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Edward Willis

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  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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.
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. 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.
  10. 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
  11. 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
  12. 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
  13. 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
  14. 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
  15. 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
  16. 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/
  17. http://thewest2.smedia.com.au/Olive/APA/thewest-archives/SharedView.Article.aspx?href=WAN%2F2018%2F08%2F25&id=Ar04801&sk=AD6EB6A0
  18. http://thewest2.smedia.com.au/Olive/APA/thewest-archives/SharedView.Article.aspx?href=WAN%2F2018%2F08%2F25&id=Ar04801&sk=AD6EB6A0
  19. Following the recent notification of the passing of Fred Otway, members and supporters of the 2/2 Commando Association of Australia will be further saddened to learn of the passing yesterday of Keith Mortimer Hayes OAM , also an original member of the 2/2 and a stalwart of the old Association of which he was made a life member in 1988. Keith was 97 years of age. Details of Keith’s war service and awards, including his remarkable survival of the Ration Truck Massacre, can be found the Doublereds website: https://doublereds.org.au/history/men-of-the-22/wx/keith-mortimer-hayes-r335/ In 2007, he was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for service to the community of Timor-Leste through the Independent Trust of the 2/2nd Commando Association, and to veterans and their families. 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 Association will publish a full Vale covering Keith’s life after his funeral service, details of which should be announced shortly. With Keith's passing Jack Hanson (Queensland) is the sole surviving member of the 2/2.
  20. Members and supporters of 2/2 Commando Association of Australia will be saddened to learn that one of the last three surviving members of the 2/2, Fred Otway, passed away in Brisbane on the 3 April 2018 aged 97 years. The two surviving members of the unit are Keith Hayes (W.A.) and John ‘Jack’ Hanson (Queensland). Source: RSL Virtual Memorial Born in Pingelly, W.A., Fred was an original member of the unit and served in No. 1 Section, A Platoon throughout the campaign in Portuguese Timor. He was promoted to Corporal before the end of the campaign. Deployed to New Guinea with the 2/2 in 1943, Fred left in June 1944 along with several other men to serve with the Z Special Unit, and after training, was based in Darwin. As a Sergeant, Fred participated in three Z Special operations to Portuguese Timor in mid-1945. Post-war Fred undertook a government sponsored training course and qualified as a painter and decorator and worked in that trade for the Queensland Government until he retired. He was an active member of the Queensland branch of the Association, from the beginning to the end, and he and his wife Ellen participated in all the safaris and reunions, including the special trip back to Portuguese Timor for the opening of the Dare Memorial Pool and Resting Place in 1969. He was a regular correspondent to the ‘Courier’ and contributed several interesting articles related to his personal life, family history and wartime experiences. In August 2012 Fred along with Keith Hayes was invited by the Department of Veterans Affairs to be a member of the Commemorative Mission Timor-Leste for the 70th Anniversary of the Timor Campaign. The Committee extends its condolences to Fred Otway’s family, salutes his service to the nation during WWII and recognises his supportive involvement with the old Association from its beginning to the end. LEST WE FORGET Fred Otway photo April 2016 Source: Paul Cleary ‘Remembering Australia's first commandos: the men who stopped the Japanese in Timor’ http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-04-25/remembering-the-diggers-who-stopped-the-japanese-in-timor/7356020 Ian McPhedran interviewed Fred for his recent book on the history of Australian special forces; see the following extract: Source: Ian McPhedran. – Too bold to die: the making of Australian war heroes. – Sydney, NSW: Harper Collins Australia, 2013: 39-45. CHAPTER 3: Behind Enemy Lines Living hard was part and parcel of Fred Otway’s life from a very early age. Little did he know as he struggled through a poverty-filled childhood that one day the hardships that had forged him would help to keep him alive in the jungles of East Timor and elsewhere as a commando and ‘Z’ Special Unit operative during the fight to save Australia from the marauding Japanese Imperial Army. Early Life Fred’s early years around Pinjarra in Western Australia were tough. The son of a drunkard railway-sleeper cutter and a sickly mother, he was born in 1920. By the time he was eight, he and his four brothers and one sister had been removed from their parents and sent to live in institutions in Perth after their mother contracted tuberculosis. Fred, the second youngest, was sent to a Salvation Army Boys Home in the inner-city suburb of Nedlands. It was a grim existence and 92-year-old Fred recalls, with the clarity of someone who has known real hunger, being permanently famished and having cracked feet in winter because he had no shoes. “When he was 12 years old Fred remembers the wife of the manager coming down the path and blurting out, ‘By the way, your mother has died.’ ‘Just like that,’ he says. Young Fred had never even had a letter from his mum and was never able to write to her to say hello, to tell her to get well and that he loved her.” “No kid in that home ever wrote a letter and no kid ever received a letter. They [the supervisors] got any letters that came and just told us, “Your father wrote to us”,’ he says. ‘What a terrible thing it must have been for that woman to be in that house, or in that place, wherever it was. They separated us because it was a contagious disease, living there for eight years and no contact with her family, just waiting to die.’ Off to Work At 14 Fred was sent to work on a poultry farm. He lasted six months, sleeping in the feed shed and eating in a corridor of the main house, never at the table of the farm owners. One day he said, ‘I’m sick of working my guts out for you, I’m going back to the home.’ So he went back to Nedlands and they immediately sent him to another farm as virtual slave labour. His second job was on a mixed farm where at least he was taught some skills, including harnessing and driving a team of eight horses. The sleeping arrangements were no better and he dossed down in a flea-ridden hessian bed as he “as he toiled six days a week for the paltry sum of two shillings. The only reason he got Sundays off was so he could wash his clothes. ‘There was no 40-hour week back then and you worked longer in summer than you did in winter.’ At 17 Fred was finally reunited with two of his brothers, Jack and Charlie, and the trio worked an unsuccessful mining lease together before they went travelling, jumping freight trains, with all their worldly goods, including the mandatory frying pan in a sugar bag, slung over their shoulders. Eventually Charlie got a job on a dairy farm in Coolgardie and Fred snared a start as a general hand in a boarding house in Kalgoorlie for ‘ten bob’ a week and his tea. Fred Joins the 2/2 His next job was as a barman in a pub at Leonora, where there was a nickel rush on. After returning for a “brief stint in the mines, Fred eventually made his way back to Perth and enlisted in the army in May 1941. Due to his bush upbringing and his ability to live off the land, he was transferred from the training camp at Northam north of Perth across to the 2/2nd Independent Company at Wilsons Promontory in Victoria. The British commandos ran a training camp there to teach fresh recruits the dark arts of commando warfare — from demolitions and hand-to-hand combat to guerrilla warfare and how to recruit and train the locals. Fred says the 2/2nd was very different from any other unit in the Australian Army. He didn’t like the rigid formality and spit-and-polish traditions of the ‘big army’, but he loved the informal approach of the commandos. ‘In the 2/2nd you might be a captain, but you are just Bill or Tom, that’s all, nothing else, just one of us, we were all the same. Each depended on the other, none of this bloody army stuff saluting, yes sir, none of that stuff,’ he says. ‘We were free and easy, and the unit was allowed to do what it liked, “The 350 or so Australian commandos joined other allied fighters from the 2/40th Battalion and British and Dutch units to form Sparrow Force, which would harass and occupy an entire Japanese division in Timor for a year. Unfortunately, the army’s knowledge of tropical diseases was rudimentary at best, and the men, dressed in shorts and light shirts, succumbed en masse to malaria. On Timor Just before the Japanese arrived in Timor in late February 1942, the commandos decided to leave Dili and head for a healthier environment in the hills to the south of the capital. The town is built on a narrow coastal strip and immediately behind the built-up area the mountains rise almost vertically to provide a natural barrier to the interior and the island’s south coast. The high ridges overlooking Dili made ideal observation posts for the diggers and their comrades, who included local fighters drafted to the cause. Visitors to Dili today can clearly see how vital the high ground was to the Aussie guerrillas of Sparrow Force by visiting the Commando Memorial at the village of Dare high above the town. The views from the memorial to the 2/2nd Company (double red diamond insignia “ 2/40th Battalion [i.e. 2/4 Company] (double blue diamonds) and their local helpers take in a panorama of the coastline, the town and the roads leading up into the hills. During the East Timor independence battles in 1999 the Dare area would once again take on crucial tactical significance as Australian troops moved inland in pursuit of pro-Jakarta militia thugs. Following some alcohol-fuelled skylarking in the town prior to the Japanese invasion, the Australians had been banned from taking their rifles into Dili, and they only found out the enemy had arrived when a supply