melville Island. [18] Back to the ‘Boob’ They were surprised to hear we had been placed in detention. I told them I was going back there to let Bob Larney know they had made it. I asked to be returned to the 'boob'. They said, "no fear, you stay where you are". I insisted they get a provost to escort me back. They thought I was mad however, they did as I asked. I returned to my job as mess waiter to the staff. I gave Bob Larney the news about Curley and Des, also about the death of the skipper. He didn't waste any tears for the Skipper. Once more marching all night and shots over our heads. Without doubt, army prison guards must be brought up from the cesspits of hell. About 10 days after I re-entered the detention camp we were released. We went to a staging camp which I think was Winnellie. Surprisingly Lilya and Freeman had been sent south on leave. They were intercepted somewhere south and returned to Darwin. Return to Timor on the ‘Voyager’ We boarded the ‘Voyager’ in September 1942 to return to Timor with the 2/4th Independent Company. We landed at Betano on the south coast, so did the ‘Voyager’. She ran aground and is still there. She also brought the Japs out once more. This time they achieved what they had never previously been able to accomplish, reach the south coast of Timor. Even though we now had two companies there, either they were getting better, or we were slipping. Des Lilya and I went to 'A' Platoon, back where I was in February 1942 but in a different area. I went to 2 section, Des went either to No.1 or 3 Section. Curley Freeman and Bob Larney went to 4 Section in 'B' Platoon. We saw out the remainder of the Timor campaign. Home on Leave then New Guinea Back to Australia on leave then six months. Later to New Guinea where we fought in the Ramu River campaign from June 1943 to its finish. We were the first unit in there and the last one out. Curley Freeman had left us after Timor. Des Lilya went to Z Force and was killed in a plane shot down over Timor in 1945. He died over the island where he had first fought four years before. [19] After New Guinea Bob Larney and I were still with the unit. Transfer to the 2/2nd Forestry Company on New Britain On to New Britain, still with the 2/2nd. Whilst at Jacquinot Bay, I wandered down to a sawmill run by the 2/2nd Forestry Company. It was like being home in Hill End, Victoria. I saw so many men I had worked with falling timber and in the mills. They told me their C.O. was Major Benallia. I ran into him at the mill. We shook hands and he asked me what I was doing. I told him I was with the 2/2nd Commandos and told him the story. He said, "I could do with you here". I said, "I'll see". I saw Major Laidlaw, C.O. of the 2/2nd Commandos and told him the story. He said, "Right Arnold, if that's what you want, I'll sign the transfer". Within 48 hours of lodging the transfer, I was in the 2/2nd Forestry Coy. I started in the mill as a sawyer. After a short period I was promoted to Lance Corporal and put in charge of the second shift. Trouble arose with the native fallers in the bush. Major Benallie asked me would I take over the supervising of the native fallers as I had had much experience with native carrier when a member of the 2/2nd Commandos. I consented and was promoted Corporal and went out to the felling gangs. We got over whatever difficulties that had arisen. I was fortunate in that some of the natives had known me in the Ramu. Wars End Work proceeded smoothly after that and we had no difficulty in reaching our target. I collapsed from malaria, pleurisy and overwork and was taken to hospital in Jacquinot Bay. After a couple of weeks, I returned to the Unit. Within a few days I was informed that I was being sent back to Australia on discharge. The war was over. I was home for Christmas and returned to Royal Park for discharge on 8 January 1946. Nearly five years of my life was spent in the army. It was a way of life new to me. It wasn't all that hard to take, even the worst of it. Being placed in detention in Darwin, guarded by thugs masquerading as men, I did not take kindly to. Reflections on Lilya, Freeman and Larney As stated, Des Lilya died over Timor in 1945, Curley Freeman was heard of no more after ill health forced him out of the unit on our return from Timor in December 1942. Men who served with him held him in high regards as a soldier. He had qualities of leadership which he displayed on numerous occasions during our trip from Kisar to Babar. Bob Larney served right through with the unit until it was disbanded in 1946. In 'B' Platoon or ‘B’ Troop as it was later known, he was considered a tough, hard soldier. If there was any fear in his make-up, it never showed. After overcoming his initial wildness and lack of discipline, he was a first class reliable man and soldier. Paddy Kenneally also recorded this tribute to Bob in 1984: ‘Bob Larney was killed in a motor car accident on 13th December 1974. I was lucky and managed to find where his widow lived. We had not seen Bob for years, and then only once. I caught up with his history. He married a Land Army Girl from Roma while the war was still on, raised four girls and one son - the son was a long time behind the rest, he was only eight when Bob was killed. A fine boy, [he] finished school last year after his finals and has a good position with a future. All the girls are married and spread around the country. Looking and listening to Mrs Larney, I reckon she was the best luck Bob ever had. She is a fine woman. Reckon that's what turned the rough, wild tearaway from Redfern to reasonable mellowness. There was one hell of a lot of good beneath that wild exterior, as Norman Thornton could testify. If Bob was about when Norman arrived at the end of his track it would have been a happy reunion. They had a friendship, understanding, and a high regard for each other hidden under the guise of rough humour and banter’. [20] CONCLUDING REMARKS BY PADDY KENNEALLY The facts concerning the voyage from Timor to Darwin undertaken by Curley Freeman, Bob Larney, Des Lilya and Arnold Webb, are given in simple language by Arnold Webb. Any departure from that simplicity occurs because of my inability to adequately describe the events in like expression. It is not a departure from the veracity of the facts as such. I have spent many hours in his company. I believe he has understated rather than exaggerated events on that trip. Arnold Webb was raised on a dairy farm in Victoria during the hungry thirties; like most of his generation raised on similar farms in that era, he was raised on a diet of wholesome food, strenuous work and hardship. The apparently impossible, was to people like him, slightly more difficult that the ordinary. Just a matter of finding a way around it. Consequently, the difficulties experienced were no more than expected on a voyage as was undertaken by them. He is to be complimented for the time and thought he put into recalling events that took place 40 years ago. He is the only survivor still alive who took part in that trip. [21] Des Lilya died over Timor when as a member of Z Force, the plane in which he was travelling, was shot down over Timor in I believe, 1945. Bob Larney was killed in a car accident on 13 December 1974. Curley Freeman is almost certainly dead; no one has heard of him since he left our unit after its return to Australia in 1942. If he is not, and anyone knows of him or his whereabouts, I for one would like to hear from them. [22] Should there be any errors in Arnold Webb's account, it is understandable. Recalling