Informal portrait of four of the crew members of Motor Launch (ML) 1321 and NX73110 Sapper (Spr) ...

Unit Z Special Unit
Accession Number P03953.004
Collection type Photograph
Object type Black & white - Print other than silver gelatin
Maker Unknown
Place made Australia: Queensland, Brisbane
Date made May 1945
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945

Item copyright: Copyright expired - public domain

Public Domain Mark This item is in the Public Domain


Informal portrait of four of the crew members of Motor Launch (ML) 1321 and NX73110 Sapper (Spr) Edgar Thomas 'Mick' Dennis, Z Special Unit, the only survivor of the ill fated raid on Muschu Island (off the coast of New Guinea), at Brisbane dockyard. Identified, left to right: Spr Dennis; Leading Seaman Clayton; 25630 Stoker John Francis Sevenoaks; S/6992 Sub Lieutenant Russell Frederick Smith (Second in Command); Able Seaman Aitken. Eight Z Special Unit commandos landed on Muschu Island on 11 April 1945, their mission being to capture a prisoner, reconnoitre the island's defences and locate two concealed naval guns, then rendevous again with the launch. The men were NX82924 Lieutenant (Lt) Alan Robert Gubbay; VX6078 Lt Thomas Joseph Barnes; NX45386 Sergeant Malcolm Francis Max Weber; NX202843 Lance Corporal (L Cpl) Spencer Henry Walklate; NX73110 Sapper (Spr) Edgar Thomas 'Mick' Dennis; NX92651 Private (Pte) Ronald Edward Eagleton; VX66698 Pte Michael Hagger and WX27629 Pte John Richard Chandler. Their collapsible dinghies overturned while landing and all signal equipment and some weapons were lost. They continued on their mission which was all but complete when they took a wrong turn on their march back to their base and encountered an Japanese patrol. The commandos' prisoner slipped off his gag and shouted. The men escaped this enemy patrol, and later attempted unsuccessfully to put to sea on a raft, losing many more of their weapons in the process. Lt Gubbay, Lt Barnes, L Cpl Walklate and Pte Eagleton then put to sea on logs in an attempt to make contact with aircraft or patrol boats. They were never seen again. The remaining men remained on the island and by 14 April had approached bomb craters knowing they contained fresh water. They ran into a Japanese patrol and all except Spr Dennis were killed. Spr Dennis managed to escape further detection then swam 10 miles through shark infested waters to the mainland of New Guinea, pushing a heavy board on top of which he carried his Austen gun and ammunition. After beaching, he walked some 20 miles through enemy territory before being picked up by an Australian patrol near Aitape, approximately 10 days after the original landing. Spr Dennis was later awarded the Military Medal for his 'great courage and initiative'.