80th Anniversary – Remembering Timor

TIMOR WAS INVADED!  WEBINAR
UNSW’s Diplomacy Training Program (DTP) hosted the “Timor was Invaded!” Webinar on 16 February 2022.  It is available here.

Professor David Dixon and Patrick Earle from the DTP arranged for the hosting and Clare Sidoti organised the smooth running of the event. Susan Connelly was the moderator.

Many people registered, indicating the high level of interest in this matter. Those who registered were from Australia, Timor-Leste, Indonesia, United States, Japan and elsewhere.

Feedback included the statement that it was “the best webinar I have attended”.

It is captivating to hear from Professor Peter Stanley, former principal historian at the War Memorial, whose many books include “Invading Australia: Japan and the Battle for Australia 1942. Available here .

We also heard from Paul Cleary, the author of  The Men Who Came Out of the Ground” a gripping account of the Timor Campaign. It is available from Hachette.

Kirsty Sword, former First Lady of Timor-Leste speaks about efforts to remember WWII in Timor as well as the needs of Timor today. She founded The Alola Foundation,  which is contributing to the social advancements of Timorese women and children through advocacy, economic empowerment, education and literacy, and maternal and child health.

It is compelling to hear from Ana Maria Ferreira, whose family was displaced continually during the Japanese occupation, and who were brought to Bob’s Farm (near Port Stephens) only to be turned away from Australia because of the White Australia policy.

Gregório Rosa spoke of his father, Salustiano Rosa, who was one of the young Timorese who assisted the Australian men. How difficult it was for those Timorese, having to juggle their lives between two warring nations on their soil.

After all, Timor was a colony of Portugal at the time, which was a neutral nation in WWII.

Edward Willis is the President of the 2/2 Commando Association and speaks of the Association’s long support of the Timorese. The Double Reds website for which he is responsible is a goldmine of information.

Major Michael Stone (Ret.) was an InterFET soldier, an adviser to José Ramos-Horta and he learned the Tetun language within weeks of his arrival in Timor in 1999. Michael is the founder and program director of Timor Awakening, which serves veterans and their families, with a focus on the relationship between Australians and the Timorese people.

Finally we hear from Dr José Ramos-Horta, past President and Prime Minister of Timor-Leste, who founded the DTP in 1989 with Emeritus Professor Garth Nettheim. Dr Ramos-Horta speaks of his dear mother, Dona Natalina and her memory of the Australian soldiers. He ends his talk with a plea for the ending of the prosecution of Bernard Collaery, who he describes as fighting in a different trench to those in WWII, but nevertheless fighting against destructive powers.

The Webinar is now available on the DTP’s YouTube channel

COMMEMORATION HONOURING WWII HISTORY

A most moving event occurred on Saturday 19th February at the Anzac Memorial, Hyde Park, Sydney.
It was organised by the Australian Commandos Association NSW, including the vice-president Barry Grant and David Lynch, who was MC. Together with the Timorese Community people gathered to remember the 40,000+ Timorese who died as a result of their assistance to our Australian men.

Yvonne Langley-Walsh, the widow of Vincent Walsh of the 2/2 Commandos, worked tirelessly with the Association to present this fine event and in her speech paid homage to the care and loyalty generously given by the Timorese to the Australians.

A Wreath of Friendship was cast onto the Pool of Remembrance by Yoorooka Moran and Caylan Hillers-Oliveira, a First Nations child and a Timorese child, followed by wreath-laying, the Ode, the Last Post, and Reveille.

Sisters Josephine Mitchell and Susan Connelly shared the opening and closing prayers.

The Consul-General, His Excellency Luciano da Conceição, spoke of his work with the NSW Education Department to work towards inclusion of the Australia/Timor-Leste relationship in the school curriculum.
Gerald Kenneally, son of Paddy Kenneally of the 2/2nd spoke of the debt of honour which Australians feel, the deep disappointment in the actions of governments, and the future righting of wrongs.
Participants shared food and danced a Timorese tebe and memorabilia was available to view.
Dr Ros Dunlop, long-time Timor supporter, played Martin Wesley Smith’s Tekee Tokee Tomak

Articles

Remembering Darwin … and Timor, February 1942 by Peter Stanley

Australians quick to forget terrible wartime price paid by Timorese saviours by Susan Connelly