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An Eyemo motion picture camera used by Damien Parer.

“While watching an interview, I couldn’t understand one term that  a Sparrow Force veteran said so I rang his telephone number in Perth. His daughter answered. She told me that her father died the previous day. We then realized that I was the only person to film him.”

Grant McLachlan

Between September 2003 and September 2009, Grant McLachlan travelled throughout Australia, United Kingdom, Canada, the United States, Timor, Singapore, and Japan to interview the remaining veterans of Sparrow Force and Mitsushima Prisoner of War Camp. Here is a selection from the collection.


Click on Playlist to select  film clips on this channel.


“Text Book Victory”

Sir John Carrick

- Commander, 18 Anti-Tank Battery

“The Singapore Tiger”

Ray Aitken

- 2/2 Independent Company

“They were just like us.”

Clyde McKay & Lloyd Harding

- 2/40 Infantry Battalion

“Tennis Balls!”

Dickie Birkhead

- 79th (Timor) Light Anti-Aircraft Battery

​“How they missed me...”

Val ‘Powerful’ Richards

- 2/40 Infantry Battalion

The Dili Raid

Paddy Kenneally

- 2/2 Independent Company

The death of Robert G. Teas

Raymond Kirch

- 27th Bomb Group, United States Army

“Why you won’t work?

Leslie Hilton Chater

- Officer, Air Ministry

Japans First Defeat

Sol Henderson & George Lawson

- 2/40 Infantry Battalion

Yellow Courage

Sol Henderson, Clyde McKay & Lloyd Harding

- 2/40 Infantry Battalion

The Kamikaze Dropout

Charlie McLachlan

- 79th Light Anti-Aircraft Battery

Rudolf Hess in Glasgow

British Paramount News

“Two up a tree.”

Charlie McLachlan

- 79th Light Anti-Aircraft Battery

The first clip is a classic Charlie moment. Here he describes how close he came to being killed near Babau in Dutch Timor in 1942.

The clip to the left is the official newsreel describing the arrival of Nazi Deputy Fuhrer Rudolf Hess on the outskirts of Glasgow close to Charlie’s home. Note that the farmer is reading from cue cards. Overlaid is the front page of the Daily Record that Charlie assembled.




The most remarkable moment to emerge during an interview occurred when Val Richards described an incident when he faced a Japanese firing squad.


Morale amongst the Japanese in Portuguese East Timor suffered at the hands of the Sparrow Force commandoes. To flush out the ‘ghosts who came out of the ground,’ the Japanese High Command sent the highly decorated ‘Singapore Tiger.’ Here, Ray Aitken describes his encounter with his nemesis, which was recounted in newspapers globally.

Dickie Birkhead was the Serjeant Fitter for The Sparrows in charge of the offloading of equipment and supplies when their ship arrived in Dutch Timor. Here he describes the welcome that the Japanese gave.


Lieutenant Colonel Bill Leggatt took over the role as Sparrow Force Commander only a few weeks prior to action. Here is the impression that he gave some of the members of those under his command.



Surrounded by the Japanese, Sparrow Force  needed to assault dug in Japanese troops on higher ground in order to retreat east in to the jungle. Here are some clips of what they faced.



Sir John Carrick was a commander of the anti-tank battery and led the charge up Usua Ridge. Here is how he described its success.

Clyde McKay and Lloyd Harding describe their encounter with Japanese after they surrendered.

Paddy Kenneally found himself in the thick of action throughout his time under the command of ‘Bull’ Laidlaw. Here, he describes the daring raid at the heart of the Japanese command on Timor.



Many of those interviewed gave entertaining accounts of the Japanese. Here is just one.

Once in Japan, Charlie describes his first encounter with Mitsushima’s Camp Commander.


Tatsuo Tsuchiya (aka ‘Little Glass Eye’) was the first Japanese to be tried as a war criminal for his role in the death of an American prisoner, Robert Gordon Teas. Here is a witness account of what actually killed Teas.

Les Chater was one of the British officers at Mitsushima Camp. Here, he describes the turning point in the treatment of prisoners of war at the camp.



The Japanese guards tried different approaches to improve discipline in the camp. Here is one attempt.

Late in the war, the Japanese were desperate for recruits, with one rare exception.

Over 100 members of Sparrow Force died when the prisoner of war ship Tamahoko Maru was sunk by an American torpedo. Those who survived were rescued by a Japanese whaler and spent the rest of the war in Nagasaki.


Finally, below is how Charlie learned of the end of the war.


​To view more clips, please click on the link below to visit Grant’s YouTube page.

“Bad shots.”

Charlie McLachlan

- 79th Light Anti-Aircraft Battery

“English Justice.”

Charlie McLachlan

- 79th Light Anti-Aircraft Battery

“It is only in your mind.”

Charlie McLachlan

- 79th Light Anti-Aircraft Battery


Nagasaki atomic bomb survivor

Frank Fitzmaurice

- 2/1 Heavy Battery

“Its over.”

Charlie McLachlan

- 79th Light Anti-Aircraft Battery

Photographs of people interviewed by the author.

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