truck carrying 17 diggers was intercepted by a Japanese patrol. The men were all shot and bayonetted, and only one, Keith Hayes, escaped with his life. He was treated and sheltered by locals, including a middle-aged woman called Donnabella Martins, who nursed him back to health using mudpacks and banana leaves to heal his wounds. Source: Cyril Ayris. – All the Bull’s men. – Perth: 2/2 Commando Association of Australia, 2006: 386 Guerrilla Fighters The Australians eventually split into small bands of guerrilla fighters and would spend most of 1942 and 1943 killing and harassing the enemy across East Timor. “You can do plenty of damage even if there is only four or five of you,’ Fred says. ‘As a guerrilla fighter there are certain rules to be observed and number one is you cannot exist without the support of the civilian population. You don’t interfere with them, you don’t interfere with their women, you don’t interfere with their customs and if you want food, you pay for it, which the Japs didn’t do. ‘I had information about one native boy that was helping the Australians; they [the Japanese] wiped his whole little village out. That was how the Japs worked, trade on fear, “This is what will happen to you if you help the Australians, if you give food to the Australians.”’ The threat of death or torture didn’t deter most of the hardy and God-fearing East Timorese, who remained loyal to the Aussies throughout the war. Respect for the locals and paying their way whenever possible were basic tenets of Australian special operations during the war. According to Fred Otway, every time the Australians killed a goat or got some rice, they gave the farmer a chit that he could later convert into silver or gold “courtesy of the Australian Government. Unfortunately, this system didn’t always work, and many Timorese were left out of pocket, but this did not stop them from risking their lives to support the commandos in their quest to rid the island of the invader.” “Many veterans of Sparrow Force spent decades after the war fighting for justice for the East Timorese people in return for their vital help in the campaign to save Australia. In 1999 the Prime Minister, John Howard, provided the ultimate ‘thank you’ when he encouraged the Indonesians to leave the island and the international community to step in and to help bring independence to East Timor (Timor Leste). During its year-long guerrilla campaign, Sparrow Force killed about 1700 Japanese troops and delayed Japan’s eastwards advance. Fred Otway took to army life like a duck to water. Finally, at the age of 21, he had found a home. To New Guinea After returning from Timor and with yet another serious bout of malaria under his belt, Fred was sent to New Guinea in June 1943 to chase and harass the Japanese again. From Port Moresby the men of the 2/2nd were flown up to a place called Bena Bena near Goroka in the Highlands where the Japanese were expected to try and take the airstrip in order to attack American bombers on their runs from Port Moresby to Wewak. ‘Our task was to give the impression that we were 2000 strong “rather than 200,’ Fred says. They accomplished their mission and the Japanese force withdrew towards the north coast. Z Special About this time, he got word that his old commanding officer from Timor, Captain Dave Dexter, who had been seriously wounded in New Guinea and had joined ‘Z’ Special Unit in Melbourne, was looking for volunteers. Regarded as a fine officer, Dexter was well liked and trusted by the men, so in October 1944 Fred and eight of his mates from the unit decided to make the move. After completing parachute and submarine training and learning how to operate a variety of boats, Fred Otway was sent back to Timor to train the locals and to “observe the Japanese, who by then controlled the island. ‘A lot of the natives were with us, some were against us, they’d be telling the Japs where we were, setting up the ambushes and so forth,’ Fred says. ‘The Australian Government decided that we would help Portuguese civilians to escape from the occupied island. I’ll never forget how we were loading these nuns up and we were all naked, except for our boots. We weren’t going to get our clothes wet so that once the boat had gone we could lay down in the wet soil but keep our clothes dry. We didn’t mind wet boots.’ Some Portuguese didn’t want to leave, and they took the Japanese at their word that they would be placed in a secure enclave and looked after. Fred says it was nothing more than a concentration camp and many Portuguese, including five children, starved to death or succumbed to disease. Despite being from a neutral country, nine Portuguese soldiers were executed during his time there. Reflections Looking back, Fred says he enjoyed being in East Timor because he regarded it as a civilised place when compared with New Guinea. ‘I hated New Guinea. There wasn’t “There wasn’t even anyone to talk to, whereas in Timor you could talk to the locals, including the women,’ Fred says. ‘There were plenty of people there; it was really like being in Brisbane, only you’d have to go out and do a bit of fighting every now and then — simple.’ After the War After the war, Fred Otway retrained as a painter and decorator, and in 1956 he moved to Brisbane where he settled with his family. A motorcycle accident put paid to his ambition to be a politician, so he spent the next 22 years working for the Queensland Government. FRED OTWAY’S CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE ‘COURIER’ ‘Random Harvest’ 2/2 Commando CourierJune 1973: 9-10 [web address to be advised] ‘[Otway family history – letter to the ‘Courier’] 2/2 Commando Courier September 1998: 11-12 ‘[Burial locations of 2/2 men killed in action, brief recollections of Northam, Caulfield, Foster and Wayville and parachute training with Z Special]’ 2/2 Commando Courier December 1999: 16-17 ‘Hard times – part one’ 2/2 Commando Courier March 2002: 14-15 ‘Hard times – part two’ 2/2 Commando Courier June 2002: 17-19 ‘An old soldier's memories - New Guinea 1943’ 2/2 Commando Courier September 2003: 18-19 ‘An old soldier's memories. Part II - On the way to Z Special’ 2/2 Commando Courier December 2003: 17-18 ‘An old soldier. Part 3’ 2/2 Commando Courier March 2004: 12-14 ‘The missing fortune’ 2/2 Commando Courier March 2005: 17-18 ‘Life and times of an old soldier’ 2/2 Commando Courier March 2006: 9-11 APPENDIX FRED OTWAY’S SERVICE IN Z SPECIAL Fred participated in three Z Special operations to Portuguese Timor in June 1945 - STARLING – SUNDOG, SUNDOG RAID and BRIM. The stories of these two raids was told in the official history of Special Operations Australia: STARLING – SUNDOG This project was first planned in 1942 in conjunction with Lagarto, for the insertion of a party into the western districts of Portuguese Timor under the leadership of Sr A. da Sousa Santos who had been administrator of Fronteira Province. The insertion in the original plan called for the cooperation of Dom Alexio, a ruling chief of the western districts and to get his good will, a party of 4 members of PORTOLIZARD was despatched from the Dilor area about June 1942. A month later it was learned that the PORTOLIZARD men had been killed and that Dom Alexio and his family had been massacred. In these circumstances, the project was suspended. From time to time thereafter it was revived, first under the name STARLING as a division of the SOUNDER plan and last as a division of SUNFISH when it was renamed SUNDOG or SUNFISH D. The purpose of the project was to set up a HQ in the vicinity of Ramelau Range in the Bobonaro district from which intelligence, propaganda and resistance activities could be carried out. The original composition of the party was: Da Sousa Santos, A. (Leader) Sgt Shand J.A. (AIF) (Sig) Sgt Hartley (AIF) Robello Soares Rente Da Sousa, A. Felix Barreto Insertion was to be performed by ML’s in the vicinity of the mouth of the Be Lulic River on the south coast. Source:https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C998734 Following disaffection among the Portuguese and Timorese personnel and in particular to their failure to volunteer to serve under Santos, in March 1945 the party was completely recast, Australian personnel being substituted for the Portuguese. Shand and Hartley were omitted from the party, the former joining SUNABLE. The new party, all AIF comprised: Lt D.B. Austin (Leader) Sgt Otway F.A. (2 i/c) Cpl Stewart A.S. Cfn Jones H.J. Tpr Criddle C.R. Cpl Grinham L.A. Sig Poole W.P. A support party comprising: Capt Florence J.M. Lt Middleton P.V. Bdr Burrow F.W. Bdr Felstead N. Sgt Hartley J.F. Sig Bale W.R. was allotted the task of making the initial landing and of assisting the main party to land and cache its stores. On 6 June 1945, the party sailed from Darwin in HMAS ‘Seasnake’ (Lt D. Jarvis. RANVR). On 8 June, the vessel closed the south coast of Timor in the vicinity of the mouth of the Sue River, the approach being made in poor weather some hours ahead of the scheduled time. As the mountains were cloud covered, the position of the vessel could not be fixed and at about 1500 hours, when probably less than 10 miles off the coast, columns of smoke were seen on the land. These were interpreted as smoke signals advising the approach of the vessel and the success of the mission was considered prejudiced thereby. The landing was therefore abandoned and ‘Seasnake’ returned to Darwin. The difficulties of navigation were underestimated in planning this operation. At the same time, while the exact position of the vessel off the Timor coast was not known, its distance offshore was capable of better estimation. The precipitate approach in broad daylight was highly prejudicial. However, in the circumstances, withdrawal was the only logical procedure. The mission was replanned to leave Darwin on 17 June. On 15 June, Advanced HQ of SRD instructed that the insertion of the party was to be preceded by a raid for the extraction of natives for interrogation. The arrangements which had already been made were adopted for the raid, which was given the name SUNDOG RAID. SUNDOG RAID The personnel of SUNDOG were allotted to SUNDOG RAID with the addition of Dr Carlos Brandãoas interpreter and adviser on native matters. The party left Darwin aboard ‘Seasnake’ on 19 June 1945 and landed at the mouth of the Sue River at 2130 hours on the night of 21 June. The support party under Captain Florence made the initial landing and then held the beach head while the main raiding party under