In 1943 Captain Ivan Lyon of the Gordon Highlanders and Bill Reynolds, an Australian civilian, devised a dangerous plan for a raid on Japanese shipping in Singapore Harbour using a team of commandos with canoes and limpet mines. The men managed to get their plan accepted, and ‘Z’ Special Unit was set up to carry out the raid. After a ‘trial run’ against the Australian port of Townsville, preparations for the attack on Singapore Harbour began. The code name given to the attack was ‘Operation Jaywick’.
Bill had a Japanese fishing boat, the ‘Kofuku Maru’, which he had acquired in Singapore and which he had used to evacuate people when the Japanese invaded Singapore. He renamed the vessel Krait after a particularly venomous type of snake. The Krait was an ideal method of transporting the men, their weapons and canoes. Being a Japanese vessel, it was more likely to survive the scrutiny of Japanese aircraft and naval vessels. She carried the attackers and their folding canoes the 2000 miles to their start point close to Singapore, and on the night of 21st September 1943 the commandos, in their canoes sank 37,000 tons of Japanese shipping in the harbour. The commandos returned to the Krait, and safely returned to Australia. The Krait is preserved at Sydney Harbour as a War Memorial.
The success of 'Operation Jaywick' led to more ambitious plans for 'Z' Special Unit, and the now Lt. Colonel Lyon headed an operation named ‘Rimau’ (Tiger), agian to be against Japanese shipping at Singapore. This time, the men were to be carried by submarine, HMS Porpoise, and would use semi-submersible canoes for the raid. On 11th September 1944, the submarine set oof, then successfully dropped the commandos at their start point, an island called Merapas. Unfortunately, the commandos were discovered, and in engagements with the Japanese, thirteen men were killed or died of wounds. The remaining ten were captured. On 7th July 1945, these men were killed by the Japanese. Their bodies were recovered after the War, and these ten now lie side by side at Kranji. Lt. Colonel Lyon who died on 16th October 1944 is also buried at Kranji.
From Left to Right
The other thirteen members of the Operation were:-