events that happened over forty years without benefit of diaries, notes, or some other participant to help jog the memory is quite a feat; to expect it to be free of error is to yearn for the miraculous. My only wish is that some person with far more ability than I possess, would take hold of the story of that voyage bring it to life and make the reader live every moment of fear hope, frustration and at times despair, but at all times humour and courage. My thanks to Arnold, at least four men to liked and respected, no matter what their faults or virtues, will continue to live in our minds more vividly and for a little longer. (Sgd) PADDY KENNEALLY REFERENCES [1] C.D. (Colin D.) Doig. - A history of the 2nd Independent Company and 2/2 Commando Squadron. - Carlisle, W.A.: Hesperian Press, 2009: 74-75. [2] ‘Des Lilya's Story - Via Dave Dexter’ 2/2 Commando CourierApril 1991: 7, 11-13. [3] The original document is contained in the 2/2 Commando Association of Australia archives. [4] Arnold Samuel Webb, VX58984 - https://doublereds.org.au/history/men-of-the-22/vx/arnold-samuel-webb-r731/ [5] Robert Sydney (Bob) Larney, NX39586 - https://doublereds.org.au/history/men-of-the-22/nx/robert-sydney-larney-r408/ [6] Paddy makes reference to only Webb’s account in his opening words but they are also applicable to Lilya’s account. [7] On Brendalina de Silva, see Appendix 1. [8] Desmond Laurence (Des) Lilya, NX48987 - https://doublereds.org.au/history/men-of-the-22/nx/desmond-laurence-lilya-r410/ [9] Johnny (Curly) Freeman, NX41543 - https://doublereds.org.au/history/men-of-the-22/nx/johnny-freeman-r219/ [10] John Phillip Laffy, NX77257 - https://doublereds.org.au/history/men-of-the-22/nx/john-phillip-laffy-r407/. [11] The leader of the patrol was Captain Bernard Callinan who recorded the encounter in the unit war diary as follows: 2 Mar[ch] Left CAILACO approx. 0800 hours arrived MEMO approx. 1700 hours. Was surprised to meet Lt Laffy and A/Sgt McCabe whom I thought were carrying out a patrol around LETE FOHO (NOVA OBIDOS) area. He informed me he had been sent there by the Administrator at BOBNARA [Bobonaro] as being a safe place. His four men, he informed me had been sent back to Coy H.Q. at Villa Maria as runners. I instructed him to return to CAILACO the next day … 3 Mar[ch] I discovered that Lt Laffy’s four men under A/Sgt Freeman had come into the town during the night; they had come in from DUTCH territory and were accompanied by some fugitive DUTCH soldiers from DILLI [Dili]. I ordered Lt LAFFY to take the AUSTRALIANS back to CAILACO …. AWM52 25/3/2. [12] Operation Lion was formed to establish an intelligence centre on central Sulawesi (called Celebes at the time). First Lieutenant I.H.T. Hees, 1st Cl. B. Belloni, a telegraphist and Sailor J.L. Brandon comprised the party which left Darwin by the prahu ‘Somoa’ on 24 June 1942, to land near Wotoe, 60 kilometres (37 miles) west of Malili, on Celebes. Lieutenant Hees had previously worked as an engineer for the department of public works and it was hoped he could contact one of his "mandoers" (overseers). The party was contacted by radio on 7 November 1942, however their signals were too weak to be received. [a] [a] National Archives of Australia (1946) – [The Official History of the Operations and Administration of] Special Operations – Australia [(SOA), also known as the Inter-Allied Services Department (ISD) and Services Reconnaissance Department (SRD)] Volume 2 – Operations – Copy No. 1 [for Director, Military Intelligence (DMI), Headquarters (HQ), Australian Military Forces (AMF), Melbourne: 6. On 14 December 1942, two Dutch NCO's (from the NEI Section) were in Darwin awaiting movement to LION party, but it was suspected that LION had come under Japanese control they were not dispatched. National Archives Australia (1942–1945) – [SRD (Services Reconnaissance Department) HQ] NEI [Netherlands East Indies] Section IASD [Inter-Allied Services Department]: 4-5. On 5 January 1945, a party of five Indonesians under the codename of Operation Apricot left Darwin to ascertain the fate of Operation Lion. The leader was captured; the remainder were evacuated by Catalina flying boat on 31 January 1945. [c] [c] National Archives Australia NEI Section, p. 5. [13] Julius Tahija. - Julius Tahija, entrepreneurs of Asia horizon beyond. – Singapore: Singapore Times Books International 1995: 45. For more on Tahija and the defence of Saumlaki see Paul Anthony Rosenzweig Ziarah: the Gull Force Association pilgrimages to AmbonMaster of Arts by Research (AMA), Northern Territory University, 1999: 43-47. https://espace.cdu.edu.au/eserv/cdu:6343/Thesis_CDU_6343_Rosenzweig_P.pdf. [14] Staff Officer (Intelligence), Darwin, report to NOIC Darwin, 20 August 1942 and Preliminary report by Colonel Sandberg GHQ SWPA, 30 August 1942, Australian Archives Series MP1587/1, Item 120A "Saumlaki, Japanese invasion of Tanimbar". Tahija's escape party comprised 21 KNIL soldiers, 5 Dutch officials, 5 policemen, one woman and two children, and 2 Australians - Sergeant Freeman and Private Lilija [Lilya], who had escaped from Timor and had joined Tahija at Saumlaki. [15] The Australian lugger was the ‘Chinampa’ commanded by Commissioned Warrant Officer (WO) Frederick Henderson, RANR. http://www.navy.gov.au/hmas-chinampa [16] A harsh attitude by the military staff towards detention prevailed; military prisons and detention compounds were to be an effective deterrent to errant behaviour and the sort of place that men would not prefer over the front line. Many of the Provost guards or ‘screws’ as they were more popularly known were ill-educated and poor character and the harsh regime they imposed on the inmates was condoned by their supervising officers. The Darwin detention centre was especially notorious in this regard. See Glenn Wahlert ‘The other enemy?’ Australian soldiers and the Military Police. -Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1999: 127-139. [17] ‘Chinampa’ anchored in Saumlakin harbour 30 July 1942 and, expecting a small Dutch force to still be in control, her commanding officer, Bob Larney’s nemesis WO Fred (Chick) Henderson, went ashore but after being fired upon, rejoined his ship. When the more heavily armed ‘Southern Cross’ arrived the next day, ‘Chinampa’ proceeded to the jetty to attempt to land her troops but was forced to withdraw after coming under heavy fire which killed the 34 year-old Henderson and wounded two others. ‘Chinampa’ and ‘Southern Cross’ consequently withdrew without landing their troops and returned to Darwin where they arrived on 2 August 1942. See Paul Anthony Rosenzweig ‘Ziarah: the Gull Force Association pilgrimages to Ambon’ Master of Arts by Research (AMA), Northern Territory University, 1999: 39-42. https://espace.cdu.edu.au/eserv/cdu:6343/Thesis_CDU_6343_Rosenzweig_P.pdf [18] For the full story from Des Lilya’s recollections see the latter part of this post. [19] For Des Lilya’s remaining story including his death on Timor see Appendix 2. [20] Paddy Kenneally ‘Letter’ 2/2 Commando CourierAugust 1984: 10.https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/1984/Courier%20August%201984.pdf. See also https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/190034831/robert-sydney-larney. [21] See also, Col Doig ‘Vale Arnold Webb’ 2/2 Commando CourierOctober 1992: 5 https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/1992/Courier%20October%201992.pdf [22] Lionel [sic] (Curly) Freeman’s death ‘in early April 1969 after a long illness’ was in fact reported in the 2/2 Commando