Scots com­man­dos led by Queen Mum’s cousin left to die by Amer­i­cans on dar­ing WWII sub mis­sion

Daily Record - - Front Page - By STEVE DIN­NEEN

A TEAM of heroic com­man­dos killed in one of the most dar­ing mis­sions of World War II were be­trayed by their US al­lies, it can be re­vealed to­day.

The squad of 23 men who died dur­ing a risky at­tempt to sink 60 Ja­panese war­ships could have been saved, a new book claims.

But Amer­i­can top brass de­cided not to mount a res­cue mis­sion be­cause it would warn their Ja­panese en­e­mies that they had cracked their se­cret naval code.

The deadly mis­sion – which would have dev­as­tated the Ja­panese fleet – was led by Ivan Lyon of the Gor­don High­landers, a Scot­tish cousin of the Queen Mother.

He was backed by 22 hand-picked vol­un­teers, in­clud­ing Scots Naval Re­servist Don­ald David­son, Able Sea­man “Poppa” Falls and Sub-Lieu­tenant Gre­gor Riggs.

The plot was called Op­er­a­tion Ri­mau – the Malay word for tiger – in hon­our of a large tiger tat­too on Lyon’s chest.


Lyon’s men planned to in­fil­trate Sin­ga­pore har­bour in one-man sub­marines called Sleep­ing Beau­ties.

They would then open fire on as many Ja­panese ships as they could.

Their intelligen­ce sug­gested they could sink 60 be­fore re­treat­ing in their subs and meet­ing at a nearby south Pa­cific is­land.

But on the way to Sin­ga­pore, the Chi­nese junk they were aboard was spot­ted by Ja­panese po­lice and a gun­fight en­sued.

Lyon, 29, de­cided to sink the ship and the Sleep­ing Beau­ties rather than let them fall into en­emy hands.

He was killed in the shoot-out along with sev­eral of his men be­fore the Bri­tish and Aus­tralian forces knew they had come un­der at­tack. Ten oth­ers were taken pris­oner by the Ja­panese – which US troops learned when they in­ter­cepted a mes­sage ex­plain­ing where the men were.

But they de­cided not t o share t he in­for­ma­tion so they could con­tinue to use the code.

Trag­i­cally, the ship that was meant to col­lect the com­man­dos af­ter the mis­sion missed the last few men by a mat­ter of hours. The 10 sur­vivors were ex­e­cuted a year later.

For­mer Sun­day Mir­ror ed­i­tor Peter Thompson dis­cov­ered the be­trayal af­ter get­ting ac­cess to ev­i­dence that had pre­vi­ously been clas­si­fied by the US mil­i­tary.

His dis­cov­ery forms the ba­sis of his new book, Kill The Tiger.

He said: “The Amer­i­cans didn’t let on that they had bro­ken the Ja­panese code for many years af­ter the war.

“Huge amounts of in­for­ma­tion about the war was clas­si­fied but over the years more was made avail­able. “I first heard about Lyon while writ­ing an­other book about

the war in the South Pa­cific. It emerged in the process of our re­search that the Amer­i­cans hadn’t told the Bri­tish or Aus­tralians that Op­er­a­tion Ri­mau had run into trou­ble, so no help was sent.”

Ivan’s son, Clive Lyon, 65, was only three when his fa­ther died.

Clive – who also joined the Gor­don High­land reg­i­ment – claims the book is a fit­ting trib­ute to his dad.

He said: “He was a very proud man. He was one of a breed of ad­ven­tur­ing Scots – rest­less and un­con­ven­tional and this is why he could come up with the fan­tas­tic, au­da­cious mis­sions he was part of.

“Ivan was very proud of his Scots her­itage and hon­oured to be in the Gor­don High­land reg­i­ment.

“I was very young at the time of his death – he was only 29 him­self – and un­for­tu­nately I can’t re­ally re­mem­ber him but his legacy cer­tainly lives on.

“The Amer­i­cans should have done more t o r es­cue them. The fail­ure to pick up the sur­vivors was tragic but you can’t dwell on it be­cause it would drive you mad.

“It’s much bet­ter to re­mem­ber the great deeds of th­ese heroic men.

“My fa­ther was very brave – he was even nom­i­nated for the Vic­to­ria Cross – and saved hun­dreds of lives. Not many men can be re­mem­bered for that.”

Kill The Tiger, pub­lished by Mav­er­ick House, i s avail­able to buy now.


Risky: Troops would launch at­tack in one-man subs called Sleep­ing Beau­ties

Hero: Deadly plan was led by Ivan Lyon, right, and named af­ter his tiger tat­too, above

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