Sparrow Force

Sparrow Force
Sparrow Force cap badges and unit patches.png
Sparrow Force cap badges and unit patches
Country Netherlands
Australia Australia
United Kingdom United Kingdom
BranchRoyal Netherlands East Indies Army
Australian Army
British Army
TypeAd hoc, Guerrilla
RoleFrustrate enemy advance[1]
SizeTotal – 1852

West Timor
2/40 Inf. Bn. AIF – 944
2/1st Heavy Battery – 132
79 LAA Bty RA – 189
Attached units – 305

East Timor

2/2nd Ind. Co. – 282
(+ 152 joined from West Timor)
Garrison/HQForce Hill, West Timor
Motto(s)"They Alone Did Not Surrender"
– Winston Churchill
Anniversaries23 February
EngagementsSecond World War
Battle honoursKoepang, Timor
Nico Leonard Willem van Straten
William Leggatt
W. C. D. Veale
Alexander Spence
Sparrow Force Casualties
Casualties and losses

Total Casualties
Australian Army
British Army

Killed in action
Missing presumed dead
Service related accidents

  • Burma-Siam
  • Japan
  • Malaya/Singapore
  • Java, Sumatra
  • Australia
Hellship Drowning


128 (Total)

  • 72
  • 33
  • 5
  • 14
  • 4

Sparrow Force was a detachment based on the 2/40th Australian Infantry Battalion and other Dutch, British, US and Australian 8th Division units during World War II. The force was formed to defend the island of Timor from invasion by the Empire of Japan. It formed the main part of the Allied units in the Battle of Timor.

The force began deploying in late 1941, and following Japan's entry into the war, it was drawn into the fighting in response to the Japanese invasion of Portuguese and Dutch Timor in February 1942. After heavy fighting around Irekum, the main element of the force – the 2/40th – were forced to surrender on 23 February 1942; however, elements of the force, specifically commandos from the 2/2nd Independent Company, supported by the local population, continued a guerilla campaign and inflicted heavy casualties on the Japanese until August, when the Japanese launched a counter-offensive. Despite reinforcements from the 2/4th Independent Company arriving in September 1942, the Japanese offensive eventually resulted in the withdrawal of Allied troops over the period December 1942 to January 1943, with the commandos being withdrawn by sea. Sparrow Force personnel who were captured during the fighting were sent to Japanese labour camps across south-east Asia, and between 1942 and 1945, many died in captivity.


In December 1941, due to concerns about a Japanese invasion, the Dutch requested that Australian forces be sent to both Koepang and Ambon under provisions that had been agreed to in a conference at Singapore earlier in the year. That plan, entitled "Plans for the employment of naval and air forces of the associated powers in the eastern theatre in the event of war with Japan" (Plenaps), had already resulted in the disposition of forces, including some U.S. fleet movements, as early as November 1941. Initially, Australian plans were to send forces only to Koepang with the resulting order to embark the force at Darwin, designated "Sparrow," on 7 December 1941 using the transport SS Zealandia and the armed cruiser HMAS Westralia, which were available in the port.[2] The decision to exclude Ambon was quickly changed with 1,090 troops designated "Gull Force" sent to Ambon from Darwin on 14 December using three Dutch merchant ships.[3]

In January 1942, the Allied forces on Timor became a key link in the so-called "Malay Barrier", defended by the short-lived American-British-Dutch-Australian Command under the overall command of General Sir Archibald Wavell. Additional Australian support staff arrived at Kupang on 12 February, including Brigadier William Veale, who had been made the Allied commanding officer on Timor. By this time, many members of Sparrow Force—most of whom were unprepared for tropical conditions—were suffering from malaria and other illnesses.[4] The airfield at Penfui in Dutch Timor also became a key air link between Australia and American forces fighting in the Philippines under General Douglas MacArthur.[5] Penfui came under attack from Japanese aircraft on 26 and 30 January 1942, but the raids were hampered by the British anti-aircraft gunners and, to a lesser degree, by P-40 fighters of the 33rd Pursuit Squadron, United States Army Air Forces, 11 of which were based in Darwin.[6]


The majority of Sparrow Force personnel were from the 2/40th Infantry Battalion, which had been formed in Tasmania and was part of the 23rd Australian Infantry Brigade. The force was initially commanded by Lieutenant Colonel William Leggatt, although later command was taken over by Brigadier William Veale[7] before being passed on to Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Spence. A commando unit—the 2/2nd Independent Company (recruited mostly in Western Australia)—was also part of Sparrow Force. With the other forces from the 23rd Brigade, it shared contingents from 18 Anti-Tank Battery, the 2/12th Field Ambulance, 23rd Brigade Signals and the 2/11th Field Company. Zealandia departed Darwin on the morning of 10 December 1941 with 957 troops escorted by HMAS Westralia with another 445 troops reaching Koepang on 12 December.[8][9]

