Video Interview and Further Reading: See Six Video Webisodes below
INTRODUCTION TO THE INTERVIEW
The 2/2nd Independent Company of the Australian Army invaded Portuguese Timor on the 16th December, 1941. The Australian Government feared the Japanese would take it over and use it as a base for invading Australia. The Australians had set up bases in the mountains outside of Dili. One of them was an observation post in the mountain town of Bazartete – Rufino’s home – and that is where Tom Nisbet, and the rest of B Platoon were, when the Japanese invaded late at night on 19th February, 1942.
During the time the Australians were there they forged relationships with many Timorese to help them with local intelligence, language, and a myriad of other activities. According to Australian veteran Archie Campbell – a member of 2/2nd Independent Company – there was an effective fighting force of less than three hundred Australians, while there were up to 15,000 Japanese troops there. The Australian men who survived, attribute their survival to the tremendous loyalty and allegiance of the Timorese.
Hundreds of young Timorese boys, with an average age – estimated to be 13, became criados for the Australians. And in these videos Rufino tells of his experiences as a criado for Lieutenant Tom Nisbet. Criado is the Portuguese and Spanish word for servant. The boys were either enlisted by them or attached themselves, to members of the 2/2nd Company after the Japanese invaded. The stories of the love that grew between these young boys and the Australians are legendary in Australia. The stories from the criado’s perspective have never or rarely been told in Australia before.
More about the meaning of criado.
First Video Documentary Series Posted 1. April 2008
Recollections of a Criado – Rufino Correia
Episode 1: The First Encounter (Dur. 3mins)
Rufino’s story: Rufino do Correia is uncertain whether he was nine or eleven years old when Australian soldier Tom Nisbet took him along to help him fight against the Japanese in East Timor in 1942. This is Rufino’s memory of meeting Lt. Tom Nisbet.
Episode 2: The Japanese Invasion (Dur. 7.5 mins. Allow a minute for download on broadband)
Rufino’ s recollections reflect the confusion of war and what it is to be in the war while not in the decision making loop or privy to the collective history-writing process. To understand this fully follow links for history texts written in Australia and those provided above.
Episode 3 – Buffalo Shooting (Dur. 5 mins.)
Did Rufino have a gun or not? According to Paddy Keneally one of the last survivors of the Australians of the 2/2nd Commando Squadron, a man who is credited with spending decades researching the stories of 2/2nd, criados were never given guns. Nevertheless in this Episode Rufino gives a lively account of shooting a buffalo for the men. In another account from Ray Aitken, his criado Mau Lare, “always carried my.45 pistol, kept watch over us all night”. Paddy Keneally is also in his nineties.
Episode 3.2 – Buffalo Shooting – Respect or Resentment (Dur:3 mins.)
The previous episode continues the buffalo story. We’ve heard about the hunger of the Australian soldiers and the Timorese as the rapacious Japanese army demanded food supplies. Here Rufino gives a glimpse into the everyday working relationships between the Timorese farmers and the Australian soldiers in 1942 in a particular place and time.
Episode 4.1 – Thy Wish (Dur: 3 mins)
In this episode Rufino relates a story about the reactions of the Liurai or king of Remexio, when he arrives one day with Tom Nisbet and his Company accompanied by 100 horses and Timorese carrying ammunition and guns.
Episode 4.2 – The Raid on Dili (Dur: 5 mins)
In this episode Rufino relates his memories of a raid on Dili!