Thursday, November 28, 2013
Timor WWII. Book Review.
Australia has had a strange relationship with Timor and in particular East Timor since WWII and the end of this books does not hold back on the how Australian politics has not been exactly good for the new country. Living here in Darwin, Australia's nearest capital city to the very young country we have often heard a lot about the place. Especially once the Indonesian military left behind a Scorched Earth policy after years of brutal occupation. However this book begins prior to the Japanese bombing of Darwin in 1942 and concerns mainly Australia's fight against the Japanese.
Australia created a unique force with the purpose from the onset to fight as a guerrilla force. Men with backgrounds such as Station workers made ideal candidates. Young blokes who are very comfortable living of the land and living out bush for length periods. Skills that they would later need to just survive let alone wage a certain style of war against overwhelming forces. The book describes how in some ways Australia dragged Timor into WWII by it's very presence on the Island. Divided into two, Timor was roughly half Dutch and the other half belonged to Portugal. However a Japanese occupation was most likely inevitable with the strategic proximity to Darwin's port and Airfields.
This book mentions Darwin a lot. The city I now call home. So that was really interesting to see the aspects of the Timor campaign with Bombing raids, evacuations and supply by sea and coordination and communication from here. Some of the Australian soldiers even spent some time in Fannie Bay prison here when they managed to sail to the Tiwi Islands after the invasion of Timor. Once the Japanese occupied Dili (East Timor capital) the Australians supplied vital intel for bombing missions. Some of the actions described in this book is just incredibly ballsy when it comes to the ambushes they successfully carried out against the superior number of Japanese. Would make for great scenarios in wargames. Perhaps at Bolt Action scale skirmish games. Actually the story would make for an excellent movie but the I am not sure how the ending would go. Not really a happy one with Timor becoming totally subjugated to the brutality's of the Japanese war machine. The locals who helped the Aussies out paid a heavy price and mostly didn't get the recognition for serving in the Australian military campaign. The Japanese managed to carry out war crimes as soon as they accepted the first surrendered Australians so this meant that no more Australians would willingly surrender if it could be helped. Any way I am probably rambling now. It's an excellent read. Go read it.
Cheers from Brendon (The Kiwi)