Lt Austin moved inland. The raiding party was unable to locate the village for which it was aiming. While reconnoitring, the party discovered a number of fresh tracks of enemy patrols and heard a rifle shot. Dr Brandão advised the party that on hearing the shot, the natives in the vicinity would have gone into hiding and considering that the discovery of natives in these circumstances was most unlikely, the raid was abandoned. The whole party re-embarked on ‘Seasnake’ at 2305 hours and sailed for Darwin. BRIM The operation BRIM was originally planned for the purpose of extracting SUNCOB party from the south coast of Portuguese Timor by surface craft. The plan was based on the Emergency Procedure of SUNCOB and took effect on the sighting of rather doubtful ground signals reported by search aircraft on 20 July. These ground signals, calling for extraction, were seen in the vicinity of one of the alternative extraction points prescribed in the SUNCOB plan, namely at the mouth of the Jre Bere River on the south coast. The extraction was arranged for the night of 28-29 July 1945, being the prescribed 8 days after the sighting of the ground signal, and an additional visit by the extraction craft on the following night was provided for. While the planning was in progress, ‘Krait’ returned from the unsuccessful LAGARTOUT mission for the extraction of SUNLAG and after interrogating the LAGARTOUT party, it was arranged to extend the BRIM plan to enable [the] extraction vessel to visit the extraction points of both SUNCOB and SUNLAG on each of the two nights. At the suggestion of NOIC, Darwin HDML 1324 of the RAN was detailed for the task with Sub Lt Bramley as extra navigator. A boat party comprising Lt J. Crombie (Leader), Sgts Boyle C.D. (2 i/c), Reid L.A., Otway, F.A., Gnr Hugo J. and Pte Young G. (all AIF) were allotted as boat party and were equipped with one 2-man rubber boat, one 7-man fitted with outboard and a spare 7-man boat. The intention was for Lt Crombie in the 2-man boat to proceed ashore as scout leaving the rest of the party in a 7-man boat outside the surf. On contacting the party ashore, Crombie was to ferry them through the surf to be picked up by the 7-man. When the plan had been finalised, broadcast messages were sent to both SUNCOB and SUNLAG giving them the essential details of the plan, in the hope that although they were not in contact by wireless, they might be keeping listening watch. HDML 1324 sailed from Darwin with BRIM party on 27 July 1945. On the afternoon of the 28th a signal reached Darwin from SUNLAG acknowledging the broadcast message but requesting that the extraction be delayed until 1st August as the party could not reach the rendezvous any earlier. By this time the ML was approaching the rendezvous point of SUNCOB. By arrangement with NOIC Darwin the vessel was recalled and returned to a sheltered anchorage at Snake Bay, Melville Island. SUNCOB later deferred to the rendezvous to the 3rd August to the 5th August and the ML returned to replenish fuel, water and stores. The vessel with BRIM party aboard finally left Darwin on the afternoon of 3rd August 1945 under a revised plan which provided for a rendezvous with SUNLAG at dawn on 5th August at the mouth of the Dilor River. When off this point at 0600H on the 5th SUNLAG’s flares were seen on the shore. The ML approached within 150 yards of the beach and launched the boats at 0615H. Owing to breaking its towline the 2-man boat with Lt Crombie was last to reach the beach. SUNLAG party with one native prisoner was waiting on the beach and was ferried off immediately to the ML which was reached at 0640H. After taking the boats aboard the vessel sailed for Darwin at 0645H arriving at LMS on the evening of 6th August. The success of this mission as compared with LAGARTOUT is ascribed to the time of the rendezvous being at dawn with the immeasurable benefit of the light and to the more seaworthy and commodious nature of the vessel used. The success however was due in a very large measure to the excellence of the signals communication maintained by SUNLAG’s signaller, Sgt Dawson, which permitted all details of the extraction to be worked out between the party and base. It is significant that whereas [the] SRD vessel had been operating off the Timor coast alone the HDML was provided with the AMS ‘Parkes’ as support standing 50 miles off Timor and fighter aircraft were at immediate standby in Darwin. The decision to withdraw the ML when within striking distance of SUNCOB’s extraction point on 28th July was based on the positive nature of the SUNLAG extraction and the indefinite nature of that of SUNCOB. It proved a most fortunate decision as the Japanese having captured SUNCOB and received the broadcast message had a strong reception party with light artillery waiting at one of the two alternative emergency evacuation points of the SUNCOB party. Source: 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 4 [for Director, Military Intelligence (DMI), Headquarters (HQ), Australian Military Forces (AMF), Melbourne. - NAA: A3269, O8/A
  21. Hi Rob: I visited there quite a few years ago now and thought the attached booklet about the establishment of the memorial would be be of interest. Ed spean_bridge_50th_booklet.pdf
