Comment from historian Ernie Chamberlain. Will be of interest, as
well as Damien Kingsbury’s and Jose Teixeira’s comments.
I was somewhat “dumb-struck” when reading your very interesting
email that included the article: “Timor is hot-spot in Portugal’s
colonial empire” ie by Frank Feldman,The World’s News July 7, 1951.
The only thing that I can suggest that might have “catalysed” such an
article was the “Incursion Fears on the South Coast” (see Faltering
Steps, 2008, pp.10-11) when, in reaction to unfounded reports of
“80-150 Indonesian and Dutch troops” landing from a submarine in March
1950, Governor Oscar Ruas mobilised several companies of troops and
searched the area of the central south coast – without result. Ruas
also requested that Lisbon “despatch as soon as possible a Portuguese
warship … from Macau”. No trace of the “foreign force” was ever
found – and all the troops returned to their home areas in April 1950.
However, it does appear that there may have been some minor cross-
border incursions by quite small groups of Indonesians in the period
December 1949 to March 1950. A few years later – ie in mid and late
1953, there were several quite minor military clashes in the border
area. My understanding is that Djakarta did not seriously get involved
in cross-border harassment of Portuguese Timor until 1963 when TNI
supported/managed Silvester Martins Nai Buti’s quite minor operations
(Martins’ clan had originally fled across the border into the Atambua/
Tenubot area from Deribate in 1912). As I’ve written previously, I
don’t believe that Djakarta gave support to the 1959 “Viqueque”
Rebellion (their Consul Nazwar Jacub appears to have acted without
Djakarta’s knowledge) – nor do I believe that the (alleged) activities
by the United Republic of Timor-Dilly (URT-D) in the Batugade area in
April 1961 had any official – or unofficial, Indonesian support.
Others may think differently however.
Regards, Ernie Chamberlain
PS. I working on a revised edition of “Faltering Steps” for publishing
(privately) early next year. I’ve almost finished a monograph on
Timorese assistance to Australian troops in WWII. This focuses on
those Timorese who served with Z Special Unit/SRD – but also covers
the interesting issue of the more than 600 Portuguese/Timorese
evacuated to Australia and Australia’s (unjust) internment of
Portuguese deportados (27) most of whom had fought beside the
Australian troops against the Japanese.
Portugal’s Secret War
Timor is hot-spot in Portugal’s colonial empire
by Frank Feldman
The World’s News July 7, 1951