2/1 North Australia Observer Unit

Discussion in 'War Against Japan' started by spider, Feb 11, 2009.

  1. spider

    spider Very Senior Member

    [FONT=&quot]2/1 North Australia Observer Unit (2/1 NAOU) was raised on 11 May 1942.

    This unit was formed in response to the threat to Australia’s north posed by Japan during World War Two. The men of the 2/1 NAOU deployed in small groups throughout the rugged north of Australia. They observed and reported on enemy movements on land, sea or in the air. These men, who worked often for months on end in some of the nation’s harshest and most isolated areas, were known colloquially as the ‘Nackeroos’.

    Lieutenant Colonel Bill Stanner was the Commanding Officer of the Nackeroos. He had this to say about the unit in 1942: [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]I wanted a highly mobile unit with good radio links, light weapons, and made up of men with a bush background and adventurous spirit who could live outdoors for months at a time, operating in small groups on their own initiative. In part we were guided by the Light Horse style and equipment, though much chopped about to fit a novel role.[/FONT][FONT=&quot]


    [FONT=&quot]At its peak strength, the Nackeroos consisted of nearly 550 men and employed 59 Aboriginal workers as guides and labourers. Nackeroo operations were scaled back as the Japanese threat towards Australia reduced towards the end of World War Two. Patrols were reduced in July 1943, and the unit was disbanded in March 1945[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Following World War II only a small military presence was maintained in the sparsely populated north of Australia. However, on I July 1981 the first Regional Force Surveillance Unit (RFSU), the North West Mobile Force (NORFORCE), was officially raised. [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]Using the nucleus of the Darwin based 7th Independent Rifle Company, the General Reserve strength was expanded and additional Australian Regular Army component staff was included.[/FONT][FONT=&quot][/FONT]

    Attached Files:

  2. spidge


  3. spider

    spider Very Senior Member


    Sculptured group of Australian Lighthorse figures. The group depicts Major Michael Shanahan DSO riding 'Bill the Bastard', rescuing four men who had lost their mounts and who were facing death during battle with the Turks. The Australia Remembers plaque, left, reads:
    "To the memory of the [600] men and 1100 horses of the 2/1 North Australia Observer Unit under the command of Major Wm. Stanner who patrolled our northern Australian coast during the war against Japan 1942-1945.
    50 horses drowned, were taken by crocodiles, or were destroyed after injury and other causes. To these must be added their foals which could not be reared.
    They gave their lives for Australia
    Lest We Forget."

    Register of War Memorials in New South Wales - Additional War Memorial Images
  4. spider

    spider Very Senior Member



    A permanent display of ‘Nackeroo’ wartime and NORFORCE memorabilia was officially opened today at the Darwin Military Museum by the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Warren Snowdon.

    “This display recognises the work of the 2/1st North Australia Observation Unit – nicknamed the Nackeroos – which patrolled large areas of northern Australia during the Second World War,” Mr Snowdon said.
    “Like NORFORCE today, the Nackeroos had a strategic as well as a tactical role that involved reconnaissance, scouting and surveillance across the Kimberley and the Northern Territory.
    “In small groups and often on horseback, they patrolled vast coastal areas seeking signs of enemy activity. They also manned fixed coastwatch stations and ran a signals network,” he said.
    At its peak the unit consisted of some 550 men and employed 59 Indigenous workers as guides and labourers. Nackeroo operations were scaled back as the Japanese threat receded and the unit was disbanded in 1945.
    When NORFORCE was established in 1981 it acknowledged the link to its wartime counterpart by incorporating the Nackeroo's orange and green 'double diamond' into its own colour patch.
    A further link between the Nackeroos and NORFORCE was the heavy reliance on the commitment and local knowledge of Indigenous Australians to fulfil its role. Some 60 per cent of NORFORCE personnel have an Indigenous background.
    The collection includes photographs, saddles, jeeps, memorabilia and communication devices used by the Nackeroos during the war. Funding towards the permanent display was provided through the Department of Veterans’ Affairs Saluting Their Service grants program.
    “The Australian Government recognises and appreciates the contribution of the Nackeroos to the defence of Australia during the Second World War, this exhibition will provide a lasting display for the generations that have followed,” he said.
    Today’s exhibit opening marks the conclusion of a week of celebrations for the 30th Anniversary of NORFORCE. Celebrations commenced on the 25th June with a moving remembrance service at the Darwin Cenotaph and an anniversary dinner at Larrakeyah Officer’s Mess.
    For more information on grants and funding available from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs visit Grants

