Postscipt from Island of Mist
In conclusion, it is without a doubt that from the days of its formation and throughout its entire existence, the 2/21st Battalion (known as Gull Force) endured a tremendous amount of frustration and deprivations far beyond contemplation. All throughout their training period of nearly 18 months in Australia, they had to overcome such problems as shortages of equipment urgently required for training purposes, but somehow managed to deal with the situations that confronted them. It was a well kept secret that future plans for their ultimate destination had been established because of a long standing agreement by Australia with the Netherlands Government should Japan enter the war, and when this did eventuate, Gull Force moved to Ambon, a small island north west of Darwin and a comparable distance as from Melbourne to Sydney. Together with a regiment of poorly trained native troops led by the Dutch officers, they were given the impossible task of defending it against a Division of experienced well trained enemy with modern arms and equipment, aided by Naval ships and carrier born aircraft which made the result never in doubt. As to the correctness or otherwise of the conception of Australian troops being sacrificed in such circumstances, I refrain from comment with the understanding that any war means sacrifice. Whilst the barbaric and inhuman treatment of the men of Gull Force by the Japanese has been adequately described in previous pages, the full effect and suffering from it can only be known by those who received it. Only the men who were able to survive it know the tremendous spirit of endeavour required to overcome the physical and mental torture of mind and body that resulted from it. The Japanese contrived at all times to eliminate as many as possible of their prisoners over a period of 3 years and 9 months through starvation, slavery, bashings, and disease by denial of medical supplies, but failed to break the spirit and courage of these men to the extent they desired. The men of Gull Force make no claim to fame in battle, as circumstances deprived them of this. However, some acts of bravery will remain unknown. As a final message it is my greatest desire to inform all relatives and friends and all Australians that, on each and every occasion, when adverse or drastic circumstances provoked it, every Australian prisoner retained his self respect and upheld the honour of his country in the face of an enemy they so fiercely despised. Their behaviour at all times, under extremely adverse and intolerable conditions and situations, must be considered a remarkable achievement.
Courtney T. Harrison