Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (3 December 2020)
Date of Auction: 3rd December 2020
Sold for £38,000
Estimate: £20,000 - £40,000
Return of the Tiger by Brian Connell.
Sold together with two highly emotive items believed to have been used on the raid itself, comprising Carse’s Special Operations Australia issued Knuckle Knife, and one of the two Japanese flags displayed aboard the Krait during the operation
Australia, 1 Commando Association Cross of Valour, bronze, 1 clasp, Jaywick (H. C. [sic] Carse), with integral top ‘Commando’ bar; 1939-45 Star, unnamed; Pacific Star, unnamed; War Medal 1939-45 with M.I.D. oak leaf (H E Carse, RANVR); Australia Service Medal (H E Carse, RANVR) mounted as worn in this order; together with the recipient’s knuckle knife with spear pointed, double edged blade, marked GREGSTEEL, and knuckle duster grip hilt together with its leather scabbard with button-down knife retention strap enclosing half of the grip and two cuts in the back tongue for a belt, as issued to the Special Reconnaissance Department operatives on board the M.V. Krait on Operation Jaywick; and a Japanese Flag, 95cm x 72cm, said to have been displayed aboard the MV Krait during Operation Jaywick, bearing signatures from the recipient’s fellow Jaywick operatives Able Seaman A. Jones D.S.M. and Leading Telegraphist H. S. ‘Horrie’ Young, light contact marks, good very fine (5) £20,000-£40,000
FootnoteProvenance: Bought by Warwick Cary from the private museum of Sydney based collector Bill Connell.
M.I.D. London Gazette 11 April 1944:
‘For gallantry, skill and devotion to duty in a hazardous enterprise.’
Hubert Edward Carse was born on 28 May 1901 at Rutherglen, Victoria and joined the Royal Australian Navy as a 13 year old Cadet Midshipman on 31 December 1914. He was appointed Midshipman on 1 January 1919, promoted Acting Sub-Lieutenant on 15 January 1921 and resigned his commission on 17 December 1921. Following a somewhat chequered inter-war period, during which his employment ranged from gold-digging and sailing the South Sea Islands to running a camel racing team and a betting shop, he was mobilised by proclamation and reported for duty on 28 September 1942 with the rank of Sub-Lieutenant in the Royal Australian Naval Reserve. He was promoted Lieutenant (provisional) on 4 January 1943.
On 12 January, Carse received an invitation to attend an interview at South Yarra, Melbourne with a Lieutenant-Colonel G. E. Mott who said to him:
‘I asked to see you because we’re running a dangerous mission and we need a navigator. If you were selected for the job could you take a ship from Melbourne to San Francisco?’
‘I could take her anywhere’, replied Carse
‘I like you’, said the Colonel, ‘would you come and join our organisation?’
‘I don’t know what it’s about’
‘Well until you join, I can’t tell you’
Carse did join and was promptly advised to take any remaining leave that was due to him as he wouldn’t be getting any for the next year.
Still not fully aware of what he had committed himself to, Carse was now part of a team within the “Z” Special Unit - a commando arm largely comprised of Australian Army and Royal Australian Navy personnel organised by Special Operations Australia (SOA). Modelled on the Special Operations Executive in London and containing a number of British SOE officers who had escaped from Japanese occupied Singapore, the SOA had earlier been named the Inter-Allied Services Department (IASD) and later became known as the Services Reconnaissance Department (SRD). An articulation of the unit’s role was to be found in an earlier General Headquarters directive of 6 July 1942: ‘to obtain and report information on the enemy in the Southwest Pacific Area ... and in addition, where practicable, to weaken the enemy by sabotage and destruction of morale and to lend aid and assistance to local efforts to the same end and in enemy occupied territories.’
As one of the four officers in the group, Carse began training for the secret Operation Jaywick together with a mixed crew of mostly Australian and a few British personnel from both the Navy and Army, with 28 year old Major Ivan Lyon of the Allied Intelligence Bureau and Gordon Highlanders in command, all under the control of Colonel Mott.
