Jump to content

Edward Willis

Committee
  • Content Count

    272
  • Joined

  • Last visited

Everything posted by Edward Willis

  1. Edward Willis

    The Rest House.jpg

    Taken April 1969 during visit for the opening of the Dare Memorial Pool and Resting Place
  2. Taken April 1969 during visit for the opening of the Dare Memorial Pool and Resting Place
  3. Taken April 1969 during visit for the opening of the Dare Memorial Pool and Resting Place
  4. Taken April 1969 during visit for the opening of the Dare Memorial Pool and Resting Place
  5. Taken April 1969 during visit for the opening of the Dare Memorial Pool and Resting Place
  6. Taken April 1969 during visit for the opening of the Dare Memorial Pool and Resting Place
  7. Taken April 1969 during visit for the opening of the Dare Memorial Pool and Resting Place
  8. Edward Willis

    The Rest Place.jpg

    Taken April 1969 during visit for the opening of the Dare Memorial Pool and Resting Place
  9. Edward Willis

    The Rest House.jpg

    Taken April 1969 during visit for the opening of the Dare Memorial Pool and Resting Place
  10. Taken April 1969 during visit for the opening of the Dare Memorial Pool and Resting Place
  11. Taken April 1969 during visit for the opening of the Dare Memorial Pool and Resting Place
  12. Taken April 1969 during visit for the opening of the Dare Memorial Pool and Resting Place
  13. Taken April 1969 during visit for the opening of the Dare Memorial Pool and Resting Place
  14. The National Archives of Australia (NAA) is a marvellous resource for family historians including members and supporters of the Doublereds seeking service and other official records for their research. For example, a recent search of the NAA database retrieved a set of 17 photos taken at the opening of the Dare Memorial Pool and Resting Place on 13 April 1969. One of the photos showing the group of 2/2 veterans who made the journey to the then Portuguese Timor for the opening is well known and has been reproduced in several publications, including Cyril Ayris’ ‘All the Bull’s men’ (p.490-491) but all the other photos may not have been seen for some time, if at all. The photos are high quality and very sharp and show the Portuguese and Australian dignitaries involved in the opening ceremony, Timorese drummers and dancers, local villagers looking on and the memorial plaque. The photos can be well complemented by reading Col Doig’s account of the opening ceremony given in his history of the 2/2 Commando Association ‘A great fraternity’ (pp.87-89). The full text of his account follows in this post: Now to return to the events of Sunday the 13th. We were warned to be ready to leave our hotels. by 10 a.m. to go to the venue of our Memorial and prepare for the ceremony. We boarded a variety of vehicles, all four-wheel drive as this is the only type which can climb to the mountain on which the Resting Place is situated. A brief stop at the Australian Consulate then on to the winding mountain road with drivers belting along in a cloud of dust, blowing horns practically continuously. This writer formed the impression that it was OK to knock down anybody legally if you blew the horn first. As we neared the Memorial site we found the roadside was a bower of arches on either side and became a living guard of honour of Timorese spearmen. The sight was unbelievable. Then on to the actual spot for the ceremony, overlooking the Memorial. “There is a newly finished road immediately above the Memorial and it is at this point the plaques telling of the Memorial are placed”. Above this road is the main road to Aileu and above this the remainder of the mountain side. The whole of this area from the Memorial to the top of the mountain was covered with colourful and teeming humanity. Such vivid colour I have never previously seen. “A guard of honour of Australian Naval personnel and a guard of Portuguese Army personnel were formed up for the salute”. The whole scene was something that will probably never be witnessed in this world again. The greeting we received was spontaneous and magnificent. We had returned home! All this and we had not yet dismounted from our vehicles [and] had not seen the Memorial. We dismounted from our cars and shook hands with Mr Roger Dean, Administrator of the Northern Territory who was representing the Australian Commonwealth Government and his entourage which comprised the Naval Commander Northern Territory, Capt Cleary, Army Commander, Lt Col P.J. Norton, Air Commander, Group Capt Mather and ADC Lt Brian Bell. Mr Dean was accompanied by his wife and the President of Darwin RSL, Mr J.P. Tiernan. Then we turned around to view the scene. What utter grandeur! What true magnificence! Timor's topography is probably absolutely unique in the world and this site one of the greatest possible. “Then to look down on the glory which is our Resting Place. Never in my life have I witnessed such a beautiful site”. The colour and majesty is indescribable. The translucent blue water of the pool, the rugged strength of the Resting Place, the colourful terrazzo flooring, the power and strength of the free stone retaining walls, the huge trees and colourful shrubbery all added to a scene that was truly breath taking. A quick catch in the throat was the first reaction. Was this our gift to these wonderful people? Surely this was fairyland. We were dreaming. No, it was all real. So much more than we expected in our wildest dream. Thank you, I Thank you! You wonderful architects, engineers and workmen, that was my silent prayer. All this happened in the space of seconds while we awaited the arrival of the Governor. The guards gave a Royal Salute as His Excellency arrived and they were inspected and on to the ceremony of hand over and dedication. It was with bated breath we who were involved awaited the start. “The Australian Consul introduced the speakers and we were away”. “The first to address the assembly was your President, Bill Epps, who found the occasion as much as he could bear and was so overcome with emotion that he broke down only to come back and finish the task in a manner only to be described as heroic and magnificent”. Col Doig followed and he too found the occasion overwhelming and was shaking like an aspen leaf. “Col. Scapinakis spoke for the Portuguese”. Nicolau Goncalves (Norm Thornton and Ray Aitken' s creado) spoke for the Timorese. The Bishop of Dili blessed the Resting Place, Mr Roger Dean read the inscription on the plaque in English and the Governor read the plaque in Portuguese. Mr Dean then spoke for the Australian Government and the Governor replied from the Portuguese Government. This took a considerable time as all speeches had to be translated into Portuguese or English after they had been delivered. NOTE: The full text of all the speeches delivered at the opening ceremony can be found in the Courier May 1969 “As the plaques were unveiled the guards gave a Royal Salute and a bugle band played the Retreat”. A most moving and amazing ceremony, colourful in the extreme and never to be repeated in this world again. Those who were fortunate enough to take part will have memories forever of this magnificent day. With the ceremony over it was now time for the contingent to meet up with their ex-creados who had been assembled for just this occasion. Many and touching were the reunions as we once again met these faithful friends. Over 100 of these people had assembled and many were vouched for as being the ones who had helped us so much. A small token of our esteem was handed to these people now quite aging and we so remembered them as boys and youths. Once again, the lumps were in the throats and many an eye was brushed to remove a tear. “All the while a dancing group performed near the pool of the Memorial”. The women accompanying the party were all awe struck by the occasion. OTHER PHOTOS OF THE CEREMONY IN THE NAA COLLECTION
  15. While conducting the Compact Teaching Program for Ailelo/Cosbouk and Samara schools during April-May this year, Snr Francisco Jorge dos Santos asked if any members of the local communities had memories of the Australian soldiers who based themselves in this area while fighting against the Japanese in 1942. Two local men came forward and Francisco recorded the following interviews with them in Tetum that have been translated into English. [1] They are interesting stories of two men who were criados for the Australians and travelled with them to several named locations until the Australians departed for home by boat from Betano. Several other men who were also criados (now deceased) are also named in the stories. H.E. Snr Xanana Gusmão when he met with W.A. Museum staff and members of the 2/2 Commando Association after viewing items from the ‘Debt of honour’ exhibition in April 2016 stated that he would like the Timor-Leste government to employ a team of appropriately trained Timorese to go out to district locations and interview the old people and their descendants and record their WWII stories. The two stories conveyed here are perhaps examples of what might be captured if such a program eventuated; but there are many other competing priorities for government funding in Timor-Leste. 1. MOISES BOBE When the Japanese army arrived in Dili in 1942, Grandpa Moises Bobe was only 11 to 12 years old. The Australian army was retreating from Dili with the aim of going to Betano (Manufahi) through the Ermera district. The Australian army was not alone and they were walking with Dutch army towards Hatolia town. The Japanese force were hunting the Australian and Dutch army and they killed one of the Australians at the mountain called Atabatu. Immediately afterwards a Japanese force occupied Hatolia and the Australian and Dutch withdrew. They walked to Laimea and then decided to go separate ways at a place call Bauili/Bohili. Grandpa Moises helped to carry some food and other things for the Australian force that was there. Then, the Australian force walked to Betano to get on the boat while the Dutch army walked to Indonesian area (Atambua). The people who assisted and accompanied the Australian army in walking to Betano included Jeremias (from Coliati Letefoho), Domingos and Manloe (they have all passed away). Unfortunately, there is no one else left who has the memory of this history. Iha tinan 1942 kuandu forsa Japonese embarka ona iha Dili Avo Moises Bobe halo ona +- tinan 11 ka 12. Iha tempu ne’e forsa Australiano mos retira husi Dili atu ba Betano (Manufahi) maibe liu husi Ermera. Forsa Australiano iha tempu ne’e la la’o mesak maibe sira la’o hamutuk ho forsa Olanda (Dutchs) to’o iha Hatolia Villa. Forsa Japonese mos duni tuir forsa hirak ne’e no konsege tiru mate forsa Australiano ida iha foho ida naran foho Atabatu, iha tempu ne’e kedan forsa Japonese akupa ona Hatolia Villa. Nune’e husi Hatolia Villa forsa Australiano no forsa Duths deside atu retira husi fatin ne’ebá, sira la’o tun ba Leimea Sorin Balun no fahe malu iha fatin ida naran Bauili/Bohili. Avo Moises Ajuda lori sasan no hahan balun hodi fo ba forsa Australiano sira to’o deit iha fatin ne’e. Nune’e forsa Australiano la’o ba Betano hodi sa’e ro iha ne’ebá no forsa Duths la’o tama area Indonesia nian (Atambua). Ema sira ne’ebé konsege ajuda forsa Australiano sira la’o to’o Betano mak inklui Jeremias (ema Coliati Letefoho), Domingos no Manloe (sira ne’e mate hotu ona). Infelismente Laiha rekordasaun ruma hodi lembra fali tempu ne’eba. 2. JOSE BRITO MARTINS At that time, Jose Brito Martins was a child (and he was still naked – this is to describe someone who were still a child and know nothing as he was not feeling embarrassed without clothing) but he can still remember some stories that have been told by his father. His father’s name is Manumeta and he is from Ailelo village. Australian and Dutch forces were retreating to Ermera in 1942. Before they reached Hatolia town, they were walking through a track to get Aifu village in Manusaae (Hatolia). Then, they lived in Batutlau and they asked Manloe to assist them. Jose’s father told him that Manloe and himself were helping the forces to only carry their rucksacks. The forces brought their special food which they never gave to Timorese. Both forces also consumed the food such as cassava, sweet potato, young corn which was provided by Timorese. The forces had been living in Hatolia town only for one week because the Japanese army with their better weapons chased the Australian and Dutch forces. From Hatolia town, Australian forces split up into three groups. One group with 5 people went to Talo and they were hiding in a cave, one group went to Leimea and the other one went to Tata. Manumeta was walking together with the group that hidden in a cave in Talo. From Talo, they decided to walk down to Coliati, then to Saria and reached Dukurai. Manumeta could not accompany Australian forces to Betano because he was sick and he had to return home from Dukuria. Jeremias - one of Manumeta’s friends was the one who accompanied the forces to Betano. After Australian forces got the boat, Jeremias was hiding in the area of Betano and Faturbelihu (Manufahi) for many years as the Japanese army came to Betano to pursue the Australian forces and for those Timorese which helping them as well. Jeremias married a lady from Betano and he has a son called Manuel. Before Jeremias died, he had brought back his family to Hatolia town. Sr. Jose Brito Martins iha tempu ne’ebá sei labarik (molik hela) maibe bele lembra istoria ne’ebe nia aman konta ba nia. Nia aman naran Manumeta husi suku Ailelo. Iha tin an 1942 kuandu forsa Australiano no forsa Duths retira mai Ermera, molok sira mai to’o Hatolia Villa sira la’o tuir dalan ki’ik mai to’o suku Aifu iha Manusae (Hatolia). Sira konsege hela tiha iha Batutlau no sira kaer Manloe atu bele ajuda sira. Nia apa haktuir ba nia katak nia ho Manloe ajuda lori mak Ransel deit. Forsa hirak ne’e lori rasik sira nia hahan espesial ne’ebe nunka fo ba Timor-oan. Sira mos han hahan hanesan ai-farina, fehuk, batar-nurak ne’ebe fornese husi timor-oan. Sira konsege hela iha Hatolia villa durante semana ida deit tamba forsa Japonese mai ho armas kompletu hodi duni sira. Husi Hatolia Villa forsa Australiano sira ne’e fahe malu ba grupu tolu; grupu ida ho ema nain 5 ba Talo hodi subar iha fatuk kuak, grupu ida la’o ba Leimea Kraik no grupu seluk ida la’o ba Tata. Manumeta la’o hamutuk deit grupu ne’ebé subar iha fatuk kuak iha Talo, husi Talo sira desidi la’o tun ba Coliati sai ba Saria no to’o Dukurai. Manumeta la konsege lori forsa Australiano sira to’o Betano tamba nia moras no fila deit iha Dukurai. Manumeta nia kolega ida naran Jeremias mak konsege lori forsa Australiano sira to’o iha Betano. Hafoin forsa Australiano sira sa’e tiha ro, Jeremias sei subar iha area Betano-faturbelihu (Manufahi) durante tinan barak nia laran tamba forsa Japonese ba buka Forsa Australiano no sira to’o iha ne’eba. Ikus mai Jeremias hola feto ema Betano no iha oan-mane ida naran Manuel. Molok Jeremias mate, nia konsege lori nia familia mai fali iha Hatolia Villa. [1] The Compact Teacher Training program at the schools was organised by the Melville Friends of Hatolia and funded by the 2/2 Commando Association of Australia. Translation: Francisco Jorge dos Santos, Detaviana Madelana Guterres Freitas
  16. Clarence (Clarrie) was an original member of the unit, embarking aboard “S.S. ZEALANDIA” on 8 Dec 1941 for Timor as a Lieutenant, Officer Commanding, No 3 Section, “A” Platoon. After the campaign on Timor, he embarked with the unit, for Australia aboard the Royal Dutch destroyer “Tjerk Hiddes” on either 11 Dec 1942 or 16 Dec 1942, as the embarkation rolls do not differentiate. He was discharged on 6 Jan 1944. Clarrie Turner was born in 1917, the fourth of eight children and was educated at Capel School and later, Narrogin Agricultural College. At seventeen, he returned home to work in the family Butcher shop and did both shop work and slaughtering until he joined the Army in December 1939. He completed his elementary and Non-Commissioned Officer training and in late 1940 completed his Officer Training on the banks of the Hume Weir at Albury-Wodonga. He underwent commando training in 1941 at Foster on Wilson's Promontory in Victoria and the 2/2nd Independent Company of commandos was formed shortly thereafter. The unit traveled by train to Alice Springs and then by truck to Katherine in the Northern Territory. Along the way, Clarrie's butchering skills were called upon to slaughter an alleged stray sheep. It was later discovered that the sheep was half of a local farmer's flock and there was hell to play. The commandos embarked for Timor from Darwin in December 1941 and Clarence recalled that the officers had to draw their own maps of the area, as there were very few maps of Timor in existence at the time. He used this map throughout his time on Timor and brought it back to Australia with him. After the tough Timor Campaign he arrived home in early February 1943 and on the 27th of that month married Grace in "All Souls "Church across the road from the Murnane horse stud. They only had a three-day honeymoon before Clarrie had to report back. He left the Army a year later, but continued his association with the commandos for the remainder of his life. He and Grace enjoyed great friendships and many good times with them and their partners for many, many years. Clarrie had No.3 Section of "A" platoon in Timor which included Bernie Langridge, Arthur Marshall, Bill Rowan-Robinson, Eric Weller and Alf Hillman to name a few. Clarrie was a good officer and was well respected by his men. Clarrie and Grace were loyal and generous supporters of the Association of which he was a Life Member. Clarrie Turner Timor reminiscences.pdf Vale Clarence William Turner - Courier September 2006.pdf
  17. Edward Willis