CourierMay 1969: 14. https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/1969-05%20-%20Courier%20May%201969.pdf APPENDIX 1 Brandolinda da Silva Brandolinda da Silva (left rear) with her family in Portugal, June 1945 Ray Aitken recalled the attractive and feisty Brandolinda da Silva and her relationship with Lieutenant John (Jack) Laffy: “The small party made the climb into Hatu Builico the following morning and spent the night there. At this time the Chef Posto was da Silva whose daughter Brendalina was the most personable eligible young European on the island. Brendalina had been in Ermera when the Japanese had paid their first visit to the town shortly after "B" Platoon left Ifoo (Ai-Fu). The Japs made themselves at home and their senior officers had demanded and received hospitality at her own. The Jap officers were courteous enough but did not prevent their troops from commandeering furniture for fires as it was raining heavily, and the furniture provided a ready source of dry fuel. Brenda was a hot-tempered young Latin who had accepted the loss of chairs and tables with rising anger. When she discovered that the Japs had wrenched the lid off her piano, she 'did her block' as the Australians say. Without thought of the consequences, she appeared on the verandah beside the officers who were still dining, with a sixteen gauge shotgun. The two Japanese carrying the piano lid ran hurriedly down the slope but Brendalina 'browned' them with both barrels of quail-shot in their meaty parts. The officers roared with laughter and admiration. One of them quietly disarmed Brendalina and wrapped the shotgun around a verandah post then still writhing with mirth they rose as one man and bowed to her in appreciation. Their manners were wasted on Brendalina. She was finished with Japs for all time as her face flushed with rage and her eyes flashed when the story was retold. She saw no humour in the situation and was cross with herself because in her haste and anger she had snatched quail instead of buckshot. At this time, Brendalina had a 'thing' about one of our reinforcement officers known as Tenenti Jack [Lieutenant John (Jack) Laffy]. The Tenenti was a plausible rogue of considerable presence and carriage. Brendalina's image of him was that he was the individual hero of the Company and that while he stayed on the island the Japs were in imminent danger of defeat. This was not at all our opinion of the Tenenti, but emotional interest is notoriously blind. Charlie and Ray had a morning dip in the creek which coming from the peaks was icy cold. They found it rather disconcerting to have Brendalina conduct a conversation with them from a short distance away while they bathed. She removed herself a little while they dried and changed and then conducted them to breakfast. Hatu Builico at about eight thousand feet had many acres of splendid peaches. Despite Brendalina's supervision of the Posto culinary department, it was peaches and cream which claimed most of the attention of Charlie and Ray. They had eaten them for dinner and now they had them for breakfast to the utter astonishment of the omelette eating da Silvas”. [1] [1] Ray Aiken Tales of the Second Second, privately published: 60-61. APPENDIX 2 Des Lilya’s Death on Timor SUNBAKER aircraft crash site indicated on map top left Des Lilya transferred to from the 2/2 Commando Squadron to Z Force in September 1944. He was a member of the Operation SUNBAKER team that was tasked with establishing a shipping observation post on the eastern end of the island of Flores – i.e. west of Portuguese Timor. The SUNBAKER party of four Australians conducted an aerial reconnaissance of the area on 17 May 1945 – a few days before their planned parachute insertion, in a RAAF B-24 Liberator aircraft of 200 Flight. However, the aircraft did not return, and the party and RAAF crew were posted as “missing” on 22 May 1945. The wreckage of the aircraft was found in mid-September 1945 by the SRD GROPER party in the mountainous Maubisse area of Portuguese Timor – about 45km south of Dili. All onboard the aircraft (totalling 15) had been killed in the crash. The bodies were subsequently recovered and buried in the Ambon War Cemetery; see Ernest Chamberlain. - Forgotten men: Timorese in special operations during World War II. - Point Lonsdale, Vic. : Ernest Chamberlain, 2010: 31. The crash site has been located but all that remains now is some of the undercarriage. Undercarriage from the wreck RAAF B-24 Liberator aircraft of 200 Flight in which Des Lilya died Des Lilya’s memorial plaque, Lovekin Drive, Kings Park PREPARED BY Ed Willis REVISED 14 September 2019.
  3. COMMANDO CAMPAIGN SITES – EAST TIMOR ERMERA DISTRICT ERMERA GPS: 8°45′8″S 125°23′49″E “Ermera (Vila de Ermera—see Map No. 16) is 12 miles (19 km.) from Aileu at a bearing of 260°. One of the larger towns in the province. It is a posto and market town situated about 2,000 feet (600 m.) above sea level. The district is very rich in coffee, maize, rice and rubber. The natural vegetation is fairly heavy on the southwest and northern sides, and the mountains, which are very steep, help to give good air protection. The posto commands a good view of the Glano Flats and also the main road which crosses the flat and winds its way round the mountain sides to the posto. There are about 40 stone buildings, the most important ones being the posto, church, school and Chinese trading shops. A good M.T. [Motor Transport] road passes through the town to Fatu-Bessi. Australian troops occupied the town in March and April; Japanese in May and June, Australians July and August, 1942. It is believed to be once again held by Japanese forces [1943]. There is a reticulated water system with supply tank behind the church.” [1] Ermera’s location from map in Area Study of Portuguese Timor (1943) [2] Signaller Corporal Harry Wray described his first visit to Ermera in April 1942 as follows: "We stayed some hours at this house before pushing on to Ermera that we entered from the rear of the town and made our way past a quite important looking building complete with rather fine gardens, and fountain in the front paved courtyard. The Porto’s were all keen on fountains and paved yards in front of their houses. We discovered that the building was the home of the local Comandante. From the Commandante’s yard we emerged into a large town square, well paved and surrounded by large trees, along the sides of the spacious square were the usual Chinese shops. After crossing the square we set off down a well-made road and had not gone far when a coloured gentleman in a motor car appeared, he pulled up and gave us much cheering war news, all wrong and very much exaggerated I fear, but it sounded good to us. At the time we were willing to believe anything in the way of good news’. [3] Map of Ermera (1943) [4] SIGNIFICANCE Ermera became known to Callinan early in the campaign: “The following week [after Christmas 1941] Major Spence authorised Callinan to make a reconnaissance of the road that ran from Dili through the middle of the colony, to the Dutch border. It was important to know as much as possible of this road, and of the country it traversed, as it would doubtless be the route along which the 2/2nd would withdraw, should the Japanese land in Dili in force. The following day they tried again, this time reaching the town of Ermera, less than fifty kilometres to the south. There, they were met by Portuguese Government officials who were polite though unwelcoming. Once again Callinan turned back in the interests of