Lecture to focus on unsung WWII commandos 


An upcoming lecture will lift the lid on the stirring but little-known story of a small group of Australian Special Forces commandos and their exploits in Timor during World War II hostilities.

A scholar with the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research, Australian National University, Dr Paul Cleary will present the lecture titled, “Australia’s first commandos in 1942 Timor”, based on his book “The Men Who Came Out of the Ground”.

Dr Cleary said the commandos launched relentless hit and run raids on far superior Japanese forces in Portuguese Timor (now Timor-Leste) for most of 1942.

“Drawing on the unstinting support of Timorese and Portuguese partisans, the men of the 2/2nd Australian Independent Company became the only troops from 22,000-strong 8th Division who faced the Japanese in early 1942 and remained an integrated force,” he said.

“Initially stranded without radio contact to Australia, the Japanese declared these bearded warriors outlaws and warned they would be executed immediately if captured.

“Recruited mainly from the bush, the 2/2nd men were chosen for their ability to operate independently and survive in hostile territory.”

Dr Cleary will present the lecture on Tuesday, 23 August from 5.15pm at the Northern Territory Library, Parliament House.