    Alan Sidney Luby

    Alan was an original member of the unit, embarking aboard “S.S. ZEALANDIA” on 8 Dec 1941 for Timor as a Corporal in R.A.M.C. Section, Headquarters Group. After the campaign on Timor, he embarked with the unit, for Australia aboard the Royal Dutch destroyer “Tjerk Hiddes” on 16 Dec 1942. He was promoted Sergeant 23 Dec 1942. After leave and reorganization, he embarked with the unit for New Guinea aboard S.S. “DUNTROON” on 17 Jun 1943 as a Sergeant in R.A.M.C. Section, Headquarters Group. Alan transferred out of the unit to 6th Australian Field Ambulance on 30 Jun 1944. He disembarked at Cairns on 9 Oct 1944. He embarked for New Britain with 6th Field Ambulance as a Sergeant on “KATOOMBA” on 10 Mar 1945 and returned to Australia on 1 Jun 1945. Alan was discharged on 28 Sept 1945. He was entitled to the 1939-45 Star, Pacific Star, War Medal and Australian Service Medal 1939-45, pictured below. SAVING LIVES WAS HIS VOCATION October 2, 2009 Alan Luby, 1915-2009. As a medical orderly serving with a guerilla unit in the mountains of Portuguese Timor and New Guinea during World War II, Alan Luby worked miracles of bush medicine to save the lives of seriously wounded men. At home he served with the NSW Ambulance Service for almost 50 years. He had joined the service before the war and enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force's ambulance service in July 1940 before joining one of the country's first guerilla units, the 2/2nd Independent Company. Serving as a medic with a guerilla force meant Luby was required to care for wounded soldiers while the enemy was still close by. He arrived in Timor in late 1941, leaving behind his fiancee, Edith Pengilly, from Parkes. Shortly after the Japanese landed in Timor in 1942 Luby treated a seriously wounded Australian soldier who had survived an execution. Private Keith Hayes had bayonet wounds in his back and shoulders, and a bullet wound in the back of his neck. Incredibly, his wounds were not life threatening, and, after being patched up by Luby, he was cared for by a Timorese woman who applied traditional mud packs to his wounds. Thanks to their combined efforts, Hayes survived and was later evacuated to Australia. He is still alive. A week later Luby heard a gun battle raging near his base in the mountains south-west of Dili. A force of about 200 Japanese had ambushed a unit of 14 Australians, leaving two dead and three wounded. A Timorese runner told Luby of the wounded men. When Luby arrived he saw Private Alan Hollow with his lower jaw blown away by a machine gun burst. Private Eddie Craighill had copped a machine- gun burst through his right shoulder, and another man had flesh wounds in his leg. Luby did not think Hollow would survive but he did what he could to stop the bleeding and keep him alive. He stayed with the wounded men for the next three days as the Japanese continued to pursue the Australians. Luby kept Hollow alive by asking the other men to find eggs and buffalo milk. He mixed these and dropped the liquid down the back of Hollow's throat with an eye dropper. Hollow survived, was evacuated to Australia for reconstructive surgery and went on to lead a relatively normal life. These were the first two emergency cases Luby handled in his first 10 days of seeing action, and he went on to save more lives of the 2/2 Company men until the end of the war. While in New Guinea, Luby was close by when Private Harry Sproxton had a cardiac arrest from an overdose of anaesthetic. The doctor gave Sproxton up for dead. Luby was undeterred and, believing that he could be resuscitated, pummelled his back. After some minutes Sproxton came back to life, and is still alive, aged 88. Alan Sidney Luby, who has died just before his 94th birthday, was born in Newtown, the son of John Luby and his wife, Phyllis Kennedy. After Luby returned from Timor in 1943 he and Edith were married. After the war he rejoined the NSW Ambulance Service, serving in Grafton, Gilgandra and Liverpool before moving into senior management. When he retired in 1980 he was deputy operations superintendent. He remained in contact with the ambulance service and was recently awarded a life membership. Until his death, Luby remained in close contact with his 2/2nd mates and other veterans of guerilla units. As one of the older men in the unit, he became a father figure. For 20 years he was also president of the NSW Commando Association, which represents all veterans in the state who served in special forces. In 1982 Luby succeeded in establishing a permanent monument in Martin Place to the World War II men who did not return from dangerous and often poorly planned missions behind enemy lines. The Commando Memorial Seat, opposite the Reserve Bank head office, displays the insignia of all 11 independent companies and commando squadrons, and those of the Z and M Special Units, whose members were sent into enemy territory and were in many instances captured, tortured and killed. Alan Luby is survived by his daughter Maria and grandchildren Kieran and Belinda. Edith and two other children predeceased him. Obituary written by Paul Cleary [author of 'The men who cam out of the ground'] Published in the Sydney Morning Herald http://www.smh.com.au/comment/obituaries/saving-lives-was-his-vocation-20091001-gel2 Alan Luby honoured - South Coast Times and Wollongong Argus (NSW : 1900 - 1954), Friday 30 August 1940, page 10.pdf Alan Luby's Timor reminiscences.docx Alan_Luby's_Timor_reminiscences.pdf Alan Sidney Luby NX55531 - service record.pdf Notes for talk to Warringah Rotary Club 2000.pdf Saving lives was his vocation.pdf
  18. Edward Willis

