Timor Submarine Rescue Operation, WW2
Wed 18 May, 11:00 am - 1:30 pm
Zoom Presentation: 11:00am., Wednesday, 18th. May 2022
In setting the scene we briefly discuss why Australian forces were involved in the defence of Dutch colonial Timor and how a large force of American submarines came to be based at far distant Fremantle in Western Australia.
This gripping story centres around the rescue of a rear-guard of over 30 Australian servicemen stranded in Timor after the Japanese had landed and secured the island on 23February 1942. Pursued for nearly two months by a relentless enemy they first escaped, sensibly taking a portable radio, into the virtually unknown wilds of the island’s north coast. Here they found temporary refuge with the aid of local people, whose own lives were put in peril, by sheltering the fugitives. As the majority of these men were from the RAAF they had been flown into Timor and were hopeful an aircraft would rescue them, but when the Japanese destroyed the flying boats based at Broome, this option disappeared.
However, the sole naval member of this group, knew American submarines patrolling from Fremantle passed close to the island. With their radio batteries all but dead a plan was hatched for a submarine rescue and this is the story of that dramatic event.
Presenter: Walter Burroughs CMDR RAN Rtd.
Walter Burroughs served as a cadet in the merchant service before joining the RNZN and later transferring to the RAN. He served as Gunnery Officer in HMAS Sydney on her trooping deployments to Viet Nam and in HMAS Parramatta during her service in the Far East Strategic Reserve and in the training ship HMAS Duchess. Shore appointments included gunnery duties in the Sydney Command and at Navy Office. He completed the RAN Staff College and served as Executive Officer of HMAS Derwent.
He later served on exchange with the Royal Navy as Executive Officer of the shore establishment HMS Vernon during the Falklands War. His final RAN posting was as Project Director for the Modernisation of Garden Island Dockyard.
After completing an honours degree in Design Science at the University of Sydney he served in project management roles commissioning new public and private sector buildings. For the past few years he has contributed to articles on naval history and edits the Naval Historical Review.
Date and Time: 1100am., Wednesday 18th. May, 2022 (Sydney time)
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