Rabaul fell to the Japanese on 23 January, followed by Ambon on 3 February, and both Gull Force and Lark Force were destroyed.[10] Sparrow Force was reinforced on 16 February 1942 with 189 British anti-aircraft gunners, from A & C Troops of the 79th Light Anti-Aircraft Battery of the Royal Artillery, most of whom were veterans of the Battle of Britain. They were attacked by Japanese bombers as their ship anchored at Tenau.[11] Later that day, an Allied convoy carrying reinforcements and supplies to Kupang—escorted by the heavy cruiser USS Houston, the destroyer USS Peary, and the sloops HMAS Swan and Warrego—came under intense Japanese air attack and was forced to return to Darwin without landing.[6] The reinforcements had included an Australian pioneer battalion—the 2/4th Pioneer Battalion—and the US 49th Artillery Battalion.[12][13] Sparrow Force could not be reinforced further and as the Japanese moved to complete their envelopment of the Netherlands East Indies, Timor was seemingly the next logical target.[14]

The 2/40th and most Sparrow Force units were based at Penfui Airfield, outside the capital of Netherlands Timor, Kupang. The 2/2nd Independent Company was based across the border, at Dili in Portuguese Timor.[citation needed]

Sparrow Force units[]

The following units formed Sparrow Force:[citation needed]

Royal Netherlands East Indies Army (KNIL) units[]

The following KNIL units were assigned:[citation needed]


Japanese invasion of Portuguese Timor, 19–20 February 1942[]

On the night of 19/20 February 1942, a force of 1,518 troops from the Imperial Japanese Army's 228th Regimental Group, which formed part of the 38th Division, XVI Army, under the command of Colonel Sadashichi Doi, began landing in Dili. Initially, the Japanese ships were mistaken for vessels carrying Portuguese reinforcements, and the Allies were caught by surprise. Nevertheless, they were well-prepared, and the garrison began an orderly withdrawal, covered by the 18-strong Australian commando No. 2 Section stationed at the airfield. According to Australian accounts of the resistance to the Japanese landings at Dili, the commandos killed an estimated 200 Japanese in the first hours of the battle, although the Japanese army recorded its casualties as including only seven men.[15] Native accounts of the landings support the Australian claims, however.[16]

Another group of Australian commandos, No. 7 Section, was less fortunate, driving into a Japanese roadblock by chance. According to Brad Manera of the Australian War Memorial, despite surrendering, all but one of their number were executed by the Japanese.[16] Colin Doig provides different figures, though, stating that of the 14 men on the truck, 13 were shot, with one surviving (Keith Hayes) and one (Peter Alexander) being marched away to be a POW for the rest of the war. Both men survived the war.[17] Outnumbered, the surviving Australians then withdrew to the south and to the east, into the mountainous interior. Van Straten and 200 Dutch East Indies troops headed southwest toward the border.[18]

Japanese landings in Dutch Timor, 19–20 February 1942[]

On the same night, Allied forces in Dutch Timor also came under extremely intense air attacks, which had already caused the small RAAF force to be withdrawn to Australia. The bombing was followed up by the landing of the main body of the 228th Regimental Group—two battalions totalling around 4,000 men—on the undefended southwest side of the island, at the Paha River. Five Type 94 tankettes were landed to support the Japanese infantry, and the force advanced north, cutting off the Dutch positions in the west and attacking the 2/40th Battalion positions at Penfui. A Japanese company thrust north-east to Usua, aiming to cut off the Allied retreat. In response Sparrow Force HQ was immediately moved further east, towards Champlong.[16]

Leggatt ordered the destruction of the airfield, but the Allied line of retreat towards Champlong had been cut off by the dropping of about 500[19] Japanese marine paratroopers, from the 3rd Yokosuka Special Naval Landing Force, near Usua, 22 km (14 mi) east of Kupang.[10][16]

After heavy resistance around the village of Babau and a second airdrop of 300 paratroopers, Sparrow Force cleared the village by the night of the 21st with plans to move eastward in the morning. By then, the Japanese had dug in defensive positions on Usua Ridge with a mountain howitzer and heavy machine guns near the road. After an Australian mortar and machine gun barrage, Captain Johnson of A Company, Captain Roff of B Company and Captain Burr of C Company led their platoons in a bayonet charge up the ridge, followed by R Company (Reinforcements). Gunners of the 2/1st Heavy Battery and sappers of the 2/1st Fortress Engineers reinforced the infantry platoons in the action. After the devastating assault on the paratroopers, Sparrow Force had killed all but 78 of the 850 paratroopers. Sparrow Force suffered only a few dozen losses.[citation needed]

Sparrow Force was then attacked from the west by the main Japanese force of about 3,000 men with tanks and artillery units. By destroying the bridges as they advanced east, Sparrow Force achieved only a brief respite.[20] By the morning of 23 February Sparrow Force had been engaged from the rear by the main Japanese force once again. With his men low on ammunition, out of food and water, weary from little sleep, and hopelessly outnumbered, Leggatt surrendered at Irekum on 23 February. Both forces were bombed by Japanese aircraft in two waves at 10:00 am and 10:10 am and more men from both sides were killed. More Japanese then landed at Koepang, which brought their numbers up to about 22,000 in Dutch West Timor.[citation needed]