    Kenneth James Monk

    Ken was born in Cheltenham and went to the local state school until he was 10 years old, then the family moved to a farm at Athlone and he went to the Athlone state school. On leaving school Ken worked on Margaret's family farm at North Poowong. He joined the local Militia Battalion in 1938. He joined the 2/2nd in Timor in December 1941 with other reinforcements and stayed with the Unit until the end of the war. He was a very good and reliable member of 3 Section "A' Troop throughout the war years, reaching the rank of sergeant. He was discharged in January 1946 and returned to Athlone. Ken married Margaret in April 1947 and moved on to their own farm in Poowong East. It was very hard work getting established, living in a humble dwelling and they had to carry the milk by hand from the milking shed to the roadway for pick up in the early years until they had a very nice house built later. In the meantime they had four wonderful children, Barbara, Elva, Colin and Robert - a very loving and well knit family. Ken and Margaret were great supporters of our Association and hardly missed a function and went to most of our safaris around Australia and Ken served on our committee until his passing. East_Timor_trip_-_Robert_&_Colin_Monk_-_Courier_December_2010.pdf Ken Monk Timor memories - hand written.pdf Ken Monk Timor memories.pdf Vale - Kenneth James Monk - Courier December 1997.pdf Kenneth was a member of the First Reinforcements that arrive at Dili, Timor, aboard M.V. “Kalama”, on 22 Jan 1942, prior to the Japanese landing. He joined the unit as a Private in No 7 Section, “C” Platoon. After the campaign on Timor, he embarked with the unit, for Australia aboard the Royal Dutch destroyer “Tjerk Hides” on either 11 Dec 1942 or 16 Dec 1942, as the embarkation rolls do not differentiate. After leave and reorganization, he embarked with the unit for New Guinea aboard S.S. “DUNTROON” on 17 Jun 1943 as a Corporal in No 3 section, “A” Troop and returned to Australia with them aboard “TAROONA” on 3 Sept 1944. After leave and reorganization, he embarked for New Britain aboard “TAROONA” on 9 Apr 1945 with the unit as a Corporal in No 3 section, “A” Troop. At some stage he was promoted to Lance Sergeant and was discharged on 10 Jan 1946.
  19. DAVID ROSS (1902-1984) – DIPLOMAT AND SPY Col Doig paid the following tribute to David Ross in the ‘Courier’ when he passed away in August 1984: Vale - Dave Ross This man will be known to many of the Unit boys, particularly those who were in the Timor Campaign. He was, when we occupied Portuguese Timor, although an Australian, the British Consul. His contribution to our cause was one of high order. He helped us to settle into Dili and was a great diplomat in his dealings with the Portuguese, Dutch and our own hierarchy. His advice on the Timorese and the way to get on side with them was invaluable, the terrain, the weather patterns, the hazards we would encounter in our patrolling, all were spot on. Dave was virtually under house surveillance once the Japanese landed and we next saw him when he was sent by the Japanese to Hatu-Lia with a 'Surrender Notice', via the Japanese Consul, but the message was from the Japanese Commander. Bernie Callinan's 'Independent Company' describes it perfectly. On the 17th March 1942 Dave was on his way back to Dili with a 'No Surrender' message for the Japanese. It was a traumatic occasion for him, likewise us, to see him go was really emotional as no one knew what would happen to him. Dave was to make another trip for the Japanese [on June 25], again carrying a 'Surrender Notice' to Ainaro, this time in poor health after close confinement and meagre rations. Before departure he told the Japanese that the Australians would not surrender, they, the Japanese, would have to go out and fight them in the hills, but even then, they did not have enough troops to capture the Australians. He was a brave man who did not hide behind his post as Consul. Out he came in June and reached Ainaro an exhausted man. He had made no promise to return so Force H.Q asked permission for this loyal man to be repatriated to Australia. It was not immediately forthcoming, but ultimately Dave Ross left Beco [on July 8] heading for Australia on the little 'Kuru' piloted by Lt. Bennett [see previous post in this series, ‘The Timor ferry service]. His job well and truly done he deserved it, an Aussie to the enth degree. We mourn the loss of this old friend, gentleman, diplomat, courageous. When the 2/2nd Commando Association was formed he became a member and was a regular guest at our Annual Dinner and other functions. He remained a friend of the 2/2nd to the very last and we honour him for his excellent contribution to our cause, to contain the Japanese and to 'Not Surrender'. Both were done and Dave Ross played a big part Indirectly in both these happenings. Vale, Dave Ross, you fought a good fight. Rest content in the Vale of Valhalla, where the only surrender will be, to God himself. Christopher C.H. Wray in his book ‘Timor 1942: Australian commandos at war with the Japanese’ (pp.111-113) provided the following narrative of David Ross’s final mission on Portuguese Timor and his subsequent return to Australia: Japan Tries to Persuade the Australians to Surrender Again In June, the Japanese made further efforts to persuade the Australians to surrender. On 9 June a cablegram from Mr Clement Attlee, the British Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs to the Commonwealth Government, reported on a Portuguese proposal that if the Australians gave up and submitted to internment in Dutch Timor, the Japanese would withdraw altogether from the Portuguese part of the island. This solution would satisfy the Portuguese Government as the Japanese were requisitioning the already inadequate food resources of Portuguese Timor and generally acting in an intolerable manner. The proposals were repeated two days later. On 18 June, the Commonwealth Government replied to Attlee, explaining that the Australian forces on Timor were well organised, sufficiently supplied and conducting guerilla warfare against the Japanese. The Portuguese proposal had been discussed with General MacArthur and the Australian Chiefs of Staff. The Commonwealth Government pointed out that Australian troops were carrying out a valuable task on Timor, and the Government was not prepared to negotiate their surrender. Attlee was asked to inform the Portuguese Government accordingly. David Ross Meets with the Japanese Consul Not long after this exchange David Ross, the British Consul-General in Dili, was called before the Japanese Consul. Since the Japanese invasion Ross had been kept a prisoner in his house, save for the occasion [in March] when he had been sent out to make contact with the commandos. During his period of house arrest he had suffered acute boredom, being allowed no visitors, and for three months had half-starved owing to the lack of food for sale in Dili and the refusal of the Japanese to allow his servants to search for food in the surrounding country. The Japanese Consul was a cultured man who was a Roman Catholic and who had been educated in Spain. The Consul informed Ross that the Commander of the Japanese forces wanted Ross to carry a surrender offer to the Australians. Ross indicated that while he was willing to do this, he did not think the Australians would surrender as those who had been captured in February had been killed. The next day Ross was interviewed by the Japanese Commander, an elderly man of soldierly demeanour. The Commander was indignant at the insinuations made about the behaviour of Japanese soldiers towards their prisoners. He stated that neither he nor soldiers under his command had ever killed prisoners, and he personally accepted the surrender of the Australians on Ambon. As a token of sincerity, the following statement was prepared in English, signed and sealed by both the Commander and the Consul: In the name of the Imperial Japanese Government we here-by guarantee that all Australian soldiers under your command, who surrender to the Japanese Force now in Portuguese Timor, will receive proper treatment as prisoners of war in accordance with International Law. The Commander also asked Ross to convey to the Australian Commander his admiration for the fight which the Australians had put up. But, he said, if they were real soldiers they would come into Dili and fight to the last man. Ross commented that there were not sufficient Japanese in Dili to round up the Australians. To his surprise the Commander agreed, saying that from his readings on the South African War and his own experience in Manchuria it required ten regular soldiers to kill each guerilla, but he said, 'I will get what is required'. Ross Departs A few days later Ross was escorted a short distance out from Dili and told to make his way towards Ainaro which the Japanese believed contained the Australian Headquarters. Weakened by lack of food and his months of close confinement Ross was soon exhausted, but with the help of friendly Portuguese he reached Ainaro where he was found by Major Callinan and taken to Force Headquarters at Mape. The Australians were quite uninterested in the surrender proposals, which they gave scant attention. Ross had not promised to return to Dili, and so it was proposed that he be returned to Australia. At first the Australian authorities were reluctant to agree, believing Ross could carry out some role in Dili. However, permission was granted after it was pointed out that he had been kept prisoner and had been unable to achieve anything. On 8 July Ross returned to Australia on the ‘Kuru’. Also on board were the Dutch Consul, Herr Brauer, and his wife who had escaped from Dili at about the time of Ross's departure with the surrender proposal. Group Captain David Ross during wartime service with the RAAF ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ABOUT DAVID ROSS [1] David Ross (1902-?) http://www.airwaysmuseum.com/David Ross biog.htm Brief biography. [2] Steven Farram. - A short-lived enthusiasm: the Australian Consulate in Portuguese Timor. - Darwin, N.T.: Charles Darwin University Press, 2010, pp.4-6 ‘The British Consulate’. Valuable history of Australia’s pre-war and early war involvement with Portuguese Timor including the work of David Ross. [3] Wayne Gobert. - The origins of Australian diplomatic intelligence in Asia, 1933-1941. - Canberra: Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, Research School of Pacific Studies, Australian National University, 1992, esp. pp.43-45, 47, 60-63 and 77. http://bellschool.anu.edu.au/experts-publications/publications/3166/origins-australian-diplomatic-intelligence-asia-1933-1941 Comprehensive coverage of David Ross’s diplomatic intelligence role in Portuguese Timor. [4] ‘Assignment Asia: Wayne Gobert uncovers the surprising truth of Australia's intelligence work before and during World War II’ The Canberra Times (ACT: 1926 - 1995) Saturday 3 Mar 1990, p.17. http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/120881983/12972094 Journalistic summary of Gobert’s monograph including content regarding David Ross. [5] Backroom briefings: John Curtin's war / edited by Clem Lloyd & Richard Hall; from original notes compiled by Frederick T. Smith. - Canberra: National Library of Australia, 1997, esp. pp.57-58, 61-64. http://www.nla.gov.au/pub/ebooks/pdf/Backroom Briefings.pdf Informative notes from David Ross’s press briefings given immediately after his return to Australia from Portuguese Timor in mid-July 1942. [6] ‘Dave Ross Memoirs’ 2/2 Commando Courier vol. 138, March 2002, pp.9-11. https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/2002/Courier March 2002.pdf Extract from an interview with David Ross covering his experiences in Portuguese Timor.