diplomatic harmony. But the ‘recce’ had been valuable – it had enabled the four officers to map the road, get the lie of the land and make the acquaintance of many local people”. [5] Ermera was again in mind when the camp at Three Spurs was established: “It was decided in mid-January to move C Platoon from its terrible positions round the aerodrome to a new campsite about ten kilometres inland, to the south. Named Three Spurs (there were three spurs in the immediate area) it was strategically placed on the main road to the town of Ermera – the only road to the border with Dutch Timor”. [6] The Japanese used Ermera as their base when they first sortied in force from Dili after their invasion: “The Bazar-Tete ambush was a precursor to a determined drive by the Japanese into the hills south-west of Dili, where the Australians were now based. On 4 March, two days after the ambush, the Japanese moved about 500 troops and artillery into the town of Ermera, a key trading post in the mountains above Dili, and in mid-March they began shelling Australian positions in the Gleno Valley around Ermera. From Ermera the Japanese pushed out further south to the villages of Lete-Foho and Hato-Lia. The men from C Platoon who patrolled this area watched from the hills above as the Japanese moved brazenly into their territory unchallenged”. [7] Discussing the situation in early April, Robinson recorded that: The enemy had meanwhile moved strong forces into Ermera, the main town out on the hills from Dilli which boasted quite a thriving marketplace. It was 2000 feet up in the hills and the surrounding area was very rich in coffee, rice, and maize. It was a good strategical position for the Japanese to occupy as it commanded the approaches to the Glano Valley and two or three good roads. Reports showed that the Japanese were consolidating here, their closest base to the Australians. In this same area “C” platoon were most active. [8] Soon afterwards by mid-late April: “For their part, the Japanese had established a base at Ermera about thirty kilometres south of Dili – a modest advance, given their strength and the length of time they had been in Timor. (Their comrades had swept through Malaya in less than half the time). They believed that from Ermera they would be well positioned to control any 2/2nd activities, however they did not take into account their need for a supply line along a twenty- kilometre stretch of road, which the Australians now knew by heart. Indeed, there was not a bend or an ambush point with which they were not familiar. The enemy reacted to the ambushes by setting up ‘strong posts’ along the road to protect their convoys. They were also to be used as bases from where their troops would flush out the Australians. It was precisely what the 2/2nd had hoped for: the Japanese were now fragmenting their force and exhausting their troops with twenty-four hour guards over every position they occupied. [9] Map showing Ermera’s significance in the first half of the Timor campaign [10] “The Ermera ground defences were particularly interesting: the schoolhouse was said to have been surrounded with weapon trenches which covered all approaches to the town, while another line of trenches had been dug on a hill overlooking the town”. [11] “Incredible as it may seem, the David and Goliath struggle on Timor had, by the end of July 1942, reached something of a stalemate. The 2/2nd had the Japanese ‘surrounded’ in Dili (the enemy had withdrawn from Ermera, allowing the Australians to reclaim it) and the Australians were feeling remarkably confident – not only of holding their positions, but of keeping the enemy bottled up in the capital. Indeed, it seemed that only a concerted mass attack could succeed in dislodging the 2/2nd from its mountain strongholds. The possibility of such an attack was always on the Australians’ minds and everything possible had been done to make sure they were forewarned so that they could disrupt any motorised advance. When the enemy withdrew from Ermera the dust from their trucks had barely settled before the Australians moved back in and resumed their patrols as far as the coast. They even took to erecting checkpoints on roads leading from the capital to make sure no food was taken in”. [12] Recent aerial view of Ermera [13] VISITING ERMERA TODAY Ermera can be visited as part of a day trip from Dili or as a stopping point on a trip to other locations further south as Lete Foho, Atsabe or Maliana. “The inland route runs from Dili to Ermera, then to Maliana and Balibo through the mountains, before finally reaching the coast at Batugade, just before the West Timor border. Today the sealed coast road is in much better shape, although from Dili the inland road is OK as far as Ermera”. [14] Road route between Dili - Ermera “West of Dili keep going south at the Tibar T-junction. The road (very good) winds through tranquil valleys and over heavily-forested mountains. After 35 min, it reaches the wide valley where Gleno, the district capital, is located. After Gleno, the road quickly gets worse as it winds into the mountains, often flanked by coffee trees and with views of Ramelau on the left. After about 1.5 more hours, you will have passed the turnoff to Ermera …” [15] As in many parts of Timor-Leste the road is being progressively upgraded and roadworks will frequently be encountered along the way. “Ermera stands in the heart of coffee country. Dominated by a church overlooking a single commercial centre and marketplace. Ermera formerly hosted a small community of Chinese merchants and coffee buyers. Traces of its former prosperity have undoubtedly faded, however. During the Indonesian occupation the marketplace came to be dominated by Muslim immigrants as the original Chinese merchants had fled. Today the economic outlook in Ermera is bleak just as poverty is apparent to the user”. [16] “The area around Ermera, 62km southwest of Dili, was once the main coffee plantation of Portuguese Timor. It is still a major coffee-producing area but things have changed. Coffee brought wealth to the town, and good examples of Portuguese architecture can be seen, including a beautiful church. The old part of town is interesting to wander around, although Emera’s best days are in the past. It has been a regular location of political upheavals since 2002. During the independence struggle, Nino Konis (or Conis) Sanatana, who succeeded Xanana Gusmão after his capture, was based for a time in Ermera. Unfortunately Sanatana died in an accident in early 1998, just over a year before the independence referendum”. [17] Comparing the 1943 map of Ermera with the recent aerial view from Google Maps shows the street layout hasn’t changed. The town’s growth was stunted during the Indonesian era by their establishment of the new town of Gleno in the valley lower down; this trend has been continued in the independence era. The town was heavily bombed by the Japanese and the allies during WWII and not many of the Portuguese buildings that existed at that time have not survived. The church at the western end of the main street, for example, was photographed in ruins in late 1945 but rebuilt in the same place sometime afterward, apparently in the image of the old. The elegant steps at the front survived the war and provide an inviting approach to the building itself. Blue azulejo tilework features on the first landing of the steps and the stations of the cross inside the church. “The unique Timorese cult of the Virgin manifests itself once a century in a special procession, when a statue of NossaSenhora Peregrina kept in the church in Ermera is carried to all 13 of the province's districts. … But annual processions, albeit on a smaller scale, take place for the Virgin Mary on May 13 and October 13, and there is a three-day carnival before Lent begins”. [18] The Portuguese era posto at the eastern was built in 1957 as a replacement for the old. [18] REFERENCES [1] ASPT: 28. [2] ASPT Timor road and tracks map. [3] Wray recollections: 64. [4] ASPT: Map 16. [5] Ayris: 74. [6] Ayris: 78. [7] Cleary: 120. [8] Robinson: 44. [9] Ayris: 246. [10] An Atlas of Australia’s wars: Map 82. [11] Ayris: 271. [12] Ayris: 307. [13] Google Maps. [14] Lonely Planet Timor: 67. [15] https://en.wikivoyage.org/wiki/Ermera. [16] Gunn, Historical dictionary of East Timor, 84. [17] Lonely Planet Timor: 67. [18] Kal Muller. – East of Bali from Lombok to Timor. – Lincolnwood, Ill.: Passport Books, ??: 267. [19] Date inscription on front foundation. Prepared by Ed Willis Revised: 8 September 2019 ERMERA, PORTUGUESE TIMOR. 