Military History: “They alone did not surrender”

This article is from Andrew Hastie

1942 was a perilous year for Australia. The free world was at war. The Imperial Japanese Army was on our doorstep. On February 19, Darwin was bombed. That night, the Japanese invaded nearby Timor. More than 1000 allied troops on the island were forced to surrender. But a small band of Australian soldiers refused to yield. The 270-strong 2nd Independent Company, stationed near Dili in eastern Timor, held their ground and fought the Japanese forces.

The Independent Companies were Australia’s first commandos. Chosen for their mental and physical toughness, they trained to fight behind
enemy lines.

Lt. Gerry McKenzie in Timor, 9 December 1942. He received the Military Cross for his actions on the night of the Japanese invasion

The 2nd Independent Company—called the 2/2 or ‘Double Reds’ for their distinctive double red diamond patch—waged a year-long guerrilla campaign against the Japanese.

This campaign diverted thousands of Japanese troops from places like Kokoda and Guadalcanal during a critical time in the Pacific War.

81% of the 2/2’s original soldiers were from Western Australia. As a Member of Parliament, my task is to carry the fire for future Australians—to preserve the good things that make our country special. That’s why this week I launched the Double Reds Resilience Award, for schools in Canning.    

The Double Reds Resilience Award honours the legacy of the 2/2 and increases awareness of their contribution to Australia’s history. It is our duty to pass on our heritage and values to the next generation.

The award is offered to all schools in Canning. It recognises students who have displayed a high degree of character and resilience in the face of adversity or hardship throughout the school year.

This week the 2/2 Commando Association of Australia endorsed the award at their AGM. I’m proud to have their support. You can find out more about the Double Reds at their website here.

Australia isn’t a massive country like the United States or the People’s Republic of China. But we have proven time and again that we know how to push on through tough times.  Continuing that legacy is now our responsibility. It’s up to all of us to live out the spirit of the Double Reds. 

Andrew Hastie MP