  20. 75 YEARS ON The current 2/2 Commando Association of Australia inherited an archive of papers from the original Association. Amongst these papers are photocopies of newspaper and magazine articles about the 2nd Independent Company’s campaign on Portuguese Timor during 1942. One article I noticed in this archive was titled ‘The Timor ferry service’ and was written by journalist and author, John Leggoe (1909-2003). [1] After Sparrow Force made contact with Australia using the improvised radio named ‘Winnie the war winner’ (see previous post [2]) Army General Headquarters agreed that the campaign should be supported and, after initial air drops of food and supplies, the RAN was tasked with providing 40 tonnes of supplies per month across the beaches on the south coast of East (Portuguese) Timor and with being prepared to evacuate the entire force at one week’s notice. Kuru initiated the resupply service in May and was joined by Vigilant in July. The corvette Kalgoorlie joined the program in September. All these voyages escaped Japanese interception. Leggoe’s article told the story of this hazardous operation. John Leggoe authored a fuller account of the Timor Ferry Service in his book ‘Trying to be sailors’ an extract from which is included in this post. It is a fast-paced eyewitness account of the Timor Ferry Service that begins with Kuru’s initial re-supply voyage that departed from Darwin harbour on the 25th May 1942. [3] [4] Front cover of 'Trying to be sailors' Additional information about another vessel involved in the Timor Ferry Service, Vigilant is also provided. The master of the Kuru and later the Vigilant was Captain Alan Bennett and when he died in July 1987 his Vale in the 2/2 Commando Courier paid him fulsome praise and opened with the statement ‘He was one of us’. [5] EXTRACT FROM JOHN LEGGOE, 'TRYING TO BE SAILORS' ON THE 'TIMOR FERRY SERVICE' Origins of the Timor Ferry Service From time to time as Vigilant, Kuru and the corvettes secured alongside Platypus between operations the buzz spread through the ship about what was going on over on the Timor coast. Their officers, sworn to secrecy, were tight-lipped when they visited our wardroom, but we all had a pretty good idea what was going on. This was Darwin's own amphibious war - the supplying and subsequent evacuation of the gallant little Sparrow Force of Australian commandos on Timor. The Timor Ferry Service, as it came to be known, began late in May 1942. This was well into the dry season - weather which, with maximum visibility, was ideal for the Japanese reccos flying their daily routine over the Timor Sea. It was a will-o'-the-wisp campaign which went on under the very noses of the Japanese. The strength of the forces available to NOICD (Naval Officer-In-Charge Darwin) could only be described as puny and the success of the operations so far had been due largely to the audacity with which they had been carried out. All three services were involved and most of the participants were Australian. Now the campaign was entering its final phase, to be played out over the 400 miles of the Timor Sea between Darwin and Timor. It was to cost the navy two ships, the original HMAS Voyager, a destroyer which had earlier won fame in the Mediterranean as a unit of the Scrap Iron Flotilla, and the corvette Armidale, in which there was heavy loss of life. It was a period that produced bravery, ingenuity and endurance and one of the greatest survival epics in the history of the war at sea. [6] Radio Contact Established with Sparrow Force When the Japanese invaded Timor on 20 February 1942 a curtain of silence descended on the pitifully inadequate Australian Sparrow Force, which had gone to Koepang in the old transport Zealandia in early December. Under the command of Colonel W. Leggatt DSO, the force consisted of the 2/40th Battalion AIF and a commando unit, the 2/2nd Independent Company. The commandos subsequently went on to Dilli in Portuguese Timor. [7] The Navy's part in the campaign began on 20 April 1942, when a bored watch-keeping telegraphist in Darwin was startled by a faint signal: 'Force intact; still fighting ... '. This signal purported to come from the missing Australians. At first the operations officers in Darwin suspected a Japanese trap, but the message was authenticated by personal details supplied by the men in Timor. They asked for ammunition, equipment and medical supplies. [8] The Challenge of Supporting Sparrow Force First attempts to supply the commandos were made by dropping from Darwin-based RAAF Hudsons from 2 and 13 Squadrons, but with the Japanese in control of the skies over Timor, this proved too hazardous. Late in May an attempt was made to make contact with the force using a Catalina flying boat and, although the operation was successful in taking off sick and wounded and two high-ranking officers, the flight proved too hair-raising to repeat and the navy was asked to take over. At this stage, General MacArthur's headquarters took a hand and ordered that instead of being evacuated the small Australian force should remain on Timor to harass the Japanese, provide intelligence and cover possible airfield sites which could be used in any future forward move by Allied forces. NOICD was told, therefore, that the Darwin Naval forces would have to provide a sea link between Australia and Timor, to make regular supply runs, obtain information about landing sites along the enemy coast and be prepared to land or evacuate AIF forces at short notice. The catch was that NOICD had no suitable ships. Obviously, therefore, it was not possible to undertake the landing or evacuation of any sizable force, but it was possible with the limited Darwin resources to make contact, obtain intelligence, deliver medicines and other urgent supplies and bring off sick and wounded. Kuru and Vigilant Selected to Provide the Ferry Service Only two units of the Royal Darwin Navy - Kuru and Vigilant - had the speed to get in to a Timor landing in darkness with reasonable safety and be far enough away on the return journey before daylight to have a sporting chance of escaping detection by Japanese reconnaissance aircraft. The three or four corvettes in the area were fully occupied escorting supply ships between Darwin and Thursday Island. They had to be retained on convoy escort as they were the only ships equipped with Asdic. Fairmiles, the fast wooden reconnaissance boats then being built in Australia would have been ideal for the job, but the few that had been commissioned were still in southern ports. Commodore Pope, with years of service in big ships of the RN and RAN, looked out over his nondescript little fleet of cockleshells with a wry smile. It would have to be either Kuru or Vigilant and as Kuru with Lieut. J. Joel in command, was the senior ship, he decided on her. When told of the mission he was to undertake Joel was wise enough and honest enough to realise that his lack of navigation experience could jeopardise the whole operation. He asked therefore, to be supplied with a competent navigator and nominated Alan Bennett as navigator and First Lieutenant. To this Pope readily agreed - perhaps with some relief. The Mission Defined Joel and Bennett were left in no doubt as to the hazardous nature of the operation to which they had been assigned. Called to Naval Headquarters, they sat down to a conference with Pope, his Chief Staff Officer and key members of the operation staff. 'Because you will be hopelessly outclassed by any enemy force you might encounter,' Pope began, 'this operation depends for its success entirely on secrecy and stealth, accuracy of navigation and perfect timing. You will be on your own from the time you pass the boom until you return. There will be no air cover because the risk of giving away your position is considered greater than the risk of attack on you. You understand, of course, that It is even more important that the enemy should get no inkling of what is going on. 'For some time now,' Pope went on, ‘we have been in radio contact with Australian commandos in Timor and it is now proposed to make contact with them by sea to supply them with stores, ammunition and medicines and bring off sick and wounded. Betano Set as the Landing Location 'They will be waiting for you at a place called Betano, about midway along the south-east coast of Timor. You will take on ammunition, stores and Army personnel at the Boom Wharf on 25 May and be ready to sail at dusk. To avoid detection, you will have to make the greatest use of the hours of darkness and it is planned for you to arrive off Betano at dusk on the 27th, get in and unload as rapidly as possible and then sail so as to be as far as possible out into the Timor Sea by daylight. Pope turned to a chart of the Timor Sea which the CSO had spread out on the table and stabbed his finger on a shallow bay about half way along the south-east coast of Timor. 'This is Betano,' he said. 'There is deep water close in to the beach but there is not a great deal of shelter, particularly from the south-east. The land is thickly wooded with dense jungle backed by a range of mountains. Recognition signals will be flashed to seaward during the hours of darkness and once recognition has been established three fires will be lit along the beach.' Aerial Reconnaissance of Betano Bennett said, 'It would help, sir, if we could get some idea of the coastline in the vicinity of Betano - any prominent peaks or other features that could be recognised from seaward. As Betano is merely a name on the chart and not a port there are no sketches on the chart and no Admiralty sailing directions to give us any guidance. Even if our navigation is spot on and we hit it on the nose, one part of the coastline is going to look much the same as another.' 'We thought of that,' the CSO said, 'and have arranged to fly Joel and Bennett over the landing beach tomorrow to fix in their minds the salient features of the coastline'. Next day Joel and Bennett were airborne in a Hudson heading out over the Timor Sea on a north-westerly course. They had already discussed with the pilot and navigator the purpose of the flight while revealing as little as possible of the forthcoming operation. Bennett had asked that the coast be approached at zero altitude so that he could get a silhouette of the coastline as he would see it when approaching in Kuru. After about an hour's flying the pale blue peaks of Timor showed up on the horizon and the pilot began to descend. Twenty miles off the coast the Hudson was down to 200 feet and as it swept in towards Betano Bennett, sitting in the co-pilot's seat with a chart spread out on his knees, hastily sketched the silhouette of the coastline and any navigational features which would assist him in guiding Kuru in. AWM item no. 300927 - Kuru careened in Francis Bay, Darwin, for maintenance and hull cleaning The First Mission Gets Underway – 25 May 1942 Kuru, a former Northern Territory patrol craft, was seventy-six feet long and displacing fifty-five tons. Her diesel engines gave her a speed of nine knots and her armament consisted of an Oerlikon gun on the forecastle, twin point-five machine-gun amidships and two .303 machine guns and depth charges aft. She carried a complement of two officers and twelve ratings. [9] Kuru left Darwin at sundown on 25 May and two days later after an uneventful crossing of the Timor Sea, she was approaching the Timor coast a black saw-toothed frieze against the setting sun. During the crossing, conditions for sun and star sights had been good, and, with his sketches of the land to aid him, Bennett was pretty sure that they were on target. During the afternoon Joel had slowed Kuru so as to leave as little wake as possible and now with darkness falling, he ordered an increase in speed. The night was calm with a low swell. The Landing at Betano Not long after dark there came a call from the lookout on top of the wheelhouse: ‘Flashing light ahead sir, making letter B’. Joel, turning to the signalman, ordered: ‘Hop up there with your Aldis and reply with five K’s’. As soon as the recognition signals had been exchanged three fires blazed along the beach against the velvet blackness of the jungle and speed was reduced as Kuru felt her way cautiously towards the beach. So far everything had gone according to plan but all were edgy until there floated out on the still night air two unmistakable Australian voices. ‘Is it them?’ ‘Buggered if I know.’ Joel called a greeting and the tension was broken. Betano – surf landing, September-October 1942 [10] The men in Kuru made out the shape of a raft being paddled out by half a dozen bearded completely naked men. The raft bumped alongside and five months’ tension of jungle fighting was forgotten for a moment as eager greetings and handshakes were exchanged. Hastily Kuru’s dinghy was launched and with urgent efficiency the work of discharging began. Cookie Bray Shows the Way As Bennett was supervising the launching of the dinghy Cook Bray appeared beside him and said, ‘I’ll take her in if you like’. Bennett looked at him curiously. Though a cook, Bray, a powerfully built man, had already shown himself to be a competent seaman and several times on the way over had taken a trick at the wheel. ‘Well, O.K., Cookie, if you think you can manage her.’ ‘I’m used to boats, sir,’ said Bray quietly. That proved a monumental understatement. As soon as he took over the oars it was evident Bray was a superb boatman. Driven by the rippling muscles of his back and arms, the dinghy flew across the water, made a perfect landing on the beach and was soon back alongside for another load. For hours Bray manned the oars without relief throughout the whole operation, landing passengers and supplies and bringing off from the beach sick and wounded commandos, several high-ranking Dutch and Portuguese officials and Army mails and dispatches. The Navy had brought the commandos their first letters from home for six months as well as copies of the Darwin Army News and old copies of other Australian periodicals. They were eagerly seized by men starving for news of their homeland and the outside world. Mission Completed By midnight the work of unloading and loading had been completed and Kuru was at full speed on her way back to Darwin. When dawn broke she was out of sight of the Timor peaks. With the coming of daylight speed was reduced to eliminate the tell-tale wake which was such a give-away to enemy reccos and as Kuru wallowed along in steadily rising heat Bray wandered into the wheelhouse where Bennett had the watch. ‘Great job you did last night, Cookie', said Bennett. 'Well, sir, I was just as anxious as you were to get away from that place.' Asked where he had learnt to handle a boat like that, Bray told how he had been brought up in and spent his life in wheat schooners, trading in and out of the gulf ports in South Australia. Kuru arrived back m Darwin without incident on 29 May. Soon after returning from Timor Joel received a draft south and Bennett took command of Kuru on her continuing Timor sorties. Suai as an Alternative Landing Location Not altogether happy with Betano as a landing beach, the army decided to try Suai, forty-five miles south-west, and it was to Suai that Kuru was directed on her next trip. Her sailing orders opened with the customary preface: 'Being in all respects ready for sea and to engage the enemy … ' The thought of Kuru, or for that matter any unit of the Royal Darwin Navy, getting stuck into an enemy destroyer was always good for a laugh. Map of south coast of Portuguese showing landing locations used by the Timor Ferry Service Again, the mission was accomplished without detection and by the beginning of September Kuru had made six successful trips to Timor. She carried some strange passengers and stranger cargoes. Land Mines and Silver as Cargo On several occasions, she took across land mines. The commandos used them to booby trap jungle trails which they knew the Japanese would be using. The detonators for the mines held an unstable explosive which had to be treated with the greatest respect. They were carefully packed in a small wooden box which Bennett would stow under his bunk during the crossing. So it would not receive a sudden jolt in being landed by boat, the box was always wrapped in waterproof sheeting and swam ashore by the commandos. Often large quantities of silver were taken across to pay the Portuguese and the natives for goods and services. It was carried in heavy heavy linen bags and Bennett insisted on delivering it ashore himself. One night when going ashore with two heavy bags of silver Bennett was tipped out of the boat in the surf and went straight to the bottom. He walked along the bottom up the steeply sloping beach and emerged like a dripping Neptune still clutching a bag of silver in each hand. Vigilant Joins the Ferry Service Bennett was now given command of Vigilant, a larger and faster vessel than Kuru and she went on to the Darwin-Timor run. Lieut. J.A. Grant took command of Kuru. Sub-Lieut. R.B. Helliar, a young West Australian yacht master officer, joined Vigilant as First Lieutenant and a tall bearded young RANR(S) Sub-Lieutenant named Coupe sailed as First Lieutenant with Grant. As promotion to Lieutenant was automatic after three months with yacht master officers it was not long before Helliar was promoted and became senior to his Commanding Officer. However, they were firm friends and Helliar had a great respect for his young captain's ability, courage and mature judgment, so the question of rank never arose. HMAS Vigilant ship plan [11] Bennett's youth and junior rank were a perpetual source of embarrassment to the top brass in Darwin as invariably it was found that he was taking command over or offering advice to officers’ senior to him. Ultimately the Navy Board overcame it by giving him accelerated promotion to Lieutenant and finally to Lieut.-Commander. His association with Vigilant was a love affair for Bennett which had dated back to pre-war days. As a young apprentice, he had stood on the wharf at Cairns and drunk in the beauty of her lines, gleaming white and newly commissioned in the Customs service. He dreamed the impossible dream that one day he would command this miniature destroyer. Now, years later, the dream had miraculously come true - but in very different circumstances. Vigilant’s Armament Upgraded Bennett was not happy with Vigilant's armament. So far, his luck had held on his numerous trips to Timor, but he knew that if and when he did strike trouble it would be from the air. Vigilant's antiquated anti-aircraft armament offered little protection. The Navy in Darwin was hopelessly short of offensive ironmongery so Bennett went to the Americans and found a U.S. Army Air Force unit only too willing to help. He was given a magnificent set of twin point-five Browning machine guns with ammunition and mountings. The Americans took them to Vigilant, mounted them and drilled a crew in use maintenance. Still not satisfied, Bennett pleaded with the Naval ordnance people for an Oerlikon to replace the ancient twelve pounder mounted forward. Finally, they consented and at last Vigilant was in a position to give·a good account of herself against aircraft. Close Call for Vigilant Both Vigilant and Kuru continued regular runs to Timor and still their luck held. On one occasion, however, Vigilant came close to disaster. A Japanese landing force, consisting of three troop transports and a cruiser, steamed into the bay at Suai only twelve hours after Vigilant had left to return to Darwin. As the Japanese came in on the same bearing as that on which Vigilant had departed, Sparrow Force observers could not see how she would have escaped and signalled Darwin that Vigilant had probably been destroyed. Immediately Pope sent an aircraft to investigate and Vigilant was found unharmed steaming unconcernedly for Darwin. An RAAF strike force was sent from Darwin and inflicted heavy casualties on the Japanese force, which obviously had landed to attack the Australian commandos in the rear. Two weeks later when Vigilant returned again to Suai the beach was littered with the bodies of Japanese soldiers and there was evidence that the remnants of the landing force were only a few miles down the beach. Helliar had been detailed to go ashore and he entered the boat with a service revolver in a holster strapped around his waist. 'Number One, you look like the Lone Star Ranger,’ said Bennett. 'It's all very well for you,' said Helliar, you’ve got a charmed life on this coast, but I’m not taking any chances’. Getting ashore, Helliar was dumped in the surf as the boat was cart-wheeled by a roller. He returned aboard dripping, much to the merriment of Bennett, who said, 'Now you’d better turn to and get that gun thoroughly cleaned and oiled’. Kuru’s 150 HP starboard engine on display in the Darwin Military Museum Kuru’s Fate On 27 January 1943 Kuru proceeded to the Wessel Islands to pick up the survivors of HMAS Patricia Cam. The remainder of her service was on patrol and boom defence work in and around Darwin. Kuru paid off on 22 October 1943 when she sank alongside the floating dock during a heavy storm. She was recovered the same day but was so badly damaged that she never recommissioned. During 1945 she was blown ashore during another heavy storm and became the home of a hermit. REFERENCES [1] The photocopy of the article is of poor quality and I haven’t been able to determine where it was originally published. [2] https://doublereds.org.au/forums/topic/106-75-years-on-winnie-the-war-winner-–-mape-portuguese-timor-april-20-1942/ [3] John Leggoe, Trying to be sailors. – Perth: St. George’s Books, 1983, especially Chapter 4 ‘The Timor Ferry Service’, pp.35-44. [4] The following biographical details about John Leggoe are derived from the end paper of his book: Born in 1909 at the historic farming town of York, Western Australia, John Leggoe grew up as a typical farmer’s son. Most of his boyhood was spent in the Great Southern district, where his father was developing a large tract of land. He was educated at country State schools, through correspondence classes, and finally at Hale School in Perth. He left school to join his father in farming – a plan rudely shattered by the Great Depression of the thirties. Wool prices collapsed, and John Leggoe quit the land penniless. Undaunted, he frequented newspaper offices in the city, and eked out a living as a casual reporter. He was then appointed to the staff of ‘The West Australian’. During the World War, he entered the Royal Australian Naval Volunteer Reserve, this period provides material for this book. After the war came another stint of journalism, before he resumed sheep farming. Now retired, he lives in the Perth suburb of Cottesloe within sight of the sea. [5] ‘Vale – Alan Bennett’ 2/2 Commando Courier June 1987, p.8 https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/1987/Courier June 1987.pdf. Lt-Cdr H.A. (Alan) Bennett; RANR. Command HMAS's Kuru and Vigilant 1942-43; HMAS Swan1944; command HMAS Warrnambool 1945-46. Of Claremont, WA; b. Claremont, 3 May 1919. [6] Later posts will be devoted to the stories of the Voyager and the Armidale. [7] See the earlier post in this series https://doublereds.org.au/forums/topic/86-75-years-on-sparrow-force-departs-from-darwin-for-koepang-dutch-timor-–-10-december-1941/ [8] See the previous post in this series https://doublereds.org.au/forums/topic/106-75-years-on-winnie-the-war-winner-–-mape-portuguese-timor-april-20-1942/ [9] For more information about Kuru, see ‘HMAS Kuru’ http://www.navy.gov.au/hmas-kuru [10] Area study of Portuguese Timor / Allied Geographical Section, South West Pacific Area. [Brisbane]: The Section, 1943, photo 20. [11] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMAS_Vigilant ADDITIONAL READING Ian Pfennigwerth ‘The Territory Remembers - The Little Ships’ www.territoryremembers.nt.gov.au Colin Jones ‘The night bird’ Wartime Magazine (Australian War Memorial) Issue 39, July 2007, pp.40-41.