1946-01-25. THE SMALL POSTO (FORT) OF ERMERA (MIDDLE DISTANCE) ERMERA, PORTUGUESE TIMOR. 1946-01-26. RUINS OF THE OLD STONE POSTO (FORT) Portuguese era posto building (built 1958), now sub-district administration office - May 2019 ERMERA, PORTUGUESE TIMOR. 1946-01-26. THE MAIN STREET OF ERMERA Main Street of Ermera looking from the administration office down towards the church - May 2019 ERMERA, PORTUGUESE TIMOR. 1946-01-26. THE RUINED STONE CHURCH (LEFT) AND SCHOOL BUILDING (RIGHT). ... Church at Ermera with the school in the background - April 2014 ERMERA, PORTUGUESE TIMOR 1945-12-26. A RUINED CHURCH AT ERMERA, AN AREA VISITED BY MEN OF SPARROW FORCE Blue azulejo tile work features on the first landing of the steps leading up to the church - May 2019 ERMERA, PORTUGUESE TIMOR 1945-12-26. INTERIOR OF THE RUINED CHURCH AT ERMERA
  4. 2/2 INDEPENDENT COMPANY MEMORIAL ROCKY CREEK WAR MEMORIAL PARK, ATHERTON TABLELAND, QUEENSLAND Sunday 11 August 2019 saw the unveiling of a memorial to the 2/2nd Independent Company at Rocky Creek War Memorial Park on the Atherton Tableland, Queensland. This was part of the larger ceremony there to commemorate Victory in the Pacific Day. [1] The Memorial Park is situated on the site of the 2/2 Australian General Hospital laundry and medical stores site at Rocky Creek adjoining the Kennedy Highway near Tolga on the Atherton Tableland. The installation of the plaque was the initiative of Sally Mellick who is the daughter of Captain Ian McPhee, Regimental Medical Officer (RMO) of the 2/2nd on New Britain. [2] Sally expressed her regret that this process could not be completed while Keith Hayes was still alive, as he had kindly contributed to the text on the monument. The Association thanks and commends Sally for taking this initiative. Sally has expressed her thanks to Association Committee member John Cramb for his assistance with the project. In an e-mail to the Association, Sally mentioned that “the 2/2nd's wartime presence in that area was very brief and involved only a few men (led by Colin Doig and described, for example, in his book), but I strongly believe this form of recognition is important, among all the other monuments there”. BACKGROUND Units of the Australian 6th and 7th Divisions arrived on the [Atherton] Tableland in January 1943 and began establishing tent encampments around the settlements of Wongabel, Wondecla and Ravenshoe. The 9th Division returned to Australia from the Middle East during February and the following month moved into camps around Kairi, Tinaroo and Danbulla. … Jungle warfare training took place in rainforest country near Tully Falls, Longland Gap, Mount Edith near Mount Bartle Frere and on Rainy Mountain in the Kuranda Range. Following the capture of Buna and the end of the Kokoda campaign, Australian operations on the north coast of New Guinea continued with the advance towards Salamaua, the capture of Lae, the subsequent advance up the Markham and Ramu River valleys, the landing at Finschhafen, and the taking of Sattelberg. Cairns replaced Townsville during 1943 as the main port of embarkation for Australian troops engaged in the New Guinea campaigns. [3] Colin Doig provided the fullest account of the 2/2’s connection with the Atherton Tableland [4]: “Anzac Day 1943 was celebrated at Canungra with a parade at the local War Memorial. Soon after word came through that 2nd Ind. Coy, was to be brigaded with the other Independent Companies and become part of the 6th Cavalry Commando Regiment and were to go to the Atherton Tableland in North Queensland to be trained and integrated into the Regiment. The Bull selected me to take an advance party to the Tableland and prepare the campsite for the Company to occupy. [5] I took off for Brisbane with a little band that comprised Cpl. Bernie Langridge, Cpl. Don Murray, Ptes. Alex Boast, Tom Crouch, Paddy Kenneally and Wendel Wilkerson, all good performers with axe and shovel. [6] There were other advance parties awaiting the departure of the train at Brisbane, and one crowd started a bit of a kerfuffle about seating or something and reckoned they were not going to board the train. I smartly told my mob we were going irrespective of the others. I got the message to the officer in charge of the other advance party and the train departed on time. The trip to Cairns was uneventful. There we caught the train from Cairns to the Tableland. This rail trip was a real stunner. We passed through nineteen tunnels on the climb from Cairns Bay to Barron Falls. The scenery was breathtaking with terrific gorges and rivers and massive trees of all sorts. This was the first real rainforest I had ever seen. The Barron and Spring Creek falls were most spectacular and among the greatest waterfalls of the world. There were many campsites on the Tableland, as all the A.I.F. Division had or were training there. Our campsite was at Ravenshoe. We worked very hard at tearing a campsite out of the jungle. There was but one hut already erected, and this was our living quarters. The climate at Ravenshoe was a real sanitorium, you could work without a shirt all day and require a couple of blankets at night. I had a good time on the Tableland in the short time we were there, as on weekends we were able to get around and see this paradise. Trips to the various lakes like Lake Bareen were top grade. The actual soil was obviously old time volcanic and was up to sixty feet deep all over. I asked one cocky what they grew, and he said, ‘The only thing that doesn't grow, is what you don't plant’. The campsite was soon accomplished and we cleared what we hoped would be a sports ground. When we had got this far we were visited by Major Laidlaw who was in advance of the main body of the Company. The Lt. Colonel who was to be C.O. of the Brigaded Independent Companies also arrived. The Bull had hardly had time to settle down when a telegram arrived notifying that there had been a change of plans and that we were to stay at Cairns awaiting further orders of our future role. It was a case of hell for leather back to Cairns by the one way road through Gordonvale”. On 3 June 1943 the rest of the Company moved from Canungra to a staging camp known as Red Lynch, on the outskirts of Cairns. Doig and the rest of the Ravenshoe advance party joined them after a mad dash to the coast along precipitous roads and tracks. [7] It was confirmed that the 2/2nd would be going overseas and that it was to head for Townsville for embarkation. So began the unit’s campaign in New Guinea. [8] The 2/2’s