ATLAS was founded in memory of Paddy Kenneally, an Australian commando who was forever grateful to the Timorese for the assistance they gave Australia during World War II.
Paddy always said: “All we ever brought them was misery.”
Other soldiers described the loyalty they found in the Portuguese Timorese. Archie Campbell wrote of a youth who undertook to pretend to sell produce to a Japanese troop section as a way of spying on them for the Australians:
“It is almost incredible that he is willing to risk torture and death for the Australians who are indirectly responsible for all the misery the Japs have heaped upon the Timorese: the burning villages, the killings, the terrified women carried into slavery and defilement. Yet there he goes – no fanfare, no drama – just a casual wave and a smile, and he is gone.”
Lance Bomford wrote:
“Each of us had his native, called a criado. They carried our packs so we were free with our guns, and without them we just couldn’t have fought like we did… The natives would spot when the Japs were making a move and relay the message to us so we could set up ambushes… It wasn’t just the criados, there were lots who helped us….. Early in December we got orders to move to the coast. It was a great feeling to be going home but it was a sad parting from the Timorese boys who’d done so much for us. Quite a few of us had tears in our eyes. I’d have loved to have taken my little fella back with me. He cried when the time came to leave. I gave him a note [praising him], what a good lad he was, gave him a few odds and ends. What happened to him Lord knows.”
All of us who support ATLAS know that we are contributing as Australians to people who helped out soldiers. The leaflet dropped by the Australian government all over Timor said; “Your friends do not forget you.” Let us continue to remember and support them.