The 2/40th Battalion had suffered 84 killed and 132 wounded in the fighting, while more than twice that number would die as prisoners of war during the next two and a half years.[16] Veale and the Sparrow Force HQ force who were at Tjamplong and not in the main column at Irekum—including about 290 Australian and Dutch troops—continued eastward across the border, to link up with the 2/2 Independent Company.[12] After months of training, some formed Platoon D of the 2nd Independent Company.[citation needed]

On their own, February – April 1942[]

Akiu, one of the Timorese, who assisted the Sparrow Force

Between the capitulation at Irekum and 19 April 1942, the communication link with the Australian mainland was broken. By the end of February, the Japanese controlled most of Dutch Timor and the area around Dili in the northeast. However, they could not move into the south and east of the island without fear of attack.[21] The 2/2nd Independent Company was specially trained for commando-style, stay behind operations and it had its own engineers and signalers, although it lacked heavy weapons and vehicles.[22] The commandos were hidden throughout the mountains of Portuguese Timor, and they commenced raids against the Japanese, assisted by Timorese guides, native carriers and mountain ponies.[22] Although Portuguese officials—under Governor Manuel de Abreu Ferreira de Carvalho—remained officially neutral and in charge of civil affairs, both the Portuguese and the indigenous East Timorese were usually sympathetic to the Allies, who were able to use the local telephone system to communicate among themselves and to gather intelligence on Japanese movements. However, the Allies initially did not have functioning radio equipment and were unable to contact Australia to inform them of their continued resistance.[23]

Doi sent the Australian honorary consul, David Ross, also the local Qantas agent, to find the commandos and pass on a demand to surrender. Spence responded: "Surrender? Surrender be fucked!"[citation needed] Ross gave the commandos information on the disposition of Japanese forces and also provided a note in Portuguese, stating that anyone supplying them would be later reimbursed by the Australian government.[24]

Australian commandos continue to resist, April – August 1942[]

"Force intact. Still fighting. Badly need boots, quinine, money, and Tommy-gun ammunition."[25]
Signaller Keith Richards, Corporal John Donovan and Sergeant John Henry Sargent (left to right), from the Australian 2/2nd Independent Company, using a radio on a mountain top in Japanese-occupied Timor, in about November 1942. (Photograph by Damien Parer.)

In early March, Veale and Van Straten's forces linked up with the 2/2nd Company. Included in this group were several specialist electrical engineers. Captain George Parker, Signaller Keith Richards, Corporal John Donovan, Signaller Jack Loveless, and Sergeant Jack Sargeant built a radio out of recycled parts, which they called "Winnie the War Winner", and re-established contact with Darwin.[18] Supplies were soon airdropped to the guerrilla force followed by continuing resupply from the sea.[26]

The Japanese high command sent a highly regarded veteran of the Malayan campaign and the Battle of Singapore, a major known as the "Tiger of Singapore" (or "Singapore Tiger"; his real name is unknown), to Timor. On 22 May, the "Tiger"—mounted on a white horse—led a Japanese force towards Remexio. An Australian patrol, with Portuguese and Timorese assistance, staged an ambush and killed four or five of the Japanese soldiers. During a second ambush, Ray Aitken (an Australian sniper) shot and killed the "Tiger". Another 24 Japanese soldiers were also killed, and the force retreated to Dili.[26] On 24 May, Veale and Van Straten were evacuated from the south east coast by an RAAF Catalina and Spence was appointed commanding officer, after being promoted to lieutenant colonel. On 27 May, Royal Australian Navy (RAN) launches successfully completed the first supply and evacuation missions to Timor.[26]

In June, General Douglas MacArthur—now the Supreme Allied Commander in the South West Pacific Area—was advised by General Thomas Blamey—Allied land force commander—that a full-scale Allied offensive in Timor would require a major amphibious assault, including at least one infantry division (at least 10,000 personnel). Because of this requirement and the overall Allied strategy of recapturing areas to the east, in New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, Blamey recommended that the campaign in Timor should be sustained for as long as possible, but not expanded. This suggestion was ultimately adopted.[26]

Relations between Ferreira de Carvalho and the Japanese deteriorated. His telegraph link with the Portuguese Government in Lisbon was cut. In June 1942, a Japanese official complained that the Governor had rejected Japanese demands to punish Portuguese officials and Timorese and civilians who had assisted the "invading army" (the Australians). On 24 June, the Japanese formally complained to Lisbon, but did not take any action against Ferreira de Carvalho.[27] Meanwhile, Doi once again sent Ross with a message, complimenting Sparrow Force on its campaign so far, and again asking that it surrender. The Japanese commander drew a parallel with the efforts of Afrikaner commandos of the Second Boer War and said that he realized it would take a force 10 times that of the Allies to win. Nevertheless, Doi said he was receiving reinforcements, and would eventually assemble the necessary units. This time Ross did not return to Dili, and he was evacuated to Australia on 16 July.[26]

