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April 26, 2012
Six veterans of the WWII commando group Z
Special Unit gathered in Sydney on April 17
to remember their fallen comrades whose lost
graves were discovered recently.
The ceremony was conducted at the National
Maritime Museum in Darling Harbour in front of the
Krait, which spearheaded Z Special Units' audacious
raid on Singapore Harbour in 1943.
RAN Chaplain Rendall Walker said such was the
covert nature of the Z Special Unit raids on Japanese-
occupied islands that their fate and many of their lost
graves were known only to God.
He said the ceremony marked the recent discovery
of the remains of LT Scobell McFerren-Rogers,
PTE John Whitworth, LT Tom Barnes and LT Allan
Both PTE Whitworth and LT McFerrern-Rogers
were killed by Japanese troops in Sulawesi in 1945.
Their remains were buried in an unknown location
but recently tracked down to the Bomana War
Cemetery in New Guinea after almost 68 years.
The last survivor from the failed 1945 rescue
mission, 90-year-old Henry Fawkes, said that LT
McFerran-Rogers died in his arms, while the last time
he saw PTE Whitworth he was under fire and holding
Z Special Unit veteran Mick Dennis said the news
of the discovery of the remains of LT Tom Barnes and
LT Allan Gubbay, who perished with five others on
Muschu Island in New Guinea, brought back strong
"I was the last to see them alive and I have always
wondered about their fate," he said.
"The four of us were walking to high ground on
Muschu Island when the Japanese ambushed us.
"I got away but the other three didn't, either being
killed by gunfire or beheaded when taken prisoner."
Only former sapper Dennis made it back to the
New Guinea mainland by swimming ashore, and
eventually back to Australian lines.
Defence Science and Personnel and Veterans'
Affairs Minister Warren Snowdon said the missing
soldiers would now be recognised by name at the
Bomana War Cemetery.
"I am pleased the Unrecovered War Casualties Unit
continues to account for Australian servicemen and
has been able to deliver the news to more Australian
families whose loved ones gave their all for their
country," he said.
Of all the missions undertaken by Z Special Unit,
the most spectacular and well known were the two
raids carried out against enemy shipping in Japanese-
occupied Singapore Harbour.
The first of these, Operation Jaywick, sank 38,000
tonnes of enemy shipping and was one of the most
daring raids of WWII.
The second, Operation Rimau, on September 11,
1944, involved the use of small one-man submarines,
but the raiders were compromised before arriving at
their destination which resulted in their capture and
subsequent beheading by the Japanese.
HONOURED: ABMUSN Dave Coit sounds the
Last Post during the memorial service at Sydney's
National Maritime Museum. Photo: LSIS Brenton Freind
Special ceremony brings back strong memories for
WWII veterans, Michael Brooke reports.
AGAIN: From left,
and Joe Da Roza
are the remaining
members of Z
Photo: LSIS Brenton
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