Dumpu, New Guinea, 7 October 1943. Members of the 2/2nd Australian Independent Company on their return to camp after a twelve-day patrol in the Ramu Valley.
Left to right: NX37195 TROOPER (TPR) F. J. THORPE; WX11366 CORPORAL J. F. FOWLER; NX130254 TPR J. A. PRIOR; WX13118 TPR W. R. WATSON.
The 2/2nd Commando Squadron was one of 12 independent companies or commando squadrons raised by the Australian Army for service during World War II. The 2/2nd served in Timor, New Guinea and New Britain during World War II, taking part in the Battle of Timor in June 1942 as part of Sparrow Force. Following the capture of the island, the company was withdrawn in December 1942 and returned to Australia, later taking part in operations in New Guinea in 1943–44 and then on New Britain in 1945.
After the war, some of the unit’s members became advocates for the rights of the Timorese people, recognizing the contribution that they had made to Australia’s war effort. One member, John Patrick “Paddy” Kenneally, who died in March 2009 at the age of 93, said that the Australians would “…not have lasted a week had the Timorese not protected them”. Kenneally visited East Timor four times after World War II; once in 1990 and a further three times after independence from Indonesia was achieved in 1999. In 2005, he appeared in TV advertisements promoting a fair deal for the people of East Timor in negotiations over Timor Sea gas and oil and was instrumental in securing a fair share of the gas field for the Timorese people.