Now It Can Be Told! - Naval Commandos Sank Ships at Singapore

The War Illustrated, Volume 9, No. 216, Page 341, September 28, 1945.

Led by a Scottish army officer, sixteen sailors of the Royal Australian Navy paddled canoes into Singapore harbour and sank six enemy merchant ships with limpet bombs. This daring raid deep into Japanese-dominated waters happened in September 1943, and has now been revealed by the Sydney Sunday Sun, quoted by Reuter.

Disguised as Malays, the party sailed from Fremantle, Western Australia, in a sailing vessel similar to those used by the Malays. Once a Japanese destroyer came alongside; but seeing what they believed to be only brown-skinned men dressed in sarongs, it sheered off again, blissfully ignorant of the prize it had so lightly scorned.

Hiding their little ship in the Rhio Archipelago, between Singapore and Sumatra, the raiding party embarked in canoes and paddled into Singapore under cover of darkness and of the local fishing fleet. Unobserved they drifted alongside the ships which were their targets, dived overboard, fixed their limpet bombs, with fuses attached, five feet below the water-line, and with all possible speed returned to a place of concealment ashore.

Soon violent explosions revealed that the bombs had done their work, giving rise to frantic alarm and excitement in the harbour and affording intense satisfaction to the seventeen stout-hearted adventurers. With the fall of night, they took their departure: with their hearts in their mouths they paddled back to their hidden vessel, and sailed home to a Western Australian port after a voyage of 5,000 miles.

The officer who led the daring raid was formerly on the staff of Lieut.-General Gordon Bennett, who commanded the Australian forces in Malaya and escaped after the fall of Singapore in 1942.

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