S.O.A. and S.R.D

 
SRD HQ Pass for SRD Operative Sgt. G.K. Mackenzie

SRD HQ Pass for SRD Operative Sgt. G.K. Mackenzie

Special Operations Australia and the Services Reconnaissance Department

Special Operations Australia (SOA) was the Australian equivalent of the British Special Operations Executive (SOE) of the WWII era. In fact, due to the fact it was established by British SOE personnel, SOA was originally called "Special Operations - Australian Section".

As an organisation, Special Operations Australia operated under a variety of cover names - first was Inter-Allied Services Department (ISD) and then Services Reconnaissance Department (SRD). Officially, to the Americans it was known as "Section A" (of the Allied Intelligence Bureau), and to SOE Headquarters in London it was "Force 137".

For clarity, we’ll refer to the organisation by its most common wartime cover-name, SRD (Services Reconnaissance Department).

Predominantly Australian, SRD was a specialist reconnaissance, raiding and sabotage unit that included British, Dutch, New Zealand, Canadian, South African, Timorese and Indonesian members. Predominantly operating on Borneo and the islands of the former Netherlands East Indies, SRD also undertook operations in New Guinea and into Malaya.

The unit carried out a total of 81 special operations projects in the South West Pacific Area and Southeast Asia Command, with parties inserted by parachute, motor launch or submarine to undertake raids, provide intelligence and conduct guerrilla warfare. The best known of these missions were Operation Jaywick and Operation Rimau, both of which involved raids on Japanese shipping in Singapore Harbour; the latter of which resulted in the deaths of 23 Operatives either in action or by execution after capture.

Although the organisation was disbanded after the war, many of the training techniques and operational procedures employed were later used during the formation of other Australian Army special forces units and they remain a model for guerrilla operations to this day