Japanese counter-offensive, August 1942[]

In August, the Japanese 48th Division—commanded by Lieutenant General Yuichi Tsuchihashi—began arriving from the Philippines and garrisoned Kupang, Dili and Malacca, relieving the Ito detachment.[28] Their goal was to outnumber the commandos by 100 to 1. The Japanese estimated Sparrow Force to be battalion strength in East Timor.[citation needed] Tsuchihashi then launched a major counter-offensive in an attempt to push the Australians into a corner on the south coast of the island.[29] Strong Japanese columns moved south—two from Dili and one from Manatuto on the northeast coast. Another moved eastward from Dutch Timor to attack Dutch positions in the central south of the island. The offensive ended on 19 August when the main Japanese force was withdrawn to Rabaul, but not before they secured the central town of Maubisse and the southern port of Beco. The Japanese were also recruiting significant numbers of Timorese civilians, who provided intelligence on Allied movements.[22][26] Meanwhile, also in late-August, a parallel conflict began when the Maubisse rebelled against the Portuguese.[27]

During September the main body of the Japanese 48th Division began arriving to take over the campaign. The Australians also sent reinforcements, in the form of the 450-strong 2/4th Independent Company—known as "Lancer Force"—which arrived on 23 September. The destroyer HMAS Voyager ran aground at the southern port of Betano while landing the 2/4th, and had to be abandoned after it came under air attack. The ship's crew was safely evacuated by HMAS Kalgoorlie and Warrnambool on 25 September 1942 and the ship destroyed by demolition charges.[30] On 27 September, the Japanese mounted a thrust from Dili towards the wreck of Voyager, but without any significant success.[26]

By October, the Japanese had succeeded in recruiting significant numbers of Timorese civilians, who suffered severe casualties when used in frontal assaults against the Allies. The Portuguese were also being pressured to assist the Japanese, and at least 26 Portuguese civilians were killed in the first six months of the occupation, including local officials and a Catholic priest. On 1 November, the Allied high command approved the issuing of weapons to Portuguese officials, a policy which had previously been carried out on an informal basis. At around the same time, the Japanese ordered all Portuguese civilians to move to a "neutral zone" by 15 November. Those who failed to comply were to be considered accomplices of the Allies. This succeeded only in encouraging the Portuguese to cooperate with the Allies, whom they lobbied to evacuate some 300 women and children.[26]

This raft of Armidale survivors was not seen again after this photo was taken on 8 December 1942

Spence was evacuated to Australia on 11 November, and the 2/2nd commander, Major Bernard Callinan was appointed Allied commander in Timor. On the night of 30 November – 1 December, the Royal Australian Navy mounted a major operation to land fresh Dutch troops at Betano, while evacuating 190 Dutch soldiers and 150 Portuguese civilians. The launch HMAS Kuru was used to ferry the passengers between the shore and two corvettes, HMAS Armidale and Castlemaine. However, Armidale—carrying the Dutch reinforcements—was sunk by Japanese aircraft and almost all of those on board were lost.[26] Also during November, the Australian Army's public relations branch arranged to send the Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Damien Parer, and a war correspondent named Bill Marien, to Timor. Parer's film, Men of Timor, was later greeted with enthusiasm by audiences in Allied countries.[31] They departed Darwin on 6 November on HMAS Castlemaine, a Bathurst-class corvette and disembarked the following evening,[32] at Betano.[citation needed]

Australian withdrawal, December 1942 – February 1943[]

The East Timorese village of Mindelo (Turiscai) is burnt to the ground by Australian guerillas to prevent its use as a Japanese base, 12 December 1942

By the end of 1942, the chances of the Allies re-taking Timor were remote, as there were now 12,000 Japanese troops on the island and the commandos were coming into increasing contact with the enemy. The Australian chiefs of staff estimated that it would take at least three Allied divisions, with strong air and naval support to recapture the island.[26] Indeed, as the Japanese efforts to wear down the Australians and to separate them from their native support became more effective, the commandos had found their operations becoming increasingly untenable. Likewise, with the Australian Army fighting a number of costly battles against the Japanese beachheads around Buna in New Guinea, there were currently insufficient resources to continue operations in Timor. As such from early December Australian operations on Timor would be progressively wound down.[33]

