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by Don Dennis
Allen & Unwin  2006
Soft cover
255 pages
Index, photos
ISBN: 1741148782
Cover Price:
Language: English

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The Guns of Muschu
Eight men went in … Only one returned

Recently it has been quite difficult for me to find a non-fiction book I have been unable to put down – Until now.  I came across this book at a newsagent in the Brisbane International Airport while waiting for my flight to Sydney when recently returning from Port Moresby.  It instantly caught my attention, even though I knew very little of the 6th Australian Division’s New Guinea campaigns of 1945.

Based primarily around the diaries of Spr Edgar Thomas ‘Mick’ Dennis, NX73110 the book covers one Z Special Unit operation – Copper – to investigate the possibility of large calibre guns on the Japanese held Muschu Island.  It was believed that if these guns were in place and serviceable, they would cause catastrophic damage to the upcoming amphibious landings at nearby Wewak.

Pretty soon what was believed to be an easy operation turns into a catastrophe in itself.  ‘Second Rate’ Japanese troops soon discover the presence of the Australians on Muschu Island and turn the place upside down searching for them. Only one member of Operation Copper Spr Dennis makes it back to the New Guinea mainland by swimming ashore, and eventually back to Australian lines.

Those Z Special Unit servicemen lost during Operation Copper were:
Lt Thomas Joseph Barnes, VX6078, MIA 13 April 1945
Lt Alan Robert Gubbay, NX82924, MIA 13 April 1945
L/Cpl Spencer Henry Walklate, NX202843, MIA 13 April 1945
Pte Ronald Edward Eagleton, NX9265, MIA 13 April 1945
Sgt Malcolm Francis Max Weber, NX45386, KIA 14 April 1945
Sig John Richard Chandler, WX27629, KIA 14 April 1945
Sig Michael Scott Hagger, VX66698, KIA 14 April 1945

To me the book reads a lot like a Pacific version of The Guns of Navarrone (1961) based on the book’s title it may have been written in that way.  And though based on ground forces Dennis has included two very detailed accounts of Australian aerial action – One dealing with a Beaufort loss, the other a low level Boomerang reconnaissance.

It’s always good to see new books released on some of the lesser-known missions and campaigns, ‘The Guns of Muschu’ being one of those does not disappoint and is definitely worth a look. Don Dennis is the nephew of the sole survivor of the Muschu Island raid

Review by Daniel Leahy  

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Last Updated
October 23, 2019

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