reinforcing unit on Timor, the 2/4 Independent Company also has a memorial at the Park. It is appropriate that the two unit’s memorials have been placed next to each other. After departing Timor and home leave, the 2/4th Company was reformed at Canungra in early April 1943, was reinforced and re-equipped, and then moved to the Atherton Tableland to become part of the 2/7th Cavalry (Commando) Regiment at Wongabel on 29 May 1943. After further training, the 2/4th was once more on its way overseas and landed at Milne Bay, New Guinea, on 11 August 1943. [9] REFERENCES [1] For more information on Rocky Creek War Memorial Park see https://raafacairns.files.wordpress.com/2015/06/rocky-creek-war-memorial-park-brochure.pdfand https://monumentaustralia.org.au/themes/conflict/ww2/display/92452-rocky-creek-war-memorial-park [2] https://doublereds.org.au/history/men-of-the-22/qx/ian-gavin-mcphee-r481/ [3] Howard Pearce. - A cultural heritage overview of significant places in the defence of north Queensland during World War II. – Brisbane: The State of Queensland (Environmental Protection Agency) 2009: 55 (https://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/documents/tableoffice/tabledpapers/2009/5309t121.pdf) [4] Doig, Ramblings …: 110-111. [5] 2/2 war diary – 24 May 1943 – Lieut C.D. Doig plus 12 O/Rs left [CANUNGRA] for an unknown destination as an advance party. [6] Keith Hayes was also a member of this advance party. [7] 2/2 war diary – 6 June 1943 – MAJ LAIDLAW returned to this unit from ATHERTON where he had been conferring with O.C. 2/7 AUST CAV COMMANDO REGT. This Coy was ordered to move there from CANUNGRA but this order is now amended. … [8] See Ed Willis ‘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-280 [9] Lambert: xx. Prepared by Ed Willis Revised: 29 August 2019
  5. COMMANDO CAMPAIGN SITES – EAST TIMOR LIQUICA DISTRICT BAZAR-TETE GPS: S 08°37`30.9”, E 125°22`59.5” ‘Bazar-Tete (Vila Eduardo Marques) is 14 miles (221/2 km) southwest of Dilli at a bearing of 242°. A small posto town on the southern slopes of the range running through Dilli Province. The posto is situated 3,000 feet (900 m) above sea level and has the usual surrounding stone wall. Besides the posto there are a few Chinese shops built of stone with galvanized iron roofs. It is connected to Dilli by MT road and joins the main road at Aipelo. Bazar-Tete is usually cloud bound, especially in the afternoons. Australian troops established an OP on Cutu-Lau for observation on Dilli and north coast with, good results. Water pipeline from small concrete reservoir on Cutu-Lau’. [1] Callinan described his first visit there as follows: ‘Between Liquissa and Dili a road led off up into the hills to a place called Bazar-Tete. We followed the road until a landslide blocked it, but, proceeding on foot, some of the party found the posto perched on a long spur and looking out over the sea, with Maubara, Liquissa and Dili spread out below. The Chef de Posto was most hospitable and provided refreshments which included a bottle of Johnny Walker Black Label whisky’. [2] Significance By early February 1942 Laidlaw's B platoon was in the Bazar-Tete area, where it was in a position to control the coast road running west from Dili and had an OP overlooking the airfield. Laidlaw observed the Japanese landings from the OP on 20 February and reported this to Company HQ at Railaco. The Japanese reacted to an ambush conducted by Lieutenant Tom Nisbet’s 4 Section of B Platoon on the coast road by mounting an attack on Bazar-Tete on 2 March with 200 men. In the firefight, the men of 4 Section defended their position against a frontal assault and flanking movement by the Japanese. Although cut off, the Australians carried out an organised withdrawal along another track, but not before suffering casualties. A Japanese soldier armed with a machine-gun worked his way behind the Australians and opened fire, killing Private H.E. Mitchell (https://doublereds.org.au/history/men-of-the-22/wx/henry-eric-mitchell-r464/) instantly. Turning towards the Japanese, Private W.P. 'Paddy' Knight (whose real name was Cotter) (https://doublereds.org.au/history/men-of-the-22/wx/patrick-knight-r397/) was hit in the stomach by several bullets. Another man, Private A.R. Hollow (https://doublereds.org.au/history/men-of-the-22/wx/allan-read-hollow-r340/), was shot in the face, his jaw being carried away. Under severe pressure, the Australians conducted a fighting withdrawal towards Hatu-Lia and were not pursued by the Japanese who lost forty or even more men in the action including two officers. The Portuguese chefe de postoat Bazaar-Tete arranged for the two men to be buried on high ground overlooking the sea, marking their graves with simple wooden crosses. The Timorese later erected a cairn. Their bodies were eventually recovered by the War Graves Commission. [3] Visiting Bazar-Tete Today The township can be visited following the same road from Aipelo described in the ASPT and by Callinan. The road is bituminised but badly cut about by landslides and flood damage in several places. A new road from Dili should reach the township in a year or two. The Sede de Posto (Administration Headquarters) is a building of Portuguese origins, dated from 1939, with a simple rectangular plan and would been well known to the 2/2 men. Built in carved stone and a mortar of lime and sand, it has a zinc covering. Originally the Headquarters of the Administrator of Bazar-Tete, it was adapted to a military command during the Indonesian occupation. It was burned in 1999, following the announcement of the results of the Popular Consultation, and renovated in 2003. Nowadays, it serves as the Headquarters of the Subdistrict Administration of Bazar-Tete. Close by is the Residência do Administrador de Posto (Administrator’s Residence); also dated from 1939, with a simple rectangular plan. Built in carved stone and a mortar of lime and sand, it has a zinc covering. It is one of the few examples of buildings of this period that maintains its original layout, both from the point of view of the facades and the organisation of its inner spaces. Satellite view of Bazar-Tete indicating key locations Built as the House of the Administrator of Bazar-Tete, it was adapted during the Indonesian occupation to host a Military Command. In 1985, it returned to its original functions as the residence of the Administrator (Camat, in Indonesian language) of Bazar-Tete. It was looted and burnt in 1999 by the administrator himself, following the announcement of the results of the Popular Consultation, and it has since been recovered, currently working as the Command Post of the Bazar-Tete PNTL (National Police of Timor-Leste). [4] A local resident Sr Eugénio dos Santos, the son of Louis Gonzaga – 2/2 soldier Ray Aitken’s creado - can be contacted (+670 7368009) and employed as a local guide when visiting the township and surrounding areas where the fighting took place including the Australian encampment, gun pits and the place where Knight and Mitchell were buried. Anyone visiting will need to speak Tetum or be accompanied by an interpreter. There is thick bush and difficult terrain in the battle site locations, and they cannot be located without local guidance. References [1] ASPT: 26. [2] Callinan: 24. [3] For accounts of the firefight at Bazar-Tete, see Ayris: 145-148, Cleary: 113-117 and Wray: 74-76. [4] Património Arquitetónico de Origem Portuguesa De Liquiçá́: 119-137. Prepared by Ed Willis Revised: 22 August 2019
  6. 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.