On 15–17 December, the remainder of the original Sparrow Force—except for a few officers—was evacuated with Portuguese civilians, by the Dutch destroyer HNLMS Tjerk Hiddes.[34] Meanwhile, in the first week of January the decision was made to withdraw Lancer Force. On the night of 9/10 January 1943, the bulk of the 2/4th and 50 Portuguese were evacuated by the destroyer HMAS Arunta. A small intelligence team known as S Force was left behind, but its presence was soon detected by the Japanese. With the remnants of Lancer Force, S Force made its way to the eastern tip of Timor, where the Australian-British Z Special Unit was also operating. They were evacuated by the American submarine USS Gudgeon on 10 February.[26] Forty Australian commandos were killed during this phase of the fighting, while 1,500 Japanese were believed to have died.[23]


After capitulation on 23 February 1942 those captured were held at the Usapa Besar POW camp. Many officers that were considered "troublemakers" were sent to Java and Changi in August 1942. On 23 September 1942 the rest of Sparrow Force were transported to Surabaya in the hold of an old Chinese freighter, the hellship Dainichi Maru . Sailing via Dili, the ship came under attack from Royal Australian Air Force bombers, and Royal Navy and Dutch submarines. After reaching Surabaya, they travelled by train to Batavia and marched 11 miles (18 km) to Makasuru where the British, Dutch and Australians were separated. The Australians were based around Tandjong Priok initially, while the British joined the RAF prisoners in No. 5 Camp, and the Dutch were sent to another camp.[citation needed]

On 15 October the British was broken up and sent to different parts of South East Asia. Some were held on Java while on 18 October the rest of the battery boarded the freighters Singapore Maru and Oshida Maru to endure a one-week voyage to Singapore. Those Australians that were fit to travel were sent to Singapore during the same period. At Singapore, the Sparrow Force men were marched 15 miles (24 km) to Changi Barracks where they were medically examined and assessed for employment in labour camps throughout South East Asia. Some were sent to work on the Siam-Burma Railway, while others were sent to build a railway on Sumatra or sent to work in labour camps in Japan. Others remained in Singapore at Changi Prison.[citation needed]

Those who travelled to Japan to work in labour camps endured 46 days on the hellship Dainichi Maruand Tofuku Maru. Most casualties were aboard these hellships – with many suffering from disease after disembarking at Moji. In Japan, those who had been transported on the Tofuku Maru were moved by train to Hiraoka where they were held at the Tokyo #2 Detached (Mitsushima) POW Camp. There, they worked to build the Hiraoka Dam. In April 1944, most of the gunners were sent by train to the Tokyo #16 (Showa Denko) POW Camp in Kanose to stoke furnaces in the carbide factory. Those gunners who disembarked the Dainichi Maru joined the Fukuoka #1 POW Camp. This group was later split up and relocated to camps in Moji, Kumamoto, Orio, Ube, Omine and Bibai.[citation needed]

Many died from disease or accidents in labour camps on the Siam-Burma Railway, in Sumatra, Japan, Java, Borneo, and Changi Prison. Later in the war, 120 died when their hellships were sunk by United States Navy submarine en route to Japan from Singapore.[citation needed]


The Sparrow Force guerrillas would become associated with the phrase "you alone do not surrender to us", which were contained in a message to the men of Sparrow Force by the Japanese commander on Timor, Lieutenant General Yuichi Tsuchihashi. Winston Churchill later stated: "they alone did not surrender."[citation needed]

The 2/2nd Independent Company was renamed the 2/2 Commando Squadron and fought in New Guinea and New Britain, ending the war in Rabaul. Of the 81 members of the 2/40th Infantry Battalion evacuated, many soldiers reinforced the Tasmania/Queensland-raised 2/12th Infantry Battalion in the Australian 7th Division, which later fought in the Salamaua-Lae campaign, the Finisterre Range campaign and the Borneo campaign. By the end of the war, "2/2 Commando Squadron could claim to have spent longer in contact with the enemy than any other unit of the Australian Army".[35]

Overall, while the campaign on Timor had little strategic value, the Australian commandos had prevented an entire Japanese division from being used in the earlier phases of the New Guinea campaign[26] while at the same time inflicting a disproportionate level of casualties on them. In contrast to those in Java, Ambon or Rabaul, Australian operations in Timor had been far more successful, even if it was also largely a token effort in the face of overwhelming Japanese strength. Likewise, they had proved that in favorable circumstances, unconventional operations could be both versatile and more economic than conventional operations, for which the resources were not available to the Allies at that time.[36] Regardless, this success came at a high price and included the deaths of between 40,000 and 70,000 Timorese and Portuguese civilians during the Japanese occupation.[37] Total Allied casualties included around 450 killed, while more the 2,000 Japanese were believed to have died in the fighting.[citation needed]