  21. 75 YEARS ON ART AND PHOTOGRAPHS IN THE AUSTRALIAN WAR MEMORIAL COLLECTION RELATED TO THE CAMPAIGN IN PORTUGUESE TIMOR – CHARLES BUSH AND KEITH DAVIS A major part of the art and photographs in the Australian War Memorial collection related to the 2nd Independent Company campaign in Portuguese Timor were created by two men who were members of the Australian Military History Section mission that went there in late 1945 and early 1946, namely war artist Charles Bush and photographer Keith Davis. The artistic and photographic contributions of these two men significantly add to the historical archive of the campaign not only by providing visual records of the places where the Doublereds lived and fought but also of some of the Timorese criados and Portuguese deportados who provided such essential support. The mission was guided by Sergeant George Milsom, originally of the 2/40 Battalion, who joined the 2nd Independent Company after escaping from Dutch Timor. THE AUSTRALIAN MILITARY HISTORY SECTION TIMOR MISSION Historian William Bradley Horton has recorded the background to the origin of much of the art and photographs in the Australian War Memorial collection related to the 2nd Independent Company campaign in Portuguese Timor. These invaluable resources were created by two men who were members of the Military History Section who went there in late 1945, namely war artist Charles Bush and photographer Keith Davis [1]: CHARLES BUSH – THE ARTIST The Australian War Memorial provides this biography of Charles Bush [2] CASE STUDY OF CHARLES BUSH’S TIMOR ART WORK - HMAS Voyager wrecked and burning at Betano Bay Professional artist, Michael Grant, prepared the following case study of one of Charles Bush’s Timor art works that usefully demonstrates his approach and technique [3]: VALUE OF THE BUSH TIMOR ART WORKS AND DAVIS PHOTOGRAPHS Emily Wubben, in a recent blog post on the AWM website tilted Art of Nation: Insightful 'then and now' comparisons made the following opening statement: ‘The Memorial’s online, interactive exhibition Art of Nation will enable users to compare field sketches by Australia’s First World War official war artists with contemporary digital imagery of the same locations in Google street view. Comparing ‘then and now’ images encourages a ‘spot the difference’ method of analysis, reminiscent of puzzle books in which images are replicated with minor changes to be discovered. These comparisons invite us to delve beyond surface level visual analysis and consider the history of these places’. [4] For the descendants of 2nd Independent Company veterans like myself, the history of the places in Timor depicted by Bush and photographed by Davis is put in a more personal context, in that they portray locations that were familiar to the men of the unit and mentioned in historical accounts. The paintings, drawings and photographs also help present day visitors to Timor-Leste to find and relate to these locations, including particular buildings (where they still exist). Photographic comparisons can be made to assess how much they have changed over 75 years. Bush depicted and Davis photographed a number of these locations including Dili, Same, Hatu-Udo, Fatu-Bessi, Ossu, Mape, Taibessi, Maubisse and Bobonaro. There are 66 art works by Charles Bush in the AWM collection related to the Timor campaign. A small number of them have been digitised and are available for download from the AWM website. None of his paintings are on public display in the Timor component of the Second World War galleries. Access to works of art not on display in the galleries is available by appointment. REFERENCES [1] William Bradley Horton ‘Through the eyes of Australians: the Timor Area in the early postwar period’ Journal of Asia-Pacific Studies (Waseda University) No. 12 (March 2009), pp.268-269. https://waseda.repo.nii.ac.jp/?action=repository_action_common... [2] https://www.awm.gov.au/people/P65029/; See also David Keys ‘Bush, Charles William (1919–1989)’ Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 17, (MUP), 2007 http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/bush-charles-william-12272 [3] https://www.awm.gov.au/blog/2016/02/05/hmas-voyager-wrecked-and-burning-betano-bay/; http://www.michaelgrant.com.au/index.html. [4] https://www.awm.gov.au/blog/2017/02/23/art-nation-insightful-then-and-now-comparisons/
  22. WINNIE THE WAR WINNER – MAPE, PORTUGUESE TIMOR APRIL 20, 1942 After resistance by the main part of Sparrow Force had ceased in Dutch Timor on the 23rd February 1942, the forces commander began to reorganise and redeploy his troops in the southern half of Portuguese Timor about the middle of March. Fighting as guerrillas against overwhelming odds, deficient in supplies and out of touch with Australia, it was imperative for the small force to re-establish communications with the mainland. It was for this purpose that men of the 2nd Independent Company, the fortress signals section on the island, and members of Signals, 8th Division, pooled their resources to build a set capable of raising Darwin. The most expert and tireless of these was Signalman ‘Joe’ Loveless. His technical ingenuity and skill was assisted by the professional electrical engineering expertise of Captain G.E. Parker from Dutch Timor. After many trials and much revision, Australia was contacted on the April 20 1942, and Darwin was made aware that the Australians in Timor were alive and well. The set was affectionately named "Winnie the War Winner". Constructing “Winnie the War Winner”. Source: Signals – the story of the Australian Corps of Signals, 1949 The story of ‘Winnie the war winner’ has been told many times. The most recent and authoritative recounting is by Paul Cleary in his book ‘The men who came out of the ground’ which is included in the following extract: ‘[It was] the most important single happening in the life of this fighting force on Timor, as continued resistance would have been impossible for any length of time without it.’ Filmmaker Damien Parer on the remarkable ‘Joe’ Loveless and his building a radio out of ‘odds and ends’ to contact Australia THE 2/2 COMPANY’S enormous logistical reorganisation in March and April had given it a fighting chance. Vital supplies were safely stashed in mountain hideouts, the Timorese were supplying food on credit and some semblance of order prevailed for a company stretched out along mountain tops over a front of more than 100 km. Yet the company’s life expectancy was clearly limited without resupply from Australia, and this would not be forthcoming without radio contact. The company had never had its own radio link with Australia and Sparrow Force’s last radio had been smashed to pieces under orders from Brigadier Veale. Back in Australia, no-one thought to send a search plane to discover the fate of the 270 men who had been left behind in Portuguese Timor. In the chaotic months that followed the fall of Singapore and the Dutch East Indies, most likely no-one gave the 2/2 Company a second thought, let alone bothered to send supplies. While ammunition reserves were significant, they would run out with prolonged fighting, and medical stores were in even shorter supply; ‘supplies are being depleted rapidly despite rigid economy,’ reported the senior officers in the war diary on 28 March. But what inhibited the company’s offensive action more than anything else was not the limited supply of ammunition or the short rations of food or even medical supplies. It was boots. The craggy surface of Portuguese Timor was quickly taking its toll on the leather-soled boots issued by the Australian Army. The company reported in its diary on 27 March: ‘The boot position is fast becoming critical.’ But by the end of April, the situation was extreme. A pair of leather-soled boots had a life of about one month when soldiers were patrolling in the forward positions, while those in the rear could expect a little more wear, about two months. Without supplies of new boots the company would lack mobility and would soon be rendered an ineffective fighting force. The company introduced a routine of taking off boots at times when an attack was unlikely so that the men’s feet would harden, preparing them for a time when they had no boots whatsoever. Senior officers considered the local manufacture of clogs, but this was not found to be feasible. Money was also going to be very important if the 2/2 was to be able to continue to buy supplies of food and to pay for services like the pony trains. The value given by the Timorese to their surats was certain to wane over time if they could not be paid with currency that had an intrinsic value. They could not live on credit forever. TX4745, Signaller M. L. Loveless of Tasmania, photo from 1943 after his return to Australia As the company reorganised in March, the senior command turned their attention to re-establishing radio contact with Australia. On 7 March, Major Spence gave responsibility for directing this task to a senior signals officer from Sparrow Force, Captain George Parker, 37, an electrical engineer from the Sydney suburb of Earlwood who had survived the Japanese landing in Dutch Timor before arriving at the Sparrow Force HQ in early March. While Parker had overall responsibility, one of the lowly ranked privates, Signaller Max Loveless, already had the task in hand. Max Lyndon Loveless, 37, a radio technician from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Hobart radio station, was an edgy man who suffered from anxiety and lacked the physical prowess of the bushmen in the 2/2 Company. Had selection been based on his physique alone, Loveless would never have got a guernsey, but he was selected because the skills of a radio technician were in high demand at the time. In Timor, Loveless would face a challenge that he could never have imagined, and he would be called on to contribute more than anyone else to the survival of the company. Loveless, who was known to most people as ‘Joe’, was starting from way behind because the 2/2 Company was badly equipped when it came to radio communication. They had been sent to Timor with unwieldy ‘109’ sets which were used by the platoons to contact Company HQ. When platoons got, their radios working again, each was assigned a time on the quarter hour to contact Company HQ, but the ‘109’ sets used by the platoons weren’t effective beyond a range of about 30 km. The radio set in Dili that had been previously used to contact Kupang was now in enemy hands. Immediately after Captain Parker gained his new assignment, he set about acquiring as much radio equipment as he could lay his hands on. One of the first targets was a Japanese-owned SAPT plantation at Fatu-Besi, in the mountains south-west of Dili, which