Australian Sergeant Leonard G. Siffleet of M Special Unit about to be beheaded by Japanese officer Yasuno Chikao, Aitape, New Guinea, 24 Oct 1943

Caption     Australian Sergeant Leonard G. Siffleet of M Special Unit about to be beheaded by Japanese officer Yasuno Chikao, Aitape, New Guinea, 24 Oct 1943 ww2dbase
Photographer    Unknown
Source    ww2dbaseAustralian War Memorial
Identification Code   101099
More on...   
New Guinea-Papua Campaign, Phase 3   Main article  Photos  Maps  
Yasuno Chikao   Main article  Photos  
Leonard Siffleet   Main article  Photos  
Photos on Same Day 24 Oct 1943
Added By C. Peter Chen
Licensing  This work is believed to be in the public domain.

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. chickfuzz says:
23 Jul 2009 07:57:59 PM

I have seen this picture in so many books about the WW 2 since I was a child and have always wondered about the identity of the man about to die. I am glad to know who this hero is. R.I.P. Sergeant Siffleet.
2. Stephen says:
19 Sep 2009 11:36:00 AM

Details on this Australian Member -

Sgt Leonard George Siffleet NX143314
Born 14 Jan 1916
Son of Leo Vincent and Alma Elizabeth Siffleet of Gunnedah,New South Wales Australia
Enlsited 12 Aug 1940 - Sydney area
Excuted by Japanese 24 Oct 1943 while attached to Z Special Commando
(Z Force or M Special Unit)see below for more.
Aged 27
Orig Posted Missing presumed POW in area of Papua or New Guniea.
Enagged to be married before war and like my relation with 617 RAF Sqd was killed before this would take place.
No Awards
Rememberd on the Gunnedah NSW Aust Town War Memorial(Country NSW)and Panel 11 at the Aust
War Memorial Canberra.
Overseas is listed on the Lae Memorial PNG on Panel 2.
Has no Known resting place - all 3 were buried in unmarked graves near the Airstrip they were exacuted on.

"Known only to God"

inscription on Lae memorial reads -

On 24 October 1943 NX143314 Sergeant Leonard G(Len)Siffleet,along with his two Ambonese companions,Privates Pattiwahl and Reharin - Ambonese members of the Netherlands East Indies Armed Forces was executed by order of Japanese Vice Admiral Kamada,in command of the Japanese fleet at Aitape.
Len died for his role as a wireless operator in a commando operation in Japanese occupied New Guinea.
They were later reported as being "captured on a reconnaissance mission behind enemy lines".
Admiral Kamada was later tried for the murder of other prisoners at Balikpapan, Borneo.
Sgt Siffleet was a member of the M Special Unit of the Services Reconnaissance
Department(SRD or Z Commando).

This is one of 3 Photos found on a dead Japanese Officer which were later given to his Family and were then donated to the AWM.

Photo 1
Descrption -
The three men are standing blindfolded on open ground and Len Siffleet has a thin rope tied around his upper body and arms.
The Japanese soldier standing behind the three men is 3rd Class Seaman Onodera.

Photo 2
Discrption -
Len is now wearing a blindfold and with his arms tied, prior to being beheaded with a sword.
The Japanese soldier to his left is Chief Petty Officer Watanabe Teruo.
A group of local men and Japanese stand and crouch in the background
The executioner, Yasuno Chikao, died before the end of the war.

Pick 3 is what you have.

Due to my own Family connection with Z Commando and Operations Jaywick and Rimau and the fate they met in Singapore this story is well known in my family.
The most horrendous part of the whole story is that a letter to his Fiance was sent reasuring her he was safe and well and this is also in the collection along with personal
and family photos of him.

Two letters sent by Allied Intelligence Bureau (AIB),New Guinea Headquarters,to Miss Clarice Lane,dated 23 July 1943 and 15 September 1943.
They inform her that messages have been received from her fiance,NX143314 Sergeant L.G.(Len) Siffleet,requesting that she be assured he was safe and well.
The letters are incorrectly addressed to Miss Clemice Lane.
Soon after the letters were written,on 24 October 1943,Sergeant Siffleet was beheaded.

A photograph of his execution became a famous wartime image after it was published in`Life'magazine and is in the AWM Photograph Collection.

After the surrender of Japan,a Dutch military court in Pontianak convicted IJN Adm Michiaki Kamada of war crimes for the executions of 1500 west Borneo natives in 1944 and the ill treatment of 2000 Dutch POWs held on Flores Island.
Kamada was sentenced to death and was executed on 18 October 1947.

3. john says:
9 Oct 2009 06:58:44 AM

If anyone doubts the validity of dropping the two bombs on Japan they should look at this photo for a few minutes. Regards John.
4. Nick says:
26 Dec 2009 07:54:05 PM

Gunnedah, NSW. I was born there, im suprised i have never heard of this hero. RIP Sergeant.
5. Chris says:
20 Mar 2010 05:30:13 PM

Thank you Stephen for your post on 19 Sept 2009. I think it is hugely important to remember the sacrifice made by those who never made it home. They served and died miles and miles from home and under horrendous conditions. Perhaps they were fortunate to have some identified resting place, but many died in remote jungles, desolate beachheads, and in the vast ocean. Your efforts in the post above have given some humanity to this hero. Thanks!!!
6. Aby Murakaby says:
24 Oct 2010 11:20:23 AM

Cruel japanese!
7. Leo Grospe says:
24 Oct 2010 11:25:44 AM

What do you expect? its WAR..
8. Douglas Stoltzman says:
24 Oct 2010 01:24:30 PM

arrogant, self indulgent, selfserving runts that deserved everything that happened to THEM!
9. Gabriel Aguilera says:
24 Oct 2010 05:19:25 PM

