A very revered and cherished elder of Ailalec village is the sister of Douglas. She remembers quite clearly when Douglas was a very young creado to Major Max Walker (the CO of the Australian Commandos during WW2 in 1942/3).
Douglas remained on the beach, as the Australian Commandos were evacuated in 1943, so as a result he paid the ultimate price.
Douglas’ Sister , 2013
Though now very frail, her memory is vivid, and her first-person memories are very important to all who meet her.
Amongst many other things, she remembers and can retell stories of when:
- the Australian Commandos based their camp in Ailalec.
- her brother didn’t come back from the beach, seeing off the Australians.
- Ailalec was destroyed, because the Ailalec villagers supported the Australians.
- the village was rebuilt, a short distance from the original one.
- Douglas’ Sister with Judite, 2017
She also understands the significance of the plaque, although she is now too frail to journey there, however her oral history remains vivid to others in the village.
Don (from Scarborough Rotary Club, WA) went to see the plaque in late 2018, and the villagers of Ailalec were delighted to show him the plaque and share their story.
Don, Tim & Ailalec Villagers at the Plaque site.
It is because of the special bond of friendship between Australians and the villagers of Ailalec that ‘Across the Timor Sea’ began. This bond was very evident during WW2, when the Australian Commandos were based in Ailalec. Although it was very dangerous for the villagers to maintain this support, they did not capitulate.
The Plaque, just outside the village of Ailalec
Another revered Ailalec village elder is Jamie, who is Domingos Baretto’s brother.
Jamie, with children from Ailalec Village
In 1942/43, during WW2, Domingos Baretto (Nicolof) was creado to Norman Nicolay (Lieut. Capt. of the 2/4th Commandos ~ a.k.a then as ‘Nick’)
It was Jamie’s recollections of that time that led to the special positioning of the plaque, which is on the original site of the village where the Australian Commandos were based during their time in East Timor.