2/2nd COMMANDO SQUADRON
Initially formed as the No.2 Independent Company, the unit was raised at the end of May 1941.
With an authorised strength of 17 officers, 256 other ranks, it undertook training at the Guerrilla Warfare Camp at Foster, near Wilsons Promontory, Victoria. After training the company was transported north to Katherine, Northern Territory, where they were stationed until Japan entered the war following the attacks on Pearl Harbor and Malaya.
Amid fears of a Japanese advance towards mainland Australia, the 2nd Independent Company was sent to Timor, as part of Sparrow Force, along with the 2/40th Battalion and a small force of artillery. Upon arriving at Dili on 17 December 1941, most of the 2nd Independent Company moved to protect Dili airfield in east Timor, whilst other elements took up positions in the nearby mountains. The Japanese invaded Timor on 20 February 1942, attacking both east and west Timor at the same time, quickly overwhelming the small force of Australian and Dutch defenders. Hopelessly outnumbered the 2nd Independent Company was unable to hold the airfield and was forced to retreat into the mountains, from where they would wage a guerrilla campaign against the Japanese for over a year.
After the fall of the island, it was believed that the 2nd Independent Company had been captured along with the 2/40th Battalion, and for almost three months the unit was officially listed as missing by the Australian Army. On 19/20 April 1942, however, members of the unit were able to make contact with Darwin, using a wireless transmitter nicknamed Winnie the War Winner. "Winnie", reputedly named after Winston Churchill was cobbled together by Signaller Max (Joe) Loveless, a Tasmanian member of the unit who had a background as an amateur radio station operator. The set was built on the back of a four-gallon kerosene tin, using parts from several failed radio sets. Some parts were obtained via night raids into occupied enemy territory. After this, the Royal Australian Navy was able to bring in supplies for the company on the south coast of east Timor in late May, allowing the guerrilla campaign to continue. During August, the Japanese launched a major offensive against the guerrillas and carried out a series of reprisals against the civilian population of east Timor in order to reduce their support for the Australians.
This campaign was ultimately unsuccessful, although the local Timorese paid a high price for the assistance they provided the Australians: it is estimated that between 40,000 and 60,000 Timorese perished during the Japanese occupation. In September, in an effort to maintain the pressure on the Japanese, the 2nd Independent Company was reinforced with the landing of the 2/4th Australian Independent Company. By late-November 1942, however, it was clear that the Australians could not sustain their campaign due to extreme ill-health amongst all the men, and the ever-increasing number of Japanese reinforcements as well as reduced food supplies. Furthermore, the Japanese used increasing numbers of Dutch Timorese to wreak havoc among the Portuguese Timorese, who then found it impossible to keep helping the Australians. As a result, both the 2/2 and 2/4 were withdrawn from Timor between mid-December 1942 and January 1943, along with Portuguese civilians, some Dutch troops and Timorese who would later serve with Z Special Unit.
Upon return to Australia, the company, now renamed the "2/2nd Independent Company", reformed at the training centre at the Jungle Warfare School at Canungra, Queensland, where it was reinforced and re-equipped. The 2/2nd was relocated to the Atherton Tableland Camp, Atherton Tableland, where it briefly became part of the 2/6th Cavalry (Commando) Regiment, although this was short lived as it became an independent unit once again not long afterwards. As a part of this re-organisation, the company would eventually be renamed the "2/2nd Commando Squadron".
In June 1943, the 2/2nd sailed from Townsville to Port Moresby and was subsequently flown to Bena Bena, in the Bismarck Ranges in New Guinea.Here, the 2/2nd supported the 2/7th Independent Company in patrolling the Ramu River area. In mid-July, the 2/2nd moved into position in Bena Bena and by the end of the month their patrols were skirmishing with the Japanese. They continued to conduct operations in New Guinea until October 1944 when, after being away from Australia for more than a year, the 2/2nd were withdrawn from the fighting for a period of leave in Australia. After three months leave, the 2/2nd Commando Squadron reformed at Strathpine, Queensland and began a period of training and re-organisation in preparation for their next campaign. In April 1945, the unit embarked for New Britain, where they landed at Jacquinot Bay on 17 April and subsequently moved to Wide Bay, in order to support the 13th Brigade, attached to the 5th Division that was based at Lamarien.Following the end of hostilities in the Pacific in August 1945, the 2/2nd Commando Squadron was deemed to be surplus to the post-war requirements of the Australian Army and as such it was steadily reduced in strength as men were discharged or transferred to other units. The remainder returned to Australia and in early 1946 the 2/2nd Commando Squadron was disbanded. During its service during the war, the 2/2nd lost 22 men killed in action or died on active service. Member's of the squadron received the following decorations: two DSOs, three MCs, one DCM, one MM, 35 MIDs and two foreign awards.After the war, some of the unit's members became advocates for the rights of the Timorese people, recognising 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. On 25 April 2008 Kenneally, two of his sons and one of his grandsons attended an ANZAC Day service in East Timor, at a memorial overlooking Dili and built by veterans from the 2/2nd.
Videos. To view the tapes please click the first link below.
Interview with Ray Parry https://australiansatwarfilmarchive.unsw.edu.au/archive/1736
Interview with Robert Smyth (Bob) https://australiansatwarfilmarchive.unsw.edu.au/archive/1714
Interview with John Kenneally (Paddy) https://australiansatwarfilmarchive.unsw.edu.au/archive/1568
Double Reds website https://doublereds.org.au/
Callinan, Bernard; Shute, Nevil (1953).
Independent Company: The 2/2 and 2/4 Australian Independent Companies in Portuguese Timor, 1941–1943. Melbourne, Victoria: Heinemann. OCLC 222164490.
Campbell, Archie (1988). The Double Reds of Timor. Swanbourne, Western Australia: John Burridge Military Antiques. ISBN 978-0-646-25825-6.
Doig, Colin (1986). The History of the Second Independent Company. Perth, Western Australia: C Doig. ISBN 978-0-7316-0668-9.
Smailes, Jim (1988) . The Independents. Perth, Western Australia: 2/2nd Commando Association. ISBN 978-0-7316-9780-9.
Wray, Christopher (1987). Timor 1942: Australian Commandos at War with the Japanese. Hawthorne, Victoria: Hutchinson Australia. ISBN 978-0-09-157480-2.