- Duchesne, Tim
- WWII operations, History - WW2, Book reviews, Naval Engagements, Operations and Capabilities
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- September 1996 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
Title: Commando! The M/Z Unit’s Secret War Against Japan
Author: A.B. Feuer
This book describes the raising of Z Unit forces after Japan’s entry into World War II and contains first-hand accounts of several of the operations carried out by those extraordinarily brave men. The epilogue records that 81 missions were carried out, that by War’s end, 333 Z Unit Commandos were in the field with a further 323 under training, and that they killed about 2,000 Japanese troops for the loss of 112 men killed or missing in action. In addition, about 40,000 tons of shipping was sunk, many items of significant logistical value were destroyed, and considerable numbers of troops were from time to time pinned down in extensive searches for them.
Their insertion into enemy-held territory and subsequent extraction was predominately achieved by submarine, normally by those of the US Navy, although RN submarines were used in some operations after their arrival in Western Australia.
The accounts of some twelve operations are first-hand and have a thrilling quality of immediacy. In some cases they are supplemented by equally fascinating extracts from Patrol Reports of the submarines concerned or subsequent recollections of some of the COs. The submarines faced grave hazards in having to lurk about close inshore, surfacing for launches and recoveries. The time between launch and recovery consisted of unremitting mortal danger for the Commandos themselves, often for weeks on end, with the risk of betrayal ever present in the former Dutch colonies in particular. They knew that capture would inevitably result in interrogation accompanied by brutal torture followed by beheading or death by bayonetting.
This book is an inspiring record and serves to highlight the urgency of documenting more completely the story of Special Operations in the SW Pacific whilst some of the participants are still alive. “Commando!” is a fine book, but the full story of “The M/Z Unit’s Secret War Against Japan” still awaits the telling.
T .R. Duchesne