NORTHERN TERRITORY SPECIAL RECONNAISSANCE UNIT

 

Squadron Leader Donald Ferguson Thomson was seconded from the RAAF to the Australian Army to train a special task force of about fifty tribal Yolngu men from East Arnhem Land to defend the coastline of northern Australia from Japanese attack during World War 2. They were called the Northern Territory Special Reconnaissance Unit (NTSRU). They covered the territory north of the area patrolled by the Knackeroos. Their role was to provide Darwin with an early warning of a Japanese attack through East Arnhem Land. They were each paid 3 sticks of tobacco per week. If the Japanese had landed they were to carry on with a guerrilla war against the Japanese using their traditional weapons. Some of these tribal men had been jailed before the war for killing Japanese pearlers.

Sqn/Ldr Donald Thomson, an Anthropologist, made the first of several visits to Arnhem Land in 1935 where he travelled extensively to study the wildlife, people and customs of the area. He had lived with Djapu people for two years before the war and had gained their trust. He had a strong belief these men would make a valuable contribution to the defence of Australia

On the 5 August 1995, Wirlima Mununggurr, Clan Leader of the Djapu Group, dedicated a War Memorial at Yirrkala, in the  Northern Territory in memory of the Yolngu men who served in northern Australia during WW2. There is an anti-aircraft gun and five flag poles near the memorial. It is located in a park near the beach.

 

YOLNGU MEN

DATIWUY GROUP

Daypurryun
Yilanggi

DHALWANGU GROUP

Bulambi
Bundamarrpa
Djimbun
Gandalal
Gumbaniya
Gumuk
Guykarru
Nyepaynga
Yalparr

DJAMBARRPUYNGU GROUP

Bangaliwuy
Binyinyiwuy
Djurrpum
Wutjanawuy

DJAPU GROUP

Bandaka
Djiliwuy
Djunggi
Maw
Mawunbuy
Natjalma
Ngakaya
Wulungana

GUNIBIDJI GROUP Mingirri
MARRAKULA GROUP Butjiya
Mithili
Mulayal
Nungunu
Wakuratjpi
Wawit
MARRANGU GROUP Gitjpapuy
WANGURRI GROUP Binydjarrpuma

 

BOOK REFERENCES

N.T.S.R.U. 1941 - 1943, Yirrkalla Literature Production Centre, Yirrkala, 1992 (has anyone got a copy of this?)

"Mamals and Fishes of Northern Australia"
by Donald Thomson

 

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 Peter Dunn 2015

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This page first produced 9 March 2002

This page last updated 05 July 2016