Commando News issue 15 2019


The Official Australian Commando News Magazine

along with the rest of the Dutch soldiers in Australia. He

may have been interviewed by US personnel from the

G2 Intelligence section and asked if he wished to

continue fighting the Japanese. Julius Tahija served as a

Lieutenant and deputy intelligence instructor in the first

cadre at the Z Experimental Station in Cairns and then

he went on a NEFIS III operation in Ceram to gather

information in the Ambon area called Operation FIRTEE

where he and 9 men landed at Medion in late 1944. It

was successful despite several failed attempts to land. It

is not clear from scant records what other operations he

was in but he described them as straightforward in his

auto biography, he also noted that each of us carried

death lollies, colourless cyanide pills that would kill

instantly. His leadership and planning abilities were well

recognised and he was commissioned and promoted to

Captain by the end of hostilities.

He returned to Jakarta on 15 October 1945 and he

resigned his commission in April 1946 to enter politics

where he served as a Cabinet Minister in the State of

Eastern Indonesia. In 1951 he was selected by Sukarno

because of his prominence to work with the Americans

in PT Caltex Pacific Indonesia. From 1966 he was

Director of the Company’s Board for many years. He

later had a significant involvement in the Gull Force

Association Pilgrimages to Ambon. In 1995, he was

featured in Horizon Beyond part of the Time Books

International ‘Entrepreneurs of Asia’ Series. He married

Jean Falkner Walters on 22 November 1946. She was

the only female Dentistry graduate from the University

of Melbourne in the class of 1941 and in 1998 Jean

Tahija published her story An Unconventional Woman.

Julius Tahija was born on 13 July 1916 in Surabaya of

Ambonese parents and he died on the morning of 30

July 2002, exactly 50 years to the hour of the Saumlaki

battle. It is very eerie how that happened with him

receiving a 50-year life bonus.

Julius and Jean Tahija have two sons George and

Sjakon. Today they are businessmen and philan thropists.

The Tahija family continue to play prominent roles in

Indonesia’s business and medical communities. They

also support and give generously to many worthwhile

causes and the Dr Jean Falkner Tahija lecture theatre at

the University of Melbourne is named in

honour of a most extraordinary woman from

an extraordinary family.

In mid-2019 George and Sjakon Tahija plan

to visit Merapas Island in the Riau Archipelago

on the edge of the South China Sea to

possibly bring home one of the four rock

sangars that are still there in the canoe hide in

the mangroves from Operation RIMAU. Only

three things have ever come back from

RIMAU. Electronic intercepts of Japanese

communications, the remains of the Limpet

mine that I found on Taipai Island in 1994 just

below the ground where Lieutenant

Commander Donald Davidson and Corporal

Archie Campbell were found by the Japanese

with rigor mortis set in, and also the cyanide

pill that Major Walter Chapman, the draft conducting

officer on the submarine, used to commit suicide in the

UK in 1964 after being interviewed by a historian. When

the government refused to consider posthumous

awards for the 23 Operatives, the Commando

Association specially designed a Commando Cross of

Valour for them in 1978.

Commando Cross of Valour

posthumously presented to

the RIMAU Operatives in


George & Laurel Tahija (L) Jim Truscott (C),

Shelley & Sjakon Tahija (R) in Jakarta December 2018

Map of Merapas Island showing the locations used by the

RIMAU Operatives while awaiting the failed submarine

rendezvous in July 1944

Rock Sangars, Canoe Hide, Jim Truscott

and Indonesian Navy lighthouse keepers

on Merapas Island in the South China Sea

in July 1994

46 COMMANDO NEWS ~ Edition 15 I 2019

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