The following is a true account of a successful operation carried out behind enemy lines by F.E.L.O., a Special Services unit, of the Australian Military Forces, during World War 2 in the wilds of Dutch New Guinea in the early months of 1944.

The operation was performed by four members of the A.I.F., ably assisted by eight New Guinea native constables. Much has changed about the area since the Indonesian take over of this former Dutch colony of New Guinea.  This western half of the Island of New Guinea is now called Irian Jaya and the capital, Hollandia, Jaya Pura, and probably some of the native villages mentioned in the text have also had name changes.  But, changes have not altered the story one bit and the men who made up the party are all still with us, albeit considerably older.

First of all I think it necessary to explain about a military unit with such an odd title — Far Eastern Liaison Office — a title that conjures up visions of a unit, located in comfortable offices, situated well away from the areas of hostilities and staffed by clerks immersed in paper work and commanded by elderly, first world war, officers glad to be able to do their bit to aid the war effort!

And this was the impression that was meant to be taken!

Admittedly the main Headquarters, in Melbourne, was well away from the centre of hostilities.  But, there were no old timers on this job.  Just a nucleus of officers — army, navy and air force —  and the two C.O.s; navy Commander J.C.R. Proud and Colonel 'Kassa' Townsend.  The others were army clerical staff, there to look after administration, and a bevy of signallers to man a powerful radio transceiver capable of sending and receiving signals from any part of the globe and especially the south-west Pacific area.  Then there were the operatives — the front line men — a close-mouthed lot, who would suddenly appear and just as quickly depart a few days later.  All very secret and hush hush!

So, Far Eastern Liaison Office was a title meant to mislead and a cover for its real activities.  This unit, with the strange name, was originally charged with all combat propaganda in the South West Pacific Area, but as time went on its operations expanded into two main divisions:

(a)Overt propaganda by means of leaflets and front line broadcasting units (F.L.B.U.s).

(b)The penetration of enemy territories by field parties and native agents.  In the later stages of the war this latter function was to be directed more to obtaining intelligence than to organising native resistance.

Units such as "Z" Special, "M" Special (Coast Watchers), S.R.D. (Service Reconnaissance Dept.), and S.I.A. (Secret Intelligence Australia) were all controlled by the A.I.B. (Allied Intelligence Bureau).  These units were well known and their wartime exploits have been well chronicled in many books and even now books are still being written!  But not poor old FELO, unheard of during World War Two except to a very few in authority, and still virtually unknown after the cessation of hostilities, and even to this day!

There were many reasons for this lack of knowledge, the main one being given, by the author and war historian, D.M. Horner, in his authoritative book, "Allied Co-operation in the Pacific Area."

He writes:

'There were problems with FELO which had developed plans to broadcast messages to Japanese held areas as well as to conduct psychological warfare and intelligence operations in battle zones.  These broadcasts went beyond the scope of military propaganda and since they involved British and Dutch territory they were political in nature.  In September 1942, it was decided that FELO would be separated from the control of GHQ, through AIB, and would be controlled by the Australian Chiefs of Staff, through General Blamey.  However, liaison between FELO and the AIB continued throughout the war with the AIB assisting in many FELO field operations.'

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