Northern Territory Specialist Reconnaissance Unit established

11 Jun 1941

Flight Lieutenant Donald Thomson argued for utilising the Aboriginal population of the Northern Territory for defence purposes. An anthropologist in civilian life, Thomson had spent several years in east Arnhem Land and had developed a special relationship with the Balamumu people of the region. As a result he was seconded to the Army and tasked with raising an Aboriginal force called the Northern Territory Special Reconnaissance Unit (NTSRU). This was meant to aid in the defence of unguarded RAAF airfields at Groote Eylandt, Milingimbi and Bathurst Island, and also provide early warning of any flank attack on Darwin. Once established by February 1942, Thomson’s unit continued to operate until disbanded in April 1943 when its role was largely taken over by the North Australian Observer Unit.