Subject: East Timorese WWII help remembered

East Timorese WWII help remembered

April 25, 2009 - 8:44PM

The friendship and sacrifices made by the East Timorese in helping Australia during World War II should be remembered by the nation, the federal government says.

Defence Science and Personnel Minister Warren Snowdon spent Anzac Day with troops serving in East Timor, and joined East Timor president Jose Ramos-Horta and Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao in paying tribute to the sacrifices of Australians and East Timorese during the struggle against the Japanese in Timor during World War II.

He said the great loyalty, friendship and sacrifice made by the East Timorese in helping Australia should be remembered by the nation.

"In March 1942, 2/2 Independent Company, who were deployed to East Timor, began what amounted to almost a year-long guerrilla war against the invading Japanese force," Mr Snowdon said in a statement.

"The 300 or so Australians, reinforced in September by 2/4th Independent Company, inflicted heavy losses on the Japanese.

"It was an effort of endurance and courage that would have been utterly impossible without the support of the Timorese people.

"Reprisals by the Japanese on the East Timorese were fierce, however, and over 40,000 Timorese people lost their lives in World War II," Mr Snowdon said.

He attended a dawn service with soldiers from Australia and New Zealand, before attending a ceremony organised by Mr Gusmao's wife Kirsty Sword-Gusmao.

The ceremony was to mark the official opening of the Dare Memorial Museum and Café, and the Fatunaba Memorial Primary School, built on the site of the original Dare memorial presented by the 2/2nd Independent Company to the Timorese in 1969, in recognition of their service in 1942.

© 2009 <> AAP

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