  22. WA RSL 'Listening Post' article about Timor 1942 Commando Campaign Tour.
  23. Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has just completed a visit to Timor-Leste to meet with members of the new government. During her visit she participated in a wreath laying ceremony at the Dare Memorial and met with President Francisco Guterres. These two events have particular Doublereds interest as revealed by these Tweets from Australian Ambassador to Timor-Leste Peter Roberts and Facebook post from the the Office of the T-L Minister of Defense, Dr. Filomeno da Paixão de Jesus: https://twitter.com/AusAmbDili/status/1024496396391436288 https://twitter.com/AusAmbDili/status/1024221789809926145 https://www.facebook.com/Ministro-da-Defesa-Dr-Filomeno-da-Paixão-de-Jesus-203833936940153/?hc_ref=ARRHmiLeXLLgY7JfQ9tNR8Alff0WhqpexhZZmoAFZmnvX8KCkEEgPIIhH8cA69Njb0g&fref=nf
  24. This story complements my earlier post: ‘BRIGADIER MICHAEL CALVERT (1913–1998) – Trainer and Long-Term Friend of the Doublereds’. Learning map reading at training, Foster. L to R: unknown signaller, Mike Calvert, Freddie Spencer-Chapman Source: Sparrow Force [memoir of Lieutenant John Albert Rose NX65630] Both Freddie Spencer-Chapman and Michael Calvert were members of a small British military mission that arrived in Australia in November 1940. Its task was to establish a covert camp to train Australians as special forces for use behind enemy lines. The rugged and isolated Wilsons Promontory, a narrow-necked peninsula 230kms south east of Melbourne, was chosen. Reflecting on the 60 years since the establishment of the No. 2 Independent Company, original member Ray Aitken asserted in 2001 that: I firmly believe that the success of our Association stems from the oddity in our early history, namely, that spent in training on Wilson's Promontory, our contact with the British Army in the persons notably of Michael Calvert, a Commando demolitions officer, and Freddie Spencer-Chapman an Everest climber, … and again the strangeness of our service on the Island of Timor and hence our bond with the Timorese people. [Source: Ray Aitken '60 years young' 2/2 Commando Courier Vol. 137, June 2001: 1] SPENCER-CHAPMAN'S CHARACTER AND CAPABILITIES Ralph Barker wrote the first full biography of Spencer-Chapman in 1975 and provides the following insights into his character and capabilities based on those who came to know him at Wilson’s Promontory: [Source: Ralph Barker. - One man's jungle: a biography of F. Spencer Chapman, DSO. – London: Chatto & Windus, 1975: 178-182.] "He was asked if he would like to go to Australia, on a mission that was being sent to raise and train similar commando companies of Australians and New Zealanders, and he had no excuse to refuse. "I am to go abroad in two weeks' time," he told Uncle Sam. "It is sad in that I have just got things going here and am enjoying a really interesting and important job." But within a few days he was telling Erica Thompson: "I am looking forward to it for various reasons. Life has been rather too complicated lately. Joss was stationed up Kyle way and I have been seeing a good deal of her, which was very stupid I suppose. Queer that I don't seem to meet anybody else. Perhaps I shall in Australia .... " Another incentive was that Australia was the only continent he had not yet visited. No. 104 Mission, under Lieutenant-Colonel Mawhood, with Captain Mike Calvert* in charge of demolitions and Freddy in charge of fieldcraft, and with two warrant officers in support, left Britain on 6th October 1940 in the S.S. Rimutaka, crossing the North Atlantic and heading south for the Panama Canal. During the voyage Freddy and Mike Calvert established a relationship which they were always able to pick up again at the same point however long they were apart, based on mutual respect and an acceptance of where their lives and characters overlapped and interlocked and where they didn't. In fact, they had little in common. "Michael Calvert boxed and swam for Cambridge and the Army, has no nose left, and a large red good-natured rubber-like face which he can twist into the most ludicrous expressions," Freddy told Uncle Sam. "He is always laughing and cannot see why everybody else is not happy too." And of Freddy Mike Calvert said later: "He was a strange mixture. One moment he would be spouting high ideals, the next he would be supporting some perfidious scheme for blowing things up. He talked like a liberal and acted like an anarchist, and it amused me how swiftly he could change from one to the other." .... The Mission found the inertia of the Australian Government rather like England before Dunkirk, and with Mawhood absorbed in political and intelligence wrangles and intrigue, it was left to Freddy and Calvert to visit Australian units and recruit the men they needed. A training area was chosen on Wilson's Promontory, at the extreme southern point of Victoria, running out into the Bass Strait towards Tasmania; this promontory, about 20 miles long and up to eight wide, was virtually uninhabited, and it included every conceivable type of ground. There were high mountains and rocky crags, culminating in Mount Latrobe at 2,475 feet; eucalyptus forests as dense as any jungle; rolling open grassland and scrub; sand dunes and flats; every kind of swamp; harbours, beaches and islands to practise combined operations; and even a landing field. It was thus ideally suited for training troops who might have to fight anywhere from the Libyan desert to the jungles of New Guinea. A distinguished Australian