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Z Unit heroics being brought to light by film-making True Blue

Former prop forward with the St George Dragons in 1943, Lance Corporal Spencer Walklate, joined an elite group of Australian commandoes during World War II known as ‘Z Unit’.

Now 78 years later a True Blue and another former Dragons front rower, Jason Stevens, wants to tell their story.

On the eve of Anzac Day, where Australian and New Zealand military men and women are honoured, Stevens has launched his idea of making a feature film to tell the story of one of Z Unit’s many missions – Operation Copper.

“It’s so painful to think that these men went through so much and very few Australians know about them,” Stevens told

“We owe it to these men to tell their story. Every Anzac Day I mourn the loss of these great men,” he said.

Operation Copper in April 1945 involved eight men infiltrating Muschu Island, off the north coast of Papua New Guinea, which had been occupied by 1,000 Japanese troops since December 1942.

Stevens has opened a Z Unit fundraising page with the Australian Cultural Fund (ACF) – the Federal Government’s arm set up in 2003 to encourage donations to the arts. All gifts are tax deductible.

He has been in pre-production for several years speaking to many relatives of Z Unit men, including the last survivor, Sapper Edgar ‘Mick’ Dennis (pictured above), and has written a script in consultation with war historians.

Discussions with Dennis led to Stevens learning about Walklate, who played 15 games in the front row for the Dragons in 1943 including the Grand Final loss to Balmain 18-7.

“I felt a natural affinity with him as I started my Rugby League career with the Dragons. I feel this project has been entrusted to me for a reason,” said Stevens, who made his first grade debut in 1992 and played seven games for NSW (1999-2004).

“Z Unit men were promised nothing but they gave everything. Their heroism needs to be acknowledged.

“I’m giving as much as I can but maybe there are others out there that want Z Unit’s story to be told, for those men to be recognised for their courage.”

Here is the ACF link:

This will be Stevens’ third feature film after ‘Chasing Comets’ released in 2018 and ‘Finally Me’ in 2023.

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