    Imagery: All Images - FotoWeb 7.0

  5. spider

    spider Very Senior Member

    Dr Tom Lewis, OAM, Military Museum Director (left) with WWII Nackeroo's at the Darwin Military Museum, East Point, for the opening of the NORFORCE 30th Anniversary exhibit.
  6. anzac15

    anzac15 Junior Member

    Hello, new to the forum. Saw this heading, thought some might be interested in seeing this. It's what I believe to be a slouch hat used by the 2/1. Story is, a family frien was stationed in Australia during the war, and traded this for a pack of smokes! It's dated 1942, the year the unit was formed. Hope you enjoy seeing it.

    Attached Files:

  7. spider

    spider Very Senior Member


    Great slouch hat, make sure you put the pugaree on the correct side with the colour patch opposite to the turn up side.

    No name or number inside the hat?
  8. anzac15

    anzac15 Junior Member

    Spider, in the 40 plus years I've known this hat, Its always been where it was. Is it possible it just got turned around at some time before I got it as a little nip? Want it to be right. Thinking of donating it to the Darwin museum. Who would I get in touchwith as far as doing that, any idea?
  9. spider

    spider Very Senior Member

    Spider, in the 40 plus years I've known this hat, Its always been where it was. Is it possible it just got turned around at some time before I got it as a little nip? Want it to be right. Thinking of donating it to the Darwin museum. Who would I get in touchwith as far as doing that, any idea?

    Looking at the photos you can see the sweat stain on the hat (front near the crown)and the sweat stain on the pugaree (rear as it sits). Turn the pugaree around and they should correspond.

    There is a NORFORCE Regimental Museum at Regimental HQ at Larrakeyah Barracks in Darwin. Also the East Point Museum in Darwin.

  10. spider

    spider Very Senior Member

    Norforce Army Days at Hayes Creek, NT and Wyndham 1943

    Norforce Army Days at Hayes Creek, NT and Wyndham (1943) on ASO - Australia's audio and visual heritage online

    Darwin Military Musem - Opening of Norforce and Nackeroos Display

    http://t1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQnJTfT-yUSTPtn5EtAbRLH2hElehu_AC6wE_zss1gPecA9vUeSkQ ‪Darwin Military Musem - Opening of Norforce and Nackeroos Display‬‏ - YouTube

    Opening of the Norforce and Nackeroos display at the Darwin Military Museum at lunch time on Thursday 30 June 2011.

    The Darwin Military Museum museum is housed in the original concrete command post bunker, used by the Australian Army to command the two massive 9.2" guns nearby. The bunker is now fully air-conditioned and displays a fascinating array of weapons, photographs and equipment used by the fighting men and women of the day.

    A theatrette continuously runs a 15-minute film that contains dramatic live footage of the Japanese bombing of Darwin Harbour and the township.
  11. anzac15

    anzac15 Junior Member

    Negative. No name or number.
  12. G'day anzac

    If you were to donate it to a museum the East Point military museum would be the better choice as at least there many more people would get the chance to see it.

    Will PM if I can get any details for you.

    Cheers Rob
  13. spider

    spider Very Senior Member

    East Point Military Museum Alec Fong Lim Dr, East Point NT 0820 (08) 8981 9702 ‎
  14. Assam

