Australian ‘bastardry’ is something we Kiwis are pretty familiar with on the sports field. But the phrase is used in a more damning context by Australian writer Paul Cleary in his book, The Men Who Came Out of the Ground.
Cleary tells the story of the 400-strong Australian force that waged a guerrilla war against the Japanese in the Portuguese colony of Timor throughout 1942. As the Japanese swept down through South-East Asia, the tiny Australian contingent tied up an estimated 20,000 Japanese troops.
The key to their success was local support. Lieutenant John Rose wrote to his parents in June 1942: ‘The people we are living with are natives and they have been wonderful to us. They are great friends to the Aussies… they are invaluable guides, philosophers and friends here.’
It was a smart strategy for Australia. Continue reading