History: What happened to Walter in WW2?
SOMETIMES it is very difficult to find information about our soldiers.
Walter Gordon Falls, the son of Walter E and Annie Falls (nee Thomson) of Upper Mongogarie, is among those who are difficult to trace.
He was born in Aberdeen, Scotland in 1920. Initially Walter Gordon, like his brother Terence Leslie Falls, became a trooper with the 15 Motor Regiment.
The 15th had a fine record dating back to the First World War when it was a mounted infantry regiment of the Light Horse. Many of its soldiers had previously been members of the famous Camel Corps.
After that war ended it became the militia regiment in Northern NSW. Shortly after the Second World War began it became a motorised regiment (the 15th) and in 1942 it was attached officially to the AIF.
However, about this time Walter Gordon Falls decided to transfer to the Royal Australian Navy.
He must have been an adventurous type of person and possibly the Navy held more appeal than tanks or armed personnel vehicles.
The 'Z' Special Unit had been formed in March 1942 and Walter became one of its first volunteers.
This was a hand-picked unit comprising personnel from all the Australian services as well as British, New Zealand, Dutch, Indonesian and Timorese representatives.
Its role was reconnaissance and sabotage operating mainly in Borneo and the Dutch East Indies.
One of its first operations was the now-famous Krait mission in 1943.
Walter Falls was part of that mission, know as Operation Jaywick.
The team entered Singapore Harbour in a disguised fishing-boat and divers attached mines to Japanese ships.
Singapore was a tightly guarded port and the raid, which resulted in several major ships being destroyed, was a complete surprise to the Japanese.
This had been considered a suicide mission for Z Force but all members returned safely to Australia.
Walter Falls continued as a member of Z Force and no doubt went on other missions.
It is difficult to obtain information about him although apparently he married Joan Alice McKergow in 1943.
(Her name is given as Joan Newman on his enlistment record.)
In September 1944 he joined Operation Rimau which was aimed at replicating the Krait Raid.
Operation Rimau was led by Lt Col Ivan Lyon (British Army) who had also led the Krait Raid and involved the Malay junk Mustika.
A small team was taken into Singapore Harbour by submarine and apparently succeeded in sinking three ships.
On their return however the Mustika encountered a Japanese patrol boat, there was a gun battle and several members of the team were killed.
Without all the above information it is difficult to understand some of the service record for Walter Falls on the Australian War Memorial site.
He was awarded a Distinguished Service Medal for taking part in Operation Jaywick, that he was a Prisoner of War and killed in action on July 7, 1945.
He is not listed as a Pacific Islands POW which suggests that he was captured by the Germans or Italians.
We also know that he was stationed at HMAS Lonsdale which is not a ship but a naval base in Melbourne.
This all makes sense of course when we realise that he was a member of the infamous Z Force.