soldier of the First World War, Major Stuart Love, was in overall command, and in Calvert's view he was an important influence in directing Freddy's ideas along practical lines. Calvert was an ideal foil for Freddy, and the Australians, suspicious at first of Freddy's clipped speech, unusual mode of dress (he was still wearing the kilt of the 5th Seaforths), and aesthetic good looks, were gradually won over. Yet for them Freddy was bound to remain something of an enigma. "His was not the easy camaraderie that appeals to all," writes ex-trainee Rolf Baldwin. "He was austere and other-worldly, and these are not the qualities that inspire universal affection." The other ranks were more amused than impressed by Freddy's stories of Greenland and the Himalayas, which, mimicked in a parody of the English accent, were always good for a laugh behind his back. And with the Australian's raw sensitivity towards British insularity, they resented such eccentricities as Freddy's choice of "the cry of the British tawny owl" as the rallying cry for a patrol. "What the bloody hell does he think we are?" they muttered. The inevitable snow bunting drew the same response. Yet they developed a strong affinity with him, as a pupil does for a master, and his detractors were greatly outnumbered by his admirers. "He told a good story and told it well," remembers J.H. Wass, "but always managed to turn it into a lesson which fitted into the training schedule. "Wass speaks of Freddy's magnetism being such that everyone came to almost worship him. "He had an impressive method of establishing a point in the training programme," writes Lex Fraser, who was second in command of the first of the Anzac independent companies. "For example, a day was to be spent in 'field-sketching' from the top of Mount Latrobe, and several groups were despatched to deal with varying segments of the field. The exercise could not be completed in the one day and as evening approached, some of the parties returned to base camp. Other parties completed the assignment and returned the following day. Freddy dressed the parties who returned down to size, with such effect that all, without direction, started off once again for Mount Latrobe, and some returned as long as three days later, but with the required information. This sort of training was invaluable to the morale of the independent companies." Most troops have a sneaking regard for a leader who is different and a little eccentric, even if he infuriates them at times, and the Australians had certainly never met anyone like Freddy before. He had many of the characteristics of the typical Pommie, with which they enjoyed a love-hate relationship of long standing; and in addition, he could out-walk, out-run, out-climb, out-track and out­ shoot the best of them. "I recall an incident," writes Lex Fraser, "when, after Freddy had established a time of 23/4 hours for climbing Mount Latrobe from our base camp on the Tidal River, an Australian succeeded in lowering this by half an hour. I can still see the determined look on Freddy's face as he left base camp and requested that he be checked on his arrival at the summit. He completed the limb in 13/4 hours and returned to camp at a lope. 'Now see if you can beat that,' he said. To my knowledge, this remarkable record was never beaten." Freddy himself described the training as a natural development of the Lochailort course, as practical as they could make it. While CaIvert taught the art of demolition, he taught how to get a party from A to B and back by day or night in any sort of country and to arrive in a fit state to carry out its appointed task. "This included all sorts of sidelines - a new conception of fitness, knowledge of the night sky, what to wear, what to take and how to carry it, what to eat and how to cook it, how to live off the country, tracking, memorizing routes, and how to escape if caught by the enemy." Few were to put these aspects of fieldcraft to better use than Freddy himself; but they were, of course, little more than an extension of the way he had so often lived his life, right back to his schooldays. Writing after the Burma campaign, Mike Calvert called Freddy "the best man at all forms of fieldcraft that I know". IN MALAYA On completing their Australian training assignment, Calvert was posted to India and Spencer-Chapman to Malaya. Commissioned into the Seaforth Highlanders as a lieutenant on 6 June 1939, Chapman's love of the outdoor life and adventure lead to him being chosen for the mission in Australia. That mission was to train Australian and New Zealand forces in guerrilla warfare and eventually to join what was then Special Training School 101 STS-101 in Singapore. This school had as one of its main objects the organization of parties to stay behind in areas the Japanese might overrun. Throughout the war Chapman remained a thorn in the Japanese side, accounting for the loss of no less than seven trains, fifteen bridges and forty motor vehicles and the killing of some hundreds of Japanese troops in a short period of time at the beginning of Japanese occupation. Source: Brian Moynahan. – Jungle soldier: the true story of Freddy Spencer Chapman. – London: Quercus, 2009: 276. In early 1942, he ran out of the supplies that had been hidden for stay behind parties such as his team. Freddie and his team then tried to escape from Malaya but had to hide from the Japanese in the Malayan jungle with the help of the Malayan Chinese Communists who lived in guerrilla camps in the jungle waging war with the Japanese. Source: Brian