In 1942, following the chaos of their evacuation from Singapore, Captain (later Major) Ivan Lyon, Gordon Highlanders and Major Jock Campbell, King’s Own Scottish Borderers, together with a 61 year old Australian civilian, Bill Reynolds, conceived an enterprising idea to attack Japanese shipping in Singapore harbour. Under the plan, commandos would travel to the harbour in a vessel disguised as an Asian fishing boat. They would then use collapsible canoes (folboats) to attach limpet mines to Japanese ships. General Archibald Wavell, known for his enthusiasm for unconventional warfare, approved the plan and, in July, Lyon set off for Australia to organise the operation.
A small Japanese fishing boat, used earlier by Reynolds to evacuate refugees out of Singapore, was considered perfect for the job of transporting the men to and from the Singapore area and after being shipped from India to Australia aboard a P&O steamer, it was renamed the MV Krait, after a small, deadly Asian snake, and refitted for purpose. It was August 1943 before Krait and her crew were finally ready for the operation, the official roll of her compliment reading thus:
Major I. Lyon, Gordon Highlanders, Commanding Officer
Lieutenant D. N. Davidson, R.N.V.R., 1st Lieutenant
Lieutenant H. C. Carse, R.A.N.V.R., Navigator
Lieutenant R. C. Page, A.I.F., Medical Officer
Acting Leading Seaman K. P. Cain, R.A.N., Ship’s Staff
Leading Stoker J. P. McDowell, R.N., 1st Engineer
Leading Telegraphist H. S. Young, R.A.N., Wireless Operator
Corporal R. G. Morris, R.A.M.C., Medical Orderly
Corporal A. Crilly, A.I.F., Cook
Able Seaman W. C. Falls, R.A.N., Operative
Able Seaman A. W. Jones, R.A.N., Operative
Able Seaman A. W. G. Huston, R.A.N., Operative
Able Seaman F. W. Marsh, R.A.N., 2nd Engineer
Able Seaman M. Berryman, R.A.N., Deck Hand
With Carse as skipper and navigator of the Krait, the 14 man team embarked for Operation Jaywick from Exmouth, Western Australia, at 2:00 p.m. on 2 September 1943 - three hours later they nearly sank: ‘Outside the Gulf we ran into a heavy swell and confused sea from the south, with a fresh south wind,’ Davidson wrote in the log. ‘We very nearly foundered but just managed to carry on’. Horrie Young’s diary records that the Krait almost capsized before Carse ordered a sail furled and altered course to the North with a following sea: ‘It was Ted Carse’s skill and seamanship that saved the day on that occasion.’
On 5 September, with Lyon now having disclosed to the crew that ships in Singapore Harbour were to be the target of their mission, and with 4,000 miles ahead of them in the enemy waters of the new Japanese empire, they lowered the Australian Blue ensign from the mast at the stern of the boat and hoisted the red poached egg of Japan in its place. Assessing that the new flag was far too clean and new for its purpose, however, they bathed it in some diesoline and scuffed it on the deck to give it a more worn appearance. A second Japanese flag was also fixed atop the wheelhouse. Acting Able Seaman Berryman remembered that they came under the observation of enemy seaplanes on occasion and he even waved to one Japanese pilot in his open cockpit who returned the greeting. Recalling a Japanese float plane that past overhead at 2000 feet, Leading Telegraphist Horrie Young wrote, ‘No one noticed until he was right on top of us. We all dived for cover trying to look as unconcerned as possible - shock passes as does plane. I guess our flag did the trick.’
Carse’s ship’s log provides a most comprehensive real time account of the remainder of the voyage out - the navigation of the dangerous rip-tides of the Lombok Strait, the sudden violent tropical storms or ‘Sumatras’ and the silent approach to Pandjang Island, the location of the raiding party’s disembarkation. As the operational party of canoeists were landed before dawn on 18 September, Captain Lyon was the last to leave the Krait. Horrie Young recalled him saying to Carse, ‘now remember Ted, if we are not back by the rendezvous date you are to take the Krait back to Australia.’
