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Lynette Ramsay Silver

Deadly Secrets – The Singapore Raids 1942-45

In February 1942, when Australian Bill Reynolds escaped from beleaguered Singapore in a battered Japanese fishing boat, he had no idea that his nondescript vessel would be the catalyst for Operation Jaywick, one of the most daring missions undertaken behind enemy lines in World War II. Using Reynold’s boat, now renamed Krait, a small band of intrepid men attacked enemy shipping in Singapore Harbour – an action that would have far reaching and tragic repercussions on the people of Singapore. The following year, members of the same team embarked upon a second and far more ambitious raid, Operation Rimau. Although this mission was partially successful, every member of the party was killed.

In telling the story of both these raids, author Lynette Silver reveals a number of deadly secrets, and gives an insight into the world of covert operations, partly through the eyes of Denis Emerson-Elliott, a British secret service agent closely associated with both missions. She also lays to rest a number of myths which have arisen in the sixty-five years since the Singapore raids took place. Some are the result of assumptions, based on too little knowledge, others were spawned by rumour. In some cases they were deliberate fabrications, either to make up for lack of information or to present a particular spin. Once film-makers stepped in, the distortions increased in the name of dramatic licence. One widely circulated story claimed that the greatest contribution of the Jaywick mission (classified as top secret until after the war), was to raise the spirits of the Australian public at a time when Allied victories were few and far between. A sobering aspect of many of the special operations carried out by Australian forces during World War II is that many fine men who volunteered for hazardous service died while carrying out missions that were politically, rather than militarily, motivated. Even more sobering is the fact that on the Australian army’s post-war assessment, many of these operations, including Jaywick and Rimau, achieved nothing but death, misery and suffering.

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