Ultimately, Japanese forces remained in control of Timor until their surrender in August 1945, following the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.[37] On 5 September 1945, the Japanese commanding officer met Portuguese Governor Manuel de Abreu Ferreira de Carvalho, effectively returning power to him and placing the Japanese forces under Portuguese authority. On 11 September, the Australian Timorforce arrived in Kupang harbor and accepted the surrender of all Japanese forces on Timor from the senior Japanese officer on Timor, Col. Kaida Tatsuichi of the 4th Tank Regiment. The commander of the Timorforce, Brig. Lewis Dyke, a senior diplomat, W. D. Forsyth, and "as many ships as possible" were dispatched to Dili, arriving on 23 September. Ceremonies were then held with Australians, Portuguese and other local residents. Australian troops then supervised the disposal of arms by Japanese work parties before returning to West Timor for the surrender of the commander of the 48th Division, Lt. Gen. Yamada Kunitaro.[38] On 27 September, a Portuguese naval and military force of more than 2,000 troops arrived to an impressive ceremony of welcome by the Timorese people. These troops included three engineering companies along with substantial supplies of food and construction materials for the reconstruction of Timor.[39]


Primary weaponry

Secondary weaponry

Primary transport

Secondary transport

The 2/2nd Ind. Coy. on Portuguese East Timor were more heavily armed, with Bren guns, Thompson SMGs, &c.[40]



Distinguished Service Order[]

Lieutenant Colonel W.W. Leggatt 2nd 40th Infantry Battalion.png 2/40 Infantry Battalion
Captain B.J. Callinan 2nd 2nd Independent Company.png 2/2 Independent Company
Captain Geoffrey G. Laidlaw 2nd 2nd Independent Company.png 2/2 Independent Company
Major Alexander Spence 2nd 2nd Independent Company.png 2/2 Independent Company

Military Cross[]

Captain B.J. Callinan 2nd 2nd Independent Company.png 2/2 Independent Company
Lieutenant C.F.G. McKenzie 2nd 2nd Independent Company.png 2/2 Independent Company
Captain N.P. Maddern 2nd 40th Infantry Battalion.png 2/40 Infantry Battalion
Lieutenant A.H. Samuelson Royal Artillery Anti-Aircraft Badge.png 79th Light Anti-Aircraft Battery
Lieutenant R.G. Williams 2nd 40th Infantry Battalion.png 2/40 Infantry Battalion

Distinguished Conduct Medal[]

Corporal J.H. Armstrong 2nd 40th Infantry Battalion.png 2/40 Infantry Battalion
Private J.W. Poynton 2nd 2nd Independent Company.png 2/2 Independent Company

Military Medal[]

Lance Corporal H.A. Bailey 2nd 1st Fortress Signals.png 2/1 Fortress Signals
Signalman R.H. Fraser 2nd 1st Fortress Signals.png 2/1 Fortress Signals
Warrant Officer R.G. Hay 2nd 40th Infantry Battalion.png 2/40 Infantry Battalion
Sapper K.W. Hickey 2nd 1st Fortress Co.png 2/1 Fortress Company
Sapper M.C. Livingstone 2nd 1st Fortress Co.png 2/1 Fortress Company
Private J.K. Powell 2nd 40th Infantry Battalion.png 2/40 Infantry Battalion

Mentioned in Dispatches[]