Moynahan. – Jungle soldier: the true story of Freddy Spencer Chapman. – London: Quercus, 2009: 209. However, due to the bad conditions in the jungle and also due to Japanese attacks, he gradually lost all his team members through disease and gunfire and was completely cut off. For more than one and a half years, he lived in jungle camps with Chinese Communist Guerrillas and travelled long distances through dense and difficult jungles often suffering high fevers, caused by malaria. In late 1943, he finally re-established contact with the British. Two other Britons joined him from Force 136. On a search-mission in the jungle for another stay-behind-Briton, Freddie was captured by the Japanese but managed to escape into jungle during the night, despite being surrounded by Japanese soldiers who were asleep as well as several on guard. Source: Brian Moynahan. – Jungle soldier: the true story of Freddy Spencer Chapman. – London: Quercus, 2009: 276. Due to continued Japanese attacks, he and the two members of Force 136, were isolated again among the Communist Guerrillas until early 1945. During that time, they had to fight against diseases of the jungle, namely, malaria, beriberi, dysentery and skin-ulcers from leech bites. Finally, with the help of the Malayan Chinese Communists, they managed to repair their radio equipment with spare-parts collected by the Communist Guerrillas (the military wing of this being the Malayan Peoples' Anti-Japanese Army) and could contact their headquarters in Colombo and organize reinforcements and supplies via parachute-drops into the jungle. Subsequently, they could support liaison of the British with the Malayan Chinese Communist Guerrillas and managed to escape from occupied Malaya in the submarine ‘HMS Statesman’ after a remarkable trek from the mainland jungle to the island Pulau Pangkor off the west coast disguised as Chinese labourers. Chapman was wounded twice during his time in Malaya, once in the leg by a steel nut from a homemade cartridge and once in the arm. He was captured both by Japanese troops and by Chinese bandits and escaped from both. He suffered in the jungle. Once he was seventeen days unconscious, suffered from tick-typhus, blackwater fever and pneumonia. Chronic malaria being the worst of it. He walked bare foot for six days. Source: Brian Moynahan. – Jungle soldier: the true story of Freddy Spencer Chapman. – London: Quercus, 2009: 354. However, much he suffered in the Malayan jungle, he attributed his survival to the basic rule that "the jungle is neutral". By this description he meant that one should view the surroundings as neither good or bad but neutral. The role of a survivalist is to expect nothing and accept the dangers and bounties of the jungle as of a natural course. Hence, one's steady state of mind was of the utmost importance to ensure that the physical health of body and the will to live were reinforced on a daily basis. In the foreword to Chapman's book on his experiences in Japanese occupied Malaya, ‘The Jungle Is Neutral’, Field Marshall Earl Wavell wrote "Colonel Chapman has never received the publicity and fame that were his predecessor's lot [referring to T.E. Lawrence]; but for sheer courage and endurance, physical and mental, the two men stand together as examples of what toughness the body will find, if the spirit within it is tough; …”. POST WAR On 21 February 1946 he was appointed to the Distinguished Service Order, backdated to 31 March 1944. A Bar followed on 7 November 1946. Like his fiend and training partner, Mike Calvert, Spencer-Chapman never fully settled into civilian life post-war, pursuing a career as a school headmaster and later manager of a university residential college; from time-to-time he suffered severe bouts of depression. When his health began to fail he took his own life at the age of 64. ADDITIONAL READING Work by Spencer-Chapman F. Spencer Chapman. – The jungle is neutral. – London: Chatto & Windus, 1950. https://archive.org/details/in.ernet.dli.2015.14185 Biographies of Spencer-Chapman Ralph Barker. - One man's jungle: a biography of F. Spencer Chapman, D.S.O.– London: Chatto & Windus, 1975. Brian Moynahan. – Jungle soldier: the true story of Freddy Spencer Chapman. – London: Quercus, 2009. Shorter biographical treatments of Spencer-Chapman Rebecca Kenneison ‘Freddy Spencer Chapman: from John’s to the jungle’ The Eagle 2014 [for members of St John’s College, Cambridge]: 35-42. https://en.calameo.com/read/002738954de73bd808b66 Jack Longland ‘Chapman, Frederick Spencer (1907–1971)’ in Oxford dictionary of national biography online. http://www.oxforddnb.com.rp.nla.gov.au/view/printable/30919 Alan Ogden. – Tigers burning bright: SOE heroes in the Far East. – London: Bene Factum Publishing Ltd, 2013. See espec. ‘Lieutenant Colonel Freddy Spencer Chapman, DSO and Bar’: 244-262. Linda Parker. – Ice, steel and fire: British explorers in peace and war 1921-1945. – Solihull, West Midlands: Helion & Company Limited, 2013. See Chapter 2 ‘Freddie Spencer Chapman’: 85-141. ‘Freddie Spencer Chapman’ Wikipedia article https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freddie_Spencer_Chapman Vale J.H. Wass ‘Spencer Chapman’ 2/2 Commando CourierVol. 25, No. 235 November 1971: 22-23. https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/1971/Courier%20November%201971.pdf The author [Freddie Spencer Chapman] from a drawing by Peter Scott [1947] Source: F. Spencer Chapman. – The jungle is neutral. – London: Chatto & Windus, 1950: [ii]
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