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. The funeral of former WA Senator Gordon McIntosh was held at Karrakatta Cemetery at 2:30pm on Friday 23 March 2019. Gordon McIntosh was a Labor Party Senator in the Australian Parliament from 1974-1987. During those years he played a major role in keeping the Timor issue alive in the Parliament, despite the actions and policies of successive Australian Governments (Labor and Liberal) to oppose East Timorese self-determination and independence. In addition to the many parliamentary questions asked by Senator McIntosh, he is best known as Chair of the 1982-83 Senate Inquiry about East Timor and his membership of the Australian parliamentary delegation to Indonesia and East Timor in 1983. His dissent from the formal report of the delegation was widely reported in Australia and welcomed by the Resistance in Timor. Outside the parliament he addressed public meetings in Australia, New Zealand and New York. He petitioned the United Nations Decolonisation Committee in 1982 and joined others on the ‘Lusitania Express’ peace ship mission to Timor in 1992. In 2014, Gordon McIntosh was awarded the Order of Timor-Leste for his contribution to the East Timorese struggle for independence. In 2016 he visited Timor-Leste as a guest of the State. During this visit he met for the first time the resistance veterans who had applauded his support in the 1980s. His actions and activities in support of the people of East Timor were very much aligned with the members of the old 2/2 Commando Association of Australia. The December 1983 ‘Courier’ recorded that: ‘Senator Gordon D. Mcintosh of WA went with the last fact finding mission to Timor and undertook the task of taking a wreath, in the form of a floral cross, to lay on our memorial. Here is a letter from the Senator, followed by two photographs showing "Mission Accomplished"’. Eulogies were delivered at the funeral service by John Waddingham, former senior staff member of Gordon’s when he was a Senator and HE Abel Guterres, Ambassador for Timor-Leste who delivered personal messages of condolence from HE Francisco Guterres, President of Timor-Leste and HE Xanana Gusmão, former President of Timor-Leste. Almost 30 years after it was written, a letter from then resistance leader Xanana Gusmão to Senator Gordon McIntosh has come to light. The correspondence provides a detailed insight into 1980s resistance thinking. It also indicates the particularly high regard in which McIntosh was held for his support for East Timorese self-determination. The final speaker was HE Kim Beazley, Governor of WA, a former colleague of Gordon’s in government and opposition, who opened his remarks by saying that the personal messages from the two Timorese were the ‘finest tributes’ he had ever heard made by foreign leaders about an Australian politician. Ed Willis, Vice-President, represented the 2/2 Commando Association of Australia at the funeral.
  10. 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
  11. 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
  12. 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
  13. 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
  14. 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
  15. 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.
  16. 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
  17. 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
  18. 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
  19. 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
  20. 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
  21. Hi Chantal, your enquiry prompted me to have a look at the items related to the Association Safaris in the old Association Archives - these include photo albums, itineraries, etc. and I knocked together the attached list which I hope you find useful + the relevant chapter from Col Doig's history of the Association. The Courier issues can be read/downloaded from https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/ 2003 was the last Safari - the 'last Hurrah!' Regards Ed INTERSTATE_SAFARIS_-Great_fraternity_complete.pdf Interstate Safaris - revised.pdf The last hurrah! - Courier September 2003.pdf
  22. 2/2 Commando Association of Australia Committee members Murray Thornton and Colleen Thornton-Ward (brother and sister) are the children of Norm Thornton an original member of No. 2 Independent Company (2/2). [1] Norman (Norm) Douglas Thornton WX11995 (above) Murray Thornton and Colleen Thornton-Ward (below) For 20 years and more they have been actively involved in various ways supporting the people of Timor-Leste to help repay the ‘debt of honour’ the 2/2 men felt they owed them for the assistance they received during their campaign against the Japanese occupiers of their country during WWII. One way Murray and Colleen have helped is by volunteering as election observers, most recently in the May 2018 parliamentary elections which were completed very peacefully; a sign of the maturing democracy in that still young nation. [2] This was not the case with their first experience as observers in the south-western town of Suai during the independence referendum held 20 years ago on August 30 1999. The excitement and eager wish of the local people to participate in the referendum is evocatively conveyed in these photos that Colleen took at the time. Local people gather to vote, Suai, August 30 1999 Two days after Murray and Colleen had left Suai pro-Indonesian integration supporters occupied the town and massacred as many as 200 men, women and children who had sought sanctuary in the church. Three of the church priests were amongst the victims. The Timor 1942 Commando Campaign Tour group visited Suai on 29 April 2018 and were moved when observing the memorial to the massacre victims outside the church and the magnificent cathedral, now completed, that can be seen under construction in the background of one of Colleen’s photos. Suai church massacre monument Busts of two of the priests killed in the church massacre in front of the new Suai cathedral In his address at the Anzac Day ceremony at Denmark (W.A) in 2013, Murray told the story of his family’s connection with Timor-Leste that began with his father Norm’s service there in WWII and has been sustained by Colleen and himself. DENMARK AND EAST TIMOR, EDUCATION AND FRIENDSHIP This is the story of Denmark and its bonds to East Timor over 70 years, forged in adversity and war, but for the past 12 years celebrated in education and friendship. East Timor is an island 600 km north of Wyndham at the top of Western Australia. On a good day if one is high in the southern mountains of East Timor you can actually listen to ABC radio through its Kununurra transmitter. Dark Days of 1941 This story begins in the last days of 1941. These were dark days for Australia. Japan had attacked Pearl Harbour and the East Indies on7th December1941. The main part of the Australian army, the 6th, 7th and 9th Divisions were in the Middle East. Two thirds of the 8th division were in Malaya, as the clouds of war had been gathering with Japan, whilst the 8th divisions other battalions were in West Timor, Ambon and New Britain protecting airbases that was Australia’s eyes to the North. The Japanese were able to defeat the allies on the Malayan peninsula, the Philippines and the Dutch East Indies in a matter of months. Sparrow force, the Tasmanians of the 2/40th battalion guarding the Airfield at Kupang in Dutch West Timor fort valiantly but were overwhelmed. Neutral East Timor was also invaded, with Japanese influence reaching the Australian shores with the bombing and destruction of Darwin. The 2/2nd Commandos in East Timor The 2/2nd commandos were 250 men, recruited from Western Australian, specially trained by English commandos at Portsea in Victoria. They probably expected to go to Middle East, but instead ended up in East Timor, a Neutral Portuguese Colony to the North of Australia. Because Portugal was neutral the allies only wanted a low key presence in East Timor, with the 2/2nd having recognisance role. On East Timor the 2/2 commandos refused to surrender but were cut off from Australia. The Australian Government assumed they had been captured, but instead they started a guerrilla campaign in mountains of Timor, breaking into small groups of 10-20 men and harassing the Japanese. They survived because of their skills, training, help from sympathetic Portuguese administrators, and Timorese help. They lived