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,
Click on the image to read by enlargement of rock messages painted by Port Phillip residents to the people of Suai in 2001 & 2003. Posted on the occasion of the 10th Anniversary of the Suai Church Massacre
Rocks written painted and drawn on in 2001 by members of the Port Phillip community, at the Second Anniversary of the Suai Church Massacre are still relevant.
How did this happen? East Timorese artist Anata, Los Palos artist Kiki, St Kilda artist Liz Milsom, my old friend Trish and myself all ended up together in the 'N' in HANDS for the Climate Change action in St Kilda last month next to Pat Jessen and others, while my daughter Kate tried to film with a camera she had never touched before! Well that's the way this friendship with people in Suai is evolving.
But this story is not about Anata or my daughter or photography. It is the beginning of a bigger story about Liz Milsom and her father George and the strange ways this international friendship weaves its mysterious web.
In this particular case it goes back all the way to 1941. Liz's father served in the Australian Army in World War 2. He wasn't a trained artist but he liked to draw, he painted water colours, and he surely had an artist's spirit, a spirit that comes clearly through his collection. George Milsom died when Liz was a child so one of the ways she grew to know him was through his collection of memorabilia, letters he wrote from East Timor to his family, his water colours and maps, as well as official photographs sent to him of Timor at that time.
In June this year when Suai Loro artist Anata was in Melbourne for the Bundoora Exhibition I introduced him to Liz and the circle of friendship began again. Anata and Liz met up when we all went to St Kilda Beach to make the human sign to give ourselves a morale boost while giving our politicians a clear message that we are relying on them to help us to change our habits and take the message to Copenhagen. After meeting we did a swag of trips and dinners together and shot a little bit of video about it too which I will post as soon as I can. In the meantime here's the slideshow.
Anata and Kiki loved the Human Sign, VEGOUT, the Artist Studios and the visit to Rickett's Sanctuary in the Dandenongs. It's difficult to pick a highlight because they also had the opportunity to go to the Palais to a concert to see Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu who was backed up by Timorese singer songwriter Ego Lemos. Our request to film the concert was refused but just so you can hear the kind of music these boys love here Yunupingu is singing one of their favourites on YouTube.
Melbourne academic and author Clinton Fernandes who was Consulting Historian for the new drama 'Balibo' to be premiered Opening Night of the Melbourne Film Festival.
Fernandes said : I was fortunate to work with film director Robert Connolly, who was committed to historical accuracy"
Robert Connolly (left) Clinton Fernandes
Now Fernandes has developed a website with clear and accurate information about Balibo in the pursuit of justice. In summary Fernandes says:
"This website provides some factual commentary for those who have seen the film and want to know more about the issues. It draws on the important work of East Timor's Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation. The Commission, known by its Portuguese initials C.A.V.R. (A Comissao de Acolhimento, Verdade e Reconciliaçao) was established as an independent statutory authority in July 2001 by the UN Transitional Authority in East Timor. It was mandated to inquire into human rights abuses committed by all sides between April 1974 and October 1999. Its official report, Chega! (Portuguese for 'enough'), was written by national and international staff working under the direction and supervision of the CAVR's seven East Timorese commissioners".
"To Indonesian and East Timorese readers: we have some important things in common: a desire for a peaceful life, decent healthcare for all, a good education, a clean environment, meaningful relationships and a viable future for our children. I hope this website contributes to a better relationship among our three countries by allowing the truth to be known and justice to prevail".
A response by journalist Hamish Mcdonald in the Sydney Morning Herald to the news this week's report of a joint Indonesia-East Timor "Truth and Justice Commission" that has blurred the blame for
the horrors of 1999, in which some 1500 people died and the scorched earth campaign that followed.
This story contributes to the knowledge on this website about the murderers of Hilario Madeira and the others in Suai.
