A DEBT OF HONOUR
An eight-man section of Australian Peacekeepers have been on active patrol in East Timor for five months. They have had no alcohol, no time off and little contact with families back home. For some of these men, it’s their third tour of duty. Their first was with INTERFET in 1999.
Twenty-four years after Indonesia invaded East Timor- the Timorese people were finally allowed an election. Despite an overwhelming vote for Independence, the Indonesian backed militia attacked the population – and the country descended into chaos.
Following weeks of violence and mayhem, the UN in conjunction with Australia formed INTERFET – a force that would restore peace and security for the suffering people of East Timor. While it may have seemed that Australia was liberating this vulnerable country – in fact the Australian Army owed a huge debt to the Timorese people. A 60-year old debt that dates back to the Second World War.
The tale of what happened to these Australian soldiers on the island of Timor during WWII is one of the greatest untold stories of military history. It’s a story of a tiny group of men who faced insurmountable odds and who side-by-side with the native Timorese population, held back over 20,000 Japanese troops from Australia’s doorstep.
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