The 80th Anniversary of Operation Jaywick: A Daring WWII Covert Mission
Today, we commemorate the 80th anniversary of a pivotal event during World War II – Operation Jaywick. Orchestrated by the Z Special Unit, a joint venture between Australian and British special forces, this covert mission’s primary objective was to sabotage Japanese shipping activities in Singapore Harbour. Its success not only highlighted the potency of guerrilla warfare but also dealt a severe blow to the Japanese war effort, simultaneously elevating the spirits of the Allied forces.
Journey to the Heart of the Enemy Territory
Under the leadership of Major Ivor Lyon, the team embarked on a perilous journey from Western Australia towards Singapore. Their choice of transportation was an ingeniously captured boat, which they renamed the MV Krait to blend seamlessly into the local scenario. Disguised as Malay fishermen, the group sailed with the dual purpose of maintaining cover and avoiding unwanted attention.
Their journey led them to Subor Island, located a mere 11 kilometres from Singapore. Here, they prepared for the mission’s most critical phase.
The Night That Shifted the Tide of War
On the fateful night of 26th September 1943, the team, equipped with folding kayaks, silently infiltrated the Japanese-occupied Singapore Harbour. Their mission was simple yet audacious: place limpet mines on the Japanese ships without getting caught. After completing their treacherous task, they faced yet another challenge – paddling an arduous 80 kilometres to meet the MV Krait, their rendezvous point, which took them six days.
The result of their bravery became evident a few days later. The detonation of the limpet mines caused catastrophic damage. Seven enemy vessels, crucial to the Japanese naval operations, either sank or suffered grievous damages.
Homeward Bound: The Heroes Return
After successfully completing one of the most daring missions of World War II, the team rendezvoused with the Krait. Exhausted but triumphant, they embarked on their journey back home. The Krait, carrying its brave canoeists, made its way back to Australian shores, reaching Exmouth on 19th October 1943.
Legacy of Operation Jaywick
The audaciousness of Operation Jaywick remains a testament to the effectiveness of unconventional warfare. This mission not only demonstrated the strategic brilliance and courage of the Allied forces but also delivered a significant blow to the Japanese, disrupting their naval capabilities. Moreover, the news of the operation’s success spread rapidly among the Allies, serving as a morale booster during challenging times.
Today, as we remember and honour the heroes of Operation Jaywick, their legacy stands as a reminder of the indomitable human spirit and the lengths brave souls will go to ensure victory and freedom.
Images: Group portrait taken after the completion of Operation Jaywick (Australian War Memorial), The original sign for The Krait on display in The Man From Snowy River Museum in Corryong, photo courtesy of Carl Webster.