The events which unfolded over the next few days are the stuff of legend. The commandos island-hopped, paddling their folding canoes northwards through the archipelago arriving at Pulau Dongas on 22 September. There they observed Singapore Harbour traffic, where approximately 59,000 tonnes of Japanese shipping had gathered. On 26 September, the six men in their three canoes slipped through the night towards their targets. Lyon and Huston were spotted by a Japanese crewman but ignored, while Davidson and Falls were nearly run down by a tug. They attached magnetic limpet mines to the hulls of seven ships and fled the anchorage undetected. Early the next morning, six explosions shattered the darkness and six Japanese ships – 37,000 tonnes – were sunk or severely damaged.
Meanwhile, the Krait, with her depleted crew under Carse, was required to avoid detection by enemy patrols while waiting for Lyon and his men to return to the rendezvous at Pompong Island some 2 weeks later. It was decided that they should head to the inlets on the south side of Borneo Island. Brian Connell in ‘The Return of the Tiger’ takes up their story:
‘Krait was left with a much reduced and rather subdued little company for the nerve-wracking fortnight that lay ahead. The taciturn Carse was now in command and with him were Cain, Marsh, Berryman, Morris and Crilly, with Young still on his wireless watch and ‘Paddy’ McDowell down in the engine room. In some ways theirs was the harder part to bear. The three canoe crews would be holing up by day and paddling their blacked-out folboats towards Singapore by night, with every hope of escaping detection, except during actual attack. Krait, with her reduced firepower, would be cruising day and night in the dangerous waters of the South China Seas, with only half as many men on deck to defend her should she run into trouble... ’Ted’ Carse in the good plain English of his log entries, gives a vivid account of the next fourteen days:
“September 18, 1030: Steaming east-south-east and approaching the southern entrance of the Temiang Straight. Sing yo! ho! for Borneo. All the crew are feeling the strain of long hours and ceaseless watching. Unless we get a quiet time soon I will have to issue Benzedrine. I have the same feeling now but have now had only 4 hours off the wheel in about 36 and look like being here until we clear the Strait at least.
September 19: Our present job reminds me very much of the anxious father waiting outside the maternity ward for news.
September 28: We have spent the day dodging sailing craft and jockeying for a suitable position for our dash across the South China tomorrow afternoon. We are all filled with anxiety as we have had no news news at all of the party and this does not seem too good to us.”
They all had perfect confidence in Carse’s seamanship and had not the slightest doubt that providing they were not intercepted, he would get them back to the rendezvous.
“September 30: And another day gone. Tomorrow night we should know our fate, for if we make contact safely the job is almost done.
October 1, 1735: By dark we were still about five miles from the straight.”
It took them another six hours to fight the tide in the narrows and it was nearly midnight before Carse turned Krait to the south and edged towards Pompong Island... They were now less than a hundred yards from the shore. Suddenly Berryman, who had the sharpest eyes of them all, thought he saw a movement on the beach where a tiny strip of sand separated jungle from the sea. He grabbed Morris’s arm and pointed. Sure enough there was someone there and it looked as if they were launching a boat. There was no time to take chances. It might be inquisitive Malayan fishermen. At worst one of the party might have been captured alive and tortured into giving away the rendezvous. Grabbing their guns, they stood ready to repel boarders. If it was a boat there was only one of them, and about the size of a folboat at that. Now they could pick up the slight phosphorescence as the paddles dipped into the water. The canoe was heading straight for them. Just as the tension became too much to bear, a hoarse hail came out of the night: ‘Ahoy Krait.’ It was unmistakably Davidson’s voice, and with him safe and sound was ‘Poppa’ Falls. In a moment the canoe was alongside and the two men were being helped aboard by willing hands.