Sergeant A. Adams 2nd 12th Field Ambulance.png 2/12 Field Ambulance RAAMC
Major R.A. Campbell 2nd 40th Infantry Battalion.png 2/40 Infantry Battalion
Sergeant E.J. Cawthorn 2nd 1st Fortress Signals.png 2/1 Fortress Signals
Lance Corporal K. Connors 2nd 40th Infantry Battalion.png 2/40 Infantry Battalion
Corporal L.J. Coon 2nd 12th Field Ambulance.png 2/12 Field Ambulance RAAMC
Lieutenant G.F. Stronach 2nd 11th Field Company.png No.2 Section, 2/11 Field Company RAE
Sergeant R.J. Couch 2nd 11th Field Company.png No.2 Section, 2/11 Field Company RAE
Private C. Deane 2nd 12th Field Ambulance.png 2/12th Field Ambulance RAAMC
Captain D.W. Gillies 2nd 12th Field Ambulance.png 2/12 Field Ambulance RAAMC
Lieutenant B.H. Gordon 2nd 40th Infantry Battalion.png 2/40 Infantry Battalion
Captain A. Hamilton 2nd 1st Fortress Signals.png 2/1 Fortress Signals
Corporal W. Imlach 2nd 40th Infantry Battalion.png 2/40 Infantry Battalion
Captain N.H. Johnston 2nd 40th Infantry Battalion.png 2/40 Infantry Battalion
Lance Corporal T.N. Kay 2nd 1st Fortress Co.png 2/1 Fortress Company
Sergeant M.A. Kerkham 2nd 40th Infantry Battalion.png 2/40 Infantry Battalion
Corporal B.E. Martin 2nd 12th Field Ambulance.png 2/12 Field Ambulance RAAMC|
Sergeant R.W. Martin 2nd 40th Infantry Battalion.png 2/40 Infantry Battalion
Warrant Officer A.H. McInnes 2nd 40th Infantry Battalion.png 2/40 Infantry Battalion
Sergeant H.R. Mercer 2nd 12th Field Ambulance.png 2/12 Field Ambulance RAAMC
Captain L.O.S. Poidevin 2nd 12th Field Ambulance.png 2/12 Field Ambulance RAAMC
Captain N.H. Roff 2nd 40th Infantry Battalion.png 2/40 Infantry Battalion
Major R.H. Stevens 2nd 12th Field Ambulance.png 2/12 Field Ambulance RAAMC
Captain R.R. Baldwin (twice) 2nd 2nd Independent Company.png 2/2 Independent Company
Captain B.J. Callinan 2nd 2nd Independent Company.png 2/2 Independent Company
Corporal K.S. Curran 2nd 2nd Independent Company.png 2/2 Independent Company
Lance Sergeant J.R. Denman 2nd 2nd Independent Company.png 2/2 Independent Company
Lieutenant D. St. A. Dexter 2nd 2nd Independent Company.png 2/2 Independent Company
Captain C.R. Dunkley 2nd 2nd Independent Company.png 2/2 Independent Company
Lance Corporal R.E. Ewan 2nd 2nd Independent Company.png 2/2 Independent Company
Lance Corporal J.F. Fowler 2nd 2nd Independent Company.png 2/2 Independent Company
Corporal J.T. Haire 2nd 2nd Independent Company.png 2/2 Independent Company
Corporal E. Hodgson 2nd 2nd Independent Company.png 2/2 Independent Company
Private W.I. Holley 2nd 2nd Independent Company.png 2/2 Independent Company
Lance Corporal R. Johnson 2nd 2nd Independent Company.png 2/2 Independent Company
Private J. Keenahan 2nd 2nd Independent Company.png 2/2 Independent Company
Lance Corporal B.C. Langridge 2nd 2nd Independent Company.png 2/2 Independent Company
Corporal E. Loud 2nd 2nd Independent Company.png 2/2 Independent Company
Private M.L. Loveless 2nd 2nd Independent Company.png 2/2 Independent Company
Private C.R. Martin 2nd 2nd Independent Company.png 2/2 Independent Company
Lance Sergeant H.J. Morgan 2nd 2nd Independent Company.png 2/2 Independent Company
Captain T.G. Nisbet 2nd 2nd Independent Company.png 2/2 Independent Company
Lance Sergeant J.S. O’Brien 2nd 2nd Independent Company.png 2/2 Independent Company
Private R.N. Parry 2nd 2nd Independent Company.png 2/2 Independent Company
Sergeant F.A. Press 2nd 2nd Independent Company.png 2/2 Independent Company
Lieutenant J.A. Rose 2nd 2nd Independent Company.png 2/2 Independent Company
Private N.D. Scott 2nd 2nd Independent Company.png 2/2 Independent Company
Corporal J. Servante 2nd 2nd Independent Company.png 2/2 Independent Company
Signaller M.A.M. Smith 2nd 2nd Independent Company.png 2/2 Independent Company
Corporal G.A. Stanley 2nd 2nd Independent Company.png 2/2 Independent Company
Captain D.K. Turton 2nd 2nd Independent Company.png 2/2 Independent Company
Corporal A.H.K. Wray 2nd 2nd Independent Company.png 2/2 Independent Company

Dutch Bronze Cross[]

Lieutenant C.F.G. McKenzie 2nd 2nd Independent Company.png 2/2 Independent Company
Private J.W. Poynton 2nd 2nd Independent Company.png 2/2 Independent Company


