|Subject: AGE: Timor veterans take journey
back through years
Timor veterans take journey back through years
By Jamie Berry
April 25, 2006
IAN Nisbet's thoughts turned to his father's war days late last week.
On the front page of Friday's Age was a picture of three Timorese "criados" who assisted Australian commandos during World War II. Those criados included Rufino Alves Correia, who helped Mr Nisbet's father, Tom.
Mr Nisbet's sister, Margaret Williamson, said she and her brother probably wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for Mr Correia.
"We like to think he looked after Dad and that was his sole responsibility. It was pretty tough," she said.
After learning that Mr Correia would be in Melbourne for Anzac Day, Mr Nisbet and Mrs Williamson yesterday had a short, tearful meeting with him.
"I felt like crying," Mr Correia said through an interpreter. "It was very good to see them."
Mr Nisbet provided Mr Correia with a photo album full of pictures and press clippings and some of his father's memorabilia, including a beret.
"Better he has it than I do," Mr Nisbet said.
His father, Lieutenant Tom Nisbet, died in April 2003 aged 83, and had always spoken highly of the criados, including Mr Correia, who was shot in the neck by Japanese forces.
The Australians had helped Mr Correia to escape and survive.
"We wanted to help the Australians because Australia is our neighbour and the Australian people came to Timor and they were friendly with us," the Timorese veteran said.
"The Japanese people, we did not know them … they started killing our people."
Mr Nisbet has met Mr Correia before, but this was the first time since his father's death.
Mr Nisbet snr visited East Timor in 1974 and 1995.
"It took three or four days to trek out of the hills to come and meet Dad again, and Mum said that was a very touching reunion, the first one after they had been separated for so long," Mrs Williamson said.
Said Mr Nisbet, 59: "There was nothing like having a little local knowledge by your side, and that's what the criados provided."
Mr Correia, now believed to be 89, carried guns, food and water for the commandos and directed them around the mountainous terrain.
He is joined in Melbourne by two other criados, Armindo Monteiro, 86, and Manuel Ximenes, 75.
They flew into Melbourne on Sunday night and were met by Howard Williams, a Ballarat dairy farmer who organised their trip. He met them at the airport with some warm clothes.
With limited English, Mr Correia agreed that it was "very cold".
In 1999, he had appeared on the front page of The Age, reflecting on the lives of his three sons slaughtered by Indonesian troops at Dili's Santa Cruz cemetery eight years before.
Then he was at home in a neighbourhood of Dili that was all but flattened by pro-Indonesian militiamen and soldiers.
Their interpreter, Maria Alves, was not sure how they would cope with the emotion of going to the dawn service and the march today. "They won't really know until they see it," she said.
"I'll expect that they'll be pretty amazed … overwhelmed."