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M Special Unit, was a joint Allied special reconnaissance unit, part of the Services Reconnaissance Department (SRD), in the South West Pacific theatre of the Second World War. 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.[1]

M Special Unit
M Special Unit (AWM P00286-003).jpg
Members of M Special Unit with New Guineans, 1945
BranchMilitary intelligence
RoleSpecial reconnaissance
Part ofSRD, Allied Intelligence Bureau

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, which became well known for its direct-action commando-style raids.

Perhaps the best-known member of M Special Unit was Sergeant Leonard Siffleet, who was executed after being taken prisoner during Operation Whiting in 1943. A photograph of Siffleet in his last moments achieved iconic status following the war.[2]

M Special Unit was disbanded at the end of the war on 10 November 1945.[3]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Horner 1989, pp. 25–27.
  2. ^ "M Special Unit". RSL Virtual War Memorial. Retrieved 15 September 2015.
  3. ^ "M Special Unit". Monument Australia. Retrieved 15 October 2015.