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Sparrow Force was a detachment based on the 2/40th Australian Infantry Battalion and other Dutch, British, US and Australian 8th Division units during World War II. The force was formed to defend the island of Timor from invasion by the Empire of Japan. It formed the main part of the Allied units in the Battle of Timor.
|Branch||Royal Netherlands East Indies Army|
|Type||Ad hoc, Guerrilla|
|Role||Frustrate enemy advance|
|Size||Total – 1852|
2/2nd Ind. Co. – 282
(+ 152 joined from West Timor)
|Garrison/HQ||Force Hill, West Timor|
|Motto(s)||"They Alone Did Not Surrender"|
– Winston Churchill
|Engagements||Second World War|
|Battle honours||Koepang, Timor|
|Nico Leonard Willem van Straten|
W. C. D. Veale
|Sparrow Force Casualties|
|Casualties and losses|
The force began deploying in late 1941, and following Japan's entry into the war, it was drawn into the fighting in response to the Japanese invasion of Portuguese and Dutch Timor in February 1942. After heavy fighting around Irekum, the main element of the force – the 2/40th – were forced to surrender on 23 February 1942; however, elements of the force, specifically commandos from the 2/2nd Independent Company, supported by the local population, continued a guerilla campaign and inflicted heavy casualties on the Japanese until August, when the Japanese launched a counter-offensive. Despite reinforcements from the 2/4th Independent Company arriving in September 1942, the Japanese offensive eventually resulted in the withdrawal of Allied troops over the period December 1942 to January 1943, with the commandos being withdrawn by sea. Sparrow Force personnel who were captured during the fighting were sent to Japanese labour camps across Southeast Asia, and between 1942 and 1945, many died in captivity.