Showcasing the pre-eminent art collection in Western Australia

Rare WWII belongings donated to WA Museum

26 Apr 2012

The son of one of Australia’s first commandos who served in East Timor during the Second World War has donated his father’s war-time belongings to the State collection.

On the eve of ANZAC Day, Culture and the Arts Minister John Day received the gift on behalf of the State from Victor King, son of 2/2nd rifleman Charles ‘Charlie’ King.

Private King’s personal effects - including his slouch hat, letters, documents, and Timorese pouches containing fire lighting flints - will be added to the museum’s collection and current exhibition Debt of Honour: Australia’s First Commandos and East Timor.

“Significantly, these World War II belongings are the first personal possessions from the 1942 Timorese conflict to be included in the State’s military history collection,” Mr Day said.

“The 270 men of the 2/2nd Independent Company waged a successful guerrilla campaign against the Japanese that tied down thousands of enemy troops, preventing their deployment to Kokoda and other key battles.

“Originally from Wagin, Charlie King enlisted in the Army in 1940 and was deployed with the 2/2nd to East Timor in 1941.

“Although the smallest soldier in the company at 160cm tall, he was one of the most capable and his quick reflexes and accurate rifle fire saved many lives.

“King was involved in a daring behind enemy lines mission to retrieve ammunition and equipment, including radio parts used to build the home-made radio ‘Winnie the War Winner’ that would re-establish communication with Australia.

“Forging strong bonds with the East Timorese was vital to the company’s success and King created an English-Tetum dictionary which translated common words to the local language.”

The dictionary is one of the objects donated to the WA Museum.

For more information please visit the WA Museum website.