was believed to have a powerful radio. A party from C Platoon crossed swollen streams to reach the plantation where they seized the radio and interrogated the owner, Jaime Carvhalo, for suspected ‘pro-Japanese activities’. They piled the radio into the owner’s car, a late 1920s Chevrolet Tourer with running boards and a canvas top, and then drove it to Hato-Lia, before the set was eventually sent to Mapé. The set was only a receiver, not a transmitter, but even so Parker’s team kept it for spare parts. The plantation owner was later released. [1] On 20 March, Parker dispatched Corporal Alan Donovan to lead a three-man patrol to Atambua to recover parts from the set that had been destroyed by Brigadier Veale, but all that he could find were some crystals from the smashed set. Donovan, who had also joined the 2/2 from Dutch Timor and worked on the radio project, was sent on a second mission into Dutch Timor where he obtained a power pack from a Dutch transmitter, two aerial tuning condensers and 20 metres of heavy aerial wire. Parker also recovered a ‘109’ radio set that had been buried by Signaller Don Murray after leaving the Three Spurs camp shortly after the invasion. Murray went back to retrieve the set and while struggling to move it he came upon two Timorese boys who offered to help. The boys, one named Roberto, helped Murray carry the set all the way to Mapé, on the other side of the island, and then they stayed by Murray’s side for the rest of his time on Timor. Loveless used the set for spare parts. The probable route taken by Sig Don Murray and the Timorese boys between Three Spurs and Mapé through Taco Lulic, Lete-Foho, Atsabe and Bobonaro can be traced on this road and tracks map. Source: Area study of Portuguese Timor (1943) On 1 April, Loveless and his team were given premises in which to work—a small windowless shed that had been used to store rice at the local school in Mapé, a sparsely populated and very marginal town in the south-west corner of Portuguese Timor. The signallers worked day and night, burning pig fat to provide illumination. Loveless was supported by a fellow signaller Keith Richards, who proved adept at recycling solder from the spare parts. With the crystals from the Atambua transmitter Loveless constructed an oscillator, which produced a frequency, and he extracted two valves from the Portuguese receiver. Parts from the Portuguese receiver were also used to construct a power supply for the unit. By early April, Loveless had started work on the amplifier using valves from Murray’s ‘109’ set. Ten days later he completed work on the amplifier, and then he turned his attention to the power supply, which was produced with spare parts. All the bits and pieces were housed in the two halves of a kerosene tin. Loveless was almost ready to go, except that he had to devise a system for charging batteries. The hut at Mapé, Portuguese Timor, used by the Signals Section, Force Headquarters, 2/2 Independent Company. It was here that the famous transmitter Winnie the war-winner, a masterpiece of improvisation, the wireless set was constructed by TX4745Signalman Max Lyndon Loveless. Using a 6-volt generator donated by plantation owner and former army officer Tenente Lopes, they constructed what Parker called a ‘boong charger’. Occupying a room of about 3 square metres, the generator was driven by a rope that went around a wheel of 45 cm in diameter, and then attached to this was the much larger wheel which had handles on it so that it could be turned by manpower. Four Timorese were enlisted to turn this wheel as fast as they could to charge the batteries. After going to these great lengths, the ‘boong charger’ was a dismal failure. Parker then dispatched a patrol led by Lieutenant Harold Garnett, which brought back a 6-volt, and 100-watt battery charger salvaged from a car near Dili. But there was no petrol to run it; this also had to be obtained by another 2/2 patrol. Petrol was in short supply in the colony so patrols brought back kerosene and diesel, which was mixed together to produce a substitute fuel for the petrol engine. ‘Winnie the war winner’ on display at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, in the Second World War Galleries By 15 April, Loveless had charged his batteries and could listen into the radio traffic in Darwin. This feat alone bore great significance; Sparrow Force learned for the first time that Australia had not been invaded, contrary to the propaganda leaflets distributed by the Japanese. By 17 April, Loveless had the radio set ready for signalling to Australia. The signallers identified themselves as YCF, the calling sign for Sparrow Force, without knowing that it had been made redundant by the Japanese invasion of Timor, and without knowing that the faint signal could be barely heard in Darwin. Again, on the night of 18 April, they signalled ‘LOA—LOF— LOW from YCF’. In Darwin, a senior signals officer, Captain Joseph Honeysett, was on duty that night when the weak and outdated signal came through. The next evening Honeysett ordered that all radio communication in the region be shut down so that the signal could be heard clearly. Honeysett thought that the signal could have come from the enemy, given that YCF was no longer in use. One of the signallers in Darwin knew that Signaller Jack Sargeant was with Sparrow Force in Timor, and he asked if he was with them. Indeed, he was. Jack Sargeant was one of the men crouched beside the radio praying like hell that it would reach Australia. The Darwin signaller asked: ‘What is the Christian name of Jack Sergeant’s wife?’ Sergeant answered that it was Kath. Then the Darwin signaller asked a second question—what was Sargeant’s street address. Sergeant gave the details, followed by a stunning message that said: ‘Force intact and still fighting. Stop. Badly need boots, quinine, money, and Tommy gun ammunition.’ [2] The message proved conclusively that Sparrow Force was still a fighting unit. The news that the 2/2 was still waging guerrilla warfare against the Japanese was simply stunning for Australia, as it arrived at the country’s darkest hour. With the capture of more than 22,000 men in Asia from Japanese victories in the Malayan Peninsula, the Philippines, Rabaul, and in the Dutch East Indies, the news that one band of men was still fighting proved to be tremendously valuable both in strategic terms and in terms of morale. After this successful transmission, Loveless’s men named the set after Winston Churchill. They called it ‘Winnie the War Winner’. The chief of the Australian Army, General Sir Thomas Blamey, failed to grasp the significance of this news and he proposed withdrawing the company or using it as part of a much bigger operation to recapture the island. Blamey outlined these options in a letter to General Douglas MacArthur. But MacArthur could see the value of keeping things just as they were, and in his reply to Blamey on 11 June 1942 he stated firmly that ‘these forces should not be withdrawn’. The company should simply continue its campaign of ‘harassment and sabotage’ against the Japanese, as MacArthur put it. While knowing very little about what the company was doing, MacArthur seemed to perfectly grasp their role. While Captain Parker had overall responsibility for re-establishing radio contact, he gave full credit to Loveless for showing the ‘greatest initiative’ which ‘undoubtedly led to our success’. Other men in the unit thought that Loveless’s radio was the work of a genius, or, as his fellow signaller Don Murray put it, ‘pure arse’. …. The stress and strain of working day and night on the assignment took its toll on Loveless, who appeared to have suffered a nervous breakdown and was sent back to Australia a few months later after completing the assignment of a lifetime. His illness continued after returning to Australia and he was discharged from the army in November 1943. Joe Loveless was rewarded for his work on ‘Winnie the war winner’ with a ‘Mention in Despatches’ NOTES [1] ‘Report on activities of Special W/T section 2 March–19 April 1942’, Captain George Parker, AWM PR00249. Parker’s account is by far the most authoritative of what took place in rebuilding the radio, though other details have been taken from the accounts by Callinan and Doig. One major factual error in other accounts is the claim that a Qantas radio was used by Parker and Loveless to build the radio. This was not brought to Mapé until 29 April, after radio contact had been established. The company’s war diary for that day says, ‘Several Portuguese cooperated in bringing from Dili an AS Transmitter, property of Qantas airways. This they handed to Lieutenant Garnett, who has been operating in the Remexio area. He arranged for it to be delivered to Force signals. It proved suitable for their work.’ [2] Some accounts say it was Parker whose details were checked, but this could not have been the case. Parker was not married at the time. The reconstruction of the events in November that year by Damien Parer put Sargeant as the person whose family details and address were checked. There are several versions of the ‘force intact’ message. This one is taken from D. Parer, ‘Dope Sheet’, AWM FO1814. ADDITIONAL READING Cyril Ayris. - All the Bull's men: no. 2 Australian Independent Company (2/2nd Commando Squadron). – Perth: 2/2nd Commando Association, c2006: 223-230. [Available for purchase from Bernard Callinan. - Independent Company: the Australian Army in Portuguese Timor 1941-43. – Melbourne: Heinemann, 1953 (repr. 1994): 121. Paul Cleary. - The men who came out of the ground: a gripping account of Australia's first commando campaign: Timor 1942. – Sydney: Hachette Australia, 2010: 105-110. J. D. Honeysett ‘Chance takes a hand’ Signalman vol. 1, no. 2 1978: 7-8. [Informative article by then Brigadier J.D. Honeysett who relates the fortunate set of circumstances in which he was directly involved that allowed the first signals from ‘Winnie’ to be intercepted, responded to and verified] http://www.signaller.com.au/past-editions/Signalman Vol 1 No2 1978/Signalman Vol 1 No2 1978.pdf Karl James ‘Winnie the war winner’ in Australian War Memorial: treasures from a century of collecting / [edited by] Nola Anderson. – Millers Point, N.S.W.: Murdoch Books Australia for the Australian War Memorial, 2012: 394-397. Peter R. Jensen. – Wireless at war: developments in military and clandestine radio 1895-2012. – Kenthurst, N.S.W.: Rosenberg Publishing, 2013. [See ‘Sparrow Force and Winnie the war winner’: 189-193 for a technical assessment of the radio and its construction] Signals – the story of the Australian Corps of Signals / written and prepared by members of the Australian Corps of Signals. – Sydney: Halstead Press, 1949: 128-132. Susan Turner ‘An interview with the inventor of “Winnie the War Winner”’ Signalman vol. 29 1995: 36-37. [Interview with Captain – later Lieutenant Colonel - George Parker] http://www.signaller.com.au/past-editions/Signalman Vol 29 1995/Signalman Vol 29 1995.pdf ‘[Vale Max Lyndon (Joe) Loveless]’ 2/2nd Commando Courier vol. 25, no. 231 June 1971: 4-5. https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/1971/Courier June 1971.pdf ‘Winnie's role in war effort remembered’ Commando Courier vol. 60 April 1986: 3. [Opening of the Max Loveless Pioneer Memorial Collection attended by Sir Bernard Callinan] https://doublereds.org.au/couriers/1986/Courier April 1986.pdf Christopher C.H. Wray. - Timor 1942: Australian commandos at war with the Japanese. – Hawthorn, Vic.: Hutchison Australia, 1987: 96-99. Close up view of 'Winnie the war Winner' at the Australian War Memorial
  23. Edward Willis

