AUSTRALIAN COMMANDO ASSOCIATION 1945 – 2010
M Special Unit, was a joint Allied special reconnaissance unit, part of the Services Reconnaissance Department, in the South West Pacific theatre of World War II.
A joint Australian, New Zealand, Dutch and British military intelligence unit, it saw action in New Guinea and the Solomon Islands between 1943–1945, against the Empire of Japan.
The unit was formed in 1943, as a successor to The Coastwatchers. Hence M Special Unit's role was focused upon gathering intelligence on Japanese shipping and troop movements. Small teams from the unit were landed behind enemy lines by sea, air or land, in contrast to its counterpart, Z Special Unit ("Z Force"), which became well known for its direct-action commando-style raids. M Special Unit on the other hand operated behind enemy lines for extended periods of times to collect intelligence undetected and as such rarely tried to engage the enemy.
After training on Fraser Island in 1943, M Special soon deployed where they operated in both the Solomon Islands and New Guinea conducting intelligence operations against the Japanese. The late 1943 the unit was split into smaller units code named ‘Whiting’ and ‘Locust’ where both units continued to collect intelligence. Generally, a very successful unit the consequences for those captured by the enemy were serve as demonstrated by the most infamous member of “M” Special Unit Sergeant Leonard Siffleet who was executed by Japanese forces via beheading.
When the war was won in late 1945, “M” Special Unit was disbanded.