An unusual ANZAC story: How my grandfather evacuated Australian troops from Timor

Doctor's Bag

Lieutenant Commander W. J. Kruys My grandfather Lieutenant Commander W. J. Kruys, Royal Netherlands Navy, evacuated the Australian troops from Dutch Timor in December, 1942 (Image taken on the bridge of Hr.Ms.De Ruyter, 1954).

“ANZAC day is a time when Australians reflect on the many different meanings of war” ~ Australian War Memorial

As an immigrant I have often thought about the meaning of ANZAC day. My family and I make an effort to attend ANZAC ceremonies and pay respect to Australian men and women who fought for freedom. But somehow I always feel like an outsider. I thought this was because I don’t share a common history. I was wrong.

I recently re-discovered my grandfather’s remarkable Timor mission in 1942. It is also part of the history of Australian soldiers sent to Timor to help the Dutch defend the island against the Japanese invasion. When Timor yielded to the Japanese, about 400 Australian troops were cut off…

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