The Australian Independent Companies were based on the British commando formation and the first units given this deceptive
name were trained by British officers of No.104 British Military Mission, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Mawhood, in the art of
survival field craft, rig explosives, set demolitions, practice various weapons drill, learn how to kill the enemy silently and dabble in
wireless-radio expertise at the Tidal River Camp situated in the wilderness of Wilsons Promontary in Victoria. The concept of commando
operations were first formally introduced by the Boer, farming land owners, during the South African War with Great Britain and Empire at
the turn of the Twentieth century and although the military operation of hit-and-run has been used in warfare for centuries, even by
indigenous populations against settling intruders, the industrial manufactured firearm had given the few the power of many.
Between July 1941 and February 1942 four Independent Companies had completed the rigourous training and were deployed to operational areas, a further
four more Companies were formed during 1942, which meant personnel were hand selected as each soldier was highly trained to possess individual
initiative, physical fitness and accept responsibilities beyond those of his normal duties and rank.
The role of the Australian Commando formations at this time were guerilla and irregular warfare, special and paramilitary
operations, organise and supply stay behind parties, set up observation posts for intelligence collection and reporting, encourage and gather
local resistence movements and sabotage enemy efforts by all means at hand facing greatly outnumbering odds under the harshest conditions of
terrain and enviroment without normal rations.
Then as the many islands to Australia's north were envisaged to be overrun by the intended
Imperial Japanese onslaught the Independent Companies were deployed as outpost early warning forces, eventually to be shock troops for full
scale co-ordinated raids supported by wireless radio contacted air and sea elements, to live off the land and be
provisioned with military supplies by intermittant clandestine airdrops, be a proverbial thorn in the side to the occupying enemy and
conduct guerilla type raids on vital points inflicting major damage then disappear into the enviroment before hostile retailitory action
causes unnecessary and cumbersome friendly casualties.
Copyright © Klemen. L. 1999-2000
Forgotten Campaign: The Dutch East Indies Campaign 1941-1942