Z Special Unit

The Elite Allied World War II Guerrilla Force

Z Special Unit cover

Z Special Unit

The Elite Allied World War II Guerrilla Force

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Leading expert Gavin Mortimer tells the remarkable origin story of a wartime special forces unit that defied the odds.

Z Special Unit, one of the most intrepid but arguably the most unsung of Allied Special Forces of the Second World War waged a guerrilla war against Japan for two years in the south-west Pacific. On some of their 81 operations Z Special Unit slipped into enemy harbours in canoes and silently mined ships before vanishing into the night; on others they parachuted into the dense Borneo jungle to fight with headhunters against the Japanese and on one occasion they landed on an Indonesian island and smuggled out the pro-Allied sultan from under Japanese noses.

The Japanese weren't the only adversary that Z Special Unit encountered in the brutal terrain of the Pacific. In the mango swamps of Borneo and the dense jungle of Papua New Guinea they were faced with venomous snakes, man-eating crocodiles and deadly diseases. But it was the enemy soldiers who proved the most ruthless foe, beheading those Z Special Unit commandos who fell into their hands.

Drawing on veteran interviews as well as operational reports and recently declassified SOE files, Gavin Mortimer explores the incredible history of this remarkable special forces unit and the band of commandoes that defied the odds.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Stirling effort

Chapter 1: Lyon hearted
Chapter 2: Operation Jaywick
Chapter 3: An Old Krait
Chapter 4: 'Good luck and God's Speed'
Chapter 5: Singapore Struck
Chapter 6: The Wizards of Oz
Chapter 7: Another Crack
Chapter 8: Sleeping Beauties
Chapter 9: Pirates and Porpoise
Chapter 10: Tiger Hunting
Chapter 11: 'A blow to us all'
Chapter 12: Jungle Challenge
Chapter 13: Allies and Headhunters
Chapter 14: Guerrilla Army
Chapter 15: Victory in Borneo
Chapter 16: Savage Revenge
Chapter 17: The Elusive Truth
Epilogue: 'War's pretty grim'


Product details

Published 14 Apr 2022
Format Hardback
Edition 1st
Extent 240
ISBN 9781472847096
Imprint Osprey Publishing
Illustrations Fully illustrated with mostly b/w images throughout
Dimensions 242 x 190 mm
Series General Military
Short code GNM
Publisher Bloomsbury Publishing

About the contributors


Gavin Mortimer

Gavin Mortimer is a writer, historian and televisi…


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