The War Illustrated, No. 243, Vol. 10, October 11th 1946

drefif Stories o f the I Var Kcfotri A z /s^h /j ./mA:c"? Sky m -rff These details o f a secret raid carried out by Australian and British com­mandos on Japanese shipping in Singapore h arbour did not become available until August 1946—three years after the event. The commandos travelled more than 150 miles by canoe, and their magnificently daring attack resulted in the sinking o f seven vessels totalling 37,000 tons. By the middle o f 1943 the Australian and American campaign to recapture Lac, Salam aua and Finschafen in New Guinea had commenced. Disorganization o f Japanese shipping to the South-West Pacific was essential to Allied strategy. On September 3 o f that year 14 British and Australian Servicemen set sail from Exm outh Gulf, Western Australia, in the motor vessel K rait, a former Japanese fishing ship. With a length o f 70 feet and abeam of 1 1 feet, she was powered by diesel engines, was capable o f a speed o f 65 knots and had a range of 8,000 miles. Tucked away in the K rait were two-m an rubber canoes which contained space for limpet mines, and one month’s supply o f food and Underwater. the commando f the late Lieut.-Colonel (then Major) Ivor Lyon. M B.E., D.S.O., o f the Gordon Highlanders, and a son o f Brig.-Gen. Lyon, were Lieut. N.D. Davidson, D.S.O., R.N.V .R. (later killed), Lieut. H.E. Carse, R.A.N .V .R .(navigator), Lieut. Page,R. D.S.O., A .I.F. (later killed), Ldg. Seaman P.K. Cain, R.A.N., Ldg. Stoker P. McDowell, R.N., Ldg. Tele­graphist H. Young, R.A.N., CpI. G.R. Morris, M.M .C.,R.A.M .,Cpl. A. Crilly, .,M.M A .I.F., A.B. B.A. Falls, D .S.M .,R.N .(later killed), A.B. A.W. Jones, D.S.M .,R.A .N .(later killed), A.B. A.W. Huston, D .S.M .,R.A.N .(later killed), F.A.B. W. Marsh, M.I.D .,R.A.N .(later killed), and A.B. M. Berryman, R.A.N .Their destina­tion was D urian Island, some 30 miles distant from Singapore. Scrutinized by Japanese Patrols On September 9, when the K rait was approaching Lom bok Strait into the Java Sea, Bali was only 11 miles to port and Lom bok seven miles to starboard. The commandos had hoped to negotiate this hazardous five-miles passage within an hour, abut strong current was running and four nerve-racking hours had passed before the K rait had reached open water. At this stage the vessel had not met any Japanese sea or air patrols, but as such a meeting was inevit­able the men stained their skins brown and wore cotton sarongs to give themselves the appearance o f native fishermen. In addition, the Krait was flying the flag o f a Japanese merchant vessel. After drifting during the night the omen f the Krait were sturilcd at dawn to find they were surrounded by native fishing boats o fall kinds. However, none o f these dis­played any interest in the K rait— a testimony to the effectiveness o f her disguise— which led Major Lyon to decide that they should sail quite openly for the forest their journey. For seven days the Krait threaded her way around the numerous islands which stud the Java Sea. Several times she was scrutinized by Japanese patrols, which always sheered off, apparently satisfied that she was just another fishing boat. When the K rait approached D urian Island, which had been chosen as the canoeists’ By LEN BARKER abase, party o f natives was seen ashore, so the commandos were forced to put back to sea. To kill time, Major Lyon’s party sailed north until they approached G alang island. When two miles from shore the crew spotted a Japanese observation tower. n­U challenged, they cautiously changed course to give the impression that the vessel had come from Sumatra and was proceeding to Singapore. To maintain this illusion she was kept to her new course, which eventually took her along the western side o f Panjang Island. As Panjang appeared to be uninhabited, Major Lyon decided to use it as abase rather than risk returning toD urian. A suitable anchorage was found, and by 5 a.m .on September 17 the canoes, with their cargoes o f limpet mines, and food and water for one month, had been landed. Leaving Major Lyon, Lieut. Davidson, Lieut. Page, and A.B.s Huston, Falls and Jones to man the canoes, the Krait sailed for Borneo with instructions to rendezvous at Pom pong Island between dusk and dawn on the night o f October 1. When dawn broke on Panjang Island the raiders found that they were only a quarter- mile from a native village. However, there were no tracks indicating that the natives used this particular beach so a camp was made beside a water-hole in the jungle a few yards from the cove. After resting for two days, during which many enemy plane passed low overhead, they outset in the three canoes for another island 10 miles away at the entrance to the Bulan Strait leading to the target, Singapore. The raiders rested for a day at this island which, while being secluded enough to allow them to swim, also gave them a full view o f shipping moving in and out o f the Strait. For several nights they jumped from one island to another, each one a steppingstone to Singapore. At times detection seemed inevitable. The spot where they landed and camped on one island turned out to be only 300 yards from a village. In the early hours o f Septem­ber 23 the raiders went ashore at D ongas Island, which Major Lyon had chosen as their forward operation base. The high ground on the north side o f Dongas pro­vided an excellent view o f Singa­pore, which was eight miles away. For sometime the raiders watched shipping inactivity Singapore, ju b ilan tat the fact that there was not less than 100,000 tons o f ship­ping in the roads and port. At eight o ’clock 011 the night of September 24 the six raiders set oil' to attack. They paddled hard for five hours to make way against a heavy tide, but were forced to put back at D ongas at 1 a.m .To use the tide to advantage the raiders decided to move that tonight Subar, a small, bracken-covered island overlooking Singapore's examination anchorage. The following afternoon targets were chosen and allotted. Q then night o f September 26 the attack was launched, with Major Lyon and A.B. Huston in one canoe, Lieut. Davidson and A.B. Falls in another, and Lieut. Page and A.B. Jones in the third. As they moved silently towards the boom defence guarding Singapore, searchlights from the shore sprang into life and swept across the water near the canoes. However, the men man­ aged to avoid the beams o f the lights and continued on their way. Near the boom OTTER BAY, PANJANG ISLAND, where the Krait dropped the six commandos for their attack on shipping at Singapore, 21 miles distant. They landed on the beach at night, and when daylight came they discovered there was a native village only a quarter-mile away but they escaped dctcction and resumed their journey by canoe. PAGE 387 Photo. Australian Official •MAJOR IVOR LYON, commanding officer of the six commandos, viewed Jap shipping in Singapore roads and harbour from his hide-out on Dongas Island, some eight miles distant. Apiece of cord secured his telescope to a sapling. Photo,- Australian Official
Add Names


We have sought to ensure that the content of this website complies with UK copyright law. Please note however, that we may have been unable to ascertain the rights holders of some items. Where we have digitised items, we have done so with items that to the best of our knowledge, following due investigations, are in the public domain. While the original works are in the public domain we reserve all rights to the usage of the digital works.

The document titled The War Illustrated, No. 243, Vol. 10, October 11th 1946 is beneath this layer.

To view this document now, please sign up as a full access member.

Free Account Registration

Please enter your first name
Please enter your surname
Please enter a valid email address
Please enter your password, it must be 8 or more characters

Already a member? Log in now
Small Medium Large Landscape Portrait