Operation Opossum

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Operation Opossum
Part of the Japanese occupation of British Borneo during World War II
Date 9–11 April 1945
Location Ternate Island
Result Australian success
 Empire of Japan  Australia
Commanders and leaders
George Bosworth
Dick Perry
Units involved
Z Special Unit
Unknown 13 men
Casualties and losses
All 1 killed

Operation Opossum was a World War II raid undertaken by Australia's Z Special Unit in 1945 on the island of Ternate near Borneo to rescue the Sultan of Ternate, Iskander Muhammad Jabit Syah.[1]


The island of Ternate had been occupied by Japan since 1942. The Sultan sent several islanders to Australian Army headquarters on Morotai Island asking to be rescued. The Dutch were enthusiastic about the mission.[1]

The mission was authorised by General Douglas MacArthur who was worried about the Sultan's life and his wives. The Sultan had been sympathetic to the Allied cause.

Z Special Unit sent a contingent of 13, mostly Australians and two Indonesian recruits from West Timor and North Sulawesi. There were also some Dutch officers.

The mission left Morotai on 8 April 1945 and landed on Hiri Island, two kilometres north of Ternate.They went to the coastal village of Kulaba after a six-hour trek. Members of the unit rescued the Sultan along with his two wives, eight children and retinue of courtiers and relatives.

Several boatloads of Japanese soldiers arrived the next day resulting in a shooting fight which resulted in the death of three Japanese and Australian officer Lieutenant George Bosworth.[2] Warrant Officer Dick Perry assumed command and attacked the remaining Japanese who were all killed.

The sultan and his family were taken to Morotai by PT boat where the Sultan spoke with MacArthur. They were then settled in the Queensland town of Wacol until the end of the war.[3]


The mission reportedly inspired the film Attack Force Z (1981), even though the plot of that movie was very different from the facts of Opossum.[4]


  1. ^ a b Smith, Kevin (2012). "Operation Opossum: The Raiding Party to Rescue the Sultan of Ternate, 1945". Sabretache. 53 (4, Dec): 48–54. ISSN 0048-8933.
  2. ^ George Bosworth's service record accessed 15 September 2013
  3. ^ Allard, Tom & Lindsay Murdoch (24 April 2010). "The Untold Story: How Z Force Saved the Sultan". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 14 September 2013.
  4. ^ Johnson, Sue (27 March 1982). "After 37 years and 10 beheadings, Operation Rimau Explodes Again". Sydney Morning Herald. p. 41.


  • Operation Opossum at Z Special Unit

Coordinates: 0°47′N 127°22′E / 0.783°N 127.367°E / 0.783; 127.367

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