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M Special Unit
Execution of POW by Japanese Naval Forces.jpg
The iconic photograph of the execution of Sergeant Leonard Siffleet of M Special Unit, after he was taken prisoner in 1943.
Active 1943–1945
Country  Australia
 New Zealand
 United Kingdom
Allegiance Allies
Branch military intelligence
Role special reconnaissance
Part of Service Reconnaissance Department, Allied Intelligence Bureau
Engagements New Guinea campaign
Battle honours No battle honours were awarded

Members of M Special Unit with New Guineans in August 1945.

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 and British military intelligence unit, it saw action in New Guinea and the Solomon Islands between 1943–1945, against the Empire of Japan.[1]

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.

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

See also[]


  1. Horner 1989, pp. 25–27.


  • Horner, David. (1989). SAS Phantoms of the Jungle: A History of the Australian Special Air Service. Allen & Unwin: Sydney. ISBN 1-86373-007-9

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