Guns of Muschu
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Photo Courtesy Roger Pearson



January 2010

HDML 1321 (MV Rushcutter) is now in Darwin, with the refit continuing. Both engines - the original BUDDA diesels - are working well, with new cylinder heads just arrived from the USA and in the process of being fitted.

A major project is now underway to determine whether three of the four men from the Z Special Patrol who escaped from Muschu Island, landed several days later on Kairaru Island and were subsequently executed by the Japanese. Information to hand indicates that it's possible their bodies were buried on the island and never recovered.

If this can be determined and their remains located, one proposal is to bring them home using the MV Rushcutter. This would be a fitting conclusion to the mission.


View the latest on the Search for our Muschu MIAs




HDML 1321 Found

December 2007

After almost a year of searching, HDML 1321 has been located! The patrol boat, now named MV Ruschcutter is now in Gove NT, where she has been undergoing a refit by her new owners to convert the boat into a cruise/diving craft.

According to HDML 1321's owners, the ship is now in very good condition, her hull being in "virtually perfect" order - a tribute to her Tasmanian Huon pine construction and the craftsmanship of her original builders.

Although the superstructure has been totally renewed to suit her for tourist operations, the vessel still retains her original BUDA twin diesels, both of which are in the process of being reconditioned. This is proving to be an expensive operation due to the lack of spares, which means that new components must be adapted to suit the original engines. The owners advise they expect to have this completed by the end of December after which they will be taking the boat from Gove and cruising via Darwin, to Perth WA.

Unfortunately orginal documents that include the ship's log book and maps pertaining to the "Copper" mission that were kept with the ship since the war, have gone missing. These documents are of immense historical value and it is hoped that one of the previous owners still has them. If anyone knows their whereabouts it's hoped they'll make contact so arrangements can be made for their preservation or aquisition.

More information and photos of HDML 1321 will be published here as we receive it.

Author, 2 December, 2007

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The crew of HDML 1321 were adept at "acquiring" whatever they needed in the best traditions of the service.

Read about one of their exploits...


The History of HDML 1321

Since the publication of ‘The Guns of Muschu” in September, 2006, the author has been contacted by many WW2 veterans, including several who were involved with the fateful Z Special mission onto Muschu Island. One of these, Mr Ron Reynolds, who heard ABC National Radio’s Fran Kelly’s breakfast interview with survivor Mick Dennis on the 25 September 2006, (Click here to go to AudioFile) was the radio operator aboard the Australian Navy Patrol boat HDML 1321, which inserted the patrol on Muschu Island and later took part in the search for the missing patrol members.

In a letter to the author Mr Reynolds wrote:

“I have just read The Guns of Muschu while on holiday. I was the wireless operator on ML 1321 on that fateful night we landed your uncle Mick Dennis and 7 other Z Specials on Muschu.

Your detail of the operation is incredible. There were times when reading I would swear you’d been sitting alongside me in the radio cabin on ML 1321 during our 5 day vigil and I congratulate you on your book and its accuracy

Additional information from Mr Reynolds and several other veterans who have written to the author, indicate the patrol boat, HDML 1321, may still be afloat and working in Australian waters. Reports indicate that HDML 1321 was retained by the Australian Navy in various reserve roles in Sydney until 1971, when it was sold off to a private operator who converted it to a passenger ferry. It is then believed to have operated under the name of MV Tambourine Bay, until it was again sold perhaps in the late 80’s and refitted as a private cruise vessel – possibly renamed MV Rushcutter owned by a Mr Frank Parker of Evoka Beach. From there sometime around 2000 it was sold to an operator in Broome, where it’s said to be working as a tourist vessel (name unknown)

The author and many veterans believe that HDML 1321 has a significant place in Australian Naval history, as during WW2 it served extensively around New Guinea and the Pacific Islands supporting Z Special Operations and also conducting reconnaissance and raiding operations of its own. The ship’s Captain, Lieutenant Palmer, a former plantation owner, gained a somewhat piratical reputation for his daring and seamanship during this time.

Perhaps the vessel can be acquired and preserved in a similar manner to the MV Krait of Operation Jaywick fame. This would be an expensive excercise, but one worthy of consideration. The least that could be done is for a plaque commemorating HDML1321's exploits and Operation Copper in particular, to be presented to the ship and displayed so its achievements are recognised.

Want to know more about the Navy's participation in Operation Copper and specifications on the HDML class of patrol boat? Select "About Z Special" from the top menu bar on the Home Page then click on "HDML Patrol Boats" in the drop down menu.


(HDML 1321 has now been found)


September 2006





The crew of HDML 1321 were adept at "acquiring" whatever they needed in the best traditions of the service.

Read about one of their exploits...

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