East Timorese Support
Like all our people, I liked the Australian soldiers. They were kind … They had sympathy for the Timorese people. They shared what they had with us, showed our people love and attention and we loved them in return.
We always knew when Australians were coming, word just passed along. Our people would wait to meet them and provide food. When they had money the Australians paid for food, chickens and pigs, or for hiring horses.
Soidada, East Timor
The guerrilla campaign would have been impossible without East Timorese support.
Australian soldiers lived, ate and mixed freely with the locals and started to learn their language. They paid for items in silver coins or with surats (promissory notes).
Their commanders laid down strict rules about the treatment of locals, particularly women, who were to be treated with respect. They banned the use of the Portuguese palmatory punishment stick, which severely blistered the hands and feet of recipients.
In contrast the Japanese treated local people with contempt, stole food, raped women or kidnapped them for prostitution and tortured people for information.
When Australian soldiers took the initiative against Japanese forces, they won the support of East Timorese and many Portuguese.
Throughout the campaign East Timorese constantly provided the 2/2nd with food, shelter, labour, friendship and intelligence. However, Australians shot East Timorese known to betray their whereabouts to the Japanese.