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SIX veterans of the WWII commando
group Z Special Unit gathered in Sydney
on April 17 to remember 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 spear-
headed Z Special Unit's audacious raid on
Singapore Harbour in 1943.
Navy Chaplain Rendall Walker said such
was the covert nature of the Z Special Unit
raids on Japanese-occupied islands that the
fates of many members and the locations of
their graves were not known after the war.
The ceremony marked the recent discov-
ery of the remains of Lt Scobell McFerren-
Rogers, Pte John Whitworth, Lt Tom Barnes
and Lt Allan Gubbay.
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 Lt McFerran-Rogers died in his arms
and the last time he saw Pte Whitworth, he
was under fire and holding his hip.
Z Special Unit veteran Mick Dennis said
hearing of the discovery of the remains of
Lts Barnes and Gubbay, who perished with
five others on Muschu Island in New Guinea,
brought back strong memories
"I was the last to see them alive and I
have always wondered about their fate," he
"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 Mr Dennis made the swim back to
the New Guinea mainland and eventually
back to Australian lines.
Veterans' Affairs Minister Warren
Snowdon said the missing soldiers would
now be recognised by name at the Bomana
"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 raid-
ers were compromised before arriving at
their destination, captured and subsequently
beheaded by the Japanese.
Long wait for answers
Special reunion: Six former members of
Z Special Unit, from left, Gordon Phillpot,
Des Foster, Joe Da Roza, Douglas Herps,
Mick Dennis and Henry Fawkes attended a
ceremony in Sydney to mark the identification
of WWII commando remains in New Guinea.
Inset, former commando Mick Dennis was
the sole survivor of an ambush on Muschu
Island and didn't know where his fellow team
members were burried until recently.
Photos by LS Brenton Freind
World War II commandos finally learn the fates
and resting places of mates killed in combat,
Michael Brooke reports.
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