Impact on the Timorese: We brought nothing but misery on those poor people

Skulls of King Alexio of Ainaro and his three sons

Skulls of King Alexio of Ainaro and his three sons, displayed in the sepulchre of the royal family. The four were killed by the Japanese because they had been of great help to the Australians of Sparrow Force.
KB Davis, courtesy Australian War Memorial AWM 125289

We went to Timor and brought nothing but misery on those poor people. That is all they ever got out of helping us – misery.

‘Paddy’ Kenneally,
2/2nd Commando,

News that we helped the Australians spread to the Japanese…They brought [hostile] Timorese… to burn our crops and houses and kill our animals…from the end of 1942 there was a shortage of food like rice and corn because people couldn’t work in their gardens.

Paulo Quintao,
1983 Secretary to the Liurai of Soibada,

Members of the 2/2nd recognise that the War had a devastating impact on the East Timorese. It is estimated that over 40,000 East Timorese, about 10 percent of the population, died directly from the fighting or from war-caused famine and disease.

Following the Allied evacuation the Timorese people were subjected to a brutal and merciless military occupation. Immediate reprisals followed, particularly in areas where the Australians had been active.

The Japanese burnt villages to the ground and massacred people. The criados and anyone supporting Timorese fighters and Allied operatives were tortured and executed if caught.

The already devastated population was forced to support up to 20,000 Japanese troops until the end of the War. Slave labour was used to build defensive infrastructure and limited food supplies were forcibly appropriated. Health and other services disappeared.

In addition devastating Allied bombing raids killed many and destroyed the remaining infrastructure, particularly in Dili.

This photo clearly shows the devastating impact of war.

This photo taken by Lt Rex Lipman of the 2/4th towards the end of the campaign clearly shows the devastating impact of war-caused disease and malnutrition on the East Timorese population.
Rex Lipman, courtesy Army Museum of South Australia