The reunion was tumultuous... How had the attack gone? How many ships had they sunk? Had they had any brushes with the Japanese? But above all, first from Morris, worried about his chief, where were Lyon and the others? Davidson did not know... The question was what to do now? Although it meant postponing their departure beyond the agreed date for pick-up, they obviously could not abandon the other four without giving them another chance to make the rendezvous. They decided to risk cruising up and down Temiang Strait during the following day and to return to Pompong again that evening. Meticulously, Carse recorded their dilemma in the cold prose of his log:
“we lay at anchor until daybreak, but no sign of the others. As we were directly under a well travelled plane route, we weighed anchor at 0615 and proceeded down Temiang Strait. We will set a course east by south and return again tonight.”
At half past eight on the 3rd, after dodging several junks in the strait, they were inching into Fisherman’s Bay again. The scene of the previous night was repeated. This time it was Falls who saw the first movement. Sure enough two figures and one canoe were just discernible... the first pair were Page and Jones. They had come to ensure that Krait had not been taken over by a Japanese prize crew. Lyon and Huston were back on the beach with the third canoe. In no time they saw it putting off. ‘Hello chaps,’ said Lyon in his brisk fashion as they came alongside. It was too good to be true. Everyone back safe and sound, haggard, stubble-cheeked, tired to the bone, but without a scratch on them.
Morris grasped Lyon by the hand. “Well done, sir, It’s good to have you back”.’
In disobeying Lyon’s orders to not wait for stragglers, Carse had saved the remaining four members of the party, including Lyon himself. He then set about navigating the Krait, with all hands present and accounted for, back across the Java Sea towards Australia. Surviving a tense incident with a Japanese patrol boat in the Lombok Strait en-route, the Krait arrived at the naval base at Exmouth on 19 October, having been away 48 days and having completed what is thought to be the longest naval raid in history. Pulling along side an American rescue ship in the harbour, Carse made his final entry in the log and signed his name with a flourish: ‘0600; weighed anchor and proceeded alongside Chanticleer’.
Although the gallantry awards to the operatives on Jaywick were approved by H.M. The King in 1944, details were withheld for security reasons. Lyons, Davidson, Page and the three seamen Falls, Huston and Marsh had already left, never to return, on the subsequent and compromised ‘Operation Rimau’ when their awards were approved, and they never learnt of them. It was not until 1 August 1946 that public reference was first made to the two expeditions Major Lyons had led into the heart of Japanese territory. On that day, the following statement was made by the Minister for the Army, Rt. Hon. F. M. Forde, in the House of Representatives, Australia, 1 August 1946:
‘The story of a well kept secret has now been released with the publication of the awards for gallantry of a small but determined band of officers and men who carried the war thousands of miles behind the Japanese lines during the days of 1943 when Japan was flushed with the fortunes of her conquest. The exploit was a joint effort by a party of 14 comprising 10 Australians and 4 members of the British Forces. Unfortunately 6 members of this party lost their lives in a subsequent operation in 1944. The awards were approved by H.M. The King in 1944 but details withheld for security reasons.
The citation of the awards mentions “outstanding bravery and devotion to duty in circumstances of extreme hazard”.
This party after thorough and arduous training in Australia undertook the hazardous journey of 2000 miles unescorted through enemy patrolled waters to Singapore.
Despite a number of narrow escapes from detection the party continued with great determination and after keeping Singapore harbour under secret observation for several days made a silent attack on the night of 26 September 1943, selecting this night on account of the suitable concentration of shipping.
Despite the hazard of entering a closely guarded and patrolled harbour in enemy hands the party pressed home their attack and withdrew without loss. This attack resulted in the loss by the Japanese through sinking and burning of 7 ships of the tanker and freighter class totalling 37000 tons at a time when her shipping was hard pressed to support her armed forces.
The party was then faced with the 2000 mile return journey with the constant danger of detection which they well knew meant certain death.