The *** never signed the Geneva conventions. So they mistreated very badly enemy prisoners and civilians too, specially in China (Nanking).
10. Anonymous says:
24 Oct 2011 05:45:02 PM

Too bad that some people see this image and use it as a conduit to spew racial hatred. What you should be seeing is the futility of war.
11. Karl Siffleet says:
16 Nov 2011 08:59:44 PM

I don't believe that one should look at this photograph and then find justification for the annihilation of tens of thousands of people, many of whom probably had no desire to wage war on anyone. I look at this photograph and try to wonder what was going through his mind, what would I be thinking.....
12. Anonymous says:
17 Feb 2012 09:05:01 PM

sitting on the ground....waiting to die...knowing what was about to come....must have been the worst feeling he could have ever known....i hope it was fast and painless as
13. chris siffleet says:
5 Mar 2013 01:16:48 PM

my god those evil **** barstads how could they even justify doing something like that never forgive and never forget
14. Anonymous says:
24 Oct 2013 12:26:21 PM

Interesting how people attempt to apply political correctness and understanding to a barbaric war done by a barbaric people. No, they weren't there against their will. You don't understand the mind of the World War2 Japanese warrior. I recall that horrible story about raping 60 American and British nurses before beheading them. Talk to the Chinese of Koreans about the wonders of Japanese Martial Law. Thank you Col. Tibbits.
15. Anonymous says:
24 Oct 2013 12:27:33 PM

ils n'ont pas volé de ce prendre 2 bombes A sur la gueule...fumier!!!
16. G.D. Horn, U.S.A.F. Veteran says:
24 Oct 2013 12:51:54 PM

I hope this *** S.O.B. was found and executed !
17. Anonymous says:
24 Oct 2013 01:22:32 PM

was that zipper head ever punished for his crime
18. Anonymous says:
24 Oct 2013 02:48:10 PM

Hopefully the murdering bastard got his just deserts. The Japanese as a race are fundementaly evil. Rot in hell!
24 Oct 2013 02:54:55 PM

a great man
20. Hon Col (Ret) Phil Richardson says:
24 Oct 2013 08:27:38 PM

This picture should be published in every newspaper in Japan, along with the many photos of the from the Rape of recognition of their persistent denial of their behaviour during the first part of the Twentieth Century. This disregard for their history is exemplified by the tacit approval by the Government and many Japanese, of the annual visitation to the Yasukunu Shrine by many of their politicians. Its time...
21. Bernie says:
25 Oct 2013 02:56:06 AM

The japanese forces back then were a cruel lot to say the least .to them being captures or surrendering to the enemy was a dishonour .do not excuse what they did to the pows .Big respect to all the pows who went through that horror.
22. Rob says:
20 Apr 2014 03:15:34 AM

Don't flash the "race card" when the country involved refuse to accept the fxxxing shxt way they operated. Some of the people who suffered are still alive. Fxxk Japan and Germany (who still think they rule Europe) never forget.

Much love and peace
23. james says:
3 Jan 2015 03:48:06 AM

i just learned today of the horrible fate, so many years ago, of Sgt. Siffleet. This in turn made me intensely curious as to what became of his fianee, Clarice Lane. After quite a bit of searching the web, I've come up empty. Does anyone out there know how she ended up in life?
24. Martin Kaalund says:
27 Jul 2016 06:11:50 PM

SILENT FEET,a book on Zforce,links Siffleet with Friar and Aiken,and two others captured at Seinam village Lumi District,
inserted as Moss Troops via Sepik ,Catalinas drop off.Was it a party of five whites?
25. Anonymous says:
29 Oct 2016 11:42:14 PM

My father SYdney Stonehouse was an M Special operative. He said that he was with a group who camped on top of a mountain and when he was lookout on the only trail to the mountain toip, the Japanese attacked by travelling through a swamp on the other side of the mountain, led by a local who had betrayed the M Special group. The survivors split into two groups, one with the radio and the other group were stretcher bearing 2 young American flyers who had crashed on the island. The local people told my father that the *** had captured the stretcher party. He climbed a tree to observe what was happening in the clearing where the Japanese had the captives.
He said they made the able bodie men dig their own graves and then beheaded them. They bayonetted the two injured flyers.
He had been radioing Port Moresby asking permission to rescue the captives but was denied permission as they said the recon mission was too important. My father also told me of a night time training mission where 6 men in black clothing and balaclavas paddled 3 black canoes from Fremantle Harbour in Western Australia to Cockburn Sound and then placed fake limpet mines at water level on all the American fleet anchored in the Sound.
They completed their task so silently that the armed guards on the decks did not notice them.
They paddled back to Fremantle before sunrise, undetected.
This cause a big upset when the dud mines were seen at daylight and it was all hushed up
Another training excercise was undertaken when my father and a partner were dropped off at night, on Garden Island, which was a fully operative Naval wartime base, in Cockburn SOund.
They were naked with only a knife and a box of matches. They had to survive undetected, for 14 days till they were picked again up at night.
This kind of excercise was a crucial part of their training as they had to survive behind enemy lines undetected.
His last mission was a three month stint where their clothing rotted away and they had no food supplies due to the food drop landing in a coral lagoon that was so deep the pressure burst the packages.
The men had to live on bamboo shoots and any vegetation they could find that was edible.
After pick up by a Yank sub they were transferred to an American PT boat and taken to Portugese Timor.
The PT boat crew donated clothing to the men and someone in the crew took photos of them on the deck of the PT boat.
My father travelled on two AMerican subs (Gato & Garfish) during the M Special operations behind enemy lines in Guadalcanal and the Solomon Islands.
26. Anonymous says:
24 Aug 2020 03:51:48 PM

Hi,me again I would like to ask about the time when this source was made.

Is it a primary or secondary?

Thank you.

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