SPENCER Walklate played 15 first grade games for St George during the 1943 season – and scored two tries against the Roosters – but Chooks fan Mick Dennis has long forgiven his old mate, who was beheaded by Japanese troops in April 1945.
“I am pleased that he scored those tries, he deserved good things because he was that sort of bloke,” Mr Dennis said this week. Both men were members of the top-secret “Z” Special Unit that undertook covert and highly risky missions behind enemy lines throughout the Asia-Pacific theatre during WWII. Mr Dennis, who turns 93 this year, was the only survivor of an ill-fated Z mission codenamed “Operation Copper” to gather intelligence on Japanese gun positions on Muschu Island off the coast of New Guinea.
Five of his comrades, including Mr Walklate, were captured and executed and two others drowned. Mr Dennis fought on alone for more than a week, killing dozens of enemy before paddling a plank across 4km of shark infested ocean to the mainland where he continued to engage Japanese forces. He was awarded the Military Medal for his efforts.
“He was a great bloke, a real gentleman and we became firm friends,” Mr Dennis said.
After their mission on Muschu Island, the men decided to build rafts and drift out into the channel and signal patrolling aircraft. Unfortunately, the rafts broke up and Mr Dennis was the only man who had his weapon slung – the rest went to the bottom. After swimming ashore, four of the eight decided to strap themselves to logs and drift, but Mr Dennis chose to stay and fight it out.
The last he saw of Mr Walklate was him drifting out into the darkness.
St George Leagues Club decided to commission a new Honour Roll of the eight players who died during WWII and it will be dedicated with a special…