The raid on Singapore Harbour
Operation Jaywick was a raid on shipping in Japanese-occupied Singapore harbour between September and October 1943. The raid was carried out by members of Special Operations Australia (SOA) from Z Special Unit. The team comprised of four British soldiers, and 11 AIF and Royal Australian Navy personnel, commanded by a British officer, Major Ivan Lyon.
Disguised as Malay fishermen, Lyon’s team travelled from Exmouth in Western Australia to Subor Island, 11 kilometres from Singapore, in a captured boat, renamed the MV Krait. The Krait was a slow-moving, wooden-hulled vessel about twenty metres long and sporadically suffered engine trouble for the duration of the voyage.
On reaching the island three-and-a-half weeks after leaving Australia, the team launched three two-man collapsible canoes (folboats). Lyon and five others then paddled into Singapore harbour. Arriving at night they split up and slipped from ship to ship attaching limpet mines, paddling another 80 kilometres to rendezvous with Krait six days later on 2 October.
When the mines exploded, seven ships, totalling 35,000 tons, were sent to the bottom of the harbour. The Krait recovered its intrepid but exhausted canoeists and travelled back to Australia, arriving at Exmouth on 19 October 1943.
Brad Manera, “Operation Jaywick”, Wartime: official magazine of the Australian War Memorial 23 (2003): 53