    Anzac Day, Perth

    Members, families and friends of the Association are invited to join the official march in Perth on Anzac Day. Form up in St Georges Terrace, west of Barrack Street, at Section G (behind the RAN Band) at 8am for march off at 9am. Contact: Peter Epps, 0145 441 325
  24. 75 YEARS ON THE THREE SPURS CAMP AND THE AMMUNITION DUMP EXPLOSION FEBRUARY 25, 1942 One of the great experiences when travelling to Timor-Leste is to locate and visit sites directly connected with the 2nd Independent Company’s (2nd IC) campaign in 1942 especially when there are older local people who remember the Australian soldiers and there is tangible evidence of their presence. During my last visit, there in April 2014 as part of a tour group lead by Paul Cleary, author of ‘The men who came out of the ground’. Paul has lived and worked in Timor-Leste for several years and is fluent in Tetum, the local vernacular language. In researching the book and by undertaking on-the-ground reconnaissance in preparation for the tour, Paul had located several key sites where the 2nd IC based themselves or where significant events occurred. On 24 April 2014, we headed west from Dili into the hills above Tibar to the old 2nd IC camp at Three Spurs; there a very old lady told us about the Australians she knew as a young child, even giving some specific names. One of her younger relatives then told us the location of the nearby unit ammunition dump that was blown up in the face of the approaching Japanese. The water-filled holes certainly indicated strong evidence of massive explosions. THREE SPURS CAMP Harry Wray provides the best description of the location of the Three Spurs and the reason for establishing a camp there: One day the C.O. [Major Spence] suddenly appeared on the scene with some stores for us, and after asking what we thought of the location, he said that he had decided to make the H.Q. at a spot later to be known as Three Spurs. This spot was about half way up the road leading to Masuto [Nasuto]. The C.O. said that he thought it would be free from malaria, and was a good central position. He said that he proposed using it at first as a convalescent camp for the worst of the malaria cases, and said that out of the three hundred men in the Company he only had about sixty who were all enough to do anything. Map from the Area Study of Portuguese Timor (1943) showing the location of Three Spurs and Nasuta Wray also says ‘... the camp at Three Spurs was only about 12 miles from Dili, and alongside a good motor road …’ and that ‘… a large palm thatch shed was built as a hospital and first aid post, and alongside the road that was down a steep slope below the camp, a large mess hut was built’. [1] Bernard Callinan ‘… found Three Spurs a very pleasant spot. The tents were pitched on top of the spurs amidst eucalypts; the earth was of shale, so the trees were open, allowing in plenty of light, and the cool breezes kept everything clean and wholesome. It was a joy to go down and stand under a spout of cool clean water just below the camp and have a shower. The presence of the eucalypts was most pleasing; I did not think the familiar gums meant so much to me until I saw them on our first expedition in the truck out from Dili. Immediately I felt at home, and months later it seemed that their friendly presence was in our favour against the Japanese'. [2] ‘… a large palm thatch shed’ – Three Spurs, April 2014 THE AMMUNITION DUMP Paul Cleary in ‘The men who came out of the ground’ gives the background to the ammunition dump that was located near Three Spurs, 105-106: In the days after the Japanese landing, the 2/2 Company faced an immediate threat to its existence. More than 150,000 rounds of ammunition and tonnes of explosives were sitting at the camps at Three Spurs and Railaco, less than a half-hour's drive from the Japanese headquarters in Dili. A truckload of Japanese soldiers could have captured the essential supplies and knocked the Australians out of action in a single blow. In the ration truck massacre on 20 February, the unit had lost its logistical brain, Staff Sergeant Walker, and its last remaining vehicle, thereby making the movement of those supplies a formidable challenge to the unit. The only vehicle at the disposal of the company was a decrepit Chevrolet table top truck owned by an Indian trader whom the men called Indian Joe. As the men from C Platoon were moving ammunition from the Three Spurs camp up the mountain to the posto of Hato [Hatu]-Lia, the fuel pump in the old truck gave way. Private Ron Teague, 21, improvised by removing the petrol tank from the vehicle and then asking soldiers to sit on the bonnet and hold the tank, which in turn had a hose connected directly to the carburettor. This innovation worked for only a short time. C Platoon could move its most valuable stores, mainly ammunition, while leaving behind at Three Spurs a mountain of explosives. Some porters, ponies, and a buffalo cart were also used for the initial move. About 25 tonnes of explosives were left behind at Three Spurs, including all the gadgetry that the engineers were itching to use on the enemy. There were sticky tank mines for throwing onto tanks and limpet mines for sticking onto the sides of ships, among other things. The 2/2's senior officers did not want these explosives to fall into the enemy's hands. When they realised that they could not be moved, the officers ordered that they be destroyed. On 25 February, five days after the landing, the explosives at Three Spurs went up in an enormous blast, while some other stores were destroyed at Railaco. The engineers in the company were furious at this waste of the tools of their trade. They believed that the senior officers panicked. [3] Christopher Wray described the ammunition dump explosion as follows: At Three Spurs a large dump of explosives, including gelignite, signal grenades, smoke bombs and time incendiary devices, had to be blown up. Time detonators were set and the camp was abandoned. Perversely, Percy the magpie, which had been brought to Timor with the troops as a mascot, refused to go with the men as they left Three Spurs and was last seen perched nonchalantly atop the dump of explosives. Shortly after Baldwin's platoon reached the Nasuta Saddle the explosives dump at Three Spurs went up. The force of the explosion could be felt by the troops and as they watched a great mushroom-shaped cloud of smoke and fumes formed. Smoke grenades blown to a great height before falling back to earth left trails marking their passage through the still, tropical air. The Australians were not the only ones interested in the explosion. It was heard by the Japanese in Dili and soon enemy aircraft could be seen buzzing curiously around Three Spurs. [4] Spr Williamson, who had arrived in Three Spurs earlier after his flight from the aerodrome, helped with laying the charges. ‘I used a time pencil to set off the explosion’, he said. [5] Spr Robert McKillop (Bob) Williamson - SX 12657 Locating the Ammunition Dump Site Paul’s facility with Tetum came into its own when he gleaned the location of the ammunition dump and the name and address of a man who lived nearby who could guide us to it. This proved to be an accurate lead and the man was soon found and obligingly conducted us to the site. This involved retracing our route back down to flat land at the base of the Three Spurs hill (400 metres down to 30 metres above sea level) for 2.5 kilometres and then branching off to the right for about 200 metres past the fenced compound of a convent. Three large water-filled depressions clustered within a grove of large date palms provided convincing evidence for the large-scale explosions that took place there 75 years ago. Our guide told Paul the occurrence was still redolent in the local communal memory. Ammunition Dump site, April 2014 Map showing the location of Three Spurs and the ammunition dump GPS Data for the sites of the Three Spurs Camp and the Ammunition Dump Location Three Spurs Ammunition Dump Latitude 8° 36' 24.81" S 8° 34' 59.154" S Longitude 125° 29' 11.646" E 125° 29' 26.118" E REFERENCES [1] Corporal Arthur Henry Kilfield ‘Harry’ Wray (WX11485), Recollections of the 2nd Independent Company Campaign on Timor, 1941-42, manuscript in 2/2 Commando Association archives. [2] Bernard Callinan. - Independent Company: the Australian Army in Portuguese Timor 1941-43. – Melbourne: Heinemann, 1953 (repr. 1994): 27-28. [3] Paul Cleary. - The men who came out of the ground: a gripping account of Australia's first commando campaign: Timor 1942. – Sydney: Hachette Australia, 2010: 105-106. [4] Christopher C.H. Wray. - Timor 1942: Australian commandos at war with the Japanese. – Hawthorn, Vic.: Hutchison Australia, 1987: 72. [5] Cyril Ayris. - All the Bull's men: no. 2 Australian Independent Company (2/2nd Commando Squadron). – Perth: 2/2nd Commando Association, c2006: 138.
×
×
  • Create New...