The article Last of his kind (Vetaffairs, Autumn 2020) about Moss Berryman brought to mind an incident relevant to the extraordinary achievements of Z force and the Krait.
In 1943, I was a marine apprentice on the steamer Mildura anchored in Cleveland Bay, Townsville.
A fireman, walking aft around lunchtime, looked over the side and reported a strange object just below the waterline. It was a frame, with what looked like several horseshoe magnets plus a length of line, attached to the seabed.
The second mate, who had been on anchor watch the previous evening, said a canoe had approached the ship during the night. When challenged, the occupants had said they were Australian soldiers on manoeuvres before disappearing into the darkness.
We contacted the naval signal station by Aldis lamp and were advised that eight or nine of around sixteen other ships at anchor had been found to have dummy limpet mines attached. The line to the bottom was designed to trigger the mines as the ship swung at anchor.
When news of the Krait action was released much later, we deduced we had been unknowing participants in a dress rehearsal for the actual assault. In the light of the barbarous treatment of the second wave after their capture, my sympathy for and admiration of those brave men is unlimited.
Austins Ferry, Tas
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