They reached Australia without loss or mishap on 19 October 1943, having spent over forty days in enemy occupied and controlled areas under conditions of constant strain and danger and having carried out a highly successful and crippling attack on the enemy, concerning the method of which the Japanese are still in the dark.
I feel sure that all honourable members join me in expressing the greatest admiration for the heroism and bravery of this gallant band of officers and men whose exploits won the admiration of the Allied peoples and the well-deserved recognition of His Majesty the King.
This disorganisation caused to Japanese transport in Singapore Harbour by this heroic group, I believe, shortened the duration of the war and thus saved the lives of many other Allied servicemen.
I feel sure also that every Honourable Member of the House extends his heartfelt sympathy to the sorrowing relatives of those brave heroes who should be happy in the knowledge that the nation mourns their deaths.’
Post Jaywick, Carse remained with the Services Reconnaissance Department and was appointed to the command of H.M.A.S. Alatna, a fast supply / sea ambulance launch commissioned, at Sydney, on 2 February 1944. Like the Krait, Alatna was used to insert and re-supply small special forced teams on Timor, Sumba and Sabu Islands. During March 1944 she explored a number of reefs and islets in the Timor Sea to assess their suitability for use as supply dumps for S.R.D. operations. His final appointment on H.M.A.S. Rushcutter was terminated in January 1946 following the conclusion of hostilities. He died in 1970 at Newtown, New South Wales.
In 1978, the 1 Commando Association awarded the Commando Cross of Valour to eligible survivors of “Z” Force members involved in Operations Jaywick and Rimau, or to families, relations or units of eligible recipients. Only 20 crosses were awarded.
The Krait Flags
The following background information regarding the Japanese Flags flown by the MV Krait during Operation Jaywick is taken from the article ‘A Seamstress goes to War in a Bathtub’ by Ms Lynette Silver AM and Major J. Truscott, published in Commando News Magazine edition 4, 2020:
‘When approval was given for Operation Jaywick to sail under the enemy’s flag in 1942, Mrs Manderson, the wife of SOE-Australia’s Harry Manderson, was entrusted with the making, in total secret, of two Japanese flags. They were to be flown or displayed on an ex-Japanese fishing vessel, Krait, allowing the small ship to penetrate enemy waters with a special forces’ raiding party, in order to attack enemy shipping in Singapore. Before Mrs Manderson could create the flags, by stitching a red circle to a white background, she had to dye some fabric red, using the family bathtub in Melbourne’s suburban Camberwell. The dye must have been of excellent quality, because it left a red tidemark, or ring, in the tub, which took months to disappear... One flag was then flown from the stern. The other was laid flat on the roof of the wheelhouse, where it could more easily be seen by Japanese reconnaissance aircraft.
After Krait returned from Singapore in October 1943, she was assigned to the Allied Intelligence Bureau’s Lugger Maintenance Station in Darwin. Before the crew members left the ship, Jaywick’s 2IC, Lieutenant Commander Davidson, told them that they could take everything off the ship except her chronometer and her compass. Navigator Ted Carse souvenired one of the Japanese flags. Telegraphist Horrie Young took a small vice from the engineroom hatchway, which his son, Brian, still has. We have no idea what has happened to the second flag but Brian Young seems to recall that his father also had a flag and that it may have been donated to the Australian War Memorial. If so, it is not recorded as being one of the 166 Japanese flags listed in the memorial’s collection.’
Sold together with research including an assortment of photographs, an original typed letter written by Carse to The Permanent Under Secretary of State at The War Office, Whitehall, requesting a translation of the records of the Japanese Military Court which sentenced to death the members of the Operation Rimau raiding party led by Colonel I. Lyon; and the original typed copy of Forde’s 1946 press statement sent to Carse by the Navy Office, Melbourne.
Note: This lot is available for viewing in Swanbourne, Western Australia, by appointment with our Australasian representative, John Burridge.