During WW2, Australian soldiers in East Timor hired criados, who started out as ‘helpers’, but became so much more.
The word ‘criado’ fails to describe the relationship between these young Timorese and their soldiers— a deep bond of friendship and mutual respect was forged, which still exists today.
These boys, whose ages mostly ranged from 8-15, often put their lives at risk, working as an extra pair of eyes and ears for their Australian.
This matching resulted in extraordinary success, in almost impossible conditions.
In 1943 the 2/4th Commandos were finally withdrawn from Timor, under extreme circumstances.
Criados, some of whom were orphans, were not allowed to go with their soldiers, which caused much distress to both soldiers and criados.
Some of these boys remained on the beach after the Australians departed and were easily identified as being helpers to the Commandos. These boys paid the ultimate price. (We understand that Douglas was one of them.)
In 1943, after the withdrawal of Australian troops, leaflets were dropped from aircraft. These leaflets were aimed at reminding Timorese people of their friendship with the Australian soldiers.