Author(s): Paul Malone
In March 1945 British Major Tom Harrisson and 42 Australian, New Zealand and British guerrillas dropped behind enemy lines in Borneo in an operation designed to assist the Australian Imperial Force's (AIF) landings on the island, the largest amphibious operation in Australia's history.In a matter of months the guerrillas moved well beyond their initial intelligence gathering mission, disrupting enemy supply lines, mounting raids on Japanese outposts, ambushing and often beheading, Japanese soldiers in the jungle. By the War's end they had killed over 1,000 enemy.When Japan surrendered in August 1945, the AIF abruptly wound-up operations, leaving the Borneo tribespeople and brothers-in-arms to the fate of two roaming Japanese companies. Harrisson led a small band of guerrillas to hunt down these renegades, forcing their surrender on 30 October 1945, ten weeks after the war's official end.Harrisson required his men to live off the land and at times, appeared oblivious to their appalling conditions. Nevertheless all 42 members of his force survived the war. But rather than revere their leader, many hated him and three aimed to kill him.