Edgar Thomas Dennis was born August 29, 1919 in Tempe, New South Wales. Nicknamed "Mick". He enlisted in the Australian Imperial Army (AIF) with service number NX73110 at Paddington, NSW. Assigned to the "Z" Special Unit (Z Force) as a commando in New Guinea.
On April 11, 1945 "Operation Copper" (originally code named "Operation Ash") eight
Australian Army Z Special Unit (Z Force) commandos boarded HMAS HDML 1321 in Aitape Harbor. The commando force included: Lt. Alan R. Gubbay, Lt. Thomas J. Barnes, Sgt Malcolm F. M. Weber, L/Cpl Spencer H. Walklate, Sig Michael S. Hagger, Sig John R. Chandler, Pte Ronald E. Eagleton and Spr Edgar T. Dennis.
Their objective was to motor near Muschu Island, then paddle ashore in four folboats. Strong currents pushed them southward and swamped and capsized some of their boats causing them to loose equipment. The force made landfall near Som Point and waited until morning. Ashore, their mission was to capture a Japanese soldier for interrogation and to make a beach
reconnaissance for a perspective landing area. Also, reconnoiter the island's defenses and locate two concealed naval guns, then use their folboats to rendezvous with HMAS HDML 1321.
During the night, they board four folboats and paddled towards Muschu Island. Strong currents pushed them southward and swamped and capsized some of their boats causing them to loose some equipment. The force made landfall near Som Point and waited until morning.
Although they had lost some of their equipment, they continued the mission which was all but complete when they took a wrong turn on their march back to their secret camp and encountered an Japanese patrol. The commandos prisoner slipped off his gag and shouted to alert them. The men escaped this enemy patrol, and later attempted unsuccessfully to put to sea on a raft, losing many more of their weapons in the process. In an attempt to make contact with friendly aircraft or patrol boats, Lt Gubbay, Lt Barnes, L/Cpl Walklate and Pte Eagleton put to sea on logs. They were never seen again.
The remaining commandos: Sgt Malcolm F. M. Weber, Sig Michael S. Hagger, Sig John R. Chandler, Pte Ronald E. Eagleton and Spr E. T. Dennis remained on Muschu Island. On April 14, they approached bomb craters seeking fresh water and ran into a Japanese patrol and all were killed except Dennis.
Alone, Dennis evaded the enemy and managed to swim for the mainland, pushing a heavy board on top of which he carried his Austen submachine and ammunition. After swimming approximately ten miles to the coast of New Guinea, he walked roughly twenty miles through enemy territory before being picked up by an Australian patrol on April 21, 1945 near Aitape ten days later.
Afterwards, Dennis earned the Military Medal for his "great courage and initiative".
On June 12, 2014 at age 94, Dennis attended the funeral of Eagleton and Walklate who at Port Moresby War Cemetery (Bomana). The memorial service included an honor guard from the Special Air Service Regiment (SAS) and the 1st and 2nd Commando Regiments provided the funeral party. Dennis passed away on November 9, 2015.
Don Dennis (son)
Stacey Dennis (granddaughter)
WW2 Nominal Roll - Edgar Thomas Dennis, NX73110
The Naval Land Unit That Vanished in the Jungle pages 78-81
The Guns of Muschu
Funeral Service for two Australian soldiers of the Second World War at Bomana War Cemetery, Papua New Guinea on 12th June 2014
Thanks to Edgar Dennis, Don Dennis and Stacey Dennis for additional information.
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