Len Siffleet
Australia Crest

Sergeant Len Siffleet of the Z Special Force Unit was executed by a Japanese civilian on October 24th, 1943, at Aitaoe beach, New Guinea. The photograph says it all.

Len was born in Gunnedah on January 14th, 1916, the third child in a family of seven.

As a boy he would swim in the Namoi River with Andrew "Boy" Charlton and in fact Len went on to win two gold medals at the North-West of NSW championships in Tamworth.

Len moved to Sydney in search of work in the 30s and when his mother died in 1941 he took on the responsibility of raising his two younger brothers.

In 1942 he went off to war and after completing a specialist signals course, he joined Z Special Force Unit and was sent to Japanese held territory in New Guinea. The operation codename was "Whiting".

Siffleet and two others were captured by locals in September 1943 and handed over to the Japanese. After being tortured and questioned for three days, he and his two Dutch companions were taken to the beach and executed, in front of a jeering crowd of locals, in Japanese traditional style, by being beheaded by the stroke of a sword by "honoured" civilians.

His executioner, Yasuno Chikao, was later captured and sentenced to be hanged. This sentence was later commuted to 10 years imprisonment.

The army officially declared Len Siffleet dead in 1946 and then tried to reclaim the pay being made to his family in the nearly three years in between.

The faded photograph was found in a Japanese soldier's pocket and yet still chills the heart of Australians.

Len Siffleet was a distant relative of Prime Minister John Howard.

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