Father Hilario is always spoken of so well by everybody I meet. That was an outstanding man and an exemplary priest is testified to by his stand in Suai on the 5th of September, 1999. Father Hilario and the other priests knew they were to be attacked before it took place. Father Hilario kept people informed of what was happening on the ground as it happened and he and the other priests had sufficient time to leave Our Lady of Fatima Church and save their own lives, but they chose to stay and die with their congregation. By reputation he was also the kind of priest that did not see that it was necessary to destroy a culture in order to take up the beliefs of christianity. To the contrary the people of Suai were encouraged to maintain their culture and their language. This philosophy appeared to be carried on by Father Rene Manubag when I was there in 2000. When there was important rituals and ceremonies taking place the women wore the tais and danced. When I saw a similar ceremonies in Dili and elsewhere the Timorese involved in the ceremony all wore white gowns familiar to us in European Christian settings, and there certainly wasn't any traditional dance. Where else cin East Timor could we have imagined that the ritual around the circle of stones on the 6th of September, 2000 on the First Anniversary of the Massacre could have taken place alongside the Catholic Mass? Anybody reading this who can tell us more about Father Hilario, please, write to us.
Naldo Rei has suffered more adversity in his life than the Kennedy Family - (so much in the news at the moment with Ted Kennedy's brain tumour) will ever know. Naldo Rei speaks for the "voiceless people" of his country, and one gets the feeling he is speaking for the voiceless rocks and trees, and the very land of the Timor he loves so much; because that sustained him through months and years of loneliness, torture and despair. This memoir of courage and tragedy is written with poetic grace and humour. Very gently reminding us what was happening to him and his family while we were filling up at the bowser for another day at the beach in sunny Australia and sunny America. It may seem crass to compare the sad news in this way, but sometimes we need reminding why the Timorese are poor and why they continue to suffer. Naldo's daily life from birth was spent in the daily grind of surviving in his own country abused by a brutal regime. He was born into the fall-out from the politically expedient policies of our Government and our ally the United States. Unless we understand this we cannot understand how Australian identity is viewed by some of our friends and neighbours. Read it, share it with a friend and buy it for a Timorese friend.
The Melbourne East Timor Activities Centre is in Belgium Avenue Richmond and on the first Friday of every month they put on a dinner.
Pay by donation and you can catch up with friends and rellies colleagues and others and often get entertained to boot. Jeff and I went last night and announced that an interview with Rufino Alves Correia the last living 'criado' of 2/2nd Company 'Sparrow Force' who served in East Timor in 1941 and 1942 will be posted for ANZAC Day 25th April in 'video' with an intro in this News category.
It must have been in 2005 that Patsy Thatcher suggested I do this interview because Rufino is getting 'on'. I was helped by Elizabeth Expostu, Palmira Pires and Fernando Pires and Palmira's housekeeper Maria Barro who knew where he lived. Palmira and Elizabeth organised, Fernando picked me up and translated twice - rain washed us out the first time. The interview was done in February 2006. I'm in the process of editing the video and Patsy is checking his story against the 'official' Australian history. Patsy recorded the oral histories of the 2/2nd Company men and lent them to a historian who has never returned them! If you read this - who ever you are - please - do the right thing! Having access to these oral histories would help us because one of them belongs to Tom Nisbet Rufino's master and enduring friend.
Rufino began as the servant ('criado') of Mr Harp but spent most of his time with Tom Nisbet and apparently a very strong bond developed between them. Rufino was approximately 9 years old when he was - to put it very politely - persuaded to work for Tom. According to Rufino every Australian soldier had 3 or 4 children each. According to Patsy Thatcher there were 'criados' or 'servants' who followed the men everywhere helping them in every way possible. The others were 'porters' . They played a different role and stayed in their villages which I gather were near the camps. The text with this Photograph refers to all these men as 'criados'. According to Patsy the other two men would have been porters not criados. Why is the difference important? Stay posted while I find out too! This will not be a history but a recollection by an old man with access to no written records or peers who shared his experience.
