Subject: Last Post for Timor World War II hero

also Last Post for Timor World War II hero, East Timor President's anger over forgotten `criados'

Sydney Morning Herald

Australia honours Timorese guerilla hero in death … if not in life


April 23, 2010

SIXTY-FOUR years was not enough time for Australia to award a medal to Rufino Alves Correia for his heroism when he was shot and wounded while trying to protect Australian commandos in Japanese-occupied East Timor during World War II.

Mr Correia, 90, has died and was buried in Dili yesterday, six months after a petition signed by 24,000 people asked federal MPs to recognise the sacrifices the Timorese made to help the Australians in Timor.

By the end of the war, between 40,000 and 50,000 Timorese out of a population of only 650,000 had been killed or starved to death. Mr Correia was one of the last surviving Timorese men known as ''criados'' who fought alongside the Australians in one of the most successful guerilla actions of the war.

Australian soldiers deployed in East Timor yesterday presided over his funeral at Dili's historic Motael church, a rare honour for a non-Australian citizen. But authorities in Canberra are still considering the petition for a special Timorese Order of Australia that was organised last year by the Mary MacKillop mission in East Timor. ''Sadly Rufino died without the full recognition he deserved for his bravery,'' said Sister Susan Connelly. She said an honorary form of the Order of Australia could be awarded to non-Australian citizens.

The Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, said last year the ''fuzzy wuzzy angels'' or their survivors who helped Australian troops in Papua New Guinea would receive commemorative medals.

Mr Correia, who was affectionately known as Rufino, was proud of the time he spent with the commandos, rattling off the names of those he fought with. Every year he would attend the Anzac Day service in Dili. He loved wearing his commando beret.

''Rufino has never forgotten his Australian friends and similarly has never been forgotten by the Australian soldiers he served beside,'' East Timor's President, Jose Ramos-Horta, said yesterday.

But in 2006, before he travelled to Melbourne to take part in an Anzac Day parade, he told the Herald that he always wondered why the Australians ''never came back to help us after the war''.


East Timor President's anger over forgotten `criados'

* Paul Cleary

* <>The Australian * April 23, 2010 12:00AM

EAST Timor's President Jose Ramos-Horta has admonished Australia for "forgetting" hundreds of his countrymen who served alongside Australian guerrilla fighters in World War II.

The comments by Mr Ramos-Horta, after the death of the best-known criado, Rufino Alves Correia, signify a growing anger among the Timorese regarding Australia's role in two invasions of Timor -- the Australian and Japanese landings during the war, and then the Indonesian invasion of 1975.

"It is so sad that for decades these so-called criados were forgotten by Australia. So sad that Canberra never recognised the need and obligation to bestow on him a simple medal. Fortunately I did it in August 2009 as I knew Rufino would die any moment," Mr Ramos-Horta wrote in an email to The Australian.

Minister for Veterans' Affairs Alan Griffin said the Australian government was "considering the question of what can be done".

Retired Australian army brigadier Ernie Chamberlain has been campaigning for two years to win recognition for men such as Mr Correia, who enabled Australia to wage its most successful guerilla war.

He also believes the families of men taken back to Australia for training and deployed on missions with the Australian commandos of Z Special Unit, are entitled to compensation and war medals.

Mr Ramos-Horta's comment is surprising given he is generally well-disposed towards Australia.

East Timor's Prime Minister, Xanana Gusmao, recently lambasted Australia's role in dragging the neutral colony of Portuguese Timor into the war by landing uninvited in December 1941. The Timorese death toll is believed to be about 50,000 during 3 1/2 years of Japanese occupation.

"This suffering could have been prevented if the Australian forces had not come to (East Timor) in order to wage war here, so as to prevent the Japanese from invading Australia," Mr Gusmao told a donors' conference this month.

The president of the 2/2 Commando Association, Jack Carey, said without the support of men such as Mr Correia, the Australians would not have survived one month in the colony, invaded by the Japanese in February 1942.

The Australians in the 2/2 Independent Company became the only men within the 22,000- strong 8th Division to evade capture and continue fighting the Japanese in early 1942.

The Timorese would yodel from mountain tops, providing valuable information on Japanese movements. This enabled 2/2 Company to get close to the Japanese to carry out hit and run raids.


The Australian

Last Post for Timor World War II hero

* Paul Cleary

* April 22, 2010 12:00AM

ONE of the best-known and last surviving Timorese men who served with Australian forces in World War II has died.

Rufino Alves Correia, believed to have been 94, died yesterday in Dili, where he lived with his children and grandchildren.

Mr Correia had joined the men of the 2/2 Independent Company, an elite unit that was a forerunner of the modern-day SAS, and served with them throughout 1942.

The Australians waged a guerilla war behind enemy lines and relied on young Timorese men and boys to provide information, haul supplies and supply food and shelter in villages. Each of the 400 or so Australians had a Timorese offsider, known as a criado, a Portuguese word for servant.

Mr Correia attached himself to Lieutenant Tom Nisbet, a section commander with the company's B Platoon. Mr Correia was one of the few Timorese who actually took part in combat actions, and he would proudly show the shrapnel wounds in his neck he received from a Japanese grenade.

He was with Nisbet in May 1942 when 14 men from B platoon launched a daring raid on the Japanese headquarters in Dili and shot up the barracks, with all of them getting out alive.

Mr Correia was waiting at a rendezvous with the platoon's heavy gear, and when he heard the shooting he believed his Australian friend may have been killed. Nisbet returned safely to find Mr Correia wailing and crying.

While some Timorese who carried supplies for the Australians are believed to be still alive, Mr Correia was probably the last surviving criado who saw action with the 2/2 Company.

Paul Cleary is the author of The Men Who Came Out of the Ground, to be published in August


Back April Menu  
World Leaders Contact List
Main Postings Menu