October 13th, 2009 jen Posted in Friends of Suai News, News from Port Phillip, Obituary: Paddy Kenneally 1 Comment »
The following Obituray was written by Paul Cleary for the Sydney Morning Herald in March 2009 when Paddy Kenneally passed away. It is included here because according to Paul Cleary (author of "Shakedown:Australia's grab for Timor oil" he probably did " more than any other person to remind Australia of its debt to the Timorese, especially after the Whitlam government gave Indonesia the green light to invade the territory in 1975" . He was at the launch of the Friends of Suai and is believed to have been a resident of Port Phillip during his long life.
The Sydney Morning Herald
Fervent champion of Timorese
* March 6, 2009
Paddy Kenneally, 1916-2009
PADDY KENNEALLY quit his job as a wharfie the day
Japan bombed Pearl Harbour in 1941 and enlisted
in the Australian army. One month later, after
undergoing minimal training, the tough Irishman
was on his way to join an elite guerilla unit in East Timor.
While more than 20,000 Australian soldiers were
captured by the Japanese on islands to the north
of Australia, the unit in Timor known as the
2/2nd Australian independent company fought a
successful guerilla war in the mountains.
As the Oscar-winning filmmaker Damien Parer noted
at the time, the men in this unit were "unique in
that they remained an organised fighting body all
through the lightning Jap successes ∑ These lads
are writing an epic of guerilla warfare".
Kenneally took part in two of the defining
actions of this campaign during his year of service there.
On the night of May 14, 1942, he was one of 13
men who mounted a raid into the heart of the
Japanese headquarters in the capital, Dili. The
men shot up the barracks and escaped without
suffering any casualties. Kenneally and his
platoon commander, Geoff Laidlaw, were the last to leave that night.
One week later, when the Japanese came looking
for the raiders, Kenneally was one of six men who
ambushed about 100 Japanese soldiers near the
village of Remexio, in the hills above Dili.
The Australians were armed with .303 rifles and
one sub-machine gun, but they used the terrain of
Timor to their advantage and took more than 20
enemy casualties. One of those killed was a
senior Japanese officer who had been brought to
Timor to drive out the bandits in mountains.
Kenneally and other veterans said they would not
have lasted a week had the Timorese not protected them.
But the Timorese paid dearly for their support,
with an estimated 40,000 to 60,000 perishing in
the conflict. Kenneally, who became the last
surviving veteran from these encounters, often
said all the Timorese got from supporting them was misery.
He served with the 2/2 for the rest of the war
and saw action in New Guinea. He also returned to
Papua New Guinea after the war and at 75 climbed
Mount Wilhelm, the country's highest mountain.
John Patrick Kenneally, always known as Paddy,
has died aged 93. He was born in Youghal, County
Cork, Ireland, son of Michael Kenneally and Mary
Ellen Morrissey. The family migrated to Australia in 1927.
By virtue of his energy and longevity, Kenneally
probably did more than any other person to remind
Australia of its debt to the Timorese, especially
after the Whitlam government gave Indonesia the
green light to invade the territory in 1975.
During the occupation Kenneally visited the
territory four times, starting in 1990 when he
was 76 and travelling extensively around the
hills where he had fought. He returned three more
times after the ballot on self-determination.
Kenneally reported back to East Timor activists
in Australia and to the veterans who remained
involved through aid projects and their newsletter, the 2/2 Commando
Though he was a Labor man through and through,
Kenneally had little time for Whitlam because of
his support for Indonesia's invasion.
When he opened a photo exhibition on East Timor
in Parliament House, Canberra, in 1996, he
lambasted Whitlam in front of several Labor
luminaries over his treatment of the Timorese.
When East Timor was struggling to get a fair deal
in negotiations over Timor Sea oil in 2005,
Kenneally rallied his mates to fight one last time for the country.
Appearing in national television ads on the eve
of Anzac Day, Kenneally and five other veterans
called on the Howard government to give the
impoverished new nation a fair go. Kenneally told
the prime minister John Howard: "I'd rather that
you did not come to my Anzac Day parade."
The following day, the Government capitulated,
offering East Timor a 50 per cent share of the disputed Greater Sunrise
Right to the end, Kenneally's love for the
Timorese and the country where he fought remained
fervent. Last year he returned there with two
sons and a grandson, where he attended the Anzac
Day service at the war memorial built by the 2/2 veterans, overlooking Dili.
Kenneally is survived by his wife of 57 years,
Nora (nee Kelly), their children Gerald, Helen,
Michael and Sean, and seven grandchildren. A
requiem mass will be held today at 10.30am at Christ the King church,