amongst the Timorese villagers and were supported by them. The most important help were the kriadu, (Tetum for servant) Timorese young men and boys whom attached themselves to individual Australian soldiers as helpers, guides, food scroungers and mates. Denmark’s Connection to the Timor Campaign Denmark’s connection to this campaign was in the form of 3 soldiers. Norm Thornton, whom moved to Denmark as a boy in 1910, farmed with his family at the base of Mt Lindsay, went to school at the Mt Lindsay Primary, the site of the present Mt Lindsay fire shed. Norm left Denmark and became a carpenter and builder before the war. He spent the whole war in Commandos, also fighting in their campaigns in New Guinea and New Britain. After the war he returned to Denmark and started a building business. Jeremiah Haire also moved to Denmark in 1910 with his family, one of first students at Scotsdale primary school (the present Scotsdale hall). He won a scholarship to Albany high, finished as school captain, dux and champion athlete. Jerry went to Claremont Teachers college, and before the war was teaching at Perth Modern School. He was a founding member of University athletics club, represented WA in interstate competition for 3 years and after the war coached John Winter to 1948 Gold in High jump at the London Olympics. Jeremiah (Jerry) Thomas Haire WX10744 He became the superintendent for English at all WA schools, and finished his career teaching at the WA secondary College. During the war he was transferred out of the Commandos after Timor and into intelligence. [3] Geordie Hamilton Smith,an adopted son of Denmark was from Queenstown, Tasmania. He moved with his mother to the southwest of W.A. and was involved in the timber industry on the Darling scarp before the war. During the war he served with Norm in 4 section, and after the war joined Norm in his building business in Denmark. In later years he and his wife Joan owned the Foursquare store, the present small IGA on Holling road. [4] My impressions from working in the Mountains of Timor are that the men of the Scotsdale valley would have been at home here. The subsistence farmers of East Timor would have been very similar to the farmers of 1920 Denmark. The Commando Campaign Against the Japanese The 2/2nd commandos had many stories of daring, ingenuity, bravery and loss in there year in Timor. Author Paul Cleary has written a ripping yarn of this campaign entitled “The Men who came out of the ground”. It is so titled because the Japanese were frustrated by these men whom appeared from nowhere, ambushed, and then disappeared. One of the great tales is how they managed to scrounge parts to build a radio to contact Darwin. Once they had convinced Australia it was really them, they received by airdrop desperately needed, medication, cloths, boots and ammunition. A small boat was also organised to come in stealthily by night to evacuate sick and wounded men on a regular basis. An interesting comment from one of the reinforcement soldiers who joined Norm and Geordies section was that he thought he has joined a platoon of scarecrows, so thin and emaciated were the soldiers who had been in Timor from the beginning of the campaign. By the end of 1942 Australia had decided to bring the 2/2nd commandos home, as the Japanese were killing many of the Timorese in a scorched earth policy, trying to deprive the commandos of food and shelter. Also, by this time the Americans had gained the upper hand in the Solomon Islands, and Kojonup farmer Brigadier Arnold Potts had led the Australians in the Kokoda campaign with the first elements of the 7th Division returned from the Middle East, bringing the Japanese advance to a stop. The commandos were to be picked up from the south coast of Timor at Betano, by the destroyer HMAS Voyager. Unfortunately, the Voyager came in too close and ran aground, only to be destroyed by Japanese aircraft at daybreak. A replacement destroyer was hastily organised and a couple of nights later the 2/2nd commandos left Timor, leaving 250 crying Kriaduon the beach, and a rearguard force that had to quickly melt into the mountains. Norm’s kriadu Nicolau Goncalves The story of Timor is the story of theKriadu. Norm’s kriaduwas Nicolau Goncalves, a16 year old from the hill town Basetete. He was an educated boy who spoke Portuguese and Tetum, and by the end of a couple of months he could swear in English. They lived and fought together for a year, saving each other’s lives many times. As an adult in1968 Nicolau came to Denmark on an Agriculture exchange sponsored by the Portuguese administration of Timor and the men of the 2/2nd. Portugal gave up all its colonies in 1975. Indonesia then invaded the fledgling independent East Timor. Nicolau, along with 3 of his sons were killed fighting the Indonesians. The story of the Goncalves family is the story of East Timor, with 200,000 out of 800,000 Timorese perishing in the invasion and subsequent famine. Nicolau Goncalves as a young man Indonesian closed East Timor to foreigners, and it was not until the 1990’s that international visitors could travel to Timor. Murray and Colleen Help in Timor In 1995 my sister Colleen and I travelled to East Timor and re-established our contacts with the Goncalves family. [5] In 1999 we once again visited East Timor as UN election observers, helping overseeing the ballot the UN had persuaded the Indonesians to hold for the future of East Timor. At the conclusion of the ballot, when the vote was known to be overwhelmingly for an independent East Timor, Indonesian militia gangs started a wave of looting, destruction and murder. It was appropriate that Australia led the International Assistance force under General Cosgrove that restored peace to East Timor and saw the withdrawal of Indonesia. The UN then administered east Timor until 2002, when it was granted independence. After the elections of 1999 and into early 2000 I worked for an NGO and the UN organizing food and emergency supplies for three provinces of East Timor. Murray Thornton at work for NGO after referendum vote Working alongside me was Janario Goncalves, one of Niciloe’s surviving sons. One of the chances of fate that life sometimes throws up was that I had to organize the first barge of rice to be shipped to the south coast of Timor from Darwin for the UN world food programme. We brought the barge into a sheltered bay on the South Coast, over the top of the wreck of HMAS Voyager. The Denmark East Timor Fuiloro Association Denmark’s connection with education and East Timor was driven by Libby Corson, a former English teacher at the Denmark Agriculture College. Libby and her band of fabulous helpers organised many events to sponsor East Timorese students. Between 2002 and 2012 the Denmark East Timor Fuiloro Association, with the great support of the Denmark community, sponsored students with over $100,000 for school fees and books. Whilst Libby worked at the College we were able to facilitate student exchanges between Denmark Ag School and Fuiloro Agriculture College. [6] With the support of Denmark sponsoring family’s we were able to sponsor 80 students to complete a diploma in agriculture, 150 students to complete high school, and 450 Primary students. The last of 10 Students sponsored at university will finish his Veterinary Science degree this year in Indonesia, before returning to East Timor. Conclusion East Timor now has money from oil and gas in the Timor Sea to pay for teachers and schools. It is still very much a third world country, and it will be a number of generations before it reaches the standard of health and education we take for granted in the West. Through education and friendship Denmark has been able to repay some of the Debt of Honour to the Timorese for looking after the sons of Denmark in the dark days of 1942. MURRAY THORNTON REFERENCES [1] ‘Vale Norman Thornton: tribute from Paddy Kenneally’ Courier April 1984: 9; ‘[Vale] Norman D. Thornton’ Courier February 1984: 8. [2] ‘Elections in Timor-Leste – Colleen and Murray act as election observers’ Courier June 2018: 2; https://www.communitynews.com.au/eastern-reporter/news/morley-great-grandmother-journeys-to-east-timor-to-volunteer-on-election-day/ [3] ‘Vale Jerry Haire’ Courier August 1990: 5-6. [4] ‘Vale George Hamilton-Smith’ Courier December 1989: 4-5. [5] ‘Murray Thornton's visit to East Timor’ Courier August 1995: 12-16. [6] https://wwwdotdfetdotorgdotaudotorg.wordpress.com/about/
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