Battlefield Trekking Guide to Timor Leste – By Jim Truscott

World War Two, the Independence War and United Nations Operations.


Hon Martin Hamilton-Smith
National Chairman
Special Air Service Regiment Association

Jim Truscott takes us on an epic journey which gathers up a raft of personal accounts and potted histories into an extended narrative about guerrilla warfare over one hundred years of suffering for the Timorese at the hands of foreign conquerors.

As Imperial Japan swept through the northern archipelago in 1941-42 and as Darwin was being bombed, Timor became a gateway to Australia. An intrepid group of ANZAC’s organised as Independent Commando Companies and as fighting elements of Special Operations Australia (SOA) including SRD and Z Special stood in the Japanese path. In this guide each battle and firefight is located and described, and every tortured moment recorded. The heroic efforts of Australian soldiers and their leaders, the Timorese natives, the airmen and the sailors who served beside them at great personal risk, shines forth like a beacon in the dark.

Truscott then catapults the reader forward to 1999 and to the Australian led UN intervention in Timor where he was one of the first soldiers to put a boot on the ground at Dilli. Enduring a second invasion, this time by Indonesia in the 1970’s the Timorese were once again forced into the mountains to fight for their freedom. Our modern day ANZAC’s, grandsons and granddaughters of those who preceded them in WW2 came once again to the aid of the Timorese people. The parallels between these two Australian warlike campaigns are brought together in this book in new ways, revealing insights which should be examined at war and staff colleges in Australia and by military historians.

The positives of this work are many. It’s an easy read which points to a uniquely Australian experience of guerrilla warfare in two wars, and it is a chronology of human suffering. It brings together a compote of official histories, online sources, video and film clips, anecdotal recollections from veterans combined with a bit of hearsay and supposition to lay out a fascinating narrative.

It is not, nor does it pretend to be a scholarly work to the standard evident in thoroughly researched histories of WW2 and Craig Stockings formidable official history of the Timor Intervention “Born of Fire and Ash’. But Truscott gifts us a book which provides new information and refreshing insights, and which can be read with interest and used now!

Australians know a lot about the war in the Pacific and New Guinea in particular. Thousands of young people take the pilgrimage to Kokoda and walk the track each year. Few travel to Timor. Jim’s guide may change that, because as he makes clear, there is much to see and plenty to commemorate. Battlefield tour guides will find enough here to produce new maps and publications to craft some very exciting new tours throughout Timor.

Those of us who lived and served with Jim knew him as an adventurer, an Orde Wingate, a kindred spirit with Lawrence of Arabia, a son of Edmond Hillary. Jim Truscott’s guide captures his spirit and gifts Australians and Timorese a new interpretation of their shared history.


Click here to download the full 462 page book (11MB).



Contact Andrew Kilsby about this article.

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