On the 2nd September 1943 the “MV Krait”, a 70′ 68 ton captured Japanese fishing boat, left the US Naval Base at Exmouth Gulf which is north of Carnarvon on the West Australian coast where it had called in for refuelling and some minor repairs with a motley crew of 3 British and 11 Australians and headed north for Singapore on one of the most daring and successful raids of WWII. The crew consisted of 2 naval officers and 2 army officers and 10 other ranks.
The overall leader of this expedition was Major Ivan Lyon of the Gordon Highlanders, from a distinguished miltary family; and the “Krait’s captain was Lt. H.E Carse RAN, Lt D.M.N. Davidson RNVR and Lt R.C.Page was 2IC of the military detachment.
Just over three weeks later the boat arrived off the coast of Singapore and six members of the crew paddled their folboats some 50 kilometres (31miles) and established their base on a small island near the entrance to the harbour. During the night of 26th September they paddled into the harbour and attached limpet mies to several ships after which they retired to their hidey hole base on the nearby island.
Sometime after 05:00 hours the mines blew sinking and damaging seven Japanese ships, the six warriors stayed concealed on their island until the commotion died down and eventually returned to the “Krait” on the 2nd October and arrived back at Exmouth Gulf on the 19th.
The Japanese rounded up the local Chinese & Malay,believing the destruction was caused by pro-communist guerillas and commenced a round of arrests torture and executions
All members of this Z force returned to Australia unharmed, some were to go onto another raid code named ‘Operation Rimau’ which failed with disastrous consequences, I shall write a post on that episode over the next day or so.
There is much written regarding Operation Jaywick and can be found on the ‘net along with many photographs; for those interested and wanting more details here’s a couple of links to get you started.
The “Krait” is now a museum boat moored at the Australian National Maritime Museum, Darling Harbour Sydney; on rare occasions this vessel will be seen sailing around Sydney Harbour. It is kept in perfect running order by staff and volunteers at the Museum.
The attribution of the photograph of the Krait Plaque: Krait at en.wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, from Wikimedia Commons