  1. ^ According to reports by W.W. Leggatt, F. East (Intelligence Officer), and Veale on Sparrow Force, written in 1945, and contained in the Australian War Memorial's archive. The original objective of Sparrow Force was the defence of strategic airfields but once invasion became inevitable, the reinforcement convoy from Darwin was attacked and aircraft were withdrawn from Timor, the objective was changed to frustrating Japan's advance.
  2. ^ Gill 1957, pp. 473–474.
  3. ^ Gill 1957, p. 496.
  4. ^ Henning 1995, p.45
  5. ^ Dennis 2008, p.529
  6. ^ a b "Fall of Timor". Australia's War of 1939–1945. Australian Department of Veterans Affairs. 2005. Retrieved 16 October 2013.
  7. ^ Browne 2000, pp. 77–79.
  8. ^ Gill 1957, p. 487.
  9. ^ Frame & Baker 2000, p. 158
  10. ^ a b Dennis 2008, p.529.
  11. ^ Paley 1991, p.85
  12. ^ a b Klemen, L. (1999–2000). "The Japanese Invasion of Dutch West Timor Island, February 1942". Retrieved 16 October 2013.
  13. ^ "2/4th Pioneer Battalion". Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 5 January 2010.
  14. ^ Dennis 2008, p. 25 and 529.
  15. ^ 防衛研修所戦史室, 戦史叢書 蘭印攻略作戦, Tokyo:Asagumo-Shimbun, 1967. (Japanese official military history by National Institute for Defense Studies)
  16. ^ a b c d e "Remembering 1942". Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 16 October 2013.
  17. ^ Doig 1986, p. 54
  18. ^ a b "Fighting in Timor 1942". Australian War Memorial. 2005. Retrieved 16 October 2013.
  19. ^ Based on counts by Brigadier Veale’s party, between 470–480 jumped from Japanese transport aircraft
  20. ^ Henning 1995, p.95.
  21. ^ Callinan 1953
  22. ^ a b c Dennis 2008, p.530.
  23. ^ a b Callinan 1953, p. xxviii.
  24. ^ "David Ross". The Airways Museum & Civil Aviation Historical Society. Archived from the original on 11 February 2010. Retrieved 5 January 2010.
  25. ^ Transmission between Sparrow Force HQ and Northern Force HQ on 19 April 1942 using Winnie the War Winner
  26. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Klemen, L (2000). "The Fighting on the Portuguese East Timor Island, 1942". Retrieved 18 August 2008.
  27. ^ a b Geoffrey C. Gunn, Timor Loro Sae: 500 years (Macau: Livros do Oriente, 1999), p.224. ISBN 972-9418-69-1
  28. ^ Rottmann 2002, p. 211.
  29. ^ White 2002, p. 92.
  30. ^ "HMAS Voyager (I)". Royal Australian Navy. Retrieved 23 August 2008.
  31. ^ "Damien Peter Parer". Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 5 January 2010.
  32. ^ "War history". HMAS Castlemaine. Retrieved 30 November 2018.
  33. ^ Dennis 2008, p. 530.
  34. ^ Wheeler 2004, p. 152.
  35. ^ Grant 2005, pp. 24–30.
  36. ^ Dennis 2008, pp. 529–530.
  37. ^ a b "A Short History of East Timor". Department of Defence. 2002. Archived from the original on 3 January 2006. Retrieved 3 January 2007.
  38. ^ For details about these and other postwar events, see Horton 2009.
  39. ^ Geoffrey C. Gunn, Timor Loro Sae: 500 years (Macau: Livros do Oriente, 1999), p. 235 ISBN 972-9418-69-1
  40. ^ Skennerton, Ian (2013). "Footsteps of Sparrow Force". Retrieved 16 October 2013.


  • Frame, Tom; Baker, Kevin (2000). Mutiny! Naval Insurrections in Australia and New Zealand. St. Leonards, New South Wales: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1-86508-351-8. OCLC 46882022.
  • Browne, Geoff (2000). "Leggatt, Sir William Watt (Bill) (1894–1968)". Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 15. Melbourne University Press. pp. 77–79.
  • Callinan, Bernard (1953). Independent Company: The Australian Army in Portuguese Timor 1941–43. London: William Heinemann. ISBN 0-85859-339-4.
  • Campbell, Archie (1994). The Double Reds of Timor. Swanbourne, Western Australia: John Burridge Military Antiques. ISBN 0-646-25825-7.
  • Dennis, Peter; et al. (2008). The Oxford Companion to Australian Military History (Second ed.). Melbourne: Oxford University Press Australia & New Zealand. ISBN 978-0-19-551784-2.
  • Doig, Colin (1986). A History of the 2nd Independent Company and 2/2 Commando Squadron. Perth, Western Australia: Selbstverlag. ISBN 0-7316-0668-X.
  • Grant, Mac (2005). "Reserve Commandos Inherit a Remarkable Legacy". Defence Reserves Yearbook 2004–2005. Canberra, Australian Capital Territory: Defence Reserves Support Council: 24–30. OCLC 223674990.
  • Gill, G. Hermon (1957). Royal Australian Navy 1939–1942. Australia in the War of 1939–1945. Series 2 – Navy. Vol. I. Canberra: Australian War Memorial. OCLC 848228.
  • Henning, Peter (1995). Doomed Battalion: The Australian 2/40th Battalion 1940–45. Mateship & Leadership in War & Captivity. St Leonards: Allen and Unwin. ISBN 1-86373-763-4.
  • Horton, William Bradley (2009). "Through the Eyes of Australians: The Timor Area in the Early Postwar Period". Ajitaiheiyotokyu. 12: 251–277.
  • Rottman, George (2002). World War II Pacific Island Guide: A Geo-Military Study. Westport: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-31395-4.
  • Wheeler, Tony (2004). East Timor. Lonely Planet Publications. ISBN 1-74059-644-7.
  • White, Ken (2002). Criado: A Story of East Timor. Briar Hill: Indra Publishing. ISBN 0-9578735-4-9.
  • Wigmore, Lionel (1957). The Japanese Thrust. Australia in the War of 1939–1945. Series 1 – Army. Vol. IV. Canberra: Australian War Memorial. OCLC 53127430.
  • Wray, Christopher (1987). Timor 1942. Australian Commandos at War with the Japanese. Hawthorn, Victoria: Hutchinson Australia. ISBN 0-09-157480-3.

External links[]