The Guns of Muschu - Operation Copper

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Operation Copper

During the night of 11 April 1945, eight Australian Z Special commandos landed on Japanese-held Muschu Island, off the coast of New Guinea near Wewak. Their mission was to reconnoiter the island's defenses and confirm the location of two concealed naval guns that commanded the approaches to Wewak Harbour. This was vital to ensure the security of the coming landings by the Australians in one of their final major actions of WW2.

The eight Australians were dropped from their patrol boat - HDML 1321 - just on midnight, five miles north east of Muschu. They began the long paddle to the island in four kayaks but within an hour they found that unexpected ocean currents were pushing them south of their objective.

Exhausted, hours later they reached Muschu, however the mission then went horribly wrong. Unknown to them, their presence had been discovered soon after they landed.

With no means of escape, the island became a killing ground, with the Australians being hunted relentlessly by the Japanese garrison. Four of the patrol went missing during an attempt to escape by sea, and three others were captured, tortured and executed by the Japanese.

Nine days later, after fighting his way off the island, swimming the shark infested waters of the Muschu Straight to the mainland, then fighting through more Japanese patrols, the only survivor reached the Australian lines north of Wewak. The information he carried allowed the guns to be put out of action and casualties in the subsequent landings at Wewak were minimised.

This is the remarkable but true story of the only survivor.

Taken from the survivor's own diary, interviews with Australian and Japanese military personnel of the era plus Australian Army war archives, the author faithfully reconstructs the events leading up to, during and after that fateful mission.

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