“Winnie the war-winner”

In mid-April 1942, nearly two months after the surrender of Sparrow Force, signals began to be received in Darwin purporting to be from survivors of the unit.

These men were using what came to be known as “Winnie the war-winner”, a radio devised from pieces of other sets and from parts scrounged among the troops or stolen from the enemy. The bulk of the work on this lifeline for the men of Timor was undertaken by Signallers Max Loveless and Keith Richards, assisted by Jack Sargent and John Donovan.

After several days of communication using “Winnie” – and the answering of some personal questions – headquarters was convinced of the authenticity of the signals, and was able to arrange for much-needed supplies to be delivered to the isolated troops.

Components of a radio “Winnie the war-winner” RELAWM20434

3 soldiers sitting in mountains “Winnie” in the Timorese mountains with three of its creators: (left to right) Keith Richards, John Donovan, and Jack Sargent of the 2/2nd Independent Company. 013764

Hut among treesThe hut at Mape, in the mountains of Portuguese Timor, where “Winnie” was constructed. 121434