Left: Fernando Pires with Rufino Correia. Right: Elizabeth Exposto (background) Rufino with a Digger (Name to be dug out of video- or Patsy soon!) This image is a still ripped off video of the Dare Remembrance for the Anniversary of the Japanese Invasion and the first death of WW2 in East Timor on the 19th February, 2006. If you are interested in the history of World War 2 you might be interested in reading David Scott'sUnpublished Chapters 'All They Got was Misery' and 'Japan - Reluctant Invaders'. These chapters are available in Tetun: Timor Oan Hetan Terus and Japaun - Relatante Invasores ( For translation: thanks for Alarico da Sena).
You may also be interested in Jim Smaile's poem about the Australian invasion of East Timor and about the issue of truth in War taken from Archie Campbell's autobiography.
This post is a bit late but worth the wait. The East Timor Womens Association (ETWA), always comes up with creative and enjoyable events to raise funds and awareness to the role of women in East Timorese life beyond the apparently passive victims you see on current affairs television.
Women are primarily responsible for weaving tais, the traditional cloth of East Timor ( as many of you well know!). This event - 'Heru ini Lafu' means Weaving Life in Makalero, the language of the Iliomar region in the south-eastern highlands of East Timor. The event organised by ETWA was held in the Fitzroy Gallery in early December. I have chosen to feature the work of Annette Sax, Deborah Salvagnos, Alan Browne and Katheryn Philip .
I was especially thrilled to see the work of Annette Sax a Taungurung woman from the Franklin Mob. Her language group is part of the Kulin Nation. Pt Phillip is also situated on the land of the Kulin Nation.
In her artist's statement Annette expresses the similarities between her own people and the Timorese: "The women in the Mate Restu Weaving collective do not have written records to follow. Our traditions are oral as well. It is the spiritual connection that inspires our craft. I have painted one of my Creation Stories. I have interpreted the story ' How women were first made'. I have used the symbols that represent land and water." Annette explains the designs incorporate traditional and contemporary aspects of culture experienced in her daily family life. A culture that is "always changing and adapting".
Alan Browne has taken the raw materials of the traditional Indonesian Batik and incorporated a small piece of cut tais on to it. Deborah Salvagnos explains her pieces 'Light Works'. "The stories behind both the pictures and their accompanying cloth sheds 'light' on cloth sheds light on the intricate and beautiful lives held within them".
'Breaking Free from Poverty' was conceived by Deborah Salvagnos and Katheryn Philip "with a view of hope and strength ... a look towards the future and the ultimage goal of women regaining control over their lives ..."
Neville Kitchen presented Ego Lemnos with a new Macon guitar. Ego lost his when he accidently left it in Flinders Street Railway station. The guitar was Ego's 'best friend' and he was lost without it. He is in high demand as an entertainer and probably earns his living with it. So Deb appealed to who came up with the goods with great charity and grace.
Last night the Australian East Timor Association and many of its members celebrated the 32nd Anniversary of the Proclamation of Independence of the Democratic Republic of East Timor at the Spanish Club in Fitzroy an inner suburb of Melbourne. I was there as documentary-maker and friend of Suai.
One of the oldest and most respected of East Timor's friends in solidarity for over thirty two years - David Scott was there at the dinner. David founded AETA and John Sinnot has run AETA for the same period of time. I have photographs of them which you can see in as well as Ego Lemos and Salvador Castro performing for us. You will be able to read more about David Scott in the 'Timor Ponies of Pt Phillip' pages next year. And before that I will post a chapter from his book 'Last Flight out of Dili' which tells the story of Australia's betrayal of East Timor in 1945.
I met Pedro Lebre of the famous Villa Harmonia in June 2005. In the short history of Villa Harmonia Pedro Lebre wrote for sms he mentioned that he first fled East Timor in 1974 , because he was in fear for his life. Pedro Lebre also gave me three poems. It seemed an appropriate act of remembrance to post his poems and his short history on this day 32 years afterwards. /category/events/