60th. Anniversary of Operation Jaywick
The 26th. of September 2003 marked the 60th. anniversary of Operation Jaywick, the daring raid on Singapore Harbour undertaken by 11 Australian and 4 British Naval and Army personnel. This raid was the brain child of Major Ivor Lyon, a British Army Officer who had escaped from Singapore when it fell in February 1942 to the Japanese.
A former Japanese fishing vessel now renamed Krait, had been captured in December 1941 off Singapore and sent down to Australia. It was to become the transport medium for this raiding party to Singapore.
Members of Z Force attack Japanese Shipping in Singapore Harbour
Special Operations Australia planned this raid, and in the main, those taking part came from its Z Special Unit, it was designed to sail Krait off Singapore Harbour, then three groups, each of two men, would paddle their collapsible canoes into Keppel Harbour to attach limpet mines to Japanese ships anchored there.
Krait was a wooden hulled vessel about 60 feet long, slow in operation, and disguised as a Malay fishing boat, all the crew stained their skin a dark colour so as to look like Malay fishermen. The crew, their supplies, weapons, limpet mines, and three canoes filled the old boat to the gunwhales, as she crept out of remote Exmouth Gulf on a lonely stretch of the North Western Australian coastline on the 1st. of September 1943, bound for the Dutch East Indies, of course now called Indonesia.
Former Japanese fishing vessel renamed Krait,
By the 19th. of September, Krait had made it to Pandjang Island, and the 6 man raiding team were off loaded. The paddlers moved by night, and Krait sailed north, to be at a rendezvous off the target area, hopefully to recover the 6 raiders after their task was completed.
The paddlers moved by night, hoping to elude Japanese patrol vessels, and reached Subar Island, only 11 kilometers from Singapore, to launch their raid from here. They then paddled off to their target area, laid limpet mines under 7 Japanese Transport ships, and paddled away, to gain as much distance from this area before the mines were due to explode on the 26th. of September 1943.
They heard mines go up, in fact they sank 7 ships totalling close to 37, 000 tons.
These intrepid six paddled their three flimsy canoes several nights towards the rendezvous with Krait, and on the 2nd. of October, after midnight, one crew was recovered by Krait, which then had to withdraw. The other two crews missed her in the darkness, and to their despair watched her sail away without them.
Those in Krait decided to give the two missing crews one day more, and then returned back to the rendezvous position the next night, they found the four raiders who had resigned themselves to becoming Prisoners of War to the Japanese, and probable death sentences if tied back to the raid on Singapore Harbour, their canoes being a dead giveaway. There was much jubilation when Krait appeared again and they were all rescued. This audacious raid was a stunning success.
A follow up raid Operation Rimau was organised a year later by Major Lyon, it had a much larger team, transported by a Submarine, but disaster struck this time round, the raiding party were detected, and were killed in action or captured. The last 10 held in Singapore, were all executed on the 7th. of July 1945, and 6 of those who took part in Operation Jaywick were amongst them.
Three of the original team who were part of Operation Jaywick are still alive today, Leading Telegraphist Horace Young, Able Seaman Mostyn Berryman, and Able Seaman Arthur James who was one of the 6 who laid mines in Singapore Harbour.
This was an amazing feat carried out with great daring and skill, at a time when the Japanese forces were in full cry, rampaging across the Pacific, it was but a small set back for the enemy, but at least we felt all was not lost, and we could hit back if only in a small way.
The Krait raid will long be remembered with pride by Australian Servicemen.
Memorial at Queensland,