    Assam Senior Member

    Oldest survivor of Bataan Death March dies at 105

    http://au.f1133.mail.yahoo.com/ya/download?mid=1%5f68411%5fAAiniGIAALrLTkqGEgKYMmno6i0&pid=2&fid=Inbox&inline=1By JIM SUHR - Associated Press | AP – 12 hrs ago
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    ST. LOUIS (AP) — A doctor once told Albert Brown he shouldn't expect to make it to 50, given the toll taken by his years in a Japanese labor camp during World War II and the infamous, often-deadly march that got him there. But the former dentist made it to 105, embodying the power of a positive spirit in the face of inordinate odds.
    "Doc" Brown was nearly 40 in 1942 when he endured the Bataan Death March, a harrowing 65-mile trek in which 78,000 prisoners of war were forced to walk from Bataan province near Manila to a Japanese POW camp. As many as 11,000 died along the way. Many were denied food, water and medical care, and those who stumbled or fell during the scorching journey through Philippine jungles were stabbed, shot or beheaded.
    But Brown survived and secretly documented it all, using a nub of a pencil to scrawl details into a tiny tablet he concealed in the lining of his canvas bag. He often wondered why captives so much younger and stronger perished, while he went on.
    By the time he died Sunday at a nursing home in southern Illinois' Nashville, Brown's story was well-chronicled, by one author's account offering an encouraging road map for veterans recovering from their own wounds in many wars.
    "Doc's story had as much relevance for today's wounded warriors as it did for the veterans of his own era," said Kevin Moore, co-author of the recently released "Forsaken Heroes of the Pacific War: One Man's True Story," which details Brown's experience.
    "The underlying message for today's returning veterans is that there's hope, not to give in no matter how bleak the moment may seem," added Moore, whose nephew just returned from military duty in Afghanistan. "You will persevere and can find the promise of a new tomorrow, much like Doc had found."
    Brown, recognized in 2007 at an annual convention of Bataan survivors as the oldest one still living, couldn't muster the strength to talk about his experiences until about 15 or so years ago, said his granddaughter, Susan Engelhardt of Pinckneyville, Ill.
    "I'm not a big military buff at all. But just reading the story about the death march and the situation in the Philippines, it's an incredible story. And incredibly sad," Engelhardt said. "He's an incredible man, and he had an incredible legacy. He came through horrible times and came out on top, rebuilding his life. But so many of those men and women triumphed."
    Brown's account described the torment that came about every mile as the marchers passed wells U.S. troops dug for natives but weren't allowed to drink from once they became prisoners. Filipinos who tried to throw fruit to the marchers frequently were killed.
    Brown remained in a POW camp from early 1942 until mid-September 1945, living solely on rice. The once-athletic man — he lettered in baseball, football, basketball and track in high school — saw his weight whither by some 80 pounds to less than 100 by the time he was freed. Lice and disease were rampant.
    Despite the hardships, Brown focused on bright spots, including a prisoner called on to fix Japanese soldiers' radios. The prisoner managed to steal radio parts, scraping together enough components to build a functioning unit of his own. Brown helped craft a listening tube for the device, which brought the captives news from San Francisco that the U.S. actually had won a battle the Japanese soldiers were celebrating as a naval victory.
    "He had this incredible spirit to live and overcome," Moore said. "Positive thinking or whatever you call it, he survived."
    Born in 1905 in North Platte, Neb., Brown was the godson of Wild West folk hero "Buffalo Bill" Cody, who often let the boy sit on his lap and tug his beard. Brown moved with his family to Council Bluffs, Iowa, after his father — a railroad engineer — died when a locomotive engine exploded.
    He studied dentistry at Creighton University in the 1920s and was called to active duty in 1937, leaving behind a wife, children and a decade-old dental practice his war injuries prevented him from resuming.
    By the time the war ended in 1945, the 40-year-old Brown was nearly blind, had weathered a broken back and neck and suffered through more than a dozen diseases including malaria, dysentery and dengue fever.
    He took two years to mend, and a doctor told him to enjoy the next few years because he had been so decimated he would be dead by 50. But Brown soldiered on, moving to California, attending college again and renting out properties to the era's biggest Hollywood stars, including Joan Fontaine and Olivia de Havilland. He became friends with John Wayne and Roy Rogers, doing some screen tests along the way.
    "I think he had seen so much horror that after the war, he was determined to enjoy his life," Moore said.

    Rest In Peace
  15. spidge


    An amazing story!
  16. spider

    spider Very Senior Member

    An amazing story!

    Yes, however why is it under2/1 North Australia Observer Unit :unsure:
  17. spider

    spider Very Senior Member

  18. adam elliott

    adam elliott Junior Member

    I just finished G D Mitchel's book Backs to the Wall. That led me to read his entry in the Australian Dictionary of Biography - Biography - George Deane Mitchell - Australian Dictionary of Biography.
    There is a paragraph in the entry which makes me wonder which unit he was with in northern Australia? - "..... In north-west Australia in 1942-43 he led an independent guerrilla force which lived off the land for weeks while searching for Japanese and training local resistance...... "
    I had never heard of the book Backs to the Wall and when i did read it I found it a ripper. G. D. Mitchell was quite a guy

  19. spider

    spider Very Senior Member

  20. adam elliott

    adam